Wednesday, October 17, 2012

US Grand Prix of Cyclocross + Roasted Asparagus Recipe

This past weekend the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross took place in Fort Collins. It is a big, exciting National level race, part of a four race series that help determine the call-ups for Nationals. (The top rider gets called up first and gets to pick where he/she is in the starting line, then the second person is called up, etc. It can earn you a great advantage.)Riders from all over the nation show up to race.
There are lots of vendors, racers we are not used to seeing and some fun features, like the flyovers.

I watch the weather on Thursday and Friday. The course would be more fun it it were muddy. Just as we left Denver, it began to rain. By the time the older juniors raced, the rain was coming down hard and it was cold out. This can be both fun, and difficult. The mud become slippery.

It is interesting to watch the race at the barrier section. You can tell a lot about the skill of the riders by how they get over the barriers and how muddy they are. One boy came through in a yellow, lime green and white kit - a gusty choice for a season full of mud and ice. He and his bike were simply splattered. The next boy through had clearly succumbed to a patch of tricky, slippery mud as he and his bike were completely covered. I am pretty sure he must have had at least two extra pounds added to his bike with so much mud and dry grass clinging on. The good riders are wonderful to watch. They look like gazelles effortlessly clearing a log. I envy that kind of a grace, just a bit. I am not sure I am that graceful in any part of my life, let alone hopping over a barrier, bike in hand, slickness underfoot.

This is one of my favorite parts - where the rider throws his or her leg over the bike saddle, mid-stride. When done right, it looks like a dance move from a music video or a high energy line dance. Ellie's technique has a musical quality to it. Newbies then to fall into two categories: 1. stop completely and remount the bike as if you were at a cross walk; 2. Attempt the leg throw-over, the result looking like a clumsy kid trying to climb over a wooden fence wearing his big brother's boots that don't fit.

The riders then to wear their mud with pride. It shows that your are kind of tough since you stuck out the cold and took on a difficult course. The funny thing about this photo is that it is nearly identical to the one we took last year, minus Ethan and Ariana in the photo. That made me laugh a little.

Ellie was her category this weekend so this victory tends to feel empty. However,the nice young man who was announcing did a bang up job, announcing her win just as he does for the pros. He even had a Swiss trained podium boy who shook Ellie's hand awkwardly by taking her one hand in with both of hers.
I always find something sort of artistic about the look of the mechanics of a bike full of mud and dried grass.

Here's a recipe that I made up last night, happy for coming up with such options now that I have a working stove again.

Roasted Asparagus with White Peach Balsamic Vinegar with Cashews and Shaved Parmesan

Asparagus, cleaned and trimmed, removing the white part at the bottom of the stalk
Olive Oil
Sea Salt (Kosher salt would be good, too. Or any large grain salt, for that matter)
White Peach Balsamic Vinegar (actually, any good balsamic vinegar would be great)
Cashews, roasted and finely chopped
Parmesan, shaved or shredded (not the powdered stuff)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Clean and trim the asparagus. Line a cookie pan with aluminium foil. Lightly coat the asparagus with olive oil. Lay them out on the foil lined pan and sprinkle lightly with the salt.

2. Roast the asparagus for about 15-20 minutes, or until it is no longer crunchy.

3. Remove from the oven. Transfer to at a serving plate. Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar, cashews and Parmesan. Serve hot or cold.

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