Words by: Aaron Bible, The Gear Institute
Photo courtesy of the DK200
If you haven’t heard of The Dirty Kanza, or DK200, don’t feel bad. Just 11 years ago in 2006 only 34 riders showed up to participate in this grueling test of endurance on two wheels. This year, 2,200 people showed up to race on the gravel and dirt roads around the Flint Hills of east-central Kansas, in a seminal event that now takes place the first Saturday following Memorial Day each year.
The race began as a 200-mile figure eight beginning and ending in front of the historic Granada Theatre in downtown in Emporia, Kansas, and now also offers a 25-mile, 50-mile and 100-mile option, opening up the event to a much broader spectrum of rider.
Event organizers say they are trying to make Emporia not only the “Bicycling Capital of Kansas,” but also the “Gravel Grinding Capital of the World,” capitalizing on a trend that has been pumping new life into a beleaguered bike industry for the last half dozen years. They’ve likely succeeded, with most racers in agreement that the Dirty Kanza 200 is the world’s premier ultra-endurance gravel road cycling challenge.
“Gravel is definitely developing its own scene, but a lot of the coverage seems to be coming through cyclocross outlets like CX Magazine,” says Chris Baddick, a guru for all things bike and an account manager at Thorpe Marketing in Boulder. “Mat Stephens, who won this years DK200, is a pro roadie when he's not racing gravel. Jake Wells, who came second, is a pro CX racer. Menso de Jong who was third is a pro mountain biker. Kind of awesome that it played out that way. CX was supposed to be the off-season sport for roadies, but it’s now big enough that perhaps it's developed its own off-season pastime in the form of gravel.”
There was also a record 200 women racing this year in the 200 mile open field, including Boulder’s Heidi Rentz, a professional cyclist, coach and co-owner of The Cyclists Menu.
“It’s that special feeling similar to riding a mountain bike…trees, peace and quiet, that place between rocks and dirt, no cars. Gravel biking takes you deep into the woods much more swiftly than a mountain bike does though. The opportunity for adventure is endless on a gravel bike and we’ve only just touched the surface of what more it can offer,” Rentz said.
Rentz has competed in many shorter distance mountain bike races, a few longer ones, off-road triathlons and marathon-distance trail running, but, she told the Gear Institute, “There was no way I could wrap my head around what I was actually about to do out there during those 200 miles. Heat reaching 90 degrees, 85 percent humidity, head winds, long lonely sections of digging deep, fast painful sections in an attempt to hang onto a pack… pure jaw-dropping stunningly beautiful Kansas. If you're someone who truly loves to ride your bike, if you are a true soul rider, this event is a must-do for you.
Photo courtesy of The Cyclist's Menu
Zander Ault and Rentz co-founded a gravel-bike focused business called The Cyclist’s Menu last year where the power couple hosts cycling camps south of Tucson, Arizona, all winter long. They have 10 camps from January to April in 2018; Mallorca, Spain, road camp in the spring; Colorado camp in the summer; and Mendocino, Calif., in the fall. The Arizona camps welcome a variety of riders: some are training for events like the Land Run 100 and The Dirty Kanza 200, and some riders are just up for a life-changing adventure on the bike. “Everyone who comes to camp with us always has at least one thing in common: the desire to be outside on the bike all day and eat food!,” Rentz said. “Zander (aka, Chef Z) is our in-house chef prepping three meals daily and does his best to source all our food as responsibly as possible, making sure that nearly 90 percent of our meals are local to wherever that special location is that we choose to adventure in.”
“If you have access to good, rugged, hard, gravel road rides in your backyard, I believe it would be very difficult not to fall in love with the sport,” Rentz says of the gravel bike trend. “There are so many good gravel bikes out there to adventure on. Chef Z and I ride an Ibis Hakaluggi and we can pretty much do anything on them, hell, we can even mountain bike on these babies and we do it regularly. Our Kappius Components (out of Boulder) and wheel set has allowed us to float through rough terrain, we've been blown away by them.”
Despite it’s name, the “Iron Range” of Northern Minnesota has little to do with a mountain chain of any kind. In fact, the Iron Range refers to a large swath of mineral deposits that once blanketed 7 different counties, an area where iron ore has been mined since the early 1800’s. Evidence shows that Native Americans were discovering “native copper” deposits on the Keweenaw Peninsula; these deposits were most notably used for tools of all kinds. Between 1844 and 1903 these massive deposits were developed and the emergence of the early Northern Minnesota mining industry was established.
There are 4 major deposits that have characterized the greater Iron Range district. These deposits include: the Mesabi Range, Vermilion Range, Gunflint Range and Cuyuna Range.
Although similar processes were used to mine these large deposits, some required different tactics to locate and remove large majorities of the mineral content. For the purpose of our story, we’re going to focus primarily on the Cuyuna Range. What became known for its high level of Jaspers and Taconite, the Cuyuna Range deposit was so large it proved extremely challenging to reach solely from underground mining techniques. Instead, large open pit mines were created using steam shovels and water replacement pumps to locate and remove the ore from the earth. These man made lakes surround the towns of Crosby, Cuyuna, Nisswa, Brainerd and Aitkin. What were left behind were piles of tailings, dyed red from the iron ore that once lived beneath the surface. This change in the topography of Crow Wing County would change the historical economy into one deeply rooted in recreation.
In 1964, it was apparent the long time prosperous mining industry was in threat of disappearing. In 1982, the industry dried up, leaving the Cuyuna Range in a state of demise. Questioning their future as a community, businesses like Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby-Ironton Public Schools and Fiber-Optic Telecommunications sought to provide the gross income for many families. However, a few locals teamed up with friends from Minneapolis (2.5 hours south) and asked the question: “How can we revolutionize the landscape and turn the moonlike topography into an outdoor destination?” Thus, The Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) was born and slowly this forgotten corner of Minnesota began rethinking its self-identity.
MORC proved that the area was indeed made for fun, northern mountain biking. They accomplished about 25 miles of trail in 12 years. Enter Aaron Hautala, lifelong Iron Range resident, brand/advertising guru and Cuyuna’s unofficial mayor.
Aaron Hautala (above), all smiles in negative temps, as he guides us on gorgeous Cuyuna singletrack!
Aaron has a calm and collected perspective. Not overwhelming on any account, simply put and digestible for even the most respected intellectual. Thrifty in his own right, Aaron saw something in this lost, lonely town of Crosby, MN. With a passion for skiing, he turned to the foundation of what a ski town is, for inspiration to bring Crosby back to life and able to enter the competitive market. Aaron calls it “a purpose built community.” Modern terminology in the mountain biking industry defines a purpose built trail as one that allows mountain bikers a chance to engage with the natural topography and move with its flow and energy versus against it. Using his backyard as the canvas for this vision, Aaron garnered huge support from local government and businesses that value his desire to bring outsiders back to Cuyuna, back to the Iron Range.
In 2012, The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMBC) became an official chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA.) Aaron has been president of CLMBC since January that year. The focus since his inception as president hasn’t necessarily been how many miles of trail can we build. The focus has been how can these trails and a plan for annual growth and future development define Crosby, again. If the region could be shown the importance of a “purpose built community,” recreation might have a chance to creatively rebuild the city and its livelihood.
The interest that MORC and CLMBC provided for the area began to grow within the larger Minneapolis cycling community. However, Aaron Hautala knew the trails couldn’t sell themselves. There had to be a reason why people would want to choose Crosby as a year round outdoor recreation destination. 45NRTH, a brand based out of Minneapolis is leading a charge in winter cycling apparel and fat bike accessories.
“It’s more than just creating great outerwear or industry leading technology in tire development,” says Kurt Barclay, 45NRTH Marketing Manager.
Kurt Barclay, embracing the cold!
“For us at 45NRTH, it’s been about creating passion for outdoor adventure, especially during the cold winter months. It’s about establishing community around a sport and watching the community grow because they’ve fallen in love with the people, the energy and the potential that cycling offers from a development perspective. If we can be spearheads for trail development then 45NRTH is known for its culture, its ability to give back and offer economic improvement in places like Crosby and the Iron Range, places that need that support net in order to present what might be seen as the impossible.”
Aaron and the CLMBC team brought on 45NRTH last year and since have seen a massive growth in the rise of interest in how bikes and the trails just might prove that Crosby will become “a purpose built community.”
Well, local residents are seeing just that. On December 8th 2016, The Red Raven Café had their opening day. A cycling centric café and future bike shop, Owners Patrick and Julie are a husband and wife team who moved from the Minneapolis area to help redefine Crosby. Nick Huisinga, founder of the new Cuyuna Brewing Company, is another local, hoping to bring new flavor in the form of craft beer to thirsty visitors.
Team 45NRTH & Aaron enjoying a ride break in the Red Raven Cafe.
Crosby is ready and Aaron has established a long-term plan that will enable the trails and the town to grow simultaneously. A recipe for success; Aarons vision is currently bringing in an added 2 million dollars annually. He can only attest this growth to the trails and those who have believed in the ability of those trails to bring fame back to Crosby. The coolest part is, Crosby’s annual growth is estimated to continue to steadily grow. With 27.5 miles in 2016, CLMBC projects 30 miles in 2017, 42 miles in 2018 and a grand total of 75 miles of single track trail if each stage of the “master plan” is accepted by private donors, neighboring towns and the Minnesota State Government’s land, recreation and mineral management agencies.
The reason we love this story is because the mountain biking and winter fat biking is incredibly fun. However, to experience the culture that has been created around those trails is what will leave a lasting impact on those who travel to visit Crosby, MN. The Red Raven Café, The Cuyuna Brewing Company, The True North Basecamp, each of these businesses and a handful of others have opened and will be successful with the development of this trail network. Mining has left its lasting impacts. However, the people who live here have been agriculturally connected to the land for just as long. These people are the ones who you’ll meet, ride with and enjoy telling a story to after a long day outside. They are the folks who work this land, own the local businesses, craft goods and manage the agricultural heritage of this place. Grass-fed beef, heritage pork and wild game processing facilities dot the rural farm roads of this region. Don’t forget to check in with The Crow Wing CO-OP for all your local food needs if staying for an overnight or weekend long trip. You’ll quickly realize the magic of this landscape, on and off the bike.
It’s these people that have a story to tell. Formed by the regions clay deposits and mythical ore, each and every one of these local residents will shake your hand and smile. They will thank you for visiting Crosby and most likely ask, even on the coldest of days, “Are you heading out for a bike ride today?” If and when you run into Aaron Hautala, he will turn to the stories of these residents who have opened their minds to recreation and new ideas. He thanks them for their willingness to listen to his hair brained rants about why trail development will reform this red earth. Aaron will refer to the Iron Range and those who have come together in the midst of uncertainty as the “Red Dirt Family.”
CHEF Z is inspired by Baker, Don Guerra... Read on!
Tucson, Arizona is home to one of the most incredibly unique environments in The United States, perhaps even the world. Nestled in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, a 125,000 (+/-) square mile ecosystem that is thought to have some of the greatest species diversity in North America. From cacti to conifers, Gila monsters to Pigmy owls, it’s said that this landscape rivals any other terrestrial eco-region on planet earth. It’s for these very reasons, and many more, that people visit Tucson from around the world.
Similar to the incredibly variable plants and animals that exist amongst the Santa Rita and Santa Catalina Mountains, the humans who inhabit this beautiful settlement expose a different kind of life. In what was a long forgotten college town, with a dusty, old western vibe; Tucson has grown from within. Boasting what is an incredibly dedicated and passionate community of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, athletes, famers, ranchers, brewer’s and vintner’s. This “old west,” even “dock holiday” esque city is pioneering a beautiful collective founded on community supported agriculture (CSA) and the science behind crafty foods, beverages and collaborative business projects.
We’re setting the stage in this way in order to introduce you to someone who is as diverse as his landscape; however so unique, he is defined by science. Don Guerra, Founder of Tucson’s own Barrio Bread. Don uses bread to tell a story, similar to a painter, using watercolor or acrylic to recreate what he/she see’s in the field. Following a traditional recipe of yeast fermentation, Don bakes the way bread was baked before machines ran assembly lines.
His hands are covered in flour as he grabs a large piece of canvas that will protect rising baguettes as they set, waiting for the Wednesday afternoon Tucson Farmers Market, located in the Historic “Y” (300 E. University Blvd, Suite 146 Tucson, AZ 85705.) With bread as his medium, Don creatively rolls on (no pun intended,) calling his venture a “community supported baker.” Orders are placed in advance of Tucson area farmer’s Market’s, lowering his bakery’s carbon footprint and almost negating any spoilage whatsoever.
“Barrio Bread is my craft bakery specializing in breads that are prepared using the ancient sourdough methods of slow fermentation, hearth baking, and local grains, to create a truly inspired loaf.” -Barrio Bread.
This process of “slow fermentation” is nothing new and actually one of the most nutritious forms of foods we can eat.
Why? You might ask. What is this craze with “gluten,” and why is it considered bad?
We will not make assumptions about anyone’s choice to eat what they choose. However, when you do a little research into the history of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease in our culture, there is little to read prior to the boom in America, following World War II and the onset of the Industrial Revolution. With an increase in population and financial stability in America at that time, efforts were put towards the growth in building a stronger economy and support for our Nations people. This resulted in a general move away from traditional ways of preparing foods, amongst many others. This shift greatly improved our lives, however has increasingly challenged our culture from a very basic health and wellness perspective.
Simply put, “slow fermentation” increases digestion in our bodies by fundamentally breaking down proteins (gluten) into amino acids. The building blocks of life, amino acids are essential for every metabolic process in our bodies. For athletes, the transport of nutrients to the body’s organisms, muscles and tissue, is the most important aspect of a nutrient rich diet. An athletes ability to better transport and optimally store the bodies water, fats, carbs, proteins, vitamins and minerals, not only supports your efforts in achieving your goals, it will ensure you feel your best before, during and after your hardest workouts.
“This is why some who have a gluten sensitivity can tolerate sourdough wheat breads. Like all other fermentation processes, the bacteria present in the sourdough starter eat the starch and sugars present in the grain. This results in a lower carbohydrate content of the bread, which is helpful for keeping blood sugar levels regulated. It also increases the vitamin and mineral content of the grain.” -Barrio Bread.
Industrial food companies can’t necessarily state that their products benefit the flora of your intestinal system in any way. In today’s culture, simplicity is at the center of the food industry. How do we make food as simple as possible, negating the connection and need for an individual to schedule more time in order to eat. Long story short, their products must be able to withstand a much longer shelf life than a product baked, by hand at Barrio Bread for instance.
Consider the fact that a loaf of bread, established under a traditional recipe, using a slow fermented style is a living organism. The natural yeasts used to create such bread, provide the enzymes needed to break down or “predigest” the grain before the end user consumes it. This process is why “Levain” bread is so popular and can be a key component to the health and wellness of humans. This is especially the case for athletes and those who choose to entertain themselves in endurance sports.
“The lactic acid in the bread creates a mild tang and predigests the grain for you. The acetic acid produced during the sourdough process helps the bread to store longer and inhibits the growth of molds. You will rarely see mold on Barrio Bread, but of course, it won’t be around for too long anyway! The bacteria present in the sourdough culture/levain help to activate phytase, an enzyme that breaks down an anti-nutrient present in grains, beans, and seeds called phytic acid. This acid is known to strip your body of vitamins and minerals and can be hard on your digestion.” –Barrio Bread.
Hungry? Don’t be fooled by any loaf of bread, marketing the fact that heritage grains were used and a slow fermentation process was considered during baking. These kinds of practices take time and must be found. Just as you might know your farmer or rancher, it is becoming increasingly more useful and popular to become friends with your local baker. This is why I am introducing you to Don Guerra and Barrio Bread.
More importantly, The Cyclist’s Menu chooses to find the best foods possible in every location we visit to ride our bikes and engage with a local culture. As we travel we consider this, our mission: “Connecting people directly to the food and land in beautiful places.” Barrio Bread is a key component of this mission each week we spend in Tucson/Patagonia, AZ, during the winter months.
At The Cyclist’s Menu, it’s no longer just about riding our bikes. What we stand for is a more cohesive connection to the land and those who maintain it. Food is the framework for athlete’s, its what keeps up going and able to do what we love. In this attempt to connect our guests, deeper to the places they visit with us, we hope they return home, in part, a new person and a more diverse athlete. We feel so strongly about this, that it seems only natural for us to purchase our products from those who operate in a similar fashion. How does Don Guerra accomplish these goals? A better question would be, Is Don Guerra doing anything but accomplishing these goals?
During the months of January, February and March, the majority of our country is under a thick blanket of snow. Not Southern Arizona. Heralded for its superior winter climate, the agricultural season thrives during these months, allowing us to source about 75% of our menu’s products from within a 125-mile radius. When you consider the fact that we offer culinary experiences that expose our guests to the cuisines of Ecuador, Chile, Spain, Italy, Germany and Vietnam to name a few; a 75% local menu provides a reason in and of itself to visit Arizona and adventure by bike with us this winter! What’s most important about these numbers, is the fact that Barrio Bread currently sources and maintains 65% of the heritage grains Don bakes with, from just north of Tucson’s rustic downtown.
With an immense care for this desert ecosystem, Don knew he couldn’t achieve this alone. So, he visited with regional grain farmers and shared with them his vision for a more diverse and locally minded set of grains, suitable for the harsh climate, year round in the Sonoran Desert. What they found was that heritage grains were more apt to grow in this environment, due to their structure and varietal strength.
“I will also be able to continue my work with farmers, scientists, and food producers to ensure that we have a viable and healthy grain economy. Using local flours, reduces the carbon footprint of my loaves, invigorates our local economy, and requires my personal investment. Additionally, I will be able to focus on local education and my Bread Without Borders project.” -Barrio Bread.
Delivered to his bakery in 5 gallon buckets, Don goes to work, milling and turning his local grains into flour. Don invited us into his bakery last January, as we planned for the 2016 winter cycling camp season. With guests traveling from around the country, we knew we wanted to tell Don’s story. It was a key aspect of each day, as we toasted his cranberry, walnut levain loaf for breakfast or made hot Panini sandwiches at the base of Mt. Lemmon, on rustic pain epi; crispy bread shaped into a wheat stalk. Our clients felt this connection to Barrio Bread, as the soft inside and crusty edges picked up sauce from an Italian farmhouse style meatball dish or melded with brie cheese, apricot preserve and arugula, on a windy day in the Catalina Mountains. It’s these moments that tell our story, as we dine, ride and enjoy the cultural beauty of places like Tucson. Its these moments why we visit beautiful places to ride our bikes and feel rooted in a place we may have otherwise never had the chance to do so. Let’s break bread and ride!
Our story of a magical week of adventuring in the woods...
The forecast for Mendocino County, California during the Month of October can vary, greatly! With some helpful insight from a few close friends, other cyclists and adventurers, we were given pretty good word that October is one of the best months of the year to visit the Golden State and explore the far reaching hills, mountains and backcountry by bike. Turns out, they were right.
The week leading up to our first, and what will most definitely become annual, mixed terrain cycling experience in Mendocino was moderate at best. It gave us hope, as the fog slightly dispersed by 1 in the afternoon, leaving a bit of room for the sunset to poke its head in. However, it was a bit daunting as we counted down the days until friends dawned on the slightly spooky, mystical North Coast.
The Mendocino Mountain Range splits this damp, almost rain forest like coastal region from the arid, desert landscape of places like Ukiah and Willits, CA. In just 35 miles, the topography and ecosystem that exists on the western side of the Mendocino Range is so drastically different, you have to visit to realize. The best part about this is you can't fully experience it inside your car. The best way to travel the Mendocino Range is by bike.
What is an actively run and managed forest for logging purposes, the region is littered with dirt roads. Because this entire forest is logged, harvest seasons are posted and no traffic laws are to be highly respected. However, when in the know about where to go, you wont see a single other person for hours, probably even days! This was our experience, as we encountered only 7 other people riding bikes over the course of 14 days. Truly, one of the best on bike experiences of our lives.
As for October being the best time to visit thing goes, well that is completely the truth. As long as you have a good outlook and respect the weather gods, this Northern California location will deliver. 6 days of sunshine, warm temps and tacky loam to ride bikes on for hours, every day! Pack all of this into a 10 mile stretch of coast line, starting with Mendocino proper and ending around the Fort Bragg region, this compact and wildly beautiful place takes vacation cycling to the next level.
We must touch on the local food scene for just one moment, ok, maybe a whole paragraph! Have you heard of Mendocino or Fort Bragg? Thats a great place to start this local foods conversation. Better yet, when was the last time you ate Lingcod? We had never even heard of this fish, but it was one of 2 species coming out of the ocean this time of year, so we put it on our menu! Google Lingcod, you'll be interested to find out just how we prepared it! Think white fish, buttery, on top a german potato pancake and slow cooked, fennel and caraway cabbage. We had the opportunity to work closely with Princess Seafood. A top notch operation with an all female boat team! How cool is that, we loved telling this story, inspiring in an industry that is so male dominant.
From bakers to ranchers and everything in between, Mendocino County has it all. Such a tiny town offering so much, the artisan food producers in this region are surviving on their own terms, with the community that surrounds them. It was an intimate moment for us and our friends and family. On Wednesday afternoon of our week together on the coast, we all piled in the van and headed to the Fort Bragg Farmers Market. Such a special moment, all of us, moving from one stall to the next, surveying fresh produce, sea food, meats, cheese. We all had our say in the weeks menu and got to see it purchased, first hand. Something we have been wanting to achieve for sometime, and we could not have thought of a more magical place to achieve this goal.
15 meals, 170 miles, 19,000 ft of vertical climbing, 10 of the best people we could think to spend our time in Northern California with. A life changing trip we will never forget. We are still laughing about moments around the table, on the trail to Sherwood Peak and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, around a meat and cheese board on the Mendocino Bluffs. Till next year, Mendo! Thank you for all the memories.
Where will The Cyclist's Menu adventure to next?
Winter Fat Biking ~ Cuyuna, Minnesota ~ January 9-14, 2017
Tucson Mixed Terrain ~ Patagonia, Arizona ~ February 20-25 & March 13-18, 2017
Mediterranean Mayhem ~ Mallorca Spain ~ May 9-15, 2017
Creativity: The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
Creativity is the only word that comes to mind when searching for a description of what Co-Founder and Director, Heidi Rentz, accomplished with the first annual Woman's Mixed Terrain cycling experience in Boulder, CO. Our Chief Ambassador, Yuri Hauswald, said it right in Issue 54 of Peloton Magazine regarding our March 2016 Mixed Terrain experience in Tucson, Arizona. "This was not a racers camp, though, this was about the shared moments around eating, riding and making new friends."
5 nights, 6 days spent exploring a new kind of riding and a new way of connecting with a regions local food network. However, most importantly, reconnecting with friends you may have arrived with, while establishing a life long friendship with someone you met 2 hours before the first days "shakedown" spin. From August 20th-26th, 2016 a group of woman from Iowa rode hard, ate incredibly well and connected directly with the community, the farms and ranches and vibe surrounding Longmont and Boulder, Colorado.
Each gal enjoyed living quarters for our week in the comfort of their very own Westfalia VW Vanagon.
If relaying the beauty that existed during our first annual Woman's Mixed Terrain experience were possible, this blog might be a bit more concise. It just isn't that simple, you have to live it to understand. The reason we search for different locations across the USA, is because we would never want our guests to consider joining us in the future, already knowing they have been there before. Why? What for? Of course, we revisit places we love, but when choosing to vacation with an outfit that strives for diversity and offers a moment in time to live for a week, in a way unknown beforehand, you wont go home considering any other form of travel. It has changed our lives, we can't wait to be a part of the change in yours.
Following lengthy careers in the industry as guides, chefs and coaches for athletes from around the globe, we discovered a missing link. Perhaps its more appropriate to say that we disliked the fact that guests came to ride their bikes and when it was all said and done, they went home. Of course, moments were spent getting to know each other, but it never felt completely real. We never felt like clients could be exactly who they are or who they wanted to be, during 6 days they chose to leave their home and celebrate themselves, their choice to disconnect, explore the far reaching abilities of their athletic ability and ultimately, do whatever they please.
Disconnecting from the world for a moment, enjoying Colorado's local "flora" during a mid-ride water break.
In an atmosphere filled with no time constraints or any real need to be anywhere at any moment other than outside, except jumping on your bike, hydrating and eating when hungry. We are proud to say we are different from any other cycling related vacation company on this planet.
Mixed Terrain cycling provides a moment on two wheels everyone needs to experience. The growth alone in this genre provides reason to join us on seldom seen roads in beautiful places across this country. However, mixed terrain riding is free from the hassle of what is encountered on a typical bike ride. With very little traffic, expansive views, routes designed for riders of all levels, mixed terrain is where the fun is. Be yourself, be quirky, be weird, be relaxed, be speedy, but most of all, forget about the stress of daily life and jump on your bike!! We'll see you out there.
***A special shout out to the talented Ian Hylands Photography for taking these amazing shots!! Scroll to bottom of page for full gallery...
At The Cyclist's Menu, we like to think of ourselves as observers, attentive people. Our passion for seasonal foods and adventures on two wheels allows us the time to meet incredible individuals, everywhere we go. With a solid foundation built around hard work, dedication to a craft and having fun, our team of skilled professionals lust for paving a different path in life. One that exudes character, tells an eloquent story and strengthens community.
Recently, we spent 4 days with 50 people we had never met before. Over the course of those 4 days, we all bonded, learned the simple things about each other and shared stories from our lives. When you take a moment to disconnect from society, vacation from the typical routine; the usual barriers that hold each other back from deeply understanding another human being seem to disappear. This is one major reason why The Cyclist's Menu chooses to ride bikes and eat food.
Around a table and on a bike, individuals lose a certain level of tension when surrounded by emotion. Emotions that remind us of growing up; family, friendships, simplicity and happiness. During July 28-31, 2016, The Steamboat Ralleye Ride brought out these emotions in the most unique and interesting ways. 200 miles from Fort Collins to Steamboat, Colorado. Cyclists of all levels battled against the odds in the undulating and rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains. Dirt roads that would have left Edward Abby himself questioning whether He and Hayduke could have navigated their trusty Jeep en route to places like Red Feather Lakes and Walden, CO. No matter how many cases of beer they had stowed away!
Most importantly, The 2016 Steamboat Ralleye will not be remembered for the epic miles spent on two wheels or the meals that culminated each day. The Steamboat Ralleye goes down in history, and will forever be this way, because it's an experience in human nature, commonality and living in the moment.
We are at a loss of words when trying to describe this event. Since the final moments of this incredible journey, around the table at Moots Cycles, the question still lies; "Is there one word to describe this kind of transformation?" This is how observant and attentive we try to be with the guests we serve and adventure with each and every time. Time spent with others that blossoms into something we could have never imagined suddenly changes the way you thought about how people interact and effect each other. We are only human, however we desire extreme's. The high's and low's of adventure, the symphony of flavor's a meal can express across our taste buds; these basic explosions of emotion drive our souls and bring people together.
As the final candles burned down on that long table for 50, legs and upper bodies were exhausted from the ride. Bellies were satisfied from three days of hard earned meals, sourced from farms and ranches across the Front Range of Colorado. That will all become part of the greater story of each rider's life. However, what will be remembered are the friendship's, the stories both heard and created as those 50 humans "ralleye'd" from Fort Collins to Steamboat. Thank you to each and every one of you who joined us and chose to partake in this beautiful experience. Thank you, Peter Discoe for having the courage to take this event on and continue the heritage of this wonderful and historical celebration of the bicycle. That is what The 2016 Steamboat Ralleye meant to us.
Listed below are the sponsors we have to give many thanks to as well!
Adventure Seekers LLC
Ian Hylands Photography
HotBox Roasters Coffee
Raising the Bar Co.
Tin Cup Whiskey
Mountain Primal Meat Co.
Sol Y Sombra Farm
Aspen Moon Farms
Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese
Justin's Nut Butter
Boulder County Farmers Market
All photos taken by: Ian Hylands Photography
We've been living our dream this summer; riding bikes and cooking at cycling related events all over Colorado, the West!! Every menu this summer has been different from the next, rejuvenating to the soul & filled with flavors unique to us.
The Cyclist's Menu had a moment to "check out" of the real world for a moment, along with 13 other like-minded souls on a special work-related trip that led us deep in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. Niner Bikes (Fort Collins, CO) was about to launch two new mountain bikes, and we had the opportunity to ride some incredible single-track with Sun Valley Trekking (Hailey, ID) into the incredible "Coyote Yurt." Most importantly, we discovered some of the best local food producers in the Central Idaho region and cooked some delicious food. While this crew of talented riders, photographers and writers, rode trail into the sunset, we set the stage for a high alpine, open fire cookout, equipped with expansive vistas, cool mountain air, Colorado beer and stories of grass fed beef, local greens, sun burns and 6 inches of suspension travel! Is there anything better?!
The term "work" was fairly relevant on this wonderful escape from the norm. As we chase our goals to "connect people directly to the food and land in beautiful places," we cant help but think about our "work" more as our passion than something we wake up to 5 days a week. In the lives of two avid cyclists, community builders, lovers of food and stories from the road; we regularly discuss the importance of this and how it drives us, like nothing before, to achieve our wildest dreams. No matter how far off they seem or how hard it might be to get there. We laugh and smile, knowing passion this real, can at times, feel so thick you want to take a bite out of it.
Back to the story... As that Idaho sun began to fall behind the mountains, the light was perfect. Ian Hylands, photo wizard, had his trigger finger ready for the dinner to come. Vietnamese meat balls, wrapped in local red lettuce led into a Wood River Ranch New York Strip Steak, sliced and set on top mixed greens with a garlic pesto, grilled corn and goat chevre. The crack of an Odell Brewing Company IPA (Fort Collins, CO) sparked a few stories around the table and talk went from drive trains and better brakes to the best places to ride in the West and that favorite summer concert series.
It's moments like these with great people that keep us moving, keep us in the kitchen! We are so thankful to look back on these incredible moments in time, where food changes people's connection and understanding of a place. We love to ride bikes, but when we talk about what exists at the core of The Cyclist's Menu, its our ability to change people's perspective on a meal, on what's going into their bodies and how it impacts each location we visit. It had been a handful of years since the last time we visited Hailey and Ketchum, ID. However, we now have a wealth of knowledge on the place, and the incredible people who call that beautiful valley home.
& finally, dinner was served!
More amazing shots, stories and bike reviews about our yurt adventure with Niner, links below:
Next cooking adventure for The Cyclist's Menu, July 28-31, 2016: The Steamboat Ralleye!!
Thanks for reading y'all!! (More photos below.)
CHEF Z & HR
Scroll down for CHEF Z's rice bowl recipe
Dear Friends, New and Old...
We admit, this blog post is a bit over due. But hey, its summer time and the sun is shining into the night; which means more time for single track riding, dirt roads into the mountains and letting the fire burn into the wee hours. As we sit around the table, fresh smells of the first summer arugula, charred veggies, seared meats and a fresh chimi to boot, waft in the cool air. We cant help but think about what has already occurred! Its only July 9th, and the events have been incredibly memorable!! Its time to share one in particular, that will be in our hearts for many months to come.
On June 24th, we rolled into the beautiful Sun Valley of Idaho. Ketchum and Hailey are unique town's, challenged by their locations, high in the mountains and dislocated from typical life. Then again, thats why this place is so special and loved by many who have visited or continue to visit each year. We have spent some time in this valley, Heidi racing Mountain Bike Nationals, myself exploring the Sawtooth Mountains with friends on two wheels and searching out high alpine hot springs near Stanley, ID. Friends have come and gone over the years, which makes landing here for a moment very special.
This trip was marked by a new path however. The Cyclist's Menu was invited to The Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival this year by The Wood River Bike Coalition. Adrian Montgomery, newly appointed Executive Director was looking to offer his community a fresh sense of variety and certain kind of "connectivity" to the Valley's food producers. Exactly what our menu's develop and we couldn't have been more happy to offer just that! Sun Valley has an incredible line up of local businesses, who were incredibly welcoming to us "out of towner's." We felt at home right away and excited to serve local residents the best foods available within a 200 mile radius. Mission accomplished!
Within a few phone calls, we had 6 local food producers lined up. We got busy planning our menu! Crafting local menu's is the best part of our job. We entered Sun Valley with immediate interest in who we are, what we do, and questions like, "How did you hear about us?" "Your from Colorado? That's amazing!" The old saying goes, "If you build it, they will come." Well, between Bellevue and Ketchum, ID, a 25(+/-) mile distance, a handful of area food producers have dedicated themselves to farming/ranching in this beautiful, but challenging place to cultivate the earth. What we discovered is they are producing some incredibly delicious products, and the community came in hordes when they found out our mission; "Connect people directly to the food and land in beautiful places."
Ride Sun Valley Festival is amazing, and an event everyone should put on their schedule for next June. If you haven't been to Sun Valley to recreate, you must! The trails are incredible, the high alpine is quiet and remote, yet close enough you don't have to take weeks off to visit. Besides cranking some money into the local food economy, we choose to partner with The Wood River Bike Coalition in order to raise funds for the regions trail development plan. This is an aspect of our goals wherever we travel, emphasizing our dedication to the land, its resources and the quality of life they provide for local communities, nationwide. We are proud to foster this growth in our attempt to cook "Food For Trails."
We could not have accomplished the fundraising efforts we did without the local food producers we worked with. Those incredible people are: Wood River Ranch Beef, Bellevue, ID, Squash Blossom Farm, Bellevue, ID, Shooting Star Farm, Hailey, ID, Purple Sage Farms, MIddleton, ID, Picabo Desert Farm, Picabo, ID, NourishMe Market, Ketchum, ID. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!! You guys rock!
Ride Sun Valley Festival Menu: Asian Street Bowls
Jasmine Rice, Vindaloo Beef, Curried Lentils, Lime/Sesame Slaw, Crispy Idaho Potato's, Spring Mix Greens and Spicy Almond/Ginger Sauce.
Want to try this recipe at home? Here you go!
1-3 lbs (depending on size of party) local, grass fed beef brisket or roast
Rice Wine Vinegar
4 Cloves Garlic
1 in piece fresh ginger
Lentils (1 cup)
Seasonal cabbage, savoy works great!
Russet or Red Potatoes (2-3)
Fresh Greens (arugula, spring mix, spinach)
In a rice cooker, cook rice. when finished, let breath for about 10 mins, it will get nice and sticky
On the stovetop, boil your lentils. We add water just above the amount of dry lentils, bring to a boil and add water until you reach desired consistency. We usually cook them until just before they begin to stick together. You want to be able to see each lentil. During cooking, add curry powder and sea salt to taste!
For Vindaloo beef:
We use a slow cooker for brisket or roasts. Place on high for 2-3 hours, then turn down on low until meat pulls apart. If you plan on having a dinner party, place in the slow cooker in the morning, and cook throughout the day. You can place the cooker on warm whenever you want to. Add onion (diced), tomato (chopped), cayenne (couple dashes), cumin (1T), turmeric (2T), coriander (3T), rice wine vinegar (about 1 cup), sea salt (2T), Garlic cloves (minced). Pull apart when finished and serve on top rice bowl!
Slice your potato's length wise, like french fries. Pre heat oven to 475 degree, place potato's on a baking sheet with a little bit of oil, olive, vegetable, coconut, you choose! Cook at 475 for 25-30 mins, or until crispy (this can change due to elevation) Take out, turn around and place back in the oven at 525 for 5-10 mins, again this timing depends on elevation, watch your taters! They will be so crispy!
To make your slaw, shred cabbage, using a sharp knife or mandolin. The mandolin is a great tool for this job, however be careful! They are really sharp and love to slice fingers, so watch yourself! Once shredded, add fresh lime juice, sesame oil, and a couple cracks of sea salt and ground pepper. Mix around and let sit for a couple of minutes or over night in the fridge.
Add fresh greens for garnish!! So delicious!
Spicy Almond Ginger Sauce:
Almond butter (1 jar)
juice from 2 limes
Asian chile paste (2T) add more to amp of the heat
3-4 cloves garlic
Rice Wine Vinegar (1 cup)
fish sauce (couple dashes, it can be potent!)
1 inch fresh ginger (peel off skin) add more for stronger flavor
red chile flakes (1-2T) added heat and flavor!
Water for consistency (1-2 cups, depending on desired amount and thickness)
Add garlic and ginger into food processor, mince before anything else. This will ensure that its fine and wont create any chunks in the mix. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy, using water to bring texture to desired consistency. Serve chilled or room temp!
Hope you enjoy as much as we do!! Have an incredible weekend...
Zander and Heidi