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Better Than Take Out: Fried Rice

February 21, 2012

Hey All.

Meg here.

As you may have noticed, we are now fully immersed in racing season around here. This means that the car is always full of racing gear, the race bags are always packed, we live in a hotel 2 nights a week, and we are ALWAYS HUNGRY.

While we pretend to be good endurance athletes, Eric and I are weak. We love takeout. It’s so easy, and delicious. But it is expensive, and not always the healthiest option. So we often make our own versions of our favorite take-out meals. Veggie fried rice is a go-to. We add more veggies and use less oil that typical takeout venues.

It’s not so much as a recipe that we use, as much as a guideline.

Start with whatever veggies you want. For this batch, we used what we had on hand. Onion, carrot, broccoli, and peas.

We started this batch by cooking down the onions and carrots.

Start by cooking down onions and carrots

Then we added the broccoli.

And finally the peas, which frozen over the summer by my wonderful mother. Nothing compares to the vegetables that we have in upstate NY over the summer, so we freeze and can as many as we can every summer and eat them all winter long.

While the veggies cooked, I mixed up the “secret sauce.” Basically, I just eyeballed a mix of soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and a splash of sesame oil, and the secret ingredient.

The secret? Homemade pickled ginger juice. My mom also makes this. She is awesome. I put a few tablespoons of the juice in with the sauce, and also chopped up some of the pickled ginger and threw it in with the veggies.

After that, we wisk up 2 eggs and scramble them in the pot with the veggies. Just push the veggies to one side to cook the eggs, then mix it all together.

When that is done, add the rice. Old rice works better, but we usually don’t plan that far ahead so we just cook up some and use it right away.

Stir well. Then add sauce.

It’s so easy, and you can add whatever you like!

And make a ton. Left-overs are wonderful. It is one of those things that tastes better the next day.

Anyone else turned their favorite take-out meals into a recipe at home? We are always looking for great meals to try!

Race Report: Week 2 Saturday

February 18, 2012

Meg’s Turn:

This weekend we are hanging out in UNC Wilmington. We just finished up Saturday’s road race, and have our first Crit of the season tomorrow.

For our trip up, Eric and I discovered that instead of going all the way around the James River inlet (you have to drive west almost an hour to then go north and back east) we can take the Ferry! There is an auto Ferry which runs from Jamestown to Surry, Va. It’s free, and runs every 20 minutes or so, 24 hours a day.

Parked on the Ferry, bikes and all.

It was beautiful outside, which made the ferry ride even more fun.

We settled in late at our motel in Warsaw, NC and got up bright and early to head to Watha, NC for our road race.

Everyone getting settled in at the start/finish.

The weekend started out beautifully! The course was possibly the flattest 12 miles I have ever seen (which is saying  a lot considering that we live in Williamsburg). The B/C women did 3 laps of the course. It was 50 degrees and sunny in the morning, and warmed up to a hot 70 degrees. This northern girl is never going to be used to that.

Looking stoic at the start line. Or maybe it's my game face?

For me, the race was a bit frustrating at times. It was a small group of ladies today (15 riders between the 2 categories) and a flat course. Flat courses make it very hard to get away from a group. Since a breakaway was not going to happen, a lot of the girls decided that they would soft pedal the entire course and save everything they have for a sprint.

To try and keep things interesting, I tried to put in a few attacks and hard pulls. Nothing stuck, and after about a lap and a half, it seemed futile. I was going to have to play the same game that everyone else was playing and sit in until the end.

I did, and tried to position myself well coming into the last km. Unfortunately, I was a few too many wheel back, and had to work hard for the sprint to the line. Luckily for me, training with Eric has rubbed off on my sprint (why can’t I gain his climbing abilities?) and I was able to come over the top of 6 or so women. I finished first in Women’s B. There was a C  girl to beat me to the line though, so I’m not really counting it as a win. But all in all, a great day of racing. Sun, no hills, and a wicked sprint finish. And cake. Good stuff.

I love cake. This is why I race.

Eric’s Turn:

There are essentially four teams in our conference: App State, NC State, VTech, and Navy.  If, like me, you don’t ride for one of those teams, each who have between 5 and 8 riders represented in the race, you’re at the mercy of their often poorly devised tactics.

I’m at a further disadvantage, being the only member of my team racing A’s.  That means no help pulling back the break, no help positioning for the sprint.  It gets frustrating.  You want so badly to go to the front, where teams with no rider or one weak rider in the break are playing stupid blocking games, and hammer until the gap has shriveled.  Or, like today, you want to break off the front and bridge the gap, but find yourself marked by 10 guys who, not five minutes before, were riding and chatting at a leisurely pace.  They then refuse to pull through.  It’s a helpless frustrating feeling.

If I had greater will, I would accept that this is beyond my control and protect myself, saving it for the end of the race.  But I don’t.  I’m stubborn and impulsive.  I think attacking is fun, even if I’m only doing it to make a point.  So, only 5 miles into today’s 60-mile, pancake flat race, I hit the gas hard.  No one followed.  Oops.

Breaking away.

Before I knew it the gap was 90 seconds.  I spent about 20 minutes riding before I realized the probability of a 3 hour solo break succeeding was minuscule,  at best.  I sat up and waited for the bunch.

No one else got far enough away to worry me.  Looking towards the bunch sprint, I tried to hold the outside line and protect my position.  It’s just hard to stay in the wind by yourself and get to the sprint with any leg left.  I did a mediocre job, collected a few wheels in the sprint, and finished tenth or twelfth.  All in all, the performance rated only a “meh.”

Throwing it at the line.

 

I guess the important thing is that I’m staying safe and banking omnium points.  Eye on the prize, right?

RACE REPORT – Week 1 – Saturday

February 11, 2012

Eric’s Turn.

Today, Meg and I started off the season with a solid showing at NCSU.

The Course

On tap for today was a 11.5-mile loop on the edge of Raleigh’s Lake Jordan.  The course was almost completely flat.  What it lacked in elevation, though, it more than made up for in strong winds.  This meant that the skills of the day would be perfect drafting, echeloning (drafting in a diagonal formation to get out of the cross-wind), and plenty of top end power to drive up the pace.

Eric raced 68 miles with the Men’s A field, while Meg raced 35 with Women’s B.

Eric’s Race

As we rolled off the start line for a long afternoon in the saddle, a small group decided to try it’s luck with the long ball.  Since this is, generally speaking, a very silly thing to do, I didn’t think much of it and let it roll off the front without a second thought.  Sad move.

With one rider from each of the large teams represented in the break, a truce was called and no one would ride to bring it back.  Since I am without teammates in Men’s A, it would have been senseless for me to bury myself to bring it back, only to find myself destroyed with three laps still to race.  End of race.  The winner would come out of this group.

For the first two laps, we rolled around lazily, chatting and telling jokes.  Laps three and four were slightly more interesting, as several teams apparently began to lose faith in their man in the break.  The pace was hot and it felt nice to be racing again.  After bringing back two riders who were shelled from the break, the pace again sagged.  It kicked up again with 4 or 5 miles to go, as teams organized their leadouts.

I tried to tag onto the end of one of the leadout trains, but my top-end speed is just not there yet.  This is the problem with starting off slow.  The first few races are bound to hurt.  I ended the day somewhere between 15th and 20th.

 

All in all a reasonable showing to start off a long season.  Most importantly, I felt fine with the distance, indicating that base training was a success.

On tap for tomorrow is another 70 or so miles of fun, this time with slightly more elevation.  Stay tuned.

And Meg’s turn.

My first race of the season was a good leg opener, but a little frustrating. I lined up with the collegiate B/C women, as well as USAC 3/4 ladies. It was a great turnout, 30+ women heading out in a group at 9am this morning.

I was a little nervous about being gapped and dumped early in the race (I don’t have the best track record during road racing, or that much experience to be honest).  After a long neutral start (about ½ mile out from the parking lot down to the finish line) I moved myself into the first 5 or so wheels and rotated through with a front women for the first 10 or so miles.

It took me that long to realize that I was going more work than was necessary. It was a flat, fast course and most of the group was still together. All I was doing sitting at the front was pulling too much into the wind. I’m still learning a lot every race. So I moved into position about 8-10 wheels back and tried to conserve energy. It was close enough to the front that closing gaps was still easy when attacks happened, but I was in a better drafting position.

Of course, this trade-off is risky. The more wheels you are behind, the more riders you have to worry about.  Coming into the third and final lap, the group bunched up, someone crossed wheels and brought down a good portion of the field, including me. Luckily, I was able to slow down and not get hurt, but I lost about a minute on the group untangling myself and fixing my breaks.

At this point, I was bit frustrated. I was doing well and still felt like I had legs left. A rider from VT and I worked for the final lap, trying to play catch up. While it was a good ride, and a great workout by the end, it was not the result that I was hoping for. But it just reiterates that I have a lot to learn still. This is the first racing season that I’ve come into any races with goals other than ‘don’t fall off and don’t come in last.’ I’m hoping that I can keep it all in perspective, while coming into my legs and some fitness throughout the season.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow goes well. 25 miles for the ladies, but more climbing. Wooo!

Twas the Night

February 10, 2012

’Twas the night before racing and all through motel 6,

A little creature was stirring, scared to know what it is.

The Sidis were left on the nightstands with care,

With hopes that next morning, the watts would be there.

 

The racers were nestled, all snug in their beds,

While dreams of Jens Voigt danced in their heads.

And Mae in the pillows and Sweep in his crate,

Were all were nestled down to rest up and wait.

When in the parking lot there arose such a clatter.

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the peephole I flew like a flash,

Worried the car window had made that great crash.

Much to my relief it was cyclist Jack,

Midnight intervals mean tomorrow he’ll be off the back.

I flung open the door to tell him he was crazy,

He yelled right back “No man, you’re just lazy.”

Never one to back down, turn away to save face,

“We’ll settle this,” I said. “With a good midnight race.”

To the end of the lot, and around the strip mall.

Now pedal on. Pedal on. Pedal on all!

As the moon shone on his embro, Jack danced on the pedals

I can’t hold his wheel! This score might be settled.

But when we crested a hill, I closed up the gap.

It’s time for the sprint! Hope my legs still have snap!

I began to come around as we hit the last bend,

When all of a sudden, there was a crash on my head!

I woke in a daze, nothing seemed clear.

It was Sweep on my head, his wet nose in my ear.

My grand race with Jack must have all been a dream.

Wish I could go back to sleep to finish the scene.

But alas it’s 5:30, time to put on my tights,

Zip up my booties, line up for the fight.

Now the season is here, there is no reason to frown.

Happy racing season to all, and to all rubber side down.

Working on Weaknesses: Planning the Next Six Weeks

February 9, 2012

Eric’s turn.

I owe everyone a serious apology.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged.  I have millions of excuses – all stemming from overcommitment – but none of them are sufficient.

What I’ll call my base training ends unceremoniously this weekend, when we set off for Raleigh, NC for week 1.  Like anything else in life, it’s easy to look back and be overcritical.  While I missed some of my goals, I also met many of them and even surprised myself.  Most notably, I spent more time than expected on the mountain bike and I feel that my skills have improved dramatically in the past six weeks.

Looking forward, it’s time to start turning all of those long, lazy miles into something resembling racing form.  Last season was less about success and more about learning.  It’s time to turn those lessons into action and hopefully a dump truck full of glory by season’s end.

The plan for the season is to race into shape.  That means working hard and suffering for the first few weeks, while my form comes around.  It also means recognizing what needs work.  In my first elite races last year, I found that my climbing and handling skills were average, if not slightly above average.  I could easily move up and usually hold on when the road turned up or down.  But, I’m missing some acceleration, the ability to open up a gap, and top end speed.  I can hang on during a race, but I need that extra bit to move up and factor into the final.

 

Might have to look like this for a few weeks....

 

So that I can look like this at the end of the season (on a road that is...and maybe with a more original celebration).

 

I’m hoping three workouts get me there.

First: VO2Max workouts.  These should help me shore up that top end speed.  These workouts involve extended periods of work hovering around or above my functional lactate threshold with equal periods of rest.  For example, I may do 10 reps of an interval that looks like 3 minutes at 90% followed by three minutes of rest.  Painful, but effective.

Second: Good old-fashioned sprinting.  Sometimes the best way to get faster is just to go faster.  By concentrating short efforts beginning at a low speed, I’m hoping to develop enough fast-twitch power to get me across the line before everyone else.

Finally: Wednesday long rides.  Last season I learned the hard way that, unless you keep shoring up your aerobic base, intensity will only chip away at it.  This season, discipline will reign supreme.

So, there you have it.  Eric’s plan for greatness.  Stay tuned and see how it plays out.

Base Training Week 5

February 7, 2012

Hey All.

Meg here.

It finally happened. A slow week. Base training started to wear into me. I cut some rides short and took an extra rest day.

While I don’t like falling short of my training goals, I know that these things happen. I was feeling run down, and a little under the weather. So I did what I could. All in all, not a terrible training week.

In case you missed it, here’s the summary of previous weeks:

And here is Week 5 ( in orange)

  • Monday (1/30): Rest Day. Trying to get used to the racing schedule, which will always incorporate a monday rest day.
  • Tuesday (1/31): Spun out for an hour and 45 minutes on the road bike, and then made it back into the yoga studio for a 75 minute class
  • Wednesday (2/1): Two hours at Freedom Park on the Mountain bike
  • Thursday (2/2): Rode on the rollers for an hour. I warmed up for 10 minutes, then did a 45 minute VO2 max workout. I sprinted all out for 30 seconds, then actively recovered for 30 seconds. I repeated this for 45 minutes then did a 5 minute cool down.
  • Friday (2/3): I went on a horseback riding lesson for 1 hour, then spun out easy on the rollers for 1 hour.
  • Saturday (2/4): Rode with Eric for 1.5 hours.
  • Sunday (2/5): Rest Day. We were stuck in a classroom all day, learning to be cycling officials.

Total: 9.5 hours. Obviously, quite a bit below the goal, but all in all nothing to scoff at.

Now, on to the final week of base training. This week will be a ‘recovery’ week, as I try to keep the legs fresh for the first weekend of racing, but still work. Cycling is interesting, since we will be racing for 10 consecutive weekends. It’s a delicate balance to keep fitness and not burn out. Hopefully I can manage it!

I’m getting nervous for the season to start! Hopefully the training pays off.

Any other cyclist out there gearing up to start racing? 

USAC officals!

February 6, 2012

Hey All.

Meg here.

Goodness, we are terrible bloggers lately. I guess Eric has an excuse, with that whole law school thing and all. I’m just bad at this game. It’s so hard to think of what to write about. I’m in awe of all the folks who blog multiple times a day.

Quick life update:

This weekend, we spent  sunday in a LONG race officials clinic. Neither Eric or I are very good at sitting still for hours on end. It was rough. I’m not proud of it, but I had to take a break to pace in the hallway after 7 1/2 hours of sitting.  On the plus side, Eric and I are now USAC -licensed category C officials. Request us for your race! We promise to selectively enforce the rules we feel most promote fairness and camaraderie.

To tide you all over until I get a real post out:

I want to get a Go-Pro so that we can do this with Sweep. Especially since he has recently decided that mountain biking is a full contact sport. He likes to run right next to Eric and put his shoulder into him a bit on the corners. What a boy.

 

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