“Whose idea was this of fun? Somebody really had to do something about those marketing images. This was definitely not a leisurely ride, it wasn’t even a ride!” Thoughts of anger and frustration were filling her mind. When she had been asked to come on this trip, Bess had thought mountain biking would be so relaxing. All the ingredients were there: cool dry mountain air, all that majestic awe-inspiring natural beauty, nighttime campfires under an endlessly starry sky – what could be more rejuvenating? The dog days of summer hitting the humid Midwest were debilitating. From June to August her hair was a continuous frizzy ball, her skin shone like she’d just finished running a marathon and the only relief from any of it was to walk past the open doors of shops that blasted frigid air conditioning onto the streets trying to entice woeful souls like herself to spend money they didn’t have. This trip was supposed to be a much needed break.
Bess pushed her bike another few steps up the mountain trail, then stopped to take another breath. She felt nauseated, head-achy and angry. The locals had told them this was an easy path. And apparently it was – for them. She and her friends had been passed numerous times by more athletic riders than any of them. Bess knew she was a little out of shape, she’d been working such long hours lately that she hadn’t had time for exercise, but these hearty bikers were making her feel positively geriatric. Jeez, the only consolation was none of her friends were doing much better. They’d been “biking” for several hours now, if pushing a bike up a steep mountain trail and stopping every 100 feet to catch your breath was biking. Even at this snails’ pace, she was having trouble enjoying the fields of wild flowers that were in full bloom. All she could think about was wanting this “bike ride” to be over.
“We’re at the pass!” one of her more robust friends called back. This trail had so many switchbacks, she had been fooled at each turn as to when it would finally reach the summit. She grunted her bike forward and met her friends at the pass. “Finally” she said, “we get to ride.”
“Did you look down?” a friend laughed. Bess pushed though her friends to look over the narrow pass. The first part of the trail heading down was ridiculously steep and full of loose gravel. “Umm,” she nervously asked, “any ideas how we do this without doing somersaults down the mountain?”
They worked together to help each other maneuver their bikes over the slippery path. Moving slowly they were glad at this moment that none of the locals were stacked behind them judging their cautious efforts. Once through the gravel the the trail lay before them, studded with rocks but ride-able. “Let’s go!” one of them yelled as he jumped on his bike. Bess started down after them. She was fearful at first, keeping her handbrakes squeezed tight, worrying over every protruding rock. But after a while she realized that if she eased her grip the ride began to flow Her bike seemed to understand the boulders and bounced effortlessly over and around them. “Wow!” she shouted with delight. If was as if she were a kid again, unaware of all the dangers, real or imagined, that lay ahead of her. The grip that daily life had on her began to ease as well, her grumbling thoughts fell away from her and for at least this moment she laughed.
VARIATIONS ON A GRILL OR
“I’M STARVING AT THE SUMMIT” SANDWICHES
These sandwiches are best warm, but can be eaten later if allowed to cool before wrapping. Wrapping too soon will cause the bread to become soggy. If desired, the vegetarian sandwiches could have a slice of chicken or turkey added.
HAM & CHEDDAR WITH PEAR
thin slices of sharp cheddar or gouda cheese
slices smoked or honey-baked ham
2 bartlett pears thinly sliced
Cranberry walnut bread
unsalted butter for grilling
To make the sandwich spread one side of the bread with mustard. Add several slices of ham and 1 slice of cheese. Lay thinly sliced pears on top of ham and cheese. Top with another thin slice of cheese. Butter outside of sandwich and grill sandwich till crispy and browned. Eat immediately or let cool wrap in foil and take on you bike trip!
ROASTED POBLANO PEPPERS AND HERBED CHEESE
1 fire roasted poblano pepper, seeded and peeled and sliced into strips
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and grated (use food processor)
8 slices of whole grain bread
4 slices of provolone cheese
unsalted butter for grilling
TO MAKE HERBED CHEESE
1/4 c finely minced fresh dill, basil and parsley
1 minced garlic clove
8 oz cream cheese (may substitute non-fat fromage blanc or cottage cheese if desired)
salt & pepper to taste
Blend minced herbs, garlic and cheese together in food processor until creamy.
Spread herbed cheese on one slice of bread. Spread grated carrots over cheese, add a few slices of red onion and poblano peppers, a few arugula leaves then finish with a slice of provolone cheese. Butter outside of sandwich and grill till crispy and browned. The cheese should melt quickly so the carrots and arugula do not really cook. Eat immediately or cool and wrap in foil for later.
GOAT CHEESE AND FRESH TOMATO
1 farm ripe tomato, sliced
roasted red peppers, seeded and peeled and cut into strips
fresh small zucchini, thinly sliced
one log of chevre, plain or with garlic
rosemary sourdough bread
unsalted butter for grilling
Thinly spread goat cheese on both slices of bread, lay a slice of mozzarella on top of one side of the sandwich, add 4 zucchini circles, several strips of roasted pepper, 2 basil leaves and 1 slice of tomato. Top with another slice of mozzarella. Grill until cheese melts and bread is golden. Enjoy now or later!