Cycling is about Suffering, Recovery (and sometimes, Cookies)
with LENTINE ALEXIS, cyclist and professional chef
With cycling, learning to embrace the comfort and discomfort in balance is what keeps me pedaling. It isn’t about “earning” a treat, it’s about rewarding and refueling your body with what it craves most. Push hard. Eat the cookie. This recipe for ridiculously rewarding chocolate chip cookies will become your go-to post-ride.
“Riding isn’t easier, you just go faster,” said Greg LeMond. But, I swear these words are my own, I repeat them in my head so often -- over and over on rides here in the Rocky Mountains. When I first moved back to my hometown of Boulder in 2014, I remember my first ride up to the Peak to Peak Highway; the thoroughfare that bisects the foothills from the Rockies in our broad backyard, weaving its way into Rocky Mountain National Park and all the lung and leg crushing glory of the mountains therein. I found myself on the side of the road in tears, discouraged by the grade of the climbs, zapped by the altitude, exhausted from the wind. Shivering in the middle of the summer and longing for a big cookie. Or a hug. Or an Uber ride home. Or all three.
In the years since I’ve fallen in love with these mountain roads. I look fondly upon that pull-out among the aspen trees where I shed my tears before hopping back on my bike and continuing for home. I adore those crushing climbs and the swift descents and have come to appreciate the way that these sorts of rides cultivate a deep hunger within me. Out there -- pushing my limits -- I feel like I’m opening up my most authentic self. I’m primally connected to my emotions while cycling -- one moment elated, the next scared, the next apprehensive of my own ability to continue, then overjoyed with certainty that I’m overcoming the peaks -- in my being and beyond. I hear my cravings and longings clearly. And I always come home with some balance of hunger and satisfaction; satisfied to have pushed myself, hungry to refuel my strong body.
This balance of suffering and reward is like a tonic for me. I’m completely addicted to it. To riding that thin line, gutting myself, uncovering inner strength, and then rewarding my body for being brave enough to go deep. The rewards are both emotional and physical; I’ve never come home not feeling proud of what my capable legs have been able to accomplish. And, physically, by refueling with exactly what my body is asking for. Typically, that’s a cookie.
I don’t choose to eat the cookie because “I earned it.” In fact, that statement alone irks me. Our strong, capable bodies earn delicious, nutritious food, intention, and care, no matter how far, fast or hard we ride. I choose to eat the cookie because it genuinely is what my body is asking for. Unless it's asking for a burger with fries. Or a piece of pizza. Or a big kale salad with bacon and avocado and crunchy salt croutons. (Because then, I would eat those things instead.)
As a chef, I bake cookies nearly every day. But honestly, the only time I truly crave cookies is where bike riding is involved. I imagine I crave them because they contain a nice balance of carbohydrates, fat, and flavor. All things my body needs and desires after a long day in the saddle.
I know that a big, chewy, chocolate chip cookie that’s soft in the center and crunchy around the edges wouldn’t taste nearly as good if I hadn’t gone out for a big bike ride where I left everything I had out on the road. And, I know that pushing to my absolute limit wouldn’t feel nearly as good if I kept myself in a perpetual state of suffering; the pain and comfort, suffer and reward, have to come in balance.
I invite you to embrace this cycle; pushing your own boundaries of comfort and discomfort. It’s the most addictive elixir, and far more so than just bike riding and being high on the wind in your hair or any intoxicating treat alone. Don’t embrace it because you’ve “earned it.” Your body isn’t keeping score that way, and you’ll be triumphant and deserving if you learn that -- just for going for it -- you’ve already won.
Ridiculously Rewarding Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. (Really give ‘er here -- whip that butter on high speed for a few minutes until the mixture looks light and fluffy!) Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then, turn the speed back on low and add the vanilla, egg and egg yolk and continue whipping until the mixture is incorporated. Stop the mixer to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again (you don’t want any errant butter chunks down there!) Then, with the mixer speed on low again, add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until just incorporated. Now it’s time to scoop!
**If you have the ability, let the cookie dough chill overnight to allow flavors to develop. Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon to scoop the cookie dough out in evenly sized scoops onto the prepared pans, nestling the cookies as close together as possible. Refrigerate, covered tightly with plastic wrap, overnight. Then, allow to sit out of refrigeration for 10 minutes before baking according to instructions below.
To bake your cookies right away, scoop the dough out onto the prepared baking sheets leaving 2 inches of space between the cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow to cool on cookie sheets and ENJOY!