Guest Spotlight: Carl Decker
Posted: January 17th, 2018
How I Got Started with Cycling
I grew up in a cycling family. At the age of 9, I rode to the Oregon coast (some 200+ miles) on a BMX bike, which might sound impressive, until I say this: my brother rode to the coast too that summer—and he was 7. We also did our first MTB race that year, The Cascade Cruise, outside of our hometown of Bend, Oregon. And thus, began my long (and current) career as a professional bicycle racer.
Cycling as a Lifestyle
Incorporating cycling into my daily life is easier than for most. It’s my job. That said, it’s still hard to get out for those long solo rides when the weather is lousy and the form is lacking. In my old age, I’ve learned this: when the weather and the legs are good, ride extra long. And when the reverse is true, rest. At a certain point, riding alone in the freezing cold doesn’t make you tougher—it just breaks you apart.
My Love for Food
A passion for food and drink runs in my family, much as cycling does. In my childhood, my mother (who’s to this day a great cook) would prepare nightly dinners fit for a party of 10. My dad, brother, and I, after long days of exploring on our bikes, would decimate everything on the table. So, it’s from an early age that I began to appreciate fresh ingredients and considered preparation. Thanks, Mom!
The Relationship of Food and Bike Riding
Long days in the saddle lend an additional layer of wonderment to good food. Some of it is due to the physical need for nourishment after a period of working/fasting, but there’s a psychological component that can make the post-ride meal even more pleasurable. The nature of cycling, complex enough to require attention, but rhythmical enough to allow other thought, can build the anticipation of a meal—what it will be, how you will prepare it, how you will enjoy it—into an almost all-encompassing force. After a big ride, all food tastes good. After a big ride, great food is life changing.
Favorite Post Ride Meal
I’m a sucker for post-ride Mexican food. A carne asada plate and a tall horchata are something worth daydreaming about in final hours of an epic pedal. Warm tortilla chips and fresh salsa picante can fill the void until that dream comes true.
My Experience at CampoVelo
One of my favorite parts of CampoVelo last year was chatting with many of the chefs during the rides. Theirs is a world very different from my own, one that I’m not usually privy to. They have a passion and drive similar to what many world-class cyclists possess and they’re really into bikes! Because of this, conversation was easy and mutually enlightening. I look forward to more of that this year.
It’s not the great riding at CampoVelo, or even the incredible food, really, that make it memorable. It’s the convergence of so many great people united by common passions and a worthy cause. With Napa Valley’s perfect weather and beautiful roads as a backdrop, CampoVelo proves to be a very special weekend.