It had been a tough day SPAR. Hallelujah! We could eat. Not only that, but there was a boulangerie next door. It was Tom’s turn to buy provisions. He came out with a more modest amount of food this time. However it all looked great, we were already salivating at this point. Looking like a pair of hungry stray dogs, drooling at our mouths, we departed Geaune in search of a camping spot., we had done 160 kilometres and were feeling very hungry. We had been looking for for the past 20 kilometres; fortunately we got lucky when we cycled through the town of Geaune. In keeping with all the other villages and towns we had cycled through that afternoon, Geaune was an old stone built town, with its fair share of cobbles. Cycling around we thought we were yet again out of luck. When just as we were pedalling out of the main square I eye-spied a
Determined to find a wild camping spot today we were going to settle for nothing less. However it was only just past four, this was going to make it difficult to avoid being seen. Fortunately we seemed to be on a roll. Having covered our target mileage for the day just a few kilometres earlier we found our camping spot. We had taken the habit of stopping at every farm track. One of us would stay with the bikes while the other would scour the land looking for suitable sites. If they thought they had found one the other one would go and check. If we both agreed –I was usually the one to disagree, Tom was happy anywhere- then we would set up and camp there. Fortunately on the second stop we found a superb spot in a field. It wasn’t being cultivated so we figured it would be okay to camp in; it was raised, up a dirt track from the road, so we definitely wouldn’t be seen. Our grass coloured tent along with our camouflage tarpaulins would help with that. Stealthily moving our gear and bikes from the road to the top end of the field, to avoid being seen by anyone, we quickly had set up camp.
Although the field looked great on first inspection it was rutted with hundreds of root stumps where it had been cultivated, not ideal sleeping conditions. As was becoming the theme of the day we got lucky, finding an area free of roots and flies. Dinner time. Tom’s plan of Minestrone soup with the fresh bread he bought, some chicken instant noodles and bananas (not mixed together) was great. A Michelin star quality meal, delicious yet with huge portions. We weren’t the only ones enjoying it either. The ants could evidently smell the wondrous aromas that were escaping from the pan too and flocked to us in their hundreds. However they found it difficult to get onto the tarp so didn’t bother us too much, lucky again.
Dinner devoured, pots cleaned, only one thing left to do, collapse into our sleeping bags. Don’t think I had been more comfortable until that point. It may have been only 5:30 however I still found it very easy to slip into a deep coma of relaxation.
I really enjoy food, cooking and eating it. I find it is always nicer when you cook it yourself and it is much deserved after a long day in the saddle. It is times like that when anything tastes good, no matter how unhealthy, it always seems to taste nutritious. Saying that, Tom and I did manage to eat ‘relatively’ healthily when we cycled around Europe. Although this mainly consisted of us eating pasta with various sauces, I did not mind.
Cooking whilst on a cycle-tour is wonderful. It truly makes you self-sufficient. I think there is something special about sitting in front of your tent in the middle of nowhere preparing a lovely pasta sauce. A big joy about it is that it is really easy! Anyone can cook, especially when it is as basic as it is on a bike tour/expedition. We just took one camping stove and it definitely did the trick. We used a Campingaz Twister plus (I will do a review soon) and it was super. We had two pans and were able to work out great ways of cooking a lot of food fast. Cooking in batches was a necessity. However this meant that because the portion sizes were small they cooked fast, even on the little burner we could be eating rice curry in under ten minutes.
Many people go over board on cycle tours and take spices and all sorts with them. We were minimalist to say the least; our sponge was chopped in two to save space. However we made it work and we still managed to produce some great meals. Even better than the soup and noodles you just read about. I think it would be nice going all out and taking lots of stuff for cooking however I am equally as comfortable with a pan a sand a stove. That is what we had and it was so much fun. It is also social when you are staying in a campsite and you can cook alongside fellow travellers. The only downside is washing up.
If you haven’t guessed already my favourite dish is arrabiata sauce. It is easy and no matter where you go you can almost always find ingredients for it.. More specifically my favourite type to cook whilst cycling is tortellini in a tomato
Any pasta will do, you can use any pasta sauce as a base if you want or make it from scratch. Just add what you want to add, chilli’s? Extra tomatoes? Garlic? Sun dried tomatoes? Onions? Peppers? Sweet corn? A bit of ham or chicken? I have made it with all sorts; every time it tastes good, well so I think. A versatile dish for versatile conditions and travel, the two go hand in hand. It is also very varied, plenty of carbohydrates, vegetables and vitamins, protein from beans or meat. It also normally is very filling which is perfect after a long hard days cycling.
Eating at restaurants or eating cold pre-prepared food is good every now and again but you can’t beat self-cooked hot food. It keeps costs down, keeps you healthy and most of the time is really really tasty!