Fueling with maple

I seem to be riding longer distances this season — in the 30- to 50-mile range — so I'm paying more attention to my food needs while on the bike. Until recently, I would always grab a banana, along with a CLIF bar. But I wanted to try an energy source containing more natural ingredients.

Through viewing videos on gravel cycling — in particular, ones featuring a dude named Ted King, a two-time winner of Dirty Kanza — I've learned about a line of products he helped develop called UnTapped, out of Richmond, Vermont. All of their brand items are based on the nutritional goodness of pure maple syrup.

Why maple? The company’s message, taking into account the energy found in maple syrup, lays claim to the following benefits:

— Packed with amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and electrolytes.

— Low glycemic.

— Easy to digest without the fear of painful gut rot or digestion issues.

— Free of “natural flavors,” supplements, and any other funky additives.

— And absolutely delicious.

I decided to give UnTapped a try, and ordered a variety pack of their on-the-go waffles. So far, I've tried the maple, lemon, cocoa, and raspberry flavors, with the first two being my favorites. They do, indeed, taste very good and there hasn't been any noticeable decrease in my energy levels. For now, I'm pleased with making the switch ... but I'll keep you posted.

Origins of the Tour

It seems appropriate that the book I've just finished coincides with the current running of the 108th Tour de France. The title of my latest read: "The First Tour de France," by Peter Cossins (Nation Books, 2017). If you want all the fine details on how this mad race to Paris came into being in 1903, then this 340-page book is a must have.

It's quite amazing how two Frenchmen — Geo Lefevre and Henri Desgrange — took an idea, used primarily to boost the circulation of L'Auto, a dying newspaper, and turned it into a success. And the fact that today, it is the world's biggest — and most recognized — bicycle race.

The author does an excellent job describing the inaugural Tour, using details, comments, and quotes reported in contemporary newspapers and magazines. Cossins also draws parallels between the first race and how certain traits are still part of the modern-day spectacle. Furthermore, he helps the reader realize the cultural importance the race has on France as a country.

The 1903 Tour de France was brutal compared to today's version. It was only six stages; now there are 21. The roads were extremely rough, the bikes were heavy, there were no mechanics in trailing cars, no team buses, the stages started late in the evening and went throughout the night, some being as long as 470 kilometers (292 miles). It was 2,428 kilometers long (1,508 miles), while the 2021 race is 3,414 kilometers long (2,121 miles).

So who won the first Tour de France? Sorry, you'll just have to read the book to find out!

'Thought for the day'

"Why should anyone steal a watch when he can steal a bicycle?" — Flann O'Brien, an Irish novelist, playwright, and satirist.

From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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