There’s a romantic vision of road cycling. With its layers of history and culture, a key part of becoming a road cyclist is prescribing to the norms and traditions surrounding the ride. There’s a lot to it: Unsolicited Eddie Merckx references; Campy Super Record; understanding the otherworldly “supple feel” of tubulars; greasing your chamois vs. greasing your ass; hairlessness; Frog vs. Look; pre/post-ride miniature cups of coffee paired with flaky, calorie-devoid pastries; knowing an Alpe d’Huez from a Stelvio.
I tend to eschew these things, for I fancy myself as crude and fuzzy-legged, forever relegated to a lower class of cyclist: One who would rather nibble on a moldy Choco Pie somewhere deep in the hills of northern Vietnam. It also excuses me, when pitted against an actual roadie, from facing the fact, that I sometimes do think I’m a fit competitor in cycling’s fastest sub-genre.
This means I value non-traditional accoutrements to round out my road cycling experience: Leather bar tape; fender mounts, King-size Snickers bars (or if available, Verycow); thick(ass) tires; single-sided SPD/platform pedals (great for those days I want to wear sneakers and Fred around town); and most importantly, treating a bowl of beef noodle as the single greatest, pre/post-ride food.
Why? Because beef noodle is a sweet reminder you’re alive. It’s a little known fact that Chinese noodles, in all their shapes, sizes, styles, and methods of preparation, will put to shame any bowl of “Italian” pasta. You can have your noodles wet or dry, hot or cold, thick or thin. They’re extremely affordable, and in the case of a beef noodle, provide the right kind of nutrition for a cyclist.
The noodles will quickly carb you up. The beef gives your muscles a little extra gusto. The broth hydrates and restores (with the added benefit on a cold, rainy day of warming you up in a jiff). Not to mention, they’re tasty as hell. In Sichuan a bowl is delicately spiced, bringing a little heat and a strange, almost citrusy, numbing glow. The beef is cooked such that meat and fat just fall apart in your mouth. If you’re lucky you’ll even get a chunk of tendon with it’s perfect, gelatinous texture.
The description alone has me salivating. Of course it’s for no strange reason beef noodle hasn’t made its mark in the greater world of cycling culture. The hallmarks of recreational cycling, naturally, originate from where it first met its biggest embrace: Europe. Nor have facets of recreational cycling within China, where it’s still pretty fresh, been able to bleed out into the broader community. But it is a firm belief of mine, that roadies the world over will eventually wise up to the beauty of a bowl of beef noodle.