“What are you giving up for Lent?”, she asked me. I imagine my blank expression and long silence was an unexpected response to such a simple question. I could feel my brain whirring and ticking like the rhythmic percussion of a Mavic freehub. Firstly, I was trying to get my head around the idea that people still give things up for Lent and secondly whether I could lie and give an earnest reply. I don’t know whether Lent is observed for religious regions or as a tradition akin to New Years’ resolutions, but the question took me by surprise. I’ve never given anything up for Lent, I need no excuse for some self-indulgence and my observance of religious festivals is patchy at best.
“Nothing”. I said. Not the most imaginative of responses, particularly given the painfully long build up. “I’m giving up chocolate. Then I’m going to eat my body weight in Easter Eggs”, she offered. Enthusiastically. The kind of enthusiasm that I could do with in my race training. Or work. Or household chores. Easter, it seems, is a time of year for committing to something in a big way. Steely abstinence and determined gluttony. I could get into it. Maybe I will. I don’t even buy Easter Eggs and i’m starting to feel like I’m missing out, especially when eggs have played an interesting part in the sport I love…
Yes. I am, I am going to link eggs to cycling. At Easter. Let’s pretend I gave up spurious links for Lent and now I’m going to deliver the greatest tenuous connections in celebration of the Spring festival. Sit back, unwrap your KitKit egg and read on. Eggs.
A mix of caffeine, cola and shed loads of amphetamines
Caviar — The Poshest of all Eggs
A few years ago Team Katusha announced an off the wall sponsor, something more surprising than the fantastically wooden shampoo adverts. Caviar de Riofrio is one of Russia’s most premium caviars, their collaboration was announced as a way to improve the squad’s diet, an incredibly expensive way of getting your Omega3 levels up. At £800 a tin it’s not the most cost effective method of keeping nutritions levels up, but probably very tasty. Hopefully the tins were ring pull, a tin opener in your jersey pocket could get really uncomfortable.
US Postal— The Red Egg
No cycling story is complete without a reference to the might US Postal and their legendary training regimes. A slick operation involving fridges, needles and transfusions kept them top of the tree for years and earning Lance Armstrong an incredible
seven zero Yellow Jerseys. But before the EPO years the team had to make do with testosterone, as described in Tyler Hamilton’s book. Nicknamed ‘the red egg’ testosterone was a neat little pill that boosted muscle mass and strength. Always go to work on an egg day.
Back in the days when everything was black and white and Brylcreem was the only cosmetic a man would wear, drugs were a far more acceptable part of the sport. Whilst Armstrong and his team are pilloried for their habits, the likes of Simpson, Anquetil and the great Fausto Coppi are idolised. Coppi was perfectly open about his intake, perhaps that’s the difference. His mix of caffeine, cola and shed loads of amphetamines was nicknamed ‘La Bomba’, which went on to be a hit for Los Lobos in the 80s. His great adversary of the time, Gino Bartali, was less keen on the drugs, instead preferring around 28 espressos a day. It’s amazing that didn’t kill him. La Bomba clearly wasn’t enough to get Coppi over the mountains of the Giro because he would top up along the road by cracking raw eggs on his handlebars, allowing the whites to fall and necking the yolk. Lovely.
Tsar Nicholas II
Who? Yeah, you know – Russia’s great king of the late 19th / early 20th Century. Handsome man with a beard who married Queen Victoria’s granddaughter. Anyway, Nicholas was a huge fan of cycling, which at the time was barely a thing. So much so that he created a government office for the promotion of the sport. He spent nearly 400 roubles on American bikes in the first year of his reign. That’s about £5,000 in today’s money so a decent investment. Presumably he’d have gone Dura Ace mechanical.
But it wasn’t just bikes that Nick spent his money on, oh no – it’s Easter remember. He presented both his wife and mother a total of 50 Imperial Fabergé eggs. Created by the House of Fabergé between 1885 and 1917, the eggs were incredible jewelled masterpieces that are among the most sought after collectors items today. And worth an absolute fortune. Happy Easter indeed.
Chris Bell EGGrings
You might remember these, the forerunner to the oval chainring sporting widely in the modern pro-peloton, notably by multi-Tour winner and captain of charisma, Chris Froome. EGGRings were made between 1988 and 2011 and most famously used on Chris Boardman’s Lotus 108, earning the Wirral’s favourite son a gold medal. A real one, not a chocolate one. Oval EGGrings allowed you to pedal more effectively, powering the legs a more smooth and efficient motion. Cracking.
Omelette Het Nieuwsblad
Terrible pun. Sorry. It’s nearly over, don’t worry. Fuelling is one of the most important aspects of cycling, get it wrong and you’ll be hunched over your bars seeing visions of cafés like an oasis in the desert, get it right and you’ll be dropping everyone with the last ounces of energy on the final hill. Team Sky chef Henrik Orre, author of Rapha’s sumptuous Vélochef cook book, shared one of Team Sky’s favourite recipes for a pre-ride meal. Before any 6+ hour ride the team would have an omelette and porridge to top up the carbs and protein. We’ve decided to share the omelette recipe for your pleasure. Read on!
1 tbsp olive oil 3 eggs 3 tbsp water Salt Black pepper 2 slices of ham Method
1. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat, add the olive oil and swirl it about 2. Beat the eggs and the water well in a bowl 3. Add salt and pepper 4. Pour the eggs into the frying pan and fry lightly until cooked through 5. Cut the ham into strips and put on the omelette