Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Competition Report- Chilympiad

Somehow this weekend became almost completely food-focused as I spent several hours in the kitchen.  I also participated in my first competition of the year, but probably not one you'd expect. 

I have been toying with the idea of making my own energy bars for some time.  I'd like to say that I don't like prepackaged food, or that I need to be able to pronounce all of the ingredients in what I eat, but the reality is that most of my interest is rooted in financial necessity. 

Being active 5-6 days a week means that I burn through a lot of training fuel and I try reserve my GU stash for hard workouts and races.  My fondness for tinkering and making things doesn't end in the shop, so I did some online research (seems redundant to say that these days- is there any other kind of research?  Does anybody actually go to the library and use the Dewey Decimal system?) and found some recipes.  Previously I'd tried several recipes for energy bars, but they were all super sweet, very sticky and nearly impossible to eat while riding. 

After some consideration I thought I'd give a more traditional granola bar recipe a try since those are usually less sweet.  I stumbled upon a recipe adapted from the King Arthur Flour cookbook and further made some of my own tweaks.  This is how it came out.

The chocolate covered portion is for recovery bars.  As much as I like chocolate it just doesn't agree with me when I'm doing anything other than sitting down and chewing.  It can also get messy if it warms up inside a jersey pocket.

Overall these were pretty good- not too sweet and with a good mix of fruit and nuts. 

The next item on the agenda was the Chilympiad.  What's a Chilympiad?  It's a  local chili cook-off event hosted in town, and despite the name I don't have to wait 4 years between events.  I was grossly unprepared when I entered in 2009 as I was wholly unaware that I needed marketing materials to support my entry.  I had to borrow some crayons and a paper place mat to scrawl out a hasty sign that didn't put my entry in the best possible position.  It was like missing your pedal at the start when everybody's gunning for the hole shot.

I'm competitive, I'm obsessive  and I tend to over-analyze things.  My friends have joked that I care about four things- my wife, my job, cycling and...cooking chili.  One of those things not like the others?  In fact cooking chili is something I take semi-seriously, and I've entered a variation on an old family recipe in a handful of local competitions. 

I spent Saturday afternoon riding the rollers and cooking my chili.  I've learned that chili is really the best when it's cooked ahead of time and allowed to simmer for a few hours before being eaten.  My roller ride was entirely unimpressive.

Sunday's activities were entirely Chilympiad based.  After my usual weekend cycling internet dabbling I got caffeinated and rounded up my gear to head up to Trapp's.  For a variety of reasons that plan fell apart and I only made it for about 20 minutes before bailing and coming home to ride the rollers instead. 

As my chili cooked away in the Crock Pot I got my materials together and steeled myself for the challenge that lay ahead.  I'm sorry to admit that I was nervous.  It's not like there was a lot on the line, but I had replayed the events of 2009 over and over enough times that I was dedicated to improving this time. 

I arrived early to fill out the requisite entry forms and prepare my entry for judging.  The handmade "chili 5:30" sign out front confirmed that I was in the right place.

Fortunately Carrie and her Dad came along to support my effort, and we were joined later by Margie and Greg.  Those three people form a good portion of our local support network and are always willing to turn out for our often esoteric adventures.  Carrie doesn't have a choice. 

There were a total of 9 entries, and my goal quickly became not finishing 9th.  As the judges mulled their decisions we discussed our picks for who might win.  The youth group from the host church had an entry, and that entry would end up the winner. 

In second place?  Me, winner of the popular vote. 

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