Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chocolate and Cycling

Chocolate and cycling have shaped and influenced my life for the past 20 years. The two are closely linked to each other, at least for me! "How in the world can chocolate and cycling be linked," you ask?

If it wasn't for my love of chocolate, I wouldn't have studied abroad and landed my job with 2 Swiss confectioners in Atlanta, next door to Raja! I tried to catch his eye with my prowess on the bike and endless offerings of chocolate “rejects” from our kitchen. Once I had him snagged, he introduced me to this different kind of riding called mountain biking.

That's the short version of how chocolate and cycling have influenced my life, and the two continue to shape and color my world. Over the years, chocolate has slowly taken backstage, and cycling has taken front and center. Every year, about this time, my chocolate gets to share the stage with my cycling.

Our annual Christmas party is one of the few occasions that rates the effort of truffle making. And I always like to make some truffles for some special Christmas gift giving!

All it takes is some high quality European chocolate. I prefer Belgian. My favorite is dark chocolate, but most people like milk chocolate, so I do my best to comply. Hersheys will not do. You need professional quality chocolate (which can sometimes be found at Harry's). I'm fortunate to have a French Baker that hooks me up.

Combine the chocolate with heavy cream and butter. But don't forget the secret ingredient.

Mmmmmmm, chocolate! It's why I cycle......I can eat all the chocolate I want without the guilt. And I can whip up my own chocolate birthday cake for an apres ride treat.

The promise of chocolate after a ride is the only way I can get my friends to ride with me.

What better way to celebrate one's birthday than with mountain biking, friends, and chocolate!?! Happy Birthday to me!

My roadie friend, Geoff, has taken to mtn biking nicely.
Even seasoned racer, Alexis, has to work hard to keep chase with Geoff now that he's discovered how much fun riding knobbies can be. He's also just discovered that not all chocolates are created equal. He showed up on a ride with a big smile and a bag of Lindor chocolate truffles. He's found the right friend in me. I can teach him a few things about chocolate!

Mike rides his singlespeed for chocolate.

Barry has long been a fan of mine. I made the groom's cake for Alexis and Barry's wedding 11 yrs ago.

Sweetwater. Hmmmm, he's getting married soon....

and my sweet, Raja. The one responsible for my magical life of cycling and chocolate!

We rode the Snake Creek Time Trial course preride yesterday.

It was 4 hrs and 20 minutes of sheer torture. Well, the first 3 hrs aren’t that bad. You climb through beautiful singletrack, with nothing super techy challenging. Just lots and lots of climbing.

There are long fun descents that require some bit of technical know-how, and a full suspension bike doesn't hurt. You reach the gravel road climb thinking you’re almost home free. Ah, contrare. I don’t mind the climb, I just mind what comes after it.

You take a left back into the singletrack that runs along the ridge line. The problem is, all the rocks and boulders in the universe have been temporarily transported to this very trail. At this point, I’ve already got thousands of feet of climbing in my legs after about 28 miles. My riding skills are shot out the window, as it takes all my concentration just to stay upright. The last couple of miles are a real test of mental strength, and require nerves of steel.

My back was killing me, and had been since mile 4. I could not get the power out through my legs; a real problem when you’re trying to climb a mountain of loose rocks. Raja and I had long since split up, and I found myself riding from person to person. Travis and Teron had paced me for a good hour, but Travis had fallen back and Teron wanted to stop for food. I couldn’t afford any more breaks, lest I lay down and wait for the MediVac to fly me out. We actually came across a guy that was building a shelter while he waited for….another ride, help, I don’t know?

The whole day I had been yo-yoing with Carey Lowery, a super shredder pro. She was taking it easy today and would periodically wait for her training partner.

Being alone on the last few miles (and hardest miles) of singletrack, I heard Carey coming up on me. I’m glad she was with me as my witness at this point. We came upon a rider that had gone beyond bonking. He was completely postal, screaming and yelling. Pedaling by as quickly as possible, we wanted to get as far away from him as we could. I’m not sure how he ever came to grips with the situation, but I did see him finish. Raja spoke with him afterwards and said he wasn’t very coherent!

The thought of biting into my chocolate that was waiting for me at home, was the only thing that kept me going those last few miles. You see, when you thrash your body for over 4 hrs, I figure you can eat as much chocolate as you want! Yes, chocolate makes everything better.

Today I have just finished off the last of "my" truffles; I made a special stash of dark chocolate ones for me, Nancy, and Janusz. And Raja got his fix of milk chocolate treats. Enough to soothe our aching muscles and fade out yesterday's harsh memories.

December is a fun month; Celebrating Christmas with two of my favorite passions, chocolate and cycling.

See how nicely my cycling buddies clean up! The only time of year I get to
see them in something other than Lycra.
Cam and Robert lookin' good.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Good Chocolate to All!


Arleigh said...

Is the trail ridable alone or would you recommend riding with someone that has been there before? I need to work on my climbing skills and this sounds like a great place

i8chocolate said...

arleigh, I would defnitely do this one with someone. If you aren't familiar with the trail, there are a few places to get turned around. And it is a point to point ride. Either need a shuttle or have to ride on the road 8 miles. It's a good workout!

Cam said...

Having been allowed to sample some of these wonderful truffles I can tell you right now… they are GOOOODDDDD!!!!!

Lyndsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky said...

Happy Birthday Laurie!!!! Do you think you could mail some of your world-famous truffles this way?? ;) Oh well - Enjoy some extra for us - You definitely deserve it after all that riding!

Namrita O'Dea said...

great post! those truffles look amazing. hopefully i can ride with you again soon :)