by Tara Nolan
When Maghalie Rochette is packing for a race, one of the most important items she brings is not cycling-related. It’s her Gozney Roccbox portable pizza oven.
After the uncertainty of 2020 affected the structure of her training, Rochette used the summer of 2021 to train hard – competing (and winning) in provincial road, gravel and mountain bike races. By the beginning of August, Rochette was the Canada Cup leader. After taking a break from World Cups for a couple of years, Rochette says bringing her own chill energy to mountain bike races helped her get back into cross country. “I do well when I’m having fun, and I couldn’t bear the seriousness and heaviness of the vibe around some of these events,” she said.
The pizza oven is part of Rochette’s “make it fun” mindset. “At the local MTB races around here, or at the CX races, you see a lot of people camping at the event and it is so fun,” she said. Rochette believes you can make pizza and have a nice time with people the night before a race and still perform at your best.
“I realize now that the vibe I put myself in is totally up to me. I’ve been going back to mountain biking with a happier vibe and having fun,” Rochette said.
Rochette loves the endless topping possibilities you can put on a pizza. She credits husband David Gagnon with being the king of dough. She likes to keep it simple, yet creative, often scrounging in the fridge to use up leftovers, such as pulled pork to which she’ll add peaches, a nice cheese and a drizzle of honey from their hives.
With the motivation that came from a successful summer season, Rochette looked to cyclocross, which is always her main focus. “Now, it looks like the race season will happen,” she said. “It’s much nicer lining up with the confidence that I’ve done everything in my power to be prepared at my best.”
The pizza oven will come, too. “I love the process of making pizza. I think it’s a very convivial way of eating.”
For the dough
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp honey
3.5 g of instant rise yeast (about half a packet)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
fir-tip oil (See note below.)
1. Combine water, honey and oil in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let it sit until the mixture becomes foamy.
2. In another large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
3. Once the wet mixture is ready, pour it over the flour mixture.
4. Knead the dough with your hands for five minutes. You will probably need to add a little more flour, but add it a little bit at a time. It is normal if the dough is sticky, but if it is so sticky you can’t manipulate it, add more flour.
5. Cover the dough with a cloth or tin foil. Let it rise for at least an hour.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, sprinkle some flour on the counter, grab a handful of dough and roll out to form a small pizza. You can use your hands or a rolling pin. Add flour if needed.
7. Preheat your oven. If it’s a portable pizza oven like Rochette’s, it will get up to 900 F. Heat a conventional oven to 500 F.
8. Coat the back side of a cookie sheet with flour. Put the rolled out dough on it. The cookie sheet will help you transfer the pizza to the oven.
9. Drizzle fir-tip oil on the dough. Top with garlic, mushrooms and cheese.
10. If you have a hot pizza oven, cook the pizza for 60 to 90 seconds. In a traditional oven, cook for roughly 15 minutes.
11. Garnish with fir tips. Add salt to taste.
Makes two small pizzas
Making fir-tip oil
While pizza makes for a warm treat at fall cyclocross races, the fir tips need to be harvested in the spring, when the bright green tips are growing on fir trees. Pick two to three cups of young fir tips, and then rinse them with water. Add the tips to a jar containing a litre of olive oil. Let stand for two weeks. Then, strain the fir tips and keep the oil. Also make sure to collect extra tips to garnish your pizzas.
For one slice
Carbs: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Fibre: 0.6 g
Protein: 2.9 g
This story originally appeared in the October/November 2021 issue of Canadian Cycling Magazine