Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stories from the Trail : Food, Glorious Food!

By Derek aka Gadget

So I’m apparently the one that’s best placed to comment about our great mtb eating out adventure which started in Haenertsberg’s Iron Crown Pub with carbo loading draft beers and ended at Swaziland's Bulembu Country Hotel with ‘serious’ milkshakes @ a mere R12 a pop excl GST !

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that whenever anyone was looking my way I had a bacon, egg & cheese sammie in my mouth or just because I relate most of my mountain biking adventures in terms of the catering that was provided.

Well, no mountain biking adventure of note is complete if it can’t sustain its epic riders, ‘vakansie perde’ and those breakfast riding, weekend guru’s that reside somewhere in between.

We had a spectacular adventure and the support along the way ensured we were more than well catered for. You can’t exactly ride for six days in a row through some of the country’s biggest mountain ranges without food now can you ? Our hosts at all the overnight stops were well briefed on what to expect from a pack of ravenous mountain bikers and boy did they step up...

Breakfasts usually included porridge or cereals, yogurts, fruit juices along with significant quantities of deliciously crispy bacon, sausages, farm fried sunnyside eggs, toast and jams with the regular coffee & tea’s etc.

We even had freshly baked chocolate muffins one morning – Wow ! Of course not everyone can ride straight up a mountain on such a big breakfast so it’s always a good idea to make sammies for second breakfast. Ok, so I make two and maybe a muffin too...Strewth, you never know what might befall you up in those mountains - you might actually have to share one !

We were always provided with equally delicious lunch packs mostly carried in the backup vehicles which met us around halfway every day. These lunch ‘packs’ ranged from platters of sammies to personalised boxed lunches of frikkadels, boiled egg, cold salty roast tatties, banana, apple, muffin, selected fruit juices & even a chokkie ! No shortage of carbs & protein - is there?

So what about afternoon tea and dinner ? Well afternoon tea usually coincided with our daily finishes. Yes we actually rode quite hard despite all the royal catering and frequent water stops along the way. Temperatures soared to above 40*C on a number of big riding days so hydration was critical. Here our backup vehicles played a crucial role and provided ice cold cokes, fruit juices and fresh water. When no backup vehicle was around, Spaza shops worked equally well.

A most memorable spaza stop was around midday when a group of us were craving an ice cold coke after traversing a mountain range and ending up in the 42*C Olifants river valley. The lovely Ester Maboqwani (“I’m so heppy”) had these on hand and we each consumed a litre and more.

Our most memorable afternoon tea must be the one we had at Kaapsehoop. We started the day riding out of a valley near Long Tom pass and ended it riding up a 23km swelteringly hot 42*C climb to Kaapsehoop.

Our guide for the day, Dennis, promised us that there were the best sweet or savoury pancakes ever at the top of the climb and boy was he right !!! The owners spaniel named ‘Lieflap’ thought so too....

You might think that after all this feasting every day that dinner was a lazy underrated affair.  Well you’d be dead wrong! How about Borsht with frozen vodka for starters, Maranga chicken & basmati rice served with sides of fresh garden salad, spicy beans and pickled jalapeno chillies rounded off with crème caramel topped with pomegranate and chocolate ! All this served on a silver dinner service & accompanied by fine white wines and copious snores for the rest of the night in the trout bungalow next to a burbling brook...

Or how about a piping hot choice of chicken or beef lasagne with fresh garden salad or beef potjie and rice. At Queens Rose we were treated to smoked ham & banana mayo starters with crisply roasted farm chicken, roast potatoes, rice & gravy, cinnamon & sugar pumpkin fritters topped off with a hot brandy & custard tart....

And last but not least there are always the foodie oddities: Ben with a white bread & Bar One sammie, Gadget picking fresh tea for the pot at Senteeko and poor Dennis desperately trying to revive a hot banana that rode 30km sandwiched between his backpack and riding shirt...

I’ve since joined a therapy group for recovering mountain biking foodie’s if anyone is interested. Most meetings start thus: “Hi my name is Gadget and I ate way too much food on that mountain biking adventure ride...

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