Empathy

Just now, Nana was watching over my shoulder as I watched Stage 1 of the Tour de France.

Nana:
I have no idea why this is interesting.
Guy Jean:
That feeling that you’re feeling right now?
Nana:
Yes?
GJ:
That’s what I feel when you’re watching baseball.
Nana:

“The hardest climb in cycling”

Today is Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia, and that means it’s Zancolan time: “10 km at an average 12% gradient, with peaks topping out at 22%,” according to the official site.

“It’s brutal. It’s relentless,” Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White told Cycling Weekly.

For me, it’s the hardest climb in cycling. Bola del Mundo in the Vuelta a España is hard, but this goes on for nine kilometres. It’s 40 minutes for the first riders, but for us mortals, it’s one hour. One hour of going all out.

Sky sports director Matteo Tosatto

Except where noted, all quotes are from Cycling Weekly. Tip o’ the hat to Joe Lejog for the link.

Band-Aid stocks are up

I let Joe know that we were woefully unprepared for road rash incidents. This advice did not come out of nowhere, incidentally …

road rash
Road rash

Some idiots apparently don’t know their limits, and attempt to bunny-hop curbs to avoid traffic. At speed. And it behooves us to be prepared for such idiocy in future. So I told Joe that I’d volunteer to bring the goods for the next ride (or at least the next ride I attempt).

Band-Aids and disinfectant
Band-Aids and disinfectant

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I’d been carrying the omamori from Ai-chan.

Fujisan omamori
Fujisan omamori — thanks, Ai-chan!

Paean to the lowly onigiri

Onigiri, or rice balls, have got to be about the ultimate biking food. Compact, cheap and readily available with a variety of fillings, onigiri provide upwards of 170 calories in a prepared meal that you can eat one-handed in a couple of minutes.

Lunch on the road
Lunch on the road

A representative of MLB in Japan told me that when Matsui went to play with the Yankees, a chef was hired to make him nothing but … onigiri. Onigiri after practice, onigiri after the game.

I don’t know about you, but if I had a chef whose only responsibility was to make rice balls, I’d expect some pretty spectacular rice balls.

The first thing to note about rice balls is they’re … um … triangular.

Triangles of nutrition
Triangles of nutrition

One variety lets the white rice stick above the nori seaweed paper: a Fujisan rice ball.

Rice balls typically come wrapped in a special cellophane envelope which keeps the nori crisp until it’s time to eat. Unwrap by following the numbers: 1, 2, 3.

Mentaiko
Mentaiko: spiced cod roe
Shake
Shake: salmon

It’s true that when I’ve been riding frequently, I can get onigirid out. But considering I burn a rice ball’s worth of calories per hour (or thereabouts) when riding, onigiri are hard to beat.

When I took up riding again more than six years ago after a hiatus of a couple of decades, I would ride five or six hours without eating anything. When I finished I’d eat like a pig, but it was obvious I was abusing myself. I’d get throbbing migraine headaches. Once I took up the habit of tanking up on the go, the problem went away.

And so now I wonder: what will we eat on the road from London to Paris?

PBJ
PBJ?