I started working on the pro cycling tour just a few months after finishing my doctorate in integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I knew the science, I was proud of it, and I felt ready to put it into practice. But it became immediately clear that my scientific vocabulary was of little use in helping the athletes I worked with to optimize their diets. I was speaking the wrong language. On my first night in Europe I watched one of the athletes I was coaching pour a bowl of cereal for dinner, and I knew we all had to do better.
I needed to teach the athletes simple, practical recipes. In some cases I needed to teach them how to shop for food, how to chop vegetables, or how to literally fry an egg. Even for the riders who did have skills in the kitchen, I was continually looking for ways to translate my scientific knowledge into practical meals.
For me, this knowledge and motivation really came together after I met Chef Biju Thomas. Biju was catering a dinner party for Jonathan Vaughters, the founder of the Garmin professional cycling team, whom I had been working for at the time. His meal was incredible—not just delicious but profoundly simple and nourishing. I immediately began talking to Biju about his cooking style, about food, and about helping me make great nutrition through great meals more accessible for the athletes I coached. We took our conversations about diet and nutrition a step further; instead of talking with athletes about food theory, we began actually cooking with them, not just cooking for them.
“The Feed Zone Cookbook” is a manifestation of countless conversations, endless days on the road in hotel kitchens, race meals made in cramped motorhomes, and the often comical times cooking with our very close friends, many of whom just happen to be some of the best professional cyclists in the world. We put this book together not as a bible or manifesto on diet and nutrition, but as a reference for athletes looking for no-nonsense, race-proven ideas, who are also willing to take the time and energy to cook the recipes that we know just work.
Still, having someone cook for you or fighting over what someone cooks for you is very different than having the know-how and motivation to cook for yourself. During the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, Biju and I and the Skratch Labs crew will act as the nutritional service course for Levi Leipheimer and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
We’ll release the team’s race menu each day here on VeloNews.com, offering you some of the same recipes that we’re preparing so you can try them for yourself. We’re also going to unveil some new recipes we’ve been working on — prototypes, if you will.