July 08, 2005

Stage Six - Champagne Anyone? Today: 199km/123 mi; Flat to rolling And on we roll into the Champage-Ardeen region, where the flat fields will begin to give way to rolling hills, the riders are looking to keep pace and watch for breakaways. Sandwiched between Burgundy and Alsace-Lorraine this region is focused on the production of bubbles. Local food specialties include pease pudding, pink Reims biscuits, dandelion and bacon salad, pike, vine snails. Troyes, the starting point today, the andouillette de Troyes, a savory tripe sausage made from pork chitterlings and tripe, seasoned with fresh onion, salt, pepper and stuffed by hand into natural casings is highly sought out. Another regional speciality is potee champenoise--a pot-au-feu consisting of jambon des Ardennes (smoked ham), cabbage and sausage. Troyes, the historical capital is also the departmental capital of the Aube, which produces a quarter of all Champagne’s grapes, although it sends more than half its grapes, grape juice and unfinished wines to be transformed into champagne by the big champagne houses in and around Reims. Champage, the region is centered around Champagne the drink. Champagne has been a popular wine region since 816 A.D. It wasn't until the late 1600's that Champagne winemakers discovered how to capture the naturally occurring bubbles in their wine during the second fermentation. Most well-known brands are produced in the Marne area, around the Massif de Saint Thierry, the Valley of the Ardre, the Mountain of Rheims, the Valley of the Marne, the Côte des Blancs and the Sézanne Hills. It's here that...
Stage 8 - Into the Black Forest Distance: 231.5 km/143.8 miles Pforzheim to Gérardmer-The Road to Germany This is the second longest stage of the race. The longest I've ever spent on a bike was 123 miles. Riding on two wheels from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon into Zion National Park was an eventful 12 hours. While these elites will finish in half the time that I did they certainly don't have the story of flagging down a Coke truck in lycra. Germans are great bakers, particularly in the Southwestern region around Bavaria. According to Spokesman Review, smaller independent bakeries are struggling. "Since 1965, the number of bakeries in southwest Germany has dwindled from 9,300 to just 2,500. While discount giants dominate the marketplace, German specialty shops like bakeries, butcher counters and pastry shops have managed to survive. In part, that’s due to strict national regulations governing the ownership of the shops. Bakers, for example, must complete a three-year apprenticeship, followed by a public exam. To become a master baker, they must then attend school for another year." Naturally, the cake that comes first to mind is Black Forest Cake. Originally called Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte it's a chocolate layer cake with Kirsch, whipped cream, sour cherries and a blizzard of chocolate curls. Luscious deliciousness. Kirsch or Kirschwasser is a double distilled, clear cherry brandy made from the small, sour Morello cherry which has a dark red skin. Mountains will make a first appearance tomorrow where we will start to see grades of 2.9% to 6.8%. Might...


what happens to the hole when the donut is gone?

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