JERSEY POCKET MEAT STICKS
WORDS & PHOTO BY DAVID JOACHIM
Bike-shoes-helmet-gloves. Check. Water-knife-sausage. Check.
All set for Monkey Knife Fight! MKF is my local gravel slugfest held every spring since 2008 to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. This homegrown event started with just a handful of riders led by Mark Bowman, then-owner of South Mountain Cycles in Emmaüs, Pennsylvania. The new shop owners, Chad and Heather Balliet, have since joined forces with bike-event guru Dave Pryor to grow the event into a cancer-fighting machine. In 2015, 200 riders showed up and MKF raised $4,500 from entry fees alone. That’s 200 cyclists helping to fight cancer while happily pedaling their bikes over 65 miles of gorgeous hills in eastern Pennsylvania. The day features 15 miles of dirt roads and 6,500 feet of grueling climbs. MKF isn’t a race. It’s a gritty duel, where riders on ’cross, road, and gravel bikes duke it out to earn KOM/QOM points, grinding their hardest to the peaks of 13 steep, rutted, dirty, loose gravel roads throughout the day. Road names like Mountain Mary and Goat Hill remind you that it’s no picnic. My fellow Lone Wolf Field Marshals found that out last year at the MKF after-party—as they recovered spread-eagled on the grass.
But back to the sausage and knife. Why are these essential items? Because this ride, like many daylong grinds, is mostly unsupported. Sure, there’s a water stop. And a beer stop—hallelujah! But other than that, you need to carry your own fuel. I like carbs like everyone else. Sugar is crack for pedal pushers. I carry it. But sometimes I just want a solid hit of protein. Something that’ll stick with me a while and keep me turning the cranks without giving me gut-rot. Dried sausage is the ticket. One meat stick in the jersey pocket, and I’m good for the whole day. Spanish chorizo is my favorite.
But sometimes I’ll carry smoky Swiss landjäger or fennel-y Italian finocchiona. If you like the salty-sweet combo, Chinese lap cheong even brings some carbs with a fair amount of sugar. All dried sausages are fairly lightweight and pack in tons of calories. Plus, the fat helps everything digest slower so you get a gradual release of energy throughout the day. And the sodium is welcome on especially sweaty rides. The best thing, though? Sausage tastes supremely awesome! Rich, meaty, and salty—it’s exactly what I crave when the tank is empty and I need to keep on truckin’. And the knife? Well, who would show up to a knife fight without a knife?
Meat Sticks Around the World
Some dried sausages have edible casings. Others don’t. Just in case, bring a pocketknife to slit the casing—and to cut slices for fellow riders. All the dried sausages listed here keep for weeks at room temperature. Once cut, refrigerate them to extend their useful life. For you bean counters, here’s the average nutrition in each 1-ounce chomp: 125 calories, 7 grams protein, 9 grams fat and 450 milligrams sodium.
David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than 40 cookbooks. He’s raced singlespeed mountain bikes and ’cross since 2002, and his latest cookbook is Williams-Sonoma Grill School (May 2016).