Sportique is a European brand of skin care products. They specialize in all-natural creams, balms and oils. In addition to any number of products for ordinary folk, they offer some athlete and cyclist-targeted products. Frankly, in looking around their web site, I was a little overwhelmed at the sheer number of products they offer. These people really care about skin.
Last spring I got the opportunity to try some Sportique products. The first two I pressed into service were the Warming Up Cream and the Century Riding Cream (a review of which will follow shortly). As should be evident from the name, the Warming Up Cream is an embrocation.
One thing that immediately impressed me about Sportique was their, shall we say, New World approach to skin care. On their mission page there is a long paragraph devoted to all the ingredients they don’t use. From sulfate derivatives to parabens, the list is long and dominated by five- and six-syllable words.
Of course, the first thing you discover in any embro is the smell, and in this Sportique is pure Old World. It smells like what I imagine a Swedish massage therapist’s studio would. A wave of camphor, some spicier notes, it conveys comfort on a cold morning.
The cream is light and rather orange colored, and is as easily squeezed from the flip-top tube as toothpaste. This latter detail means you end up with no more on your hand or leg than is really necessary. And because it’s so light in consistency it goes a long way.
Capsicum is the coal that fires the furnace and this stuff is warms up reasonably quickly. How hot is it? On a 10 scale I give it a 5. By comparison, I give Mad Alchemy’s Russisch Thee a 6 and Record’s Pregara Forte a 3. And for those of you who need a nuclear option, there is the Get Going Cream which professes to be for “extreme conditions.” I’ve been dying to try it but just haven’t had any weather in the 90210 that could be called “extreme.”
This stuff has staying power. I’ve noticed it keeping me warm four to five hours into a ride, or after the ride, as the case may be. I don’t tend to use this stuff if I’m not going out at least three hours. I use Dawn to wash it off to the best of my ability, but on chilly days, I kinda like having personal leg warmers inside my jeans.
I took the Warming Up Cream with me to France this past summer because I knew there would be some days in the mountains that were both cold and wet. The fact that it came in a tube with a flip top made it ideal for traveling; I squeezed a little air out of the tube and shut it. There was no need to scoop it off the lid as with some brands.
I’ve yet to get through the 6 oz. tube, but then this wasn’t the only embro I used last season (and a few times this season). A tube goes for $19.95. You can find this and other Sportique products here.
Out of context, it’s beautiful, lazy white clouds billowing and dancing on the breeze. Except, in this case, those clouds are the noisome farts of a long line of idling automobiles. They are benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde (all known carcinogens), carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter. In the wintertime, when air temperatures drop, the density of pollutant gases goes up, so they linger at street level, mesmerizing and choking.
It’s quaint, Clarendon Street, Boston. A narrow road bisecting the Back Bay neighborhood, paved over landfill mostly. On it stands the historic Trinity Church and the towering, modern Hancock Building. A wind tunnel forms there that has been known to blow unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclists right onto their surprised asses. Around the corner is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness headquarters. Upscale dining and retail establishments cluster at roadside, accommodating the needs and whims of Boston’s hip urban workforce.
Cars park up both sides of the street, narrowing it further, and in the winter morning rush hour, it is lined with automobiles slinking across town to the South End. Exhaust billows lazily from 100 idling tail pipes, like cigarette smoke in a close, still room, almost hypnotic, like that shit that floats around in a lava lamp.
Most mornings, I use Clarendon to get to the office, weaving my way along the narrow gap between parked cars and their still-mobile kin. It is in this gap that I find myself struggling to regulate my breathing , trying to avoid ingesting massive amounts of exhaust, holding my breath and ducking through the clouds.
It is it’s own sort of cardio-vascular challenge.
Do your lungs itch? It might be a chest cold, a touch of bronchitis, or it might be these pollutants which are known to irritate sensitive bronchi and lungs, forcing airways to narrow, making it more difficult to breathe. As it turns out, carbon monoxide has this amazing ability to combine with hemoglobin, several orders of magnitude better than oxygen itself. That means that, on top of the narrowing of airways that makes it harder to get oxygen into the respiratory system, car exhaust also forces oxygen out of your circulatory system. If you have asthma, all of these effects are compounded further.
If you are riding in city traffic and you are developing regular headaches or dizziness, you may already be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Or maybe your symptoms are more subtle. In cold weather, you may notice a surfeit of phlegm or mucus. This can be a result of exposing your lungs to cold air for the first or second time in a season, or it may be the result of the thickening of bodily fluids that comes from regular inhalation of particulates.
Certainly there are some masks on the market aimed at filtering all this bad shit out of the lungs of urban commuters. Respro makes one, G-Flow makes one, ICB makes one , Filt-R makes one, but do any of these seem practical? I am fighting an internal battle, weighing the value of not suffering my regular winter bronchial maladies vs. the discomfort of wearing and maintaining one of these masks all winter.
Will I one day look back on the cumulative effects of years of urban cycling and kick myself for not doing this one simple thing? Was there any point in quitting smoking in my 20s? Is it better to wait for one of the myriad studies on the high costs of urban air pollution to change the way we use our cities by removing so many of these pollution belching vehicles? Probable answers: yes, yes, and no.
The truth is, I would far rather suffer through some bronchial uncertainty than consign myself to the couch for the winter. That way, after all, lies madness. And obesity. I don’t need to tell you about the health risks associated with that extra layer of winter fat, not to mention the deleterious effects on your love life.
No, life is dangerous if you live it right. This winter I will go on bobbing and weaving like a welter weight in a title fight. As it turns out, the air quality inside the cars isn’t any better than in the wafting cl0uds outside.
For most of the last 40-odd years I’ve been on the planet my mother has asked me for a Christmas wish list. I’ve obliged each and every year, though the results have not always been satisfying. My mom has this belief that if I received everything on my list, the experience would be dissatisfying, a Christmas-day letdown due to the utter lack of surprise. Naturally, I took exception with this, “Let me find out how dissatisfied I’d be.”
As an adult, most of the things I really want I don’t expect my parents to provide for me at Christmas, so my requests don’t have the urgency you would expect to find in a 14-year-old wishing for a slot-car track.
Even now, I still have my wishes. I don’t expect most of these to take place, but as this is the season of wanting, I figured I’d get these out of the way before I go shopping for toys for my son that I think will be fun.
I want YouTube clips of Champion riding in the Triplets of Belleville.
I want a 13-lb. steel bike that is reliable and turns heads the way a Ferrari does.
I want a Richard Sachs. Now.
I want a week of riding and wine in Sonoma County.
I want to climb all the 2000-meter cols in France. Then Italy.
I want to ride la Marmotte and l’Eroica.
I want a contract with Chronicle Books.
I want Dick Pound to shut up.
I want to climb 6-percent grades in my 53×19 like I used to.
I want to go for a ride with Eddy Merckx.
I want to hug Paolo Bettini’s mama.
I want to have a conversation in French with Bernard Hinault.
I want a 2-ounce camera with a Leica lens that shoots 20 megapixel images to take on rides. And a strap that makes it impossible to drop.
I want to drive to races in a Citroen 2CV that can’t break down.
I want to retire in the Cote d’Azur.
I want to know which drugs Jan Ullrich didn’t take.
I want to descend like Sean Yates did.
I want a chain I don’t have to clean.
I want 320tpi tubulars that don’t flat.
I want Alberto Contador to come clean.
I want 26 hours in a day and the ability to multi-task effectively so that I can work more hours each and play with my son while concentrating as I write a new post for RKP.
I want to wear PRO-style long socks and not get an effed-up tan line.
I want to race Killington again.
I want the metabolism of a 14 year old.
I want a responsible organization to replace the UCI.
I want a time machine so I can be 25 again, but this time I would train seriously.
I want to win a mountain stage of the Tour de France.
Oh hell, I want to be the greatest cyclist ever.
Let us, just on this most shamelessly consumerist day of days, let go the idea that covetousness is a bad thing. Sure, it is comprised of at least four of the seven deadly sins (gluttony, greed, lust and envy), but passion is a complicated force, equal parts good and corrupt.
All across the United States, misguided souls queued outside giant shopping plexes, credit cards flexed in anticipation of “bargains” and the unfettered license given to consumption on the biggest shopping day of the year.
At my house the World Cycling Productions catalog arrived, sat on the back of the toilet for a week, and each of the items circled in pen that I hope my wife will at least consider acquiring on Santa’s beneficent behalf. Craft, Castelli and Assos each beckon from those pages. I have thumbed through their offered wares like a kid with a Toys R’Us circular, wanting that one, no that one.
This Fridays’ Group Ride is a simple one. What do you want for Christmas/Hannukah/Kwaanza/Festivus/TheHellOfIt?
We are, of course, offering some cycletastic items in the RKP store, and hope you will consider them as gifts either for yourself or others. There are RKP socks in fine fabric and high style, brand new RKP water bottles, specially made for us by our friends at Specialized, a limited edition shirt celebrating the World Championship of Thor Hushovd, and even full and luxurious RKP kit, bibs, warmers, and jerseys.
When I think back on the moments from this season that excited me to be a cyclist, my mind turns on two events. They are Fabian Cancellara’s attacks that resulted in victory at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara’s wins were impressive, but what made me love them and return to them in my head, over and over had as much to do with the attacks as the wins themselves. When Cancellara attacked on the Muur de Grammont, he did so for reasons that were more than just strategic. He chose that spot as much for its historic importance in the race.
After the race was over he said, “I suppose it was a perfect race. Even my attacks were perfectly timed. Going on the Molenberg was the right moment and then I had to try on the Muur [de Grammont] because that’s where the legend and history of this race are made. When I realised I’d dropped Boonen it was like having wings on my feet and kept going all the way to the finish.”
Just a week later he accomplished the rare feat of taking the Flanders/Roubaix double, but of course, he didn’t attack just anywhere, but moments before entering the Mons-en-Pevele sector of cobbles—one of the truly decisive sectors with a history of changing the race.
Despite an idiotic effort to dull the luster of his wins with an allegation of using a motorized bike, Cancellara’s wins have given us the opportunity to revel in watching a stunningly strong cyclist ride the world off his wheel.
His wins were convincing. They were well timed. They were brave. They were also incredibly stylish.
I love style. I love PRO. But style is a luxury. It is the flourish that comes only when the rest of one’s craft is assured.
This is a lesson I learned in skateboarding more than 30 years ago. My friends and I could carve a brave line in a pool, grind the coping, even catch air. And while we were competent, most of us were short on the confidence that gave our posture on the board that extra spice that could make our friends cheer.
What I came to appreciate was how the arch of skater’s back sang of assured grace, how balance wasn’t a goal, but a plaything. That gently curving spine was all choice, no question.
Watching Cancellara spin a gear lower than Tom Boonen, stay seated and then drop him on the Muur de Grammont was an attack I could believe. After all the doping scandals, all the questions, it was a move I didn’t doubt. There was style in his strength and it was a moment I cheered.
The cleat on my left foot was about 1mm further to the center line than the one on my right foot. My saddle was about 1cm too high, and the angle of my bars was about 5 degrees off the ideal. As a result, I was only a little uncomfortable. Over 20k, I only noticed a little, but over greater distances, the little bits of discomfort accumulated into a sore knee, an achy back and numb hands.
The slow build up of pain left me thinking about grade school biology and the lesson on bioaccumulation. The classic example of bioaccumulation in an ecosystem is DDT, the pesticide that leached into ponds, lakes and rivers in the 1950s after being used to treat nearby crops. As small organisms absorbed the poisons in minute quantities, scientists were tempted to declare the substance safe, but as those same small organisms were consumed by larger predators and the poison accumulated in their systems, what was once viewed as a miracle cure for insect infestation, became an infamous cause of environmental disaster.
Think of a badly adjusted saddle as DDT. Sure, you’re only a centimeter off, nothing over the first ten thousand pedal strokes, but eventually the damage accumulates. That little rock in your hips that is the tell-tale sign of too much seat post turns into a week off the bike. Likewise a marginally misaligned cleat, which will give you ITBFS (illio-tibial band friction syndrome) over the space of a fortnight, can ruin your riding for months at a time. Believe me, I know.
Handlebar angle can also be quite important, not just for aerodynamics and comfort, but also for blood flow and nerve health. Ride with bars too narrow or too acute to your posture and you can get ‘handlebar palsy’, a condition similar to carpal tunnel syndrome that will leave your hands numb. Narrow bars can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome itself, by encouraging you to rest the center of your hand/wrist on the bend of the bars above the hoods.
What makes injuries like these so frustrating is that their causes can be hard to pin down. Because you’re only very subtly uncomfortable, it can be hard to make the connection between bike fit and injury. Really, it’s so much better to confine your cycling-related injuries to the road rash incurred by a touch of wheels in a town-line sprint. Sure, it hurts like hell, but the cause-and-effect of it is so much easier to diagnose … and correct.
I notice that when I am tired, I will let my left knee fall inward, which gives me a little more down stroke power, but derives that power from an unnatural torquing of the knee joint. Form counts nearly as much fit.
As a nobody (a proud nobody, thanks), I don’t have a coach or a trainer or a masseuse or a mechanic to help me along. My “season” is a thing called a “year,” and my off-season is a thing called “injury.” If I want to stay in the saddle, I have to be acutely aware of all these little forces accumulating in my body, the bumps of the road dissipated through my lumbar spine, the reach of my cranks carrying joints and muscles forward inertially. The thing about bioaccumulation is that you seldom know it’s even occurring until the system breaks down.
I’m just young enough that the movie and television Westerns of the ‘50s and ‘60s escaped me. Even when Daniel Boone, Bonanza and other shows of the genre went into reruns, I never got the bug. I didn’t play cowboys and Indians; my friends and I were the third-grade equivalent of WWII re-enactors.
However, my father was a big fan of the Westerns and a few years ago we visited the Gene Autry Museum. It was a curious place to me. I find 10-gallon hats odd in the same way most folks think cycling shorts are strange. Among the things we encountered was a display with Autry’s Cowboy Code. I knew nothing of Autry’s reputation as the gentleman cowboy and on first reading, I found the code to be quaint.
Here’s Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code:
1) The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2) He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3) He must always tell the truth.
4) He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5) He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6) He must help people in distress.
7) He must be a good worker.
8) He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9) He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
10) The Cowboy is a patriot.
The opportunities for ridicule and comedy are just too plentiful and easy. See rule 1.
I read it a second time and was reminded of the Boy Scouts’ Laws (trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent … yes, I still remember them).
As I considered them further, I began to see that the code reflected many of my views on how I believe I should behave on group rides. As I’m only slightly more exemplary a citizen than Rod Blagojevich, let me say this is what I aspire to.
We’ll take them as a David Letterman-style top-10 list:
10) The rider is a patriot. I take this to mean representing my team well. I’m not going out swaddled in stars and stripes on each ride, but I think I do have a responsibility to try not to be a d@#$ (always), especially when I’m in my team’s kit.
9) He must respect women, parents and his nation’s laws. While most of the women riders I know I’ve been riding with for at least 10 years (and the last thing they want from me is pity masquerading as chivalry), every now and then a new woman shows up. I do what I can to helpful. Parents? Still don’t know where that one fits, but respecting my nation’s laws I translate as sticking with the group’s etiquette. This means not blowing a red light if the group is stopping, and it also means not stopping at the stop sign if the group is rolling and there are riders behind me.
8) He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits. There is little hope for my thoughts, so we’ll just move along. As for speech, this is one I have to work on. Once, at the turnaround for a TTT, my teammate leading into the turn stood up and sprinted away from us and the rest of us were still rounding the cone. I unleashed a shotgun spray of expletives intended to slow him down; all it did was come within a couple of quarks of getting us disqualified. How clean are my actions and personal habits? I’m not doing anything that could be construed as doping. No problems there.
7) He must be a good worker. This one is obvious isn’t it? Get to the front and do your turn. That’s been harder of late, but I’ve never been one to shirk my pull. I’ll kill myself for a teammate. Love that stuff.
6) He must help people in distress. I usually stop for riders in my group who flat, but admit there are times when something else short-circuits me and I don’t pull over. I always feel embarrassed later. I often stop for riders I don’t know, though on one occasion I was with a friend and we asked a guy if he had everything. He responded, “If I did, do you think I’d be standing here?” As smart-ass goes, it was pretty funny, and we decided he should get the chance to use the line on some other folks. Maybe not the best choice.
5) He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas. ‘Nuff said. That stuff doesn’t play well anywhere.
4) He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. For me, this refers to the care I take when I’m riding on the bike path or through residential and retail areas where there are people about. Charging down the bike path in my big ring at noon ranks on the morality scale way ahead of Goldman Sachs partner, but it still isn’t cool.
3) He must always tell the truth. I’ve been known to tell a fib or two (per day), but for me, this one, again, resonates with doping. Not really a problem where group rides are concerned, but because this is aspirational and my aspirations key on the PROs, that’s how my sense of truth in cycling is tuned.
2) He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him. I suck at this. It’s not that I can’t be taken in confidence, the problem is when I say I’ll show up on a ride, what I mean is that I intend to be there. A lousy night of sleep for me, my wife or the little guy can derail my plans like a toy train swatted by a cat. Diseases go double. I mean to be there, even when I’m glad I’m not rolling out of the garage.
1) The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage. Okay, there are exceptions to everything and this is no … nevermind. If you don’t attack first, then you have, at best, counter attacked. Now, I see hitting a smaller man in more metaphoric terms; I see this in terms of hitting the ill-equipped: Don’t attack a newcomer or Fred. In other words, don’t bring a gun to a knife fight.
As for the last element, the admonition not to take an unfair advantage, I see this as the ultimate gentleman litmus test. If you hear the sound of people crashing, do you attack? I have to admit when I was a new racer, I’d drill it when I heard grinding metal. I soon realized that once I really knew my competition I wanted to make sure that if we didn’t all get to the finish together it needed to be for sporting reasons. On those occasions the riders most likely to finish ahead of me flatted out, I discounted my performance in my head.
Opinions varied wildly about Alberto Contador’s counter attack to Andy Schleck’s attack during stage 15 of the Tour, and the incident is a subtext to this post that can be scarcely avoided. On a training ride, attacking when another rider has crashed strikes me as inexcusable. In racing, when a career is on the line, I can understand that someone might not choose to wait. Waiting is nothing short of classy, but racing rarely rewards class. But what is more PRO than class?
Still, if Tyler Farrar wins a sprint, I will cheer more if he comes off Mark Cavendish’s wheel, rather than if Mark Cavendish’s wheel comes off.
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International
Forgive my candor, but I write today about my pee.
You see, like our canine and feline friends, after every pee, and poop for that matter, I inspect the contents of my toilet bowl. Mind, you I don’t stick my head all the way in there to put my nose right up to it, but I do give a good look and take in its aroma. I do this for this same reason dogs, cats, and I should imagine other mammals do, chiefly, as a gauge of my health. Bodily excrement says a lot about the state the state of one’s health, and from the yellow and brown stuff, I can get a good idea about if I am well hydrated and have sufficient fiber in my diet, among other things.
Then, the other day, something odd happened. My pee didn’t smell they way it should. I knew instantly that something was off, but what? I stood above the bowl with furrowed brow, and exhorted all the powers of my olfactory. Like a sommelier detecting the flavor profile of a Pinot Noir, I inhaled attempting to distill what had tainted my pristine pee.
I was flummoxed.
My first thoughts went to asparagus, which always adds it own particular bouquet. However, I counted back to realize that I had not eaten any for four days, so it couldn’t be that. I went to bed with the mystery unsolved.
The following morning, upon returning to the loo, I duly peed, and again my nose was accosted by this offending aroma. Determined, I took a deep whiff, and processed it through the data bank in my head. The olfactory nerve is closely tied to the amygdala and the hippocampus parts of the brain where much of our long term memory is stored. My pee had smelled like this before, but when, and for what reason.
Some hours later, it hit my like a ton of bricks. My pee smelled like it would if I had taken a dose of antibiotics.
How could it be? I had not taken any antibiotics, nor medication of any kind for nearly three years, but I distinctly recalled the smell of my pee during a round of penicillin to clear up an infection before having some teeth ripped out.
I soon realized when and where I had been unintentionally doped.
I don’t eat out often, or at least not as often as many people I know, and when I do, I make every reasonable effort to eat healthy, wholesome food. At home, all meats and produce are strictly organic, or at least all-natural. (For those who don’t know the difference, foods can only claim to be organic if every step in the chain is certified organic, whereas natural means that the primary food product has been raised or grown without the aid of pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones, etc, but the soil or food from which it was nourished may not have been without these additives.) Which leads me to my lunch out.
It happened at a popular and otherwise pretty good ( 3 out of 5 stars on yelp.com ) restaurant in Santa Monica, California. I ordered a turkey / avocado club sandwich on toasted sourdough and a pale ale to drink. I was proud of myself for abstaining on the french fries. Aside from that, other than water, organic oatmeal, fruit and some leftover, homemade spaghetti and meatballs made with all natural ingredients, I ate nothing else during the day in question.
So how convinced am I that I had been unintentionally doped with a healthy dose of antibiotic courtesy of the turkey who gave his life for my lunch? Well, I have no scientific data to back it up. I did some research to try and discern how prevalent the use of antibiotics is in poultry production and was unable to find a specific number; however, the FDA recently published guidelines to ween farmers off of the use of antibiotics on their livestock. The FDA is motivated by the fact that the population as a whole evidenced developing an immunity to antibiotics through food consumption, the results of which could pose an unintended health risk in the form of higher infection rates and the inability to treat them in the acute phase. I also learned that 70% of all antibiotics in the U.S. are used in the non-theraputic treatment of livestock. I take it, then, that my hypothesis, while unproven, is highly probable. It made me wonder what else I have eaten without my knowledge, despite being more careful than the average bear.
While this has nothing to do directly with Alberto Contador, Li Fuyu or any other riders who claim to have been unintentionally doped by innocently consuming a food or supplement, it does serve as reminder of what we non-professional athletes seemingly take for granted every time we eat or drink. It highlights how so many years of hard work, suffering and sacrifice can be wasted by just one bite of something tainted. Imagine the next time you go out for dinner, you arrive to work the following morning to find a Controlle Dopage awaits you at your desk. Though you have done nothing intentionally wrong, you could be fired from your job and your reputation publicly, and forever, sullied because of a turkey / avocado club.
For me at least, it was a sobering experience.
By the way, I consulted WADA’s 2010 list of banned substances and antibiotics are not on them.
Of all the changes that have occurred in relationships between entities and constituents in the 21st century, communication and collaboration may be the biggest. In the case of the media, readers no longer tolerate the ivory tower approach that marked the newspapers of the 20th century. Rather than simply accept news as fact, today’s reader sees shades of perspective and have opinions, both pro and con, about the news they encounter.
Blogging has cemented the readers place in the new media, by giving you, the reader, a chance to talk back. Whether the comment is served as a second, a confirmation of the writer’s effort or a dissent signaling that the author may have it wrong, comments have legitimized and elevated the opinions of the reader, making media much more collaborative than it has been in the past.
That need to peak behind the curtain and know more about the inner workings of the media has several sources, but I suspect the biggest ingredient is suspicion. Readers are suspicious of media organizations’ relationships with their advertisers and often with their subjects as well. The quest for revenue has blurred lines that used to be sacrosanct, much the way cycling shorts used to be black. Period.
If you’ve read the About page or my profile, then you’re already aware that I am making an effort to show you around my workbench. I suppose in time I’ll reveal the metaphoric tools I use, but Red Kite Prayer is less about the execution of the work than the approach to the work itself. Put another way, I doubt you are concerned with which truing stand I use, but whether I de-tension spokes before tensioning others.
To that end, I have created a group for RKP on Facebook. Rather than create a microblog for RKP about what is up with the blog, I’ll use Facebook to signal some coming attractions and solicit more direct feedback.
Not everyone uses social networking sites and some are downright hostile to them. I had zero interest in MySpace, but after joining Facebook for the sole purpose of staying abreast of group ride news (I’m amazed by the number of choices I have in rides every day), I quickly realized its staggering ability to allow me to reconnect with old friends. It’s become a must-see on a daily basis.
Facebook will give you, the readership, a chance to initiate contact with RKP publicly, rather than only responding to a post. Something in that sounds healthy.
Like any writer, I want my work to have an audience. Knowing that my work has shaped a conversation, popular opinion or even just struck a nerve to initiate further thought on a subject is deeply satisfying. For me, it’s always been about the work, rather than a desire for fame.
So I hope you’ll understand when I tell you that the Facebook group isn’t meant to promote me, though if you want to friend me, I’m happy to confirm you. That said, I’ll do what I can to separate me as a person from my work as a writer.
Be in touch.
So there’s this yearly battle between my mother and my wife at Thanksgiving time over the sweet potatoes. My wife makes them. She follows a fairly typical recipe that involves lots of butter and brown sugar. The end product is cloyingly sweet and serves, I think, as an excellent counter point to mashed potatoes with gravy. My mother prefers a more esoteric preparation, hewing to her more savory conception of the Thanksgiving Day feast.
I love Thanksgiving, because it’s a food holiday. If you put food in front of me most any day of the year, I will probably eat it, but on Thanksgiving, like most Americans, I take that approach to an extreme. I will eat those sweet potatoes no matter how they’re prepared. I’ll even eat the ones with the marshmallows on top that gourmands turn their noses up at.
I have been known to eat half a pie on the day in question. And that’s only because people are watching. Otherwise, I’d eat more.
This week’s Group Ride is about food. Do you keep it together all season and then go off the rails, a la Jan Ullrich, once the weather turns cold and the wood smoke wafts in the breeze? Most of us go off the rails at some point, whether it’s through caloric debt (I make horrible food choices when I’m famished), or out of sheer boredom with the ascetic lifestyle we cleave to otherwise. Is there a food that, even when you go off the rails, you won’t eat?