Here is a poem that spoke to my heart when I was younger. Today, less often, maybe more often than I realize.
by Robert Mezey
It is deep summer. Far out
at sea, the young squalls darken
and roll, plunging northward,
threatening everything. I see
the Atlantic moving in slow
against the rocks, the beaten
headlands, and the towns sunk deep
in a blind northern light. Here,
far inland, in the mountains
of Mexico, it is raining
hard, battering the soft mouths
of flowers. I am sullen, dumb,
ungovernable. I taste myself
and I taste those winds, uprisings
of salt and ice, of great trees
brought down, of houses and cries
lost in the storm; and what breaks
on that black shore breaks in me.
While visiting Mike and Katherine in Maryland, we all arrived home dog tired after a long day at work. I threw this recipe together to make use of some leftovers. Each of us had second helpings, eating every last bite, so I guess it didn’t suck.
9 small red potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. garlic paste, or minced fresh garlic
16 oz. steak tenderloin
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp. fresh thyme
salt and pepper
Place steak in freezer 20 minutes before slicing
Melt butter in 12 in. deep dish frying pan over medium heat
Stir in garlic
Add potatoes, cover and cook over medium heat 10 min.
Stir in sliced peppers, cook another 5 min.
Add thyme, salt and pepper to taste
Remove steak from freezer, slice into 1/4 in. thick strips
Remove cover, increase heat to high
Stir in steak, cook until done, stirring frequently
I learned about pho from my friend Jessica when she was having it for lunch at work one day. I said, “What’s that? It smells delicious.” She learned about pho when she visited Vietnam.
The secret to great pho is the broth. Beef pho broth comes from bones that are roasted and boiled days before serving the soup. They provide a rich base and beefy flavor.
Vegetable pho is more challenging. I have a favorite restaurant nearby that serves delicious vegetable pho, but they cheat. I can see fat in the broth which must come from chicken or beef stock.
This recipe is an adaption of several I found on the internet, truly vegetarian, even vegan. I made a large pot of broth, used it to create three separate batches of v-pho served over several evenings.
For the broth
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 piece of ginger, about 2 in. peeled and halved lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise pods
2 whole cloves
4 c. organic vegetable stock
3 medium carrots, diced
1/4 c. soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
6 oz. mushrooms, your choice, sliced and diced
1 tbsp. lemon grass paste
Char the onion in the broiler, about 15 min.
Dump all ingredients in a crock pot and cover
Allow to cook for eight (8) hours, low heat
Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a spoon. Discard the refuse remaining in the strainer, save every drop of the broth.
You can keep the broth in fridge for many days. (Don’t worry, you’ll use it quickly once you taste it!)
For the Final Serving
These can vary depending on your tastes and what you can find in the fridge or store. I’m leaving out measures, because every thing scales according to taste.
baby boy choy, sliced in half, cleaned
basil leaves, preferably Thai Basil
basil, preferably Thai basil
Bring broth to a boil
Using a strainer, rinse and heat noodles under hot tap water
Add remaining veggies to broth, simmer for 6 minutes
Three more days of riding hills and headwinds, then a flat dash across the coastal plain brought us to the Atlantic Ocean. I stopped writing posts a few days ago because they were becoming repetitive. All we did was get up, eat breakfast, ride, eat, sleep, repeat. That’s the magic of Pactour.
Martha and I spent yesterday relaxing on Tybee Island. Most riders have departed by now, probably most are home with their families. I miss them.
Lon and Susan have been running Pactours for 35 years. At three rides each year, that makes this the 105th Pactour. I’ve done eight of them. Now I’m John Darling. Martha is Wendy. Lon and Susan are Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Pactour is Never Never Land.
Headwinds and hills for 128 miles, just get it done. No stops for pictures, just ride the bike. Tiger Tom and Doc Don escorted me out of Livingston. Then I traded a few pulls with Eastside Ernie and Jukebox Jerry, until we caught another group ahead of us. Ernie and Jerry dropped back, and I rode up to the first sag in an ad hoc pace line – three of the Tacoma-Steilacoom boys, Big John, Winchester John and Seattle Gary. They stopped at the sag, I kept going; I also blew past the second sag, and finally they caught me right before lunch. Rather than stopping to eat, I poured some tomato soup in my water bottle, grabbed half a grilled cheese to eat while riding and headed down the road, not fast, but at a steady pace. About 20 miles outside of Greenville, the same pace line caught me again and I let them go. Eventually QB Ken caught me, and we rolled into Greenville together, both happy to have some company.
For a final test of my platform pedal hypothesis, I switched back to Speedplay pedals with Specialized shoes for the ride to Greenville. After happily riding platforms for over two weeks, I wanted to see if the Speedplay pedals offered any advantages. Much as I would like to say there was no significant difference, I cannot do that. I liked having my foot locked in to the pedal, especially at two points on the stroke – about 1 o’clock and about 7 o’clock. Also, I was able to sustain standing on a climb longer and more easily with the Speedplays. Overall, my perception was they provide a small increase in power – maybe 5 – 10 percent. That’s not much, but for a long day it is significant.
Final analysis – platform pedals have all the advantages I mentioned in my earlier post. Riding with sandals is incredibly comfortable. For a self-contained ride, you don’t have to carry extra shoes. For tour rides shorter than 100 miles, unless you have your mind set on beating your friends to a motel or campsite, I suggest giving platforms a try.
Outskirts of Livingston, not much here. McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Taste of India. Martha and I didn’t want to risk Indian Food in ‘bama, so we went for the King. My whopper had too much ketchup. Big John and Debbie went for McD’s. They were out of ketchup. Doc Jon went for Taste of India, said it was good. I forgot to ask if they had ketchup. Karen Ann and Brent chose subway, which they ate in the motel lobby. I told Karen Ann, “look like you’re happy, even if you’re not.” She laughed.
Brent and Karen Ann inspire me. They ride this tour together most of of the time, with smiles on their faces, seeming to savor every moment.
Brent’s rear derailleur broke today. He’s riding the rest of the way to Savannah with only his front triple. Tomorrow will be a good test – 128 miles, and hills.
Just for grins, riding out of Indianola, I decided to stalk the Nutter gang and maybe discover some of their secrets for having so much fun together on this trip. Riding south on 49E, Seattle Gary came flying by me about five miles out of town. Ten minutes later, along comes the rest of the gang, Waukegan John, motoring them up to Sea Gary’s wheel. He got down on his aero bars and pulled the whole gang for maybe ten miles, while Ma Karen sat on Stigman’s wheel at the back. The winds kicked up a notch and the gang started trading pulls, eventually forming a perfect double echelon when the wind was blasting from the left. I hung back a couple hundred feet, smiling and admiring until they reached the first sag stop and I rolled slowly by.
Leaving the Flood Plain
After riding fifty odd miles, we began climbing a sequence of stair steps, leaving the cotton and rice fields behind us. The landscape changed dramatically to rolling hills, forests, pastures, picturesque houses and occasional dogs. At supper tonight, Charlie admitted to priming the dog pump, being the first to ride by them all. By the time I reached dog alley, they had me dialed in. My Strava power graph spikes for each of my dog intervals. On one particular occasion, two dogs teamed up: first a yellow lab came at me from the right. Just as I had managed to outrace him, his black lab buddy comes charging from the left.
Dogs were my only motivation to ride fast today. Otherwise I enjoyed a slow meander over the rolling hills of eastern Mississippi.
Mississippi. Deep South, Dixie’s Heartland. We arrived yesterday. I don’t live here. I can observe, ask questions, take pictures, even write a blog, but no way I can claim to understand what lies deep within Dixie’s Heart.
Yesterday at breakfast, I chatted with MI Broh, who grew up in Texas. In the late 1950’s, before the Civil Rights Act was passed, he traveled by car with his family passing through Mississippi. The age of segregation. Restaurants, bathrooms, drinking fountains he visited were for whites only.
Yesterday we set up and served lunch beside a small church. One of the deacons arrived and he invited Martha and me inside to see the sanctuary. Simple wooden pews had pockets holding well worn versions of old King James Bibles. No hymnals. The deacon said everyone just sang along with the choir. The deacon was black and I asked him if the congregation was all black.
Yes, he replied, but people bring white visitors. Anyone is welcome to attend.
After supper, several of us attended the nearby high school football game. Two private schools were playing – Indianola Academy and Greenville. The game was much larger in scale than last week’s game at Shamrock. Larger crowds, more players on the roster, bigger linemen, louder music. People in the crowd cheered enthusiastically and I saw Tiger Tom chatting amiably with several of them.
Most of the football players were white. Over 90 percent of the crowd was white. Indianola is 80 percent black. Was there was another football game in town?
Wondering what barriers prevented others from attending Indianola Academy, I looked up the schools website. Annual tuition is $5485, plus an expected donation of one or two thousand to the annual fund. About 7K total. That’s about what it costs to do a Pactour transcontinental. We don’t have any black people in our group either.
While I was driving the lunch truck, most riders rode in pace lines, battling headwinds across the Mississippi delta. Flat roads crossed acres of cotton fields and rice fields. As the road approached the Mississippi, it circled the perimeter of an Oxbow Lake, formed many years ago when the Mississippi decided to cut itself a new channel.
Shortly after lunch, Tucson Bill took a spill, hitting a log in the road. We picked him up, took him to the ER, and I understand he is back at the motel this morning. At this time I don’t know the extent of his injury.