Continental Breakfast

By Rich Bravo
Photos by Chris McPherson  

Cycling breeds ‘eaters’. Only a small percentage of riders will know the satisfaction of scaling the top step of a podium at the end of a bike race but anyone who regularly throws a leg over the saddle for four- or five-hour sessions in the hills is likely to be a Cat 1 when they get to the all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s simple physics. If you’re going to burn 5,000 calories in a day, then you better have plenty of energy at hand from the previous night’s meal, not to mention sufficient food in your pockets to last the duration of the ride.

Everyone has their own monumental stories of running out of food, bonking spectacularly and being left in a pit of shame, soft-pedaling to the nearest gas station to devour whatever Ring-Dings, Ho-Hos or Mountain Dew have the most calories. A moment of particular disgrace in what is a personal pantheon of food-related disasters happened in the last 24 hours of a cross-country race. It was the middle of the night and while we were still a few hundred miles from the finish, having ridden almost 3,000 miles it felt as if we were already done. We rolled by a Subway and our support crew was grabbing a midnight snack and since I had just finished my turn on the bike, I decided a meal with ‘real’ food would be a good idea. Most of the calories we ate had been consumed through drinks and bars, so the idea of eating something more substantial was tempting. This was a mistake. If you still have a couple hundred miles to ride do not eat a meatball sub with hot peppers. This advice makes so much sense now; it didn’t at the time.

Therein lies the hurdle for those of us who will go out and spend the better part of a day in the saddle, testing how many miles and how many feet of climbing our bodies can withstand. Pre-packaged mixes, gels and bars are convenient, don’t involve any preparation, fit perfectly in pockets and have the calories required for just about any ride. But after two or three hours of eating processed calories, my stomach usually shuts down and it becomes an unpleasant effort to continue eating anything at all. As a result, I’m no stranger to bonking. In fact, for most rides I do that last more than about 80 miles, I’ll end up not eating enough during the final couple hours.

The Rapha Continental’s 2013 excursion was a first for me, certainly with regards to how we refueled throughout the days we were riding. It also marks the only time I’ve done long miles while eating only ‘real’ food, prepared before we set out on our bikes. We were fortunate enough to have Biju Thomas and Jon Robichaud from Skratch Labs preparing many of our meals off the bike, as well as all of the food we would be eating while in the saddle. We had a seemingly endless supply of rice cakes, made in two different varieties: a sweet version with either chocolate or fruit; and a savory set, with bacon. We also had PB&J sandwiches, apples, oranges and bananas. And Mexican coke.

When you have good food on a ride, food that is nutritious and has enough calories, edibles that are healthy and taste good, you never really think about it. Aside from giving your body the materials it needs to function at a high level, you are giving yourself the peace of mind to not have to think about your food, which really is a blessing when you’d rather be focusing on the ride, the scenery and life gliding by.

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by Biju Thomas

TIME > 1½ to 2 hours, including time to marinate

Here’s my version of the classic Indian dish reduced to the absolute basic ingredients. You should definitely experiment with adding more spices and heat if you’re making this at home. Be sure to start marinating the chicken at least an hour before you plan to cook.

– 2lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1 cup tomato sauce
– 1 cup plain yogurt
– 2 tablespoons curry powder
– 1 cup sliced onions
– 1 teaspoon salt

Optional additions

– Minced fresh ginger
– 2–4 green chillies, cut into strips

Combine the chicken with the other ingredients (including optional additions, if desired) in a bowl. Marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

Heat oven to 375F/ 190C. Transfer chicken, in the marinade, to a deep, ovenproof dish and cover with foil. Bake until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 1 hour. Alternatively, to prepare on the stove top, bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with chopped cilantro (coriander) and serve as a spicy stew or with steamed rice.

Energy 399 cal
Fat 5 grammes
Sodium 574 milligrammes
Carbs 8 grammes
Fibre 1 gramme
Protein 38 grammes

Republished from The Feed Zone Cookbook with permission of VeloPress. Try sample recipes at