24 December 2013

A Holiday Tradition

Christmas Goodies

As my faithful readers may know, I have a love of bread and pastries (specifically baguettes and tarte au citron). But not just any sort; bread and pastries are one of those items which are only worth eating when homemade, fresh and delicious. And Christmas is the best time to enjoy the best of the best. I enjoy visiting my favorite patisseries and depot de pain while in France, I also enjoy the tradition right here in Denver, Colorado. Far more rare but worth the extra miles to make the trip, the best ingredients make the best Christmas Goodies, and so seeking out your favorite local bakery is worth the investigative effort. This year I have a new bakery to add to the list.

Les Delices de Paris

Les Delices de Paris is yummy, small and quaint, it is tucked away in a corner strip mall in Denver (600 S Holly St #101, Denver, CO 80246). You will be greeted by the owner with a French accent and delighted with the sights and tastes. Les Delices de Paris would be considered a traditional carry-out patisserie, specializing in cakes, tarts, quiches and delicious full butter croissants. I have my dear friend Olivia to thank for introducing me to this bakery.

A slice of Paris in Denver
real butter croissants
A true patisserie with Christmas specialties
My traditional choice has been Trompeau Bakery, also in Denver, the smells smack you in the face at this place which specializes in breads and croissants. But Trompeau Bakery expanded to a much larger site two years ago and bigger is not always better, yet I am still a patron. They now bake bread for many of the local restaurants in and around Denver. In my opinion their pies, tarts and cakes don't match Les Delices De Paris, but the baguettes are good. The Pajama Baking Company (1595 S. Pearl St, Denver) also makes a tasty (if chewy) baguette and an excellent ciabatta bread.

Again the quality might be the result of the specialties at a pâtisserie versus a boulangerie.

Boulangerie: a bakery where bread is sold.

Pâtisserie: a bakery which specializes in pastries and sweets. Pâtisseries employ a master pastry chef with special credentials.

Depot de pain: Bread Depots are locations in smaller towns where breads, baked off-site, are delivered daily for convenient pick-up by locals. 

Preferences for taste in bread are highly personal, but the best baguettes are considered to be crispy on the outside and fluffy, soft and porous on the inside with a warm yeast smell. They should also be very very fresh. Good bread, without preservatives, is intended to be eaten the day it comes out of the oven.

Here in Denver - we are a long way from being the best. Ridha Khadher (owner of Au Paradis du Gourmand, 156 Rue Raymond Losserand, Paris 75014 , 14e Arr.) recently won the coveted award of Best Baguette in Paris 2013. He may now bake his bread for the President of France for the next year. Did you know a true baguette should measure between 55-70cm long and fall within the acceptable weight of of 250-300g.
I will never look at a baguette the same again
Home of the best baguette in Paris 2013
An unassuming storefront houses the best baguette in Paris at Au Paradis du Gourmand

And now for our traditional Christmas goodies from America - good old fashioned home baked Christmas cookies.

And my sister-in-law Missy's home baking. Nothing is better than a tray of homemade cookies.
Happy Holidays!

Pedal Dancer - related stories from the past:

The Baguette
A White Christmas in Denver
Christmas Eve at the French Bakery
Recommended Bakery: Trompeau Bakery
How to order a Coffee in France

21 December 2013

Recommended Reading: Cold Cold Cyclocross

When is it too cold to race cyclo-cross? 

Pat Malach of CyclingNews.com asked this question over the past weeks and today wrote several opinions in an attempt to answer the question on so many people's minds.  With recent SRAM equipment failures in extreme cold temperatures and cases of frostbite to racers, this is a topic worth reading about.

The time has come when cyclocross races will definitely be canceled due to weather and humans will no longer sacrifice themselves to test equipment to its breaking point.

Read: When is it too cold to race cyclo-cross?

The SRAM recall announcement by VeloNews last week: SRAM recalls all hydraulic road disc and rim brakes

Some good clean - and cold - weekend fun in Colorado
Junior racers line up braving the cold to race cyclocross.  Photo by Karen Rakestraw at PedalDancer®

18 December 2013

USA Pro Challenge Stage 7 - Decided

2014 USA Pro Challenge, August 18-24, 2014

Dates & Host Cities of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge have been decided

See the Host Cities 2014
Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 18 – Aspen Circuit Race
Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte (climbs, mixed terrain)
Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 20 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (mountaintop finish)
Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race
Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge (long road, climbing at end)
Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 23 – Vail Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 24 – Boulder - Golden (Lookout Mountain) - Denver (3 laps)

Official Press Release Update 12-18-13: The host cities of the final stage have been selected: Stage 7, Sunday, August 24th : Boulder - Denver

Stage 7 Description: Beginning in Boulder, which served as the Stage 6 finish in 2012, the race will travel through Golden, which saw record crowds as a start city in 2012, and finish with three laps around the State’s Capitol, which has served as the finish location every year of the race. The day also incorporates an incredibly challenging and fan-favorite climb on Lookout Mountain.

Race Organizers gave the fans 1 month to vote and select the general route of the final stage of the 2014 race. Given the choices of various starts and finishes involving Boulder, Golden, and Denver - the final route will include a variation of all of the given choices.

This is good news; these three cities should be involved in the race. I hope the major road repair currently taking place on Hwy 93 between Boulder and Golden is completed soon, not just for this race, but for the commuters and the residents of both counties.

Final exact route maps of the USA Pro Challenge will be released in spring of 2014. Exact timetables, spectator guides and CDOT reports of street closures are typically released 2-4 weeks prior to the race (race dates: August 18-24, 2014). 

Read more: 
Pedal Dancer USA Pro Challenge Guide Page: USA Pro Challenge Fan Guide
Official Website: USA Pro Challenge

16 December 2013

Colorado State Cyclocross Championships

The Champs have earned their spot on the podium

This past weekend, races filled two full days in Castle Rock, Colorado, as racers fought hard for a podium spot. Except for those at the back, who raced hard enough to compete but took time for a hand-up of beer or sausages and pancakes. We had below freezing temps (-14 F, -25 C) just over a week ago in Colorado, but this weekend brought sunlight and just the right amount of mud and snow to make the good course challenging and fun.

Full Results from the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website: Results Castle Cross Colorado State Championships 2013
Results - Day 1 
Results - Day 2 

Pedal Dancer Photos from Castle Cross Colorado State Championships 2013:
Photos - Day 1
Photos - Day 2

For the past four years I have been showing up at cyclocross races in Colorado. I had a few friends who raced, I also had the desire to learn more about photography. Over the years my friendships have grown and my curiosity behind the lens continues to grow with each race. The cyclocross season runs from September to December and the number of racers continue to grow year after year with an amazing level of competition.

This past weekend marked the first time that some of the local sports photographers grouped together in a new joint effort on a website where racers could go and view the shots taken at the races. "I always see the photographers out on course, but I never know where to see the photos," this is the comment we heard a lot when we announced our new site RacerShots.com to the racers. We then heard many thank yous.

We thank the racers themselves, the organizers, mechanics, volunteers, announcers, and family and fans who show up to the races. Through our varied styles and shots, it becomes very evident that the cyclocross community in Colorado is one cool sport to be a part of.

Thanks to John Flora who had the idea of organizing the photographers into this new collaborative effort. RacerShots.com is a portal, with the purpose of getting our photographs in front of the racers and increasing our individual exposure. I have to admit it gave me a great sense of relief knowing I didn't have to stress about getting all the angles and all the highlights of every category. I had confidence, as I scanned the course seeing the photographers scattered about the various corners, I knew they were getting their signature shots.

Please view my photos via the new RacerShots.com website listed under - Pedal Dancer (of course), and then view the shots from my fellow photographers who devote their time to capturing the exciting sport of cyclocross. More photos (and photographers) will be added in the future (check back when GreenCurry posts his fabulous shots from the weekend), so be sure to stop by again.

And congrats to all the new Champs, and to those who raced their best. 

Photos by Karen at PedalDancer®    click any image to enlarge

Single Speed racers

The dominant Georgia Gould

SM Open category men take on the run-up

um, is that a unicorn?

A tough push in a tough race


junior podium

beer handups

Michael Robson in the lead

mud and snow and dirty bikes

Santa! Or the Grinch, or both.

The CX race season isn't over yet: 2013-14 Colorado Cyclocross Calendar 

Anyone planning to travel to Colorado this year for USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships will be lining up against these men in various categories in January.

call up line up in the SM Open category

07 December 2013

I disagree with Chris Froome

"Chris Froome believes that a repeat Tour de France victory in 2014 will help to restore cycling’s credibility," reports CyclingNews in a typical headline today:

Second Tour win would bring credibility back to cycling, says Froome


Why do they bother feeding us such lines when any sportsman of any sport, and particularly those who have learned that seven Tour de France wins equates to cheating, would accept that headline as valid? I am sorry Chris Froome, as much as I respect your ability to bury yourself in your SRM power meter and climb to the heavens, you really should not win the 2014 Tour de France.

It would be much better for the sport if someone else won

I say this based on the idea that the same horse should not win the Kentucky Derby every year, or the same football team usually does not win the Superbowl every year.  Luck and statistics. It stands to reason that if the route changes, one's teammates change, and the human body changes in optimal fitness from year to year - that the likelihood of the same man being victorious in a game with high variables should be grim. If it happens, marvelous, but at this point in the sport it does not assure credibility.

I want to see a different winner every year

Yes the journalists need to talk about something preseason, and yes the fans need to know who to select for their fantasy teams come game day, but the sport of cycling would be much better off to share the spoils among varied riders and varied teams. Every time one rider rises far far above the peloton in terms of results, we will cry "big budget" and "doper" because we have learned from the past. For the next eight years I would be very happy to see eight different men win the Tour de France. Then I might believe that the credibility of cycling is beginning to be restored.

May the best man win

It is not necessary that the best man be the same man, it is preferable that the game be played fairly. After a year when I believed the sport of cycling to be in utter disrepair and in need of complete rebuilding; I have accepted that the race will go on with slow painful changes. I would be happy to see Chris Froome show up to race his best and bring his elusive teammate Bradley Wiggins right along with him regardless of the one GC man preference.

Quality competition remains the goal, and as much as I cheer the dominant athletes Michael Phelps or Shawn White's repeated wins, for the health of the sport of cycling, it is perfectly okay if neither Froome nor Wiggins ever won again. Once is gloriously enough.

Chris Froome   2013 Photo by Karen Rakestraw at PedalDancer®