LENTINE ALEXIS

Lentine Alexis

PHOTOS: Jeff Kennel via Trek

LOCATION: South Africa

There’s no reason to compartmentalize or put a cap on your passions or curiosities.

Lentine Alexis is on a roll. She’s an acclaimed chef and baker, and, even after hanging it up as a professional triathlete, still logs plenty of time riding and racing bikes. We caught up with Lentine as she prepared for a busy season of traveling, riding, and cooking to learn more about what bikes mean to her and how every aspect of her life is artfully connected.

What is your attitude towards biking?

My attitude towards biking — I see biking as a true metaphor for life. Whether on the road, or on the trail, riding is all about choosing your route, identifying obstacles, and dealing with them as they come upon you. Be it a paved road to the top of the highest mountain, or a single track trail between the trees in the woods; the obstacles won’t move. It’s how you move around them, over them, beyond them, that define your ride and your time on Earth. Choosing your line, finding your cadence, being brave, following your gut, and acknowledging that the journey will be full of both suffering and joy; these things are elemental to biking. And to merely being.

Your work seems pretty interconnected. How does biking connect with your cooking?

Strangely, and wonderfully, my work is truly interconnected. I trained as a pastry chef several years after I started racing professionally. I was spending some 25 hours a week training for iron-distance triathlon events and was hungry, literally all the time. I was craving things that I knew weren’t super-fuel for my body in their traditional states: croissants, muffins as big as my face, slabs of chocolate cake. So I had started trying to experiment with healthy substitutes in my home kitchen. There’s a lot to know about substitutions and healthy baking and I wanted to know it all; completing my culinary training gave me the understanding of classical technique I needed to understand the science to make educated substitutions in my recipes.

Today, I spend a good bit of time on the bike dreaming up new recipes, and working up an appetite (This was where a good bit of the Skratch Labs Cookie Mix development took place!). Then, I return home to develop in the kitchen and whip up new things. The ultimate test of my success is first whether whatever I’ve created tastes good. But secondly, it’s how my body feels and performs on the bike. So it’s this great little delicious and vicious cycle.

 

What do you think about slashies being one yourself as an athlete/chef/writer/photographer?

Slashies! I didn’t even know that was a “thing”!
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a diplomat. And I accidentally became a “slashie.” I certainly didn’t sit down one day and go, “You know what, it would be so cool to bounce between careers like a ping pong ball.” I fell into sport first, and becoming a chef was a natural progression for me. Once I was cooking, and discovering new things that really fueled me and my athletic lifestyle, writing about those recipes and the experiences I had as a well-fueled person seemed worth sharing with others. Taking photographs to illustrate the entire experience just happened and became something I really enjoy so, for me, I think being a “slashie” is a pretty authentic thing to be. There’s no reason to compartmentalize or put a cap on your passions or curiosities. I guess I hope that all of us are slashies at heart, if we think long and hard enough about it.

You mentioned lots of travel coming up. What can you tell us about your plans?
I travel a great deal for my work with Skratch, and will have several trips coming up.

For the past 9 months, I trained with my teammate for the Absa Cape Epic — one of the most gruelling mountain bike stage races in the world. The event is 8 days long and covers 650km through South Africa. My teammate and I took on the challenge as a way of pouring our hearts and minds into something BIG, in times of personal strife; we’ve both lost someone or something significant in our lives this past year and being on our bikes, processing how we’ll move forward is the way balance ourselves in the world. We feel powerful on our bikes, and knowing that they give us that strength and freedom inspired us to give that same opportunity to others — specifically women — everywhere.

We partnered with Qhubeka//World Bicycle Relief to raise funds so that we could bring 50 bicycles in Africa to individuals who will use them to connect to basic resources you and I take for granted; education, water, economic opportunity. We’ve been successful in raising funds ample for 40 bikes so far and the raise is still on. Yesterday, we hand delivered the first round of bikes to women and children in Kayamandi township, outside of Cape Town and had the opportunity to ride with them, through the streets of their neighborhoods, and teach them to use their new machines. It was an incredible experience—so much larger than a crushing stage race. Bicycles are incredible tools, incredible gifts. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished here, and it means for women, and empowerment, everywhere.

Where to?
Africa! Then North Carolina for Ride on Atlanta with People for Bikes, then to Portland! California for Sea Otter, then back to California later in April for Bottega Gran Fondo and eventually Chef’s Cycle for No Kid Hungry in June. So much good stuff!

What are the highs and lows of time on the road?
The highs of time on the road? Experiencing new places, meeting new people. Realizing that the world is smaller than we think and that all of our actions, words and emotions plant seeds, somewhere, in something else. Sometimes we’re there to watch the sprouts grow, and other times not. Knowing that you’ve left your mark on a place—through sweat on a bike, through a flavor in a meal, through a heartfelt exchange with a new friend—that’s what makes travel worthwhile and fulfilling.

The lows? I love my home in Boulder, and I love the people in my life who live there. I miss my own kitchen, and the chance to just “be” at home with the people who are so important to me. Being on the road is where I pour out the inspiration and passion I have in this world, but being at home is where I gather it up, restore myself, and fill my own little heart tank up to head out again.

Preview and order Early Hues here for a full length feature in print with Lentine.