26. Married. Vegan. Cat 2 on Herriott Sports Performance (HSP). Cook at Chaco Canyon Cafe. @ericgantbastard

I recently stumbled back upon a Chicago hardcore band that I assumed had vanished from the music world, Harm’s Way. They’ve come a long way. So long, in fact, that Deathwish is putting out their newest EP, “Blinded.” Definitely my next record purchase.

HARM’S WAY “Mind Control” (by Deathwishinc)

BMC Cascade Cycling Classic

After a 3rd place result in the Joe Matava Memorial crit on the 4th of July, followed by a 2nd place finish in the Brad Lewis Memorial (Boat Street) crit a couple weeks ago I was barely able to upgrade to Category 2 in time for the Cascade Classic in Bend, OR. I literally got my upgrade approval back the day before registration closed. Last minute. I’m so good at that.

So here we are. I’m sitting in my living room with an ice chest half-full of produce and snacks, 2 bikes, 2 bags, and a juicer, waiting for Nate Pitts to get here with the van and our posse. I’m actually going to Bend for the CCC! Lots of hard work and self coaching for the past 2.5 seasons has finally paid off. Herriott Sports Performance will be represented by our two juniors, Max “The Missile” O’Neil, and Thorsten Askervold, plus rookie cat 2’s yours truly and Ted Schwartz, led by our wise and fearless leader, Brian Hitchcock. 5 swords, each with their own set of skills. I’m really excited to get smacked up by the best cat2s on the West Coast and/or do the smacking myself, with the help of The Hit Squad (HSP Elite team).

Rides here. Check back in soon for daily updates of the adventure. Additionally I will be using twitter (@ericgantbastard) and Instagram (@excockrell) to update. Thanks for reading.

Go Vegan 101

My old friend Andy, recently asked me about what practical steps he could take as he heads toward a plant-based diet. Lucky for you, I am going to share some knowledge on the blog so everyone can reference what wisdom I’ve acquired over the past 8 years.

First, and above all, you will need to start cooking at home 95% of the time. If you already do, great. If not, you can always start today. The reason cooking at home is priority #1 is because it’s cheaper than eating out, you can control the ingredients (no mystery fats or poor quality proteins/produce), and it’s far more satisfying to cook a meal from scratch than it is to pay someone else to do a sub-par job for you. Cooking is fun. Don’t let the fucking food network tell you that if your not a chef then it’s crap. I’ve been cooking for a living for over 8 years- nothing makes me more joyful than a simple, non-pretentious meal that a friend cooks for me (my wife is my friend too). Those chefs you see on TV cook food that was rooted from poverty. Generations ago, people only had a few things on hand because that’s all they could afford, so they got really good at cooking certain meals that eventually became classics. Make your own classics with what you have lying around in the fridge and cupboards. Don’t sweat, I’m going to share some very affordable and nutritious classic meals that I cook on the regular.

Before I get to that, I’d like you to consider a few things for your health and for the sake of better tasting food.

-Stop buying butter. Get safflower and olive oil. They have vitamin E, unsaturated fats & omega fatty acids, butter is the opposite.
-Stop buying honey and brown sugar. Get brown rice syrup and molasses. They have more healthy carbohydrates, less sugar, and are generally healthier sweetener alternatives.
-The bulk section is your best friend. You aren’t going to believe the money you save when you start buying dry goods out of these bins in the grocery store.
-You’ll get more than enough protein, I promise. North Americans are missing the point, it’s not protein you should be worried about, it’s carbohydrates. The typical DAILY N. American diet consists of enough protein to refuel 8 Olympic athletes after competition. Carbs promote an efficient metabolism and fat burning. They human body requires 3x more grams of carbs than protein per calorie. If you are getting enough fats and carbs, you are definitely getting enough protein. Google it, or comment below and I’ll give you a “Protein isn’t as important as you think” clinic.
-Ditch that iodized salt. Get kosher or sea salt. It sticks to food more evenly and adds flavor, not takes away from it. Not to mention, it contains minerals your body craves. Salt is good for you. Sodium in packaged food is not.

Now, without further ado,  here are some great meals anyone can cook. As always, feel free to experiment and add your own style to them as you get more comfortable.

Steel-cut Oats.
In a pot bring 1.5 cups of water to a raging boil. Add a pinch of sea/kosher salt. Add 1/2 cup of steel cut oats. Bring heat down to medium and stir frequently or else it’s going to foam up and spill all over the place. After a minute of taming the foaming beast, for the next 10 minutes stir occasionally. When it looks like the oats have soaked up the water and it looks like watery slop, put a lid on it and remove from heat. In like, 5 minutes, feel free to add 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter (NOT THAT HYDROGENATED OIL CRAP, REAL PEANUT BUTTER) and 1 Tablespoon of unsulphured blackstrap molasses or brown rice syrup and mix well. Transfer to your favorite bowl and enjoy. 

I eat this about every day. If you don’t yet know what it means to be “regular,” make this a staple breakfast. Also, breakfast is “the most important meal of the day” because it jump-starts your metabolism which gives you energy and promotes fat burning. Here’s the nutritional value if you prepare half of this without the peanut butter and sweetener:

The PB and Molasses triple the iron, calcium, carbs and unsaturated fats. Bam!

Green Machine Sandwich
On whole/ multi-grain bread spread Vegenaise (yes, I just suggested a packaged food, its far more nutritious than regular mayo and tastes better, found in most grocery stores in the hippie section) and your favorite mustard on both sides. Next add sliced green bell pepper, sliced cucumber, lettuce, clover (or any) sprouts, avocado, green onion (or red, I guess). Close bread together to form a sandwich. Pair with a canned lentil soup from the hippie section of the store or make a soup that I post here on the blog under “recipes” a mixed greens salad with balsamic/applecider/redwine vinegar and olive oil and tomatoes, carrots and apples is also highly recommended instead of soup.

This sandwich has more than enough plant-based carbs to keep you going until dinner. Lunch should always be more filling than dinner. You will burn calories just doing whatever it is you do until dinner, so your food serves as fuel. Dinner should leave you feeling like you could probably eat a little more. If you are full, then you over-ate. You’re just going to be hitting the sack shortly after dinner anyways, you don’t want the extra food turning to fat.

Once a week, dinner can be had eating out. That is even a bit much. I still think it’s important to eat out occasionally, since it serves the purpose of culinary inspiration. Every time you go to a restaurant you are eating food you probably haven’t executed yourself. Use those ingredients on the plate and take a shot at your own version.

Tacos (a favorite)
-Corn tortillas
-1/4c Sunflower seeds
-1/4c Pumpkin seeds
-1/2 a yam (small chop)
-1/2 an onion (small chop)
-1 clove garlic (minced)
-thinly sliced cabbage/lettuce, tomatoes, nutritional yeast 
Preheat oven to 400*F. In a hot pan with a little saff/olive oil to coat and a couple pinches of salt, add chopped yam and onion. Stir occasionally. When those two start to get some browning color on them, add garlic, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, mix well then immediately put the pan in the oven. *If you are using a pan with a Teflon coat (non stick) and/or something with a rubber/plastic handle - DON’T. Drop $40 at Whole Foods or something and get a 10” cast iron pan. After about 10 minutes, those yam pieces should be nice and tender, so pull it out of the oven and trade it with your taco tortillas. Shake a couple dashes of black pepper and cumin in the pan, stir, and put in your toasty tortillas with your veg toppings. The thing with tacos, is that the filling is completely interchangeable with whatever produce you have in the fridge. Always use a fatty protein like seeds/nuts to add texture and substance to your filling. Personally, I like to add a little bit of quinoa and whatever beans I might have around to the above recipe. Your body reacts better to occasional and frequent exercise better when it can expect the same fuel every day. This doesn’t mean eat the same exact thing everyday, it means make small changes within the same meals. 

Check back soon, I’d like to give an onion cutting clinic to the uninitiated. Yes, that means video. Also, I have Wednesday off, so you can expect a race report from Sunday’s Brad Lewis Memorial Criterium race and a recipe or two for summer potlucks or personal meals. 

Ballard Twilight Crit

Last Saturday, 06/08/2013, arguably, the fastest, most attended criterium race of the year took place on Seattle’s home turf. For the uninitiated, most bike racing in the Pacific Northwest takes place an hour and a half North, South, East or West of Seattle-proper. When the weather warms up, the long road races come to an end and short, city-clad crit racing begins. The Ballard Twilight is often the first 4 corner crit to launch what most consider the Gladiator of bike racing-

Imagine your favorite 4-square block of wherever you live and/or hang out. Now imagine it around 7pm in that blissful summer vibe… with the streets closed off so it creates a 4 corner circuit… all the bars/restaurants are busting at the seems… a huge semi-truck trailer transformed into a stage with loud music and an announcer right in the center… and a 100 bike racers lined up ready to try and win $1k and sometimes way more worth of prize money. Have I painted a picture that makes you want to scream at those guys and gals racing, whom you don’t even know, to go faster as you drink your favorite beverage with a handful of your closest friends? Even though they’re already going 30mph? Cool. That’s what happened on Saturday.

I haven’t won a race in a while. It’s killing me. I’m only a couple points away from earning my Category 2 upgrade, but that doesn’t mean shit to me if I can’t be the first to cross the line on any given weekend race with guys who want it just as badly as I do. In fact, the ex-Pro’s on my team don’t recommend upgrading to the Elite ranks until one understands how to win and can execute it well.

With that said, I felt like I was in good form to win. The plan was to sit in the top 10 for the whole race then jump with a move later on or if nothing looked like it would stick, then to attack for the line with 1 or 2 to go. Nothing was going to stick. Whenever a couple of kids would get up the road after a prime lap they would sit up when I jumped across. This happened atleast four times in our 50 minute race. Wussies.

I sat in. With about 5 laps to go, the race started to get really sketchy. People moving up and no teams or players really willing to set the pace. Guys were moving up in the corners when there wasn’t any place for them to move into, lots of stop and go. I remember the announcer calling out 3 laps to go, but I couldn’t find the lap board for the life of me. I dodeged 2 crashes this lap and was in a haze when we came around the next time. The crowd was roaring and I was feeling fairly fresh. I thought it was the final lap for some reason so I accelerated and emptied the tank. Just before corner 3 of 4, I noticed I had a huge gap - THE WIN WILL BE MINE!!!

The win wasn’t mine. I had one more lap to go, luckily I became aware of this right after rounding the fourth corner when I heard the voice over the speakers yelling, “ERIC COCKRELL ONE LAP TO GO”… I was pretty pissed that I made such a rookie mistake, but not so bummed that I still had a good gap and could have corner 3 all to myself again. At the Ballard Crit, the well paved road turns to 100+ year old hand-laid brick on corner 3 then switches to shitty asphalt laid over said brick right after corner 4. Imagine what might happen to someone riding their bike too fast while trying to make a left-hand turn onto said brick road… That’s why EVERYONE fights for position to get to that corner first. It looked like it was clearly going to be mine even though I went a little too early. Suddenly a junior racer (under 18yr old), Miles Frank, and a few others jumped me JUST before the corner - and they all crashed. Seriously, they did. I locked up my brakes to avoid having to be apart of the carnage. We were already going 34mph, but luckily I came out clean. As I accelerated to sprint for the line, I had already lost 7 positions - guys behind me were able to take the inside line and not have to touch their brakes. I tried to wind it back up, but didn’t have much gas left. 9th to cross the line. Rats.

Lesson learned. Pay the fuck attention to the race, especially when it’s the end. I feel better having gone half a lap too early, rather than the typical going too late. All and all, it was a fantastically fun race. I didn’t crash. I didn’t lose too badly.

Thanks for reading. And a huge congratulations to Jack Stringham (Sofa Kings Cycling) on his well deserved win. Surviving through the last corner is half the battle, sprinting to the line first is the 2nd half. Chapeau.