Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the why

A cross friend, FatMarc, asked on Facebook "Why do you race your bicycle?"

My answer... "I love finding my limits. Physically, mentally, emotionally. In training and in racing. :)"

But it's more than that.  I love expanding those physical limits, becoming smarter tactically, and learning to tough through the hard parts of racing.  And training.  I love the feeling of sliding my bike around a corner at speed.  I love a set of clean barriers. I love that feeling of power on a bike - that I'm driving it. I love sticking it up a tough climb in a long race.  Especially when I pass a guy (or three) walking up it (sorry, but we call that getting chicked). I love digging out of that mental cave that comes at some point in every long race.  Knowing my body well enough to push hard or harder, force myself to eat, and even pull from a race. I love seeing friends at the start.  Cheering for them in their races, seeing them in the pit, talking about bike parts. Surrounding myself most weekends with others who value lifelong health.

But there's more training than racing, despite the way this blog goes.  And I love racing because it keeps me training.  Keeps me focused (at least somewhat) on eating well and taking care of my body.  Lets me feel energetic, healthy, and strong. Lets me feel proud of myself.  And these are all the reasons that I encourage other women (and men) to race.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fresh ginger gelato

Scouring the internet for ginger gelato recipes... As the result of a good-natured bet, I'm making ice cream for my coach, who had some pretty awesome success at track nationals.  Ginger ice cream recipes are easy to find, but no gelato.  For the unintiated, gelato has a lower ratio of heavy cream to milk, so is lower in fat and tends to come out of my little ice cream maker creamier.  So, I modified a basic gelato recipe and a ginger-infused ice cream recipe to come up with this:

Fresh Ginger Gelato
makes 1 1/2-2 quarts

  • 4 cups milk - technically, this should be whole milk - I often use 2% - this time it's skim because that's all the co-op had left
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • scant 1 1/2 cups of super fine sugar - this is less sugar than in most American recipes but closer to what my Silver Spoon Italian cookbook recommends for gelato; honestly I think this could be more like 1 cup if you use good milk and cream
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh ginger - chopped into 1/2 inch pieces - this seems like a lot but looks like less when it's in the milk - this is about the yield from a 4-6" chunk of ginger

Combine milk, cream, ginger and half the sugar.  Scald over low to medium heat until bubbly, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and allow ginger to infuse the milk for 20-30 minutes.  Return to heat and stir constantly until returns to a simmer. Prepare egg yolks by whisking in a large bowl with the remaining sugar until frothy.  Slowly combine hot milk mixture into eggs, whisking constantly to prevent scrambling.  Pour the mixture back into a pan and heat over medium flame with constant stirring until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon without erasing a line drawn with a finger (before clumps begin to form!).  Strain custard into another bowl set in an ice water bath to chill the custard (or overnight in fridge). Save approximately 1/4 cup of the ginger chunks from the straining (with their clumpy custard if there is some) and shred in food processor.  Add back to custard before freezing.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker, allowing to harden for a few hours to overnight.  Garnish with small chunks of crystallized ginger.

But what you really wanted was:

Peach Ginger Gelato

So... I made the above and used about a third of it for my peach ginger experiment. Mix 2 cups of pureed fresh, peeled peaches into 3 cups of the cooled custard before freezing.  The edges of the freezer bowl tasting is good but a little too raw. Next time: simmer sauteed peaches with 1T rum and 1/2 cup brown sugar or to taste for about 10 minutes.

Sorry, no pictures this time!  Just yumminess...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

safety stop

Sometimes, you get a jolt of reality 4 hours into a long race.  I just scrapped the meanderingly long race report I was writing for the Big Bear Ultra - a 50 miler that I won last year (women's open field had a mere 2 of us) and got second by about 15 minutes to regional powerhouse Betsy this year (!).  My time was 34 minutes faster than 2010.  It was cooler but substantially wetter.  I had a bit of mechanical trouble with a shoe and a rotor.  It was a good day on the bike.  A day where I was mentally tougher and more motivated than I've been lately.

Love racing Big Bear - somehow, like 4 hours goes by before I start to have negative thoughts about being on the bike.  At about that time on Saturday, when I was entering the bonk that would persist until I re-gu'd myself, I reached a trail intersection where two of my compatriots were stopped and off their bikes.  I asked if they had everything they needed, thinking they were fixing a flat.  But, as I rolled away, I realized this was a more organic stop... later, I'd learn it's called a "safety stop" in West Virginia.  Reality check - we do this racing schtuff for fun!  And it was.  Love racing Big Bear.