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Festive food frolics…

| Blog, Cycling Plus, Features | 17/12/2012 18:12pm

A bike isn’t just for Christmas… But at this time of year getting out and riding can certainly be a tasty experience says Andy Ward. Join him on a foodie-fuelled festive frolic…

For a foodie like me, one of the great attractions of cycling to is the licence it gives me to eat as much as I want. This concept is especially helpful at Christmas, when over-indulgence is often the name of the game. That second helping of Christmas pudding can become guilt-free, if I’ve got a big ride lined up on Boxing Day.

And the idea that riding a bike enables cyclists to eat more cake has probably kept many a rural café in business, propped up by the throngs of weekend warriors tucking into coffee and walnut. Indeed, some rides are based entirely on a search for sugary sustenance. At this time of year, cycling clubs up and down the country organise a Mince Pie Run. Dozens of cyclists, riding through the gloom with the sole purpose of meeting at a local café to eat… err… mince pies.

The quest for pie begins… (© Tom Simpson)

Now I like a mince pie as much as the next man, but I have to confess to a leaning towards the savoury. I’ve ridden many a sportive feeling heartily sick of energy gels and cherry bakewells, desperately (and vainly) hoping for a bacon sandwich at the next feed station. It would seem I’m not the only one. Mat Richardson, one of my Leicester Forest club mates, demonstrated a kindred spirit, by organising the inaugural Pork Pie Run in December last year. This was a ride with a completely savoury focus. We rode the scenic route to a farm shop near Melton Mowbray and stocked up on pork pies for Christmas.

Suitably inspired, I began to wonder – were there any other food-based rides out there? Would it be possible to construct a ride based on a whole, groaning table, weighed down with Christmas fayre? Mat and another club mate, Dave, decided to join me on my quest.

Melton Mowbray seemed a good place to start. The “Rural Capital of Food” is lauded as the home of pork pies – a fact recognised by the EU in awarding the pies a Protected Geographical Indication. A bit like the Appellation Contrôlée awarded to fine wines like champagne, it ensures that only pies actually made in the Melton area can bear the name of the town.

Pork pies were initially developed as a handy and transportable lunch for agricultural workers. At the end of the eighteenth century, they found a new niche as a snack for huntsmen – able to survive the rigours of horse-riding over hedges and ditches. Could this be the ideal savoury cycling food? I equip myself with a suitably sized version from Melton’s famous Olde Pork Pie Shoppe – could it stand up to a day stuffed in my jersey pocket?

Andy’s game of spot the pie was going well… (© Tom Simpson)

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