Everyone asks me what I ate during this race. Answer is, I went local, which would be a good choice for most of us. Nepali food is outstanding. It’s a lot like Indian food but slightly more basic and, essentially, almost perfect race food.
I’ve been to a lot of places in the world and I’ve noticed something that westerner’s should take to heart. In most cultures the “staples”—the things the working class people eat—are amazingly healthy. Power food, basically. While the meals favored by the upper class are laden with decadence items that are nutritionally junk. In Eritrea, for example, the poor man’s breakfast is ful, a mixture of legumes, olive oil, and vegetables. The rich eat something I forget the name of but it consists of fried bread covered in butter and sugar. Who do you think gets fat in Eritrea?
above: food of champions and, above that, steve hammer hammering into the mountains – nepalsutra
I don’t know what the rich eat in Nepal but the workers eat Dal Bhat, and it’s an fantastic for performance. Dal Bhat means beans (lentils, actually) and rice, and those that know me also know it’s my preferred food in America (though with salsa, guac, tortilla), but in Nepal it’s got its own flare. It’s always rice and lentil curry but it also has variations of vegetables. It’s awesome. I know a lot of the racers grew tired of it–especially Thor–but it’s pretty much all the locals ate and they left us in their dust, mud, snow, rocks wherever we went.
There were actually a lot of variations of foods in Nepal, most of them vegetarian (part of Buddhist culture). I went meat free until I indulged after stage 9 (at Yak Donald’s—had to go for it!) and it didn’t hurt my performance a bit. Helped it most likely. On Everest we were the only people who weren’t local not taking Diamox AND eating vegetarian. We were the fastest people too, aside from locals of course, who ate dal bhat sometimes for every meal (hence the title of today’s post, which I have on a t-shirt). I can’t say I didn’t grow tired of this after a month—I was psyched to get home to my version of beans, rice, and salsa—but it was great eating and, other than a few bouts of intestinal issues, I found it a beautiful diet.
Today was awesome – well, mostly awesome. I feel fantastic. Better than I have in the race, by far. We’re back into real mountains. My terrain of choice, and life is good. Howwwwever, as we’re saying here daily: The Yak Attack giveth, The Yak Attack taketh away. Now that I’m physically ready to go my bike it broken, and it could be bad. My shock is leaking.
Yesterday I noticed something wrong. As we climbed I seemed to be hitting a lot of rocks. Too many. Sure enough, my (almost brand new) shock was out of air. Pumped it up after the stage and it seemed to hold. About half a mile into today’s stage it was empty again. Rode as carefully as I could and made it through—certainly because I went left at every prayer wheel and spun it counter-clockwise—but not quickly.
Santosh, one of the Nepali racers who is reportedly the best mechanic (they’re all excellent), thinks it’s not fixable. It still holds air, though, so he gave me a shock pump to race with and said “good luck!”
It likely means that any type of racing from here on is out of the question. This is not uncommon. Bikes are falling apart and many of us have resorted to “touring” in order the make the finish. I’ll still push as hard as I can but down hills are now decidedly careful affairs and photo ops will not be missed in order to affect my placing. I’ve actually lost interest in where I place and that’s fine. The Yak Attack is about experience; racing is secondary. I would, however, very much like to finish and I will try my best.
made nepalsutra’s quote of the day again, this time for pushing my bike!
Anyways, today’s stage, which most of us were dreading, was great! It was very scenic from the start, the riding was mostly fun, and—I think I’ve mention this—we’re in the mountains. This is why most of us are here, everyone is excited, and spirits are great.
It’s also the first stage where I’ve felt energized instead of drained. A few of us even went for a long hike in the afternoon. Sonya says the these next two are her favorite, “like riding in the mountains back home”, so as long as my bike keeps working everything is peachy.
On a sad note, Yuki cashed it in today. He’s very sick and will head back down the mountain towards Besi Sahar, where he can get a ride to Kathmandu. On the plus side, Andy, Des, Laxmi and Brian are recovered and back in the race.
At dinner tonight talk tonight turned to Diamox, and whether or not to use it. Tomorrow we’ll be at real altitude so now’s the time to decide and those who’ve not been high are worried and I can’t blame them.
I won’t be on the juice myself. I brought some on the trip (doc’s rec) but we didn’t use it on Everest and I left it in Kathmandu. As with everything athletic, I’m interested in the human template and would rather go au natural. Fitness, hydration, and garlic soup will have to see me through. Now I think I’ll hydrate with another beer.