A typical day of eating whilst cycle touring

I want to comment on the logistics of cycle touring and today it’s the eating. Now those that know me will know that I like a feed and can eat with the best of them.
Cycle touring requires special planning and you must eat correctly or else you will bonk out and have no energy.
On cycle tours, I have found that a bowl of cereal, yogurt and a banana is the best breakfast to get you started on a big day in the saddle.
So, on the footpath or at the campground I will sit with a bowl of cereal and yogurt watching the world go by, this will keep me going into the morning.


After about 1 ½ hours or the 30 km mark I usually stop for coffee and top up the carbs with biscuits or a brought muffin or taste something local, always a nice treat.
In New Zealand I was renowned for finding the bakery and sampling the pies as a mid-morning snack. The sweep (the guy that rides last and makes sure everyone gets to the destination safe) would stop at bakeries along the way and ask if a big Aussie guy on a bike came through and ate a pie, he always got the positive reply.

I generally cycle on after morning tea for another 1 ½hours, then I stop for what I like to call “second morning tea” break. I invented this break and am quite proud of it. Too early for lunch but you need a small break to give you a boost to lunch time. This is usually when the first can of coke or a piece of fruit comes into play, refreshing and a sugar hit to push into lunch.
Lunch
Probably the most important break, this is the one where you can run out of energy if you’re not careful
I will usually buy some bread at the bakery or supermarket earlier in the day so all that is needed is somewhere comfortable to sit out of the sun.
Cut open the bread and stuff it with tomato, cheese and a tin of tuna, perfect lunch to keep you going. Always have a few tins of tuna on in the panniers, they have held me over many a time when food was hard to get.

I generally like an afternoon snack about 15 km from our destination, this lets you rest up before a push on to the finish. I remember in NZ last year, it was pouring rain and we were cold, I managed to sniff out a bakery and myself and a Canadian guy headed inside to warm up with a coffee, and a pie.
‘What’s in the pie?’ he asked, ‘we only have sweet pies back home’
He bites into his first meat pie and he was instantly converted, ‘wow Pete, how did you get on to these, they are fantastic’
‘Were I come from, this is the first solid food we have’ I joked.

If the weather is warm, there is always the opportunity to grab a quick pint of beer at this break, refreshes the pallet and rehydrates, the perfect product 😊

So, after the tent is up, or the bags thrown into the room, I like to take a walk to stretch my legs, sounds strange after cycling all day, but makes sense to me.
If you’re eating out go big on the carbs and replace the protein, I generally eat a plant based diet, but not on tour, I eat anything not nailed down.

Well almost anything not nailed down 🙂
My favorited camp meal is a 2-minute noodle frittata, I have written out the recipe below;
2 Minute Noodle Frittata
Prepare 2-minute noodle 1 pack per serve (and yes Maurice they only take 2 minutes to cook)
Gently sweat off some Hungarian salami to get the oil from the meat,
Add the noodles to the pan
Add an egg mixture 3 eggs and some milk,
When the eggs are set on the base flip the frittata over to cook the top,
Serve with a dark Hungarian ale, why a dark ale you ask? Well funny story, I was preparing this meal in a Hungarian park and there was a café just up the road, whilst the egg was setting I nipped up for a beer and the girl who I brought the beer from misunderstood me and gave me dark beer instead of larger.
Have I mentioned I may not be too good at language 😊

 

At the end of the day I usually like to go to bed with a wee dram of single malt and am never far from my flask 🙂

 

 

The Best Coffee Ever

‘I swear the coffee I had today was the best ever’
‘Best ever Dave, that’s a big call’
‘Yeah it was the best coffee I have ever tasted’
‘So how are you judging this, “best ever coffee”, I am sceptical mate, best ever is just too big a call’
Dave and I in one of our conversations; ‘so you’re saying it was better than any other coffee you have ever had, like Bolero in the 94 Olympics, Torvill and Dean scored a perfect 10, that kind of best ever?’
‘Yeah that kind of best ever’
‘Yeah that performance has been reviewed by experts and although the most outstanding display of ice dancing ever witnessed still not a 10, you can’t give a perfect score’
‘Ok Pete, but we should at least agree on criteria to judge the coffee’
‘That is a fantastic idea mate’
So we grabbed some paper and a pen and started working on the key indicators for a good coffee, below is what we come up with.

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Taste

Out of 2.5 points:   Think about –

Bitterness

Flavour?

Correct strength?

Blend?

Temperature

Out of 2.5 points: think about –

Burnt?

Too hot

Not hot enough

Does it need to be microwaved?

Texture

Out of 2.5 points: think about –

Smooth?

Or grainy and how was incorporation of milk/froth

How much milk froth (dependant on coffee type)

Overall experience

Out of 2.5 points: think about – COST!!!/ Size served? Long wait? Remember you/ your usual order? Was the place clean? Smile? Professional Overall feeling, presentation of coffee…. Choc/ lolly/shortbread

Of course this conversation took several hours and much eye rolling from those present.

A big thanks to Dave for help on this weeks update 🙂

 

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Master of Language part 2

‘Dos entradas para Potosi por favor’ My Spanish is very bad, but I wanted to learn; we have been here for a few weeks and it wasn’t getting any better. Ema on the other hand has perfect Spanish; well it is her mother tongue. The girl selling the tickets smiled at me, ‘Would you like to go 1st class?’
‘You speak English?’ I smiled and looked over my shoulder; Ema was distracted with a street seller out of ear shot.
‘I can get 1st class?’ I moved in closer, I wanted to get this done and report back to Ema that the trip to Potosi was sorted out.
‘Yes of course sir, you can pay $1.50 US for a standard ticket, or pay $5.00 US and you travel 1st class’
We had just spent 4 days on the salt flats in a rented Toyota 4WD. The flats are so vast you need that time get a feel for them. One of the most spectacular places on the flat was the Isla del Pescado, (Fish Island) as the name suggests and island on the salt flats, not approached by boat, but by 4WD. At 3656 metres above sea level we are at risk of altitude sickness, the 4WD spluttered and coughed searching for air and went higher to the 5450-metre mark at the Cerro Laguna Colorada. A lagoon high in the Andes mountains. It was a real adventure and we roughed it in very cold conditions the whole time so the idea of a 1st class bus ride really appealed to me.

 

‘Yes I would like 2 tickets, 1st class please’ I handed over the cash and pocketed the tickets.
‘How did that go?’ Ema asked
‘All sorted, yeah really fitting in here, where does Bolivia end and I start, you may ask’ It’s my standard joke when traveling
Eyebrows raised she passes off my joke without a laugh; she has heard them before, all of them.
‘Yeah, I got us first class tickets, we travel in style tomorrow baby’
Again the raised eyebrow, ‘Are you sure? Do you want me to go in and check’?
‘No, no babe its ok I got this sorted, really starting to get the lay of the land here in South America.’
We wandered off down the road and back to our hostel we needed to rest today before tomorrow’s travel day to Potosi.


The bus was due to leave at 9am so we made our way down to the Terminal de Bus to sort out our ride. This was easier than expected as there is only 2 ways to go, south towards the Argentine boarder, or north towards Potosi. We found our bus and I approached the attendant with the tickets ‘Where are the 1st class seats mate? We got ourselves some 1st class tickets’ tickets held out.
The attendant gave me a very blank look and glanced at the tickets.
‘1st Class mate, 1st class’ I waved the tickets to show what I was talking about.
‘Come on man show me where 1st class is’
The blank look continued, ‘Ema could you sort this out please, these are first class tickets. Ema launched into a conversation in Spanish and before long a wide smile appeared on the attendants face and I was getting worried.
‘How much extra did you pay for “1st class” ‘ Ema asked
‘well the standard fare was $1.50 but these beauties were $5 a sweet bargain I recon’
‘Did the girl who sold you these tickets have a pretty face and could speak English?’
Well yeah, she could speak English, but didn’t notice if she was pretty’ I lied
‘Well Darling she scammed you, there is no such thing as 1st class on these buses’ both Ema and the attendant thought it was amusing.
‘She has been scamming a lot of middle – aged gringos over the last few weeks’ She was laughing now.
I felt rather silly, wasn’t worried that I was ripped off, wasn’t that much cash, just that it was her pretty face that got me.

 

Hallullas

It’s a very simple recipe, 1 kg of baker’s flour, it must be bakers or bread making flour; stronger than plain flour with a higher percentage of gluten.

As with most bread mixes salt is 2% of the flour weight that is 20 grams for those not quick with maths; 35grams of fresh yeast or 14 grams of dried yeast. 10 % or 100 grams of lard, yes lard; this is Chilean bread (Hallullas), vegetable shortening could be used, but for the authentic flavour use the lard, yeah I know I have stated that I like a plant based diet; but I also like to be true to the recipe.
Approximately 600ml of warm water, this can be plus or minus has the stronger the flour the more water it will take.
In a bowl bring the flour, salt yeast and water together to form dough that’s strong and tight. Place on the board and knead for at least 10 minutes and the dough becomes smooth, if you have a good mixer this can be done using the dough hook attachment. Slowly incorporate the lard a small piece at a time until the dough is of a soft consistency and smooth to the touch.

A nice firm dough

Let the dough rest and make yourself a cup of tea; after the water has boiled put some boiling water in a tray at the bottom of your oven (not turned on yet). This will provide a nice humid area to prove the bread.
After the last of your tea has been enjoyed, roll the dough out using a heavy rolling pin; slowly so as not to tear the dough. Scrape some extra lard over the rolled out piece; I learnt this trick from a baker in Punta Arenas, Southern Chile. When we travel I generally gravitate towards the bakeries. To have a chat, see what they make and of course try their products. On a recent cycle trip in New Zealand I was famous for trying the pies at different bakeries across the country.

Meeting up with a Chilean baker

With the rolled out piece fold it over and let it rest for a few minutes, then reroll and re scrape with the lard. Do this 4 times resting between folds. On the final roll, pin out till the dough it’s an even 10mm thickness, using a fork poke and mark the dough all over. Find a suitable 10cm in diameter cutter and cut out disks that are placed on a greased and lined baking tray, like small biscuits. Place them in the oven with the steam from the boiling water the bread starts to rise. They will generally take between 50 minutes to an hour to prove, that is rise to be at least double in size. At this point I spray the bread with water from a hand held atomiser, turn on the oven to 200 o C sit back and let the aroma of fresh bread take over the house.

Letting the bread prove

Check at about the 12 minute mark, the trays might need rotating to get an even bake, usually at the 20 minute mark the bread will be golden brown with a nice bloom; depth of colour, not a pale flatness. I slide them onto wires and that’s when the crowed starts to gather around to split them apart and layer with butter and eat fresh out of the oven. As there is a large amount of fat, they do stay soft for a few days and are perfect the next day with cheese and pickles, or cheese and ham for the meat lovers.
I whipped up a batch last Sunday; it was my father in-laws birthday, so the Chilean crowd gathered to celebrate. The fresh Hallullas went down well and brought back memories of our travels in Chile.

These are lovely fresh from the oven

The Master of Language

‘I can speak fluent Turkish Len it’s true’ I looked towards Terry for conformation, being Aussies helps when your bullshitting an American friend.
‘Yeah sure, he is multi lingual, a real master with the tongue, he has got us out of many a scrape over the past few months’
We were coming to the end of our 4-month bike tour, Terry and I had spent a lot of time together so could finish each other’s sentences. We met up with our American friend Len for the last 3 weeks of the tour up the Turkish coast towards the Gallipoli peninsular.
‘So, your telling me you can speak Turkish?’
‘Sure, as well as Spanish, Italian and French, my Turkish is a little rusty, but it gets us by, don’t it mate?’ again looking to Terry for back up.
It was early October 2013, not many tourists in this part of the world, it’s a challenge to communicate for just the simple things, like tea and coffee.
‘Ok so you’re the language man go in and order us some coffee’ we had been on the road most of the morning, put 40 km in so was ready for a break. The place we selected very remote, a small building selling bread and essential to the locals. Terry and Len took their place at the children’s plastic table and chair set at the front I moved inside to order 3 coffees, confident and cocky as ever.
‘Üç kahve lütfen, ya da iki çay öyle’ it didn’t exactly roll of my tongue, more stuttering and spluttering like a cold 2 stoke motor.
‘And a packet of biscuits too please’ the strange look on the face of the girl told me that I had asked the last part in English and not Turkish.
‘Biscuits, please??’ pretending to feed myself, then I spied a pack on the shelf behind her and pointed ‘Oh bisküvi’ she added with a smile.
‘Yeah them I laughed’
She shooed me out the door to sit with my companions, and gestured that the coffees would be here soon.
‘You Aussies always amaze me, looking at you Pete I would never have picked you could speak Turkish’
‘Yeah, it’s just a natural for him, it sort of just flows off him’ Terry said with a smile.
So, for a brief 5 minutes, I was the go to guy for languages, that was until the girl came out with 2 teas….

The Story of Jenny Girl

The Story of Jenny Girl

It’s bloody cold this morning girl, you still up for your walk?’ I’m sitting at the kitchen table, bent over tying my laces, still half asleep, lethargic. Jenny Girl will always be up for a walk and replies by wagging her tail and getting just a little too excited for a 4.30am stroll around the neighbourhood. It’s when I grab her lead that the excitement becomes too much for her, jumping and carrying on like a pork chop sizzling in the pan.
The advantage of a 4.30 am walk is, we have the road to ourselves, and I can have a chat with her and not look like those crazy people who talk with their pets; I am one, I just don’t want to look like one. Every third or fourth stride she turns her head, just to make sure I’m still there; she really needs to get around the whole lead and collar thing. I know she loves the time we spend together, just quietly I don’t mind her company, she never argues with me and is always happy to see  me; really living up to the claim of man’s best friend.
Jenny Girl started her life on a farm out west of NSW, with her sister, the only survivors of the litter. We should all put in and save these girls, won’t cost much, maybe $100 a month’ it was “Clumpy” one of the drivers who make deliveries to the coal face.
Each! $100 each, are you kidding? What do they feed them caviar?’ I didn’t know much about Greyhound racing; apart from always back the number 1 box, a standard rule for the inexperienced punter, especially after a few beers.
Yeah if we get 5 blokes we all put in $100 a month, that’s $500 a month’
‘So, you can add up, but what does the $500 get us, 2 greyhounds nobody wants?’
My nephew charges $200 a month per dog, plus half the prize money, the dogs will be saved and we have a bit of fun in the racing game’
It wasn’t hard to get another 4 blokes to chip in, so I became part of “The Baker Boys” racing syndicate.
The first time I met Jenny I wasn’t sure she would be running too far, Clumpy brought her for us to have a look and she jumped from the back of his car and laid out on the floor, exhausted from the drive to Wollongong. ‘Come on girl get up and walk around’ Clumpy was trying to be positive. “Come on just walk around a little’ but Jenny was having none of that, she wanted to lie around and that’s what she did.
As time went by and the pups grew, it became clear that the nephew was not really in the racing game, more the dog sitting game and at $200 a pop making a nice profit. As a group, the baker boys became very frustrated with the lack of racing from our racing dogs, so another trainer was needed.
Rich made a few calls and the dogs were moved to Nowra to be trained with Glen, a quiet unassuming guy who had a way with the dogs. He loved the dogs in his care and for me this was a blessing as there are so many stories of mistreatment, The Baker Boys didn’t want any relation to that stain.
I wasn’t putting much thought into Jenny’s prospects as Mark one of the Baker Boys and a greyhound man from way back, would always say “They probably won’t be fast enough for the track, we may have to send them to race in the country’ This was not Mark’s first greyhound, his father owned racing dogs so I listened to what he said.
Jenny aka “Another Sprite” was in fact a very fast dog and started to put a few wins together at Nowra, then Dapto on a Thursday night. She was moving up in the world. Her name was the main topic of conversation in the office, incredible how a 30 second race could be discussed for days on end.
The phone call came through to the coal face office, it was Glen and Jenny was nominated and accepted for a race at Wentworth Park, a city race. To those not in the know, to race in Sydney is the big time for greyhound racing, Mark or his father had never owned a dog good enough for Sydney.
It’s a tough race and she’s only a rough chance at best’ Mark ever the pessimist.
‘I don’t care mate, this is our girl and she’s racing in Sydney, haven’t you heard of Steve Bradbury at the 2002 winter Olympics?’ I would ask, confident, cocky as ever. ‘She’s in the race mate, so she’s a chance’
I was very excited; I even had tea shirts printed up for the Baker Boys. As the night grew closer the excitement at the coalface grew and by the time Friday night rolled around it was no exaggeration to use the cliché “fever pitch”.
We arrived early and took our place very close to the bar; we needed to calm our nerves.
Glen was confident, Rich and Mark put their defensive coats on suggesting that she was outclassed, she was, but she was entitled to be there so we all hoped.
Green light on and she pinged the lids and got out in the front, from the grandstand we had the perfect view and she led into the first turn. Holding her nerve she lost no ground around the back straight. The baker boys all looked on with tension on our faces; she had a real chance, she could do this. Mark was not about to start getting excited; experience taught him that. Rich, Ema and I on the other hand cheered loud, hard and out of our seats riding her home. The pack hits the final turn and Jenny Girl is still in front; but only just. It was a tense last 50 meters, Jenny in front whilst the favourites tried to chase her down, they couldn’t and Jenny Girl crossed the line and with the win came fame and a place in history in the hearts of the baker boys.
Mark actually had tears in his eyes and this brought us close together in a group hug.
We made our way to the catching pen; we needed to pat that girl. So after her urine sample was taken, we got to rub our Jenny Girls belly. She looked at me that night, as she does now and in her eyes the question was Did I do good, did I, did I’
Jenny had a distinguished career; 37 race starts, 7 wins, 1 second place and 9 third placing’s, total prize money $18,000. Half of which went to Glen the trainer, the other half to the baker boys, most of which went behind the bar at Dapto Citizens Bowling Club. It was a fun time whilst it lasted, but like all good things it came to an end. She retired in 2015, her racing career brought so much joy to the baker boys, I don’t think she would ever understand how much conversation she was part of during that magic time.
She lives in Figtree now with Ema and I, part of the family. We have our walk in the mornings and she likes to spend the rest of the day relaxing on the lounge; she earned it. She still looks at me from time to time and asks that same question with her eyes, ‘Did I do good, did I, did I’
‘Yes girl you did good, and if any dog barks at you, ignore them, how many times did they race

and win in Sydney’

It’s Hard Work being Vegetarian

It’s one of those Santiago summer evenings, the atmosphere at the Plaza de Armas awash with humanity. I have the prime seat on the plaza to watch it unfold. I have a schop; ice cold sparkling larger, pale in colour, refreshing on such a warm day. The air is alive with a beat that only resonates in the South American countries, like the working class populace are connected with the Latin beat through mental telepathy. Not walking through life, but swooning, swaying and sliding with attitude. I love it, I love watching it. People watching, it’s one of my favourite pass times, best served when you’re on the road and a long way from home.
The reason I’m here is for the famous Chilean street food, a “completo”, or how I was introduced to them, a Chilean hot dog. I’m lucky; my bride was born not far from where we sit, although it’s been a long time since she was here in Santiago, her local knowledge and native tongue is a valued asset to my mission, to eat my way around South America.
‘Dos Completo por favor’
Ema addresses the waiter who is dressed in tight black pants and a crisp white shirt. He responds back in Spanish and the pair exchange a laugh and smile, is that cheeky bastard flirting with my missus. Another aspect of the people, the macho lifestyle, the men are men and they let you know it.
Not to be outdone I lift my empty beer glass and add ‘Una cerveza, por favor’ it’s the first phrase I learned, months before I set foot on the continent. He smiles and drifts of towards the kitchen.
I ‘ve had these hot dogs at home, Ema whips them up for informal family gatherings, but I wanted one here amongst the people in their capital.
To start it’s a baguette type white roll, not crispy, defiantly not sweet. The frankfurter goes in first, diced tomato covers the frank, sauerkraut spooned in, avocado scraped on top filling any gaps on the expanding bread roll. Squeeze mayonnaise and mustard over the top and you have a “completeo”, this is served in a fit for purpose plastic holder.
15 minutes and several paper napkins later I get through this delicious street food, although I like a street food to be a little less messy it lived up to all my expectations. I take a sip of beer and its then that I decide, that I Peter, will not buy another hot dog unless I am sitting here at the Plaza de Armas it was that good…… or at home, made by Ema being the only other exception to my hot dog pledge.
Fast forward several years to September 2016 and I make the decision to become vegetarian. The story of this choice is another post entirely, but in a nutshell (and there are plenty of those around here) for us it was about the health benefits of a plant based diet. Since we adopted the plant based diet we have stuck true apart from Christmas dinner and our recent holiday, I could rave on about how good I feel but I’m not one of them guys, it’s our choice, ours alone, we’re not trying to change the world, just our little bit of it.
Last Wednesday night we invite the guys around for a meal, and to watch the State of Origin football, we’re not footy heads in our family, but we enjoy these interstate games as one of us is a Queenslander, and we all like to give him a hard time, As it turns out it’s usually Dave who has the last laugh.
‘I’m going to make Chilean Hot Dogs’
‘Yeah but that’s not fare baby, I love them and I’m trying to cut meat out of my diet, especially the processed meat’
‘Don’t you worry, I have a little surprise’
I was intrigued and looking forward to Wednesday to find out this surprise, maybe there is a way to enjoy what I love and still hold true to the plant based life.
Wednesday night rolled around and the local branch of the family all showed up.
‘Yes we’re having Hot Dogs, feels like it’s been ages’ was the general response, the younger members of the family not that impressed with our decision to go plant based, almost to the point of trying to get us back, like we have been seduced by a cult.
‘Yeah but what are you eating Dad, you’re a veggo’ more mocking as if looking after your health is a crime.
It’s then that Ema produces what is pure brilliance, or at least in theory, carrots peeled and carved into the shape of frankfurts, boiled to softness, marinated overnight in soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and BBQ sauce. Then pan fried and served alongside the favorited condiments that make up the Chilean hot Dog. There is a stunned silence, then as Ema brings the real frankfurts to the table for the others a small chuckle breaks out, this turns into a riotous laughter as they realize the “carrot dogs” are for me and they get the real ones.
I jump in with the righteousness that takes over the vegetarian and taste the inventions, it’s carrots and I like carrots as a rule, like them with other vegetables, like them shredded in a salad, at a pinch I can eat them in batons dipped into salsa when the diet says you shouldn’t use corn chips. I go ahead and assemble my hot dog in anticipation, the eyes of the family upon me as I take the first bite.
‘Well, how is it?’ the chorus chimes in, ‘is it any good?’
I place my hot dog on the plate and prepare for the reply.
‘Do you know what would make this taste really good?’ I ask the whole family and they wait for me to answer.
‘A rasher of bacon wrapped around that bloody carrot’