Therapeutic Soup for the Cyclist’s Soul

I hear my soup bubbling away in the kitchen as I peck away at this blog here. Mom sent me a recipe for pumpkin soup the other day. With that idea stewing in the back of my mind, en route home from my therapy today I walked to the market, saw a pretty spectacular pumpkin, and decided to whip up some soup. It’s still chilly here in Italy – albeit sunny and gorgeous today – but it’s still winter and I think cool temps, winter, and bike-ride-recovery all leads towards one thing: a hearty bowl of soup.

So here she is bubbling away, pre-being zapped and whirred into a fine, consistent slurry. Pumpkin, onion, carrot, apple, garlic, S’n’P, basil, red pepper flakes, curry, and some EVOO.

Wait wait wait, I hear you say. What therapy, Ted? you earnestly ask. Well pull up a chair and I’ll tell.

I don’t want to rehash what you might already know, so let’s just say I raced the Giro di Sardinia a week ago, we did pretty darn well, but somewhere in the process I hurt my knee. Defending young Sagan’s leader’s jersey is a team effort and my job typically takes places in the opening four hours of each day, give or take an hour. Specifically, I monitor early attempt breakaway attempts, yank them back as necessary, and eventually let the “correct” group go up the road. That’s followed by controlling of the bunch for the ensuing hundred-fifty-K or so. Ready, set, go!

(Me. Plus 100 or so of my best friends.)

On the final day of Sardinia, I completed my job and then rather than painfully pedaling the final 25km up to the summit finish, with more anxiety and angst than I typically contend with, I pulled the plug and got into the team car to the finish. And please don’t think that I was looking for an easy out; it’s been over two years since the last time I ducked into the team car rather than finishing a race. Suck McSuck Pants in full effect. Size XXL.

So let’s now jump to Monday, five days ago – rather than passively suffering the mental anguish of wondering what the heck is wrong with my knee, I went with a soigneur who lives nearby down to Pisa to a sports clinic to see what’s shakin’ in my knee. A quick exam with an awesome sports physiologist/therapist named Emanuele followed by a trip to the nearby hospital for an ultrasound revealed that a) I’m not pregnant and b) I have a decent amount of swelling around a critical tendon behind my left knee. Again, Suck McSuck Pants: on.

However, this thorough, exceedingly friendly, and outgoingly knowledgeable crew around me has been very optimistic about the entire situation. There is nothing torn, nothing ripped, and all the damage to my ginocchio (Italian for knee) appears to be reparable in a timely fashion… although patience is absolutely critical here. I was subbed out of Paris-Nice, which sucks of course because I would be going to help Peter Sagan tear that race apart. After seeing his form at Sardinia, I know he’s bound for great things in France this week. Heck, the whole team for that matter. Crap. But as it stands now, my next race isn’t until De Panne two full weeks after P’Nice is due to end. Therefore I have the time to let well… time, patience, therapy, prayers, and some good discipline do its thing. Heal Teddy! HEAAAAL!

Today was my fifth day of therapy down in Pisa. The world of R.I.C.E. is apparently a thing of yesteryear because I receive four different electric-type therapies from various machines that all appear to cost a lot more than, say, a toaster. Two electro-shock-type therapy, one ultrasound therapy I think, and a laser therapy. These all function to reduce the swelling and now five days later, we went back to get another ultrasound (I’m still not preggers!) and the knee has received the medical clearance nod to go for an eaaaaasy ride today. They limited me to just 90 minutes and told me to basically pedal as easy as I possibly could without toppling over. I’m not a number’s guy, but comparatively here are some digits I accumulated before pulling the plug on the final day of Sardinia:

145km of bike racin’
3:35 race time
286 watts average
3,660 kJs
1,350m of climbing


Today, I think I did 90 minutes at 160 watts average. No, I did not tip over at that pace. I then followed that up with proper R.I.C.E.

Back to things bigger than just riding a bicycle, I want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who has sent me messages, prayers, warm and fuzzy vibes, thoughts, as well as endearing thanks to everyone who has helped me in one way or the other the past week. I imagine Michelli, my Italian massagatore who has been loyally driving me daily to Pisa, isn’t reading along, but Michelli you’re amazing. Thank you. Another thanks to the guys on SpiderTech who tossed me some kinesio-tape and for speaking some English on the boat ride home when I needed a little Americana decompression.

As a professional cyclist, to not be riding a bike with a lingering and somewhat cryptic injury like this is as mentally draining and anxiety provoking as seemingly anything. I’ve had some folks near me here in Italy tell me they’re impressed with how smoothly I’m taking this all, which is flattering in some regards… but that just means that I have a really good superficial wall, because I’m flipping out on the inside. Suddenly I’m allotted an abundance of extra time to think about it all. I try hard to maintain perspective – okay, it’s merely March; in the grand scheme of things the injury is not that bad; otherwise I have my health, etc – but man oh man, this is a toughie. But I needn’t shed that anxiety on you now.

So again, to everyone out there: thank you. It means more than you could possibly imagine.

And now it’s time to try the soup.


  1. Kristina

    I was so sorry to hear about your injury, Ted. Having my own bum body issues I’m especially sensitive to the agony my favorite athletes must feel when they go down. Hang in there, it will get better! By the way, can I just say I love your descriptor – “Suck McSuck Pants in full effect. Size XXL?” I think I know those britches! Enjoy the soup. Think good thoughts of home, and know that there are many of us who are praying for a speedy healing journey for you. Ride on!

  2. ant1

    mind over matter Ted. positive thoughts.

  3. ant1

    and congrats on the non-pregnancy

  4. Shannon

    Feel better soon, Ted! That pumpkin soup sounds devine, and I would be more than willing to trade a couple dozen homemade cookies for the recipe. 🙂 Nice work in Sardinia, and hope you kick ass in De Panne. Heal up!

  5. steelciocc

    Thanks for the update. Thankfully, it sounds like you’ve found a great sports medicine place in Pisa. Buona fortuna con tua ginocchio!

  6. Lee H

    Great sounding soup! Relax, think good thoughts. We are in Pisa in three weeks, hope you are riding by then. As Shannon said, “Kick Ass in De Panne”

  7. Steve M

    Although I’ve never been much of an athlete, I’ve played a ton of sports, including bike, and realize there is no mind f like sitting out an injury with a team waiting for your help, much less sitting one out an injury at your level. So know that we all appreciate your letting us in on the bowl of update and are all psychically standing on your pedals (on the downstroke).

  8. MLS

    Ted: Ditto all the writers above. I enjoy your blogs and articles and look forward to a successful season after a quick recovery.

  9. a

    just catching up with you and saw the post about the knee…but, hey, t$, at least it ain’t a collarbone! heal quickly! sending good vibes!

  10. Becky B

    Soup makes everything better. I hope you heal as quickly as I did.

  11. hoon

    like the new site.
    everyone in the office hopes you feel better.
    in VT right now and the green mountains miss you.

  12. DNAtsol

    Have to admit I was waiting with bated breath to find out if you were going to be a ….dad?

  13. alison

    Hey, I’ve worn those sucky pants recently. trained for a 1/2M then got sick (fever!) right before it. I know how bummed I was – I’m sure it doesn’t even reach the bottom of your frustration scale. The stakes are a little bit lower for us pta soccer moms. I know you’ll be alright. Prob need a race with DZNuts (the guy, not the cream) and VDV to lift your spirits and get your dose of Americans. I heard he was pretty excited about his boat ride, too.
    On a side note, enjoying the garden tidbits. I’m actually growing basil and a pumpkin seed on my windowsill (left over from the 1st graders traditional post Halloween planting of a pumpkin seed!). No idea how I’ve kept this thing alive and blooming. Weather in FL is looking good, plan to transplant to the outside tomorrow. What’s Italian for ‘go basil’?

  14. Anna

    No wearing of the suck pants for going to the doctor! You’d have ’em on if you did NOT go! I did the suck pants while training for a marathon and it turned into having a hip scope, which on the positive side, I can tell you with some degree of certainty when it will rain.
    Interesting to hear about lasers for treatment of swelling. I still have my bone growth stimulator from 5 years ago when I did a number on my foot.
    I think there’s a certain amount of RICE, positive thinking, prayer, pumpkin soup and courage in seeking treatment and getting better.
    And, it’s always good to check to see if you’re preggo every once in a while 😉
    Thanks for sharing, love the blog and can’t wait to see you back in top form!

  15. Derek

    Hope that the riding gets to be more frequent and the knee is back to 100% in no time. Let us know how the soup turned out, its sounds awesome!

  16. Marcia Valenzuela

    The watts on your ez spin are mind boggling.

  17. Jen

    “With that idea stewing in the back of my mind…”
    Bonus points for good wordplay.

    Knees can suck. Get better!

  18. DJ

    Get well soon Ted! Better to agonize over a few missed races now than starting to early and needing surgery later on in the season…
    but it does Suck. Wear knee warmers in Belgium!

  19. Chris W

    TK – Glad to hear you are on the mend. Having to sit back when all you want is to get out and ride is always rough. Hope to read about your road adventures soon! On another note, the soup sounds delish. Are you aware that Hannaford Inspiration’s has a Pumpkin Spice Butter? The wife is huge fan of pumpkin (she even went so far as to name a cat after it) was excited to see that I’d bought some of the butter. We had used on some chicken the other night and it was delish. If you haven’t tried it before I recommend you grabbing some next time your back in New England.

  20. Debby

    It must be so cool to lead the pace at the front of the peloton. Best wishes for getting back out there soon.

  21. firwave

    Ah Ted, you’re so young, you’re gonna heal right up. News from home region: we’re just on the cusp of sugar season here. Gonna finish up tapping this weekend. Maple goodness will be boiling soon. Weather’s still cold and sleety crap. Snow or green grass is my motto. Rooting for you. You’ll be back at it soon enough…

  22. Steve

    C’mon now Ted. WTF? Why are you looking to Emanuale when Charlie Sheen could clearly get you back on the bike more quickly?

    Just do what Charlie Sheen did. Close your eyes and, in a “nanosecond,” you’ll be “winning.” I mean, you’ll make Alberto Contador and even your own teammates Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali look like “droopy-eyed, arm-less children.”

    If that doesn’t work, then please proceed with your prescribed treatments and I hope that this will help you get back to your vital role in helping Liquigas-Cannondale riders win races just as you did at the Giro di Sardegna.

    Get well soon!


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