Editor’s Note: Christopher Jones is a member of the Rapha-Focus cyclocross team as well as the road racing squad Team Type 1. He is a true all-around rider, frequenting podiums on both the professional road and cyclocross circuits. This season he and his ‘cross teammate Zach MacDonald will share their journals frequently.
Take a time machine back to our earlier years, back to the days of when a #2 pencil and blue tape were crucial to one’s success. We all endured many multiple guess tests and probably had as many different strategies to properly navigate through the answer sheet without actually having studied or even read the questions. Maybe I am just describing myself during my college years? That being said I did go school where I could see the local surf break from class so I didn’t really have time to study. Here is today’s test question:
Why do you ride? (circle one)
B) Be outside
C) To get your competitive juices out
D) As a mode of transportation
E) All of the above
I’ll go with E and amend A to read: Exercise so I can eat more. Initially I took up cycling as one part of the trifecta known as triathlon, but then realized that if I could eat one burrito as a sedentary creature, then I could probably eat two after spending a few hours in the saddle. This idea has stayed with me from Cat 6 through where I am today.
Being a professional cyclist involves travel, lots of travel. If one doesn’t keep the right perspective on things, the travel can turn a normal day into a dismal affair. I look at the travel as a perk of the job. Sure, most often I fly into a race venue the day or two preceding the event and exit asap after the race, but the perk that I describe goes back to my amendment of answer A; the food. Race Food Inc (a pseudonym created by a former teammate for the generic meal preparation) serves most meals during the road season, we can go to almost any part of the world and there will be pasta, rice, beets, salad, & chicken at the race buffet. The quality of the food varies widely. Let me say that again, the quality varies widely, but at the end of the day most of us are just looking to fuel the fire for the next day.
I had a teammate/hypeman/roommate on the road, who we shall refer to as MC, who always insisted that we go out and walk around after every stage. It didn’t matter where we were, or what happened in the race, he always took me out. There we would be, a couple of gangly guys slowly cruising the streets in matching team-issue clothing, trying to act as if we belonged. Inevitably MC would find some of the local cuisine and somehow we would always end up tasting it. From the sharing of a meal with eight unknown people sans utensils in Morocco (see picture) to the Canadian classic, Tim Hortons, where we went, we ate.
MC’s seeking out of local food antics helped move me beyond my California food roots where everything was wrapped, or double wrapped (trust me you must try the double wrap) in a tortilla. I decided that whenever I was going to visit a new city, state, or country that I would seek out the best of their local cuisine. Thankfully as a professional cyclist one of my other skills (besides driving a bike) is navigating the Internet, so I am able to do exhaustive research from those all-important secondary sources.
As I left for my trip to Cincinnati for the International Cyclocross Festival presented by Bio-wheels and United Dairy Farmers, I completed my pre-flight checklist. Procrastinate, finally pack bag, check-in online, double check bag, and scan for Cincinnati’s cuisine. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far; Cincinnati is all about their chili. You can have it one of five ways:
2.”Two Way” – Spaghetti and Chili
3.”Three Way” – Chili, Spaghetti, and Cheddar Cheese
4.”Four Way” – Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese, and Onions
5.”Five Way” – Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese, Onions and Kidney Beans
With so many options I was pleased to know that there would be three days of racing to sort things out.
My initial thought when I arrived at the first course was, “Oh no, this is straight out of my worst case scenario for cross course design.” Sure there was plenty of elevation gain and loss, but it was all through traversing and off-camber riding. To add to my trepidation, Ryan Trebon rolled up and said, “Dude this course is going to suck for you” then made some motorcycle sounds and rode away.