Top fuel

I haven’t written much about my own cycling recently – not that there’s been much to write about! I first got back on the bike at the end of August and what a shock it was. It was like going back to when I first learned to ride my old mountain bike in early 2007. At first, it was a struggle riding my Cap d’Antibes loop and I couldn’t even manage the climb back up the Domaine. Very humbling!

Since then it’s been a bit stop-start, largely due to travel, the weather and any other excuse I could summon up. But I’ve gone back to basics – little and often. I’m still a long way off my best but I’m enjoying riding (on my own) again and I can now easily ride all the way back up to the apartment. And, as this month heralds much warmer weather, although I’m still wearing my 3/4 bib-shorts and long-sleeved jersey, I’m hoping to lay down a solid base that’ll allow me to rediscover all my favourite routes and climbs this summer.

Of course, before I head out for a ride I need to ensure I’ve properly topped up the tank. Initially on my new regime, which frankly is fast becoming my new permanent way of eating, I struggled most with breakfast. That was until I discovered avocado on toast in Australia. I can’t eat any animal fats and therefore have to make sure I get an adequate daily serving of vegetable and fish oils. I’ve always enjoyed avocado in salad, or with prawns, but never realised how delish it was on toast. More so for me since I can’t have butter or margarine and I’m not overly fond of nut butters, jam or honey. I find the first too claggy and the other two, too sweet.

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The trick is to use a perfectly ripe avocado, not as easy as it might seem. Pick one which still has its stem intact. If the avocado is ripe, you will be able to pull the stem out very easily. If the stem is already missing, hold the avocado in your hand and gently squeeze it. An unripe avocado will feel like a stone. An over-ripe avocado will feel loose under the skin. A ripe avocado will feel the same as if you were to squeeze the palms of your hands.

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I like to mash my avocado with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of ground coriander, a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice, a pinch of pepper and half a teaspoon of salt before piling it onto toasted spelt or sourdough bread. I might even top it with a few radishes, cherry tomatoes or freshly chopped coriander.

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If I don’t have any ripe avocados, I’ll pile chia jam onto my toast. Gently warm 500 grams (1lb) of chopped fresh fruit, in this case strawberries, juice of a small orange or lemon and a tablespoon of maple syrup either in a saucepan on the hob or in the microwave, just to help breakdown the fruit and extract its juices. When the fruit mixture is cool, I add two tablespoons of chia seeds, mix, pop it into a jar and place in the fridge overnight to set. I make it only in small quantities though it’ll happily keep for a week or so in the fridge.

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I’ll wash my toast down with a smoothie. Looks like a latte doesn’t it? But it isn’t, it’s a smoothie made with a glass of unsweetened almond milk, a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a small frozen banana all whizzed up in the liquidiser. Then I’m good to go.

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