This month’s blog is written by Sarah Danaford Knight, our very own club cook, on why getting the food right on the day is so important.
Recipe for a successful sportive
- A warm summers day
- A few hundred hardy bike riders ready for a challenge
- Three spectacular routes
- A few dozen willing Beeston CC volunteers plus a variety of kit
- The Beeston CC marquee
- 25 gallons of sportive soup and several hundred cheese sandwiches, tea and coffee
- The week before the event get confirmation of rider numbers for the three routes so I can calculate quantities
- Order the gels, energy bars and powders, bread, fruit and vegetables
- Check and assemble the equipment (e.g. water containers, gazebo, tables, flags)
- Go shopping. Three trolleys should be sufficient.
- Make the ever-popular sportive soup
- Pack the food station boxes and ensure collection by food station teams the night before the sportive
The Beeston CC Sportive Army marches on it’s stomach
I've always been fascinated with what delights are hidden in the musettes they hand out at the feeding stations during the Tour de France. Food is just as important for rider’s comfort as it is for the moral of all our volunteers.
As Beeston CC club cook its my job is to organise the buying, packing and collection of the feed station supply boxes and cater for the all the club volunteers – from providing a sausage and bacon buttie on their arrival on site early in the morning, to their departure at the end of what is very long day.
We provide tea and coffee for riders while they register and then food when they arrive back – a steady stream starts from early afternoon as the short route returns from 1pm to the final long route rider in the early evening.
We have three food stations. I provide a variety of easy to eat items and fruit which could include flapjacks, granola bars, fig rolls, raisins, chunks of fruit, salted biscuits and peanuts and plenty of fresh water.
Over the last few years it has been possible to try out a few types of different snacks to see what is popular and we now have a tried and tested list that hits the spot.
I treat the short and medium ride and first long route food options very similarly apart from extra gels and energy bars for the long route riders.
The second long route food stop is the exception… I make sure the choices at the second include some savoury foods, mainly because after taking energy drinks, bars, gels, bananas and flapjacks sweet food is getting very boring and a bit sickly. So I provide some savoury sandwiches (small cut using soft bread) with cheese, smoked ham, peanut butter and salted peanuts and Ritz crackers.
Welcoming the riders back to the marquee
I know from personal experience that the last 20 miles of a long hilly route can be endured only with the thought of a hot bath, food, a cup of tea and the relief of getting off the saddle. We can't provide the bath but we can do the rest.
The sportive soup
Right from the start we wanted to provide something hot and satisfying and easy to eat, so home made soup seemed like the right choice as its easy to prepare in advance in large quantities and simple to serve on the day.
A couple of years ago we had awful heavy rain towards the end of the day and long route riders (which was 130 miles at the time) were coming in very tired, cold, wet and with numb fingers. I wanted the food to be very easy for riders to handle, and quick to eat, no spoons or bowls, just a cup accompanied with a cheese roll.
The soup has become associated with the sportive and the exact (secret) recipe is produced each year. In fact, I cook it for every Beeston CC event as it’s now a Club tradition and helps fuel the volunteers as well as re-fuel the tired riders.
To try out the soup for yourself, sign up to our Sportive on 29 June here. Only 1 month to go now, there are plenty of spaces left but don’t leave it too late!