December 14, 2014 § 30 Comments
I was reading an article yesterday about hippo ecology and their poop. We don’t know much about hippos, apparently. Closely related to whales — yes, whales — they spend most of their time underwater and are hard to study for two reasons.
- They hate people and kill them.
- They all look alike.
Yep, no one’s ever figured out a way to tell Hippo A from Hippo B. You can’t put a radio collar on them because they don’t have necks. You can’t tell them apart based on scars, nicked ears and such because they are underwater all the time, and if you get in their river they will kill you. The only time they come on land is at dusk and at night, to eat and poop. Hippos also display male dominance by madly swishing their tails as they poop, spraying it into the faces of the junior males.
The magazine, a respected scientific journal, actually called it “poop.”
I’m no hippo scientist, but I’ve been to plenty of zoos with hippo pools, and I can tell you one thing. It isn’t “poop.” Hippos shit, folks. Hugely massive endless streams of stinking shit. It’s not feces and it’s not crap and it’s not manure. If you doubt me, go to a hippo pool and take a whiff, then tell me if it smells anything like what’s in your baby’s diaper. If it does, you need to get another baby.
I have a lot of stress in my life. I used to think the biggest stress was the 27 years of marriage to Mrs. WM (28 in four more days, as she reminded me at a party last night). But it’s not. The biggest stress is wondering what I’m going to put in the blog each day. If I were smart I would write it the night before, when things have just happened and are fresh in my mind, except at night I’m too tired.
So I wait until four a.m. or so. I don’t need an alarm clock anymore thanks to the blog; it wakes me up very early and asks me, “Do you have it yet?” The answer is always “No.”
Great newspaper columnists like Mike Royko and terrible ones like Lynn Ashby, giants who had to write a new column once every single week (how did they survive?), used to keep a “spare” in their desk drawer in case, at deadline time, the well was dry. Me, I have no backup.
Worse, I don’t even have a formula because I hate formulas. BikeSnob can troll through the Internet or his mailbox, pick out a half dozen weird things and make fun of them. The beginning doesn’t have to have anything to do with the end, and it doesn’t. Sit, copy, paste, type, done. Boom. Get on with the day. How awesome is that? Very awesome.
Me, by five o’clock if there’s no theme or story, I have to start writing anyway.
“Why five o’clock?” you ask. “That’s awfully early. Why can’t you organize something, do a couple of drafts, and get started at, say, six or seven?”
“Because,” I say, “cyclists are already pooping by then.”
In addition to writing on a theme every day and my marriage, I have my third biggest stress: Helping my readers poop. I wish that every cyclist who has come up to me and said, “I love your blog, dude. I read it every morning on the shitter,” loved me enough to click the “subscribe” button in the upper right-hand corner of the blog’s home page. I would be a hundredaire by now.
Similar to the absence of research on hippo poop, most of the major cycling publications don’t write much about cycling and shitting. Joel Friel and Training Peaks don’t yet have a data input for TPD, turdage per day. I’m not sure why this is, since shitting is not only one of the most enjoyable parts about cycling (and life in general), but it’s something of particular concern to anyone who rides a bike. Nothing is worse than getting all your stuff on, airing up your tires, preparing for the “big ride,” and then getting that instantaneous feeling of “someone dropped Willy the killer whale in my colon and now he is yearning to be free.”
That’s “now” as in “if you wait another ten seconds we’re gonna have a city-wide brownout.” The pre-ride dump is why so many cyclists show up five minutes late, in fact. That’s how long it takes to rip off everything, uncoil the cookie dough, slaughter half a roll of toilet paper, and get dressed again.
Dump preparation is also the reason that most riders make sure to get up long before the ride. They don’t want to get caught with their pants down, so they form a routine.
- Make coffee, which enhances crappage.
- Eat high fiber cereal or other crap inducer.
- Wait around, usually 30 minutes.
- Lunge for the throne.
As I have found out, for many of my friends, #5 is accompanied by my blog. Yesterday G3 rolled up to me at the beginning of the Donut Ride. “Dude,” he said. “How come your blog was late this morning? It didn’t pop up on my phone ’til I was almost done shitting.”
I didn’t ask him why he had his phone on the toilet, but since he is a subscriber and therefore a customer, and since the customer is always right, I apologized and asked him to send me a text called “morning dump” so I would remember to blog about it. At the same time, I tried not to imagine him seated there, his hairy belly poking out, his legs spread open as his organ dangled down into the black recess of the potty, the glazed-over, blissful grin spreading over his face as each charge hit the water, and the proud review and detailed size/shape/composition analysis of his morning creation before he flushed. I say I tried not to imagine it, but you can see that didn’t work.
So the next time you think you’re having a shitty day, think about me and the pressure I have to not only write on a daily basis, but to also serve as the Internet’s most important cycling laxative. I suppose the whole shit thing could be worse. At least I’m not required to display — or worse, be subject to — male dominance the same way as a hippo.
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December 7, 2014 § 34 Comments
Newsflash: It’s damned hard to quit drinking.
In addition to all of the other wonderful symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, after putting down the beer mug for a couple of days everything starts to look like a tall, frothy, Racer 5 IPA. My coffee. The bike stand. The toilet bowl. That street person pushing a cart and asking me for a dollar. They say that all of this has to do with the fact that I’m an addict, but that’s not true.
I’m not an addict, I’m a drunk. Addicts are people who have a handle on the fact that they’re addicted, whereas a drunk is just a deadbeat who can’t stay out of the gutter. Drunks have to work really hard, up their game, and get their self-awareness going in order to graduate to addict level. So AA is out for me; I can see my first meeting already.
Head addict (after my 57th meeting): “So, would you like to say something?”
Me: “Yeah. I got a question.”
Head addict: “Go ahead.”
Me: “How come I’m hanging out with all you addicts?”
So I’ve pretty much despaired of improving enough to reach addict status. There are some dark curtains that I just can’t bear to peek behind. Instead, I’ve decided to simply stop being such a worthless fuggin’ drunk, and, as noted above, it’s hard. However, I’m developing some workarounds and am laying them out here in the event they might be useful for someone out there, in other words, for me.
First, since I don’t think I’ll ever get my act together enough to become an addict, my goal isn’t to quit drinking. To the contrary, my goal is to drink, and to drink four shit-tons and half an assload. I’m making plans to drink so much beer that it will make all prior bad decisions, terrible hangovers, and legendary family embarrassments look like Drosophila malanogaster compared to the Death Star.
That’s not all, that’s just the start. After I descend into the endless drunk from hell I’m going to really turn up the gas by going on a 14-day bender. I pledge to start drinking as soon as I get up and to not stop until I’m in jail or dead or both. People will say in later years when someone’s bragging to them about the night before, “Yeah, sounds like you pulled a Wanky.” It will be the gold standard for self-destructive, alcohol-addled misbehavior resulting in the devastation of entire city blocks.
However, in order to pull this off I need to get into training, and as cyclists all know, training requires a kind of committed asceticism. In other words, to do this with maximum effect I need to completely detox and purify my body so that I can hit it when it’s defenseless and unable to respond, kind of like when I show up and register at those kiddie races and whip ass on all the three- and four-year-olds. This phase of the plan is already working, but it’s going to take time get really clean enough for this maxi-bender to have maximum effect. A long time.
Second, while I’m purifying my body, which is my temple, before I pillage and ransack it, I’m setting a clear and immoveable date for this off-wagon leap which will be longer, deeper, farther, and atop more nuclear-tipped land mines than any wagon-offloading in the history of drinking. The date for this? Tomorrow.
Third, in order to make this as spectacular as possible, I’m taking a vow to not have a drop of beer today. In fact, following through on that very simple vow has been difficult since I took it a couple of weeks ago, especially since I’m such a dedicated liar, and especially since the oath was sworn to myself, the person who I can most easily deceive and never be the wiser. Yet as I get through each today without a drink it only prepares me better for the glory and happiness that awaits me tomorrow, when I’m gonna drink all the beer in the South Bay as my fuggin’ warm-up.
Fourth, the only way to keep from drinking today is by relying on friends, and they’ve responded in a variety of subtle and overt ways. Some have texted, some have Facebagged, some have called, some have come over in person. Some have joked, some have spoken in earnest, some have shared their experiences, some have encouraged, some have challenged, some have implored. Today a buddy offered this with regard to hanging out in bars–“If you spend enough time in a barbershop, you’re eventually gonna get a haircut.”
Each and every friend has made my resolve strong enough to do the only thing I have to do before I go on my bender: Not have a beer today.
While I was riding yesterday and complaining about how everything looked like a yummy IPA, including the Pacific Ocean over on our left, my buddy was telling me about his Thanksgiving in Ohio, about all the great food, and about what a good time he’d had.
“They have a ton of great craft beer in the Midwest,” I said.
He looked at me. “You know what they have in the Midwest?”
“They have a ton of great craft water. Really good stuff, hand brewed, various flavors and varieties, and it goes great with pretty much everything you’ll ever eat.”
“Yeah,” he said, peering steadily at me. “Craft water. And that’s what you need to develop a taste for.”
The ride continued for a few hours until we were both extremely tired and hungry. As we rolled through Abbott-Kinney we could smell the food. “Man, I’m hungry.”
“Me, too,” he said.
“And I’m thirsty,” I said.
Then I broke. “Dude, I’m gonna pull over and have a beer.” I fell apart just like that, all the miserably hard work and effort and fatigue and irritableness and depression lunging up in ecstatic happiness as I contemplated my first cold beer.
My buddy looked over at me. “No, you’re not. Not on my watch.”
We continued home, so it looks like I’ve ticked another today off the calendar. And in the meantime, please pass the craft water, the one with hints of minerals, overtones of PVC pipe, and a slightly arsenic-y finish. Yum.
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March 25, 2014 § 17 Comments
“Here!” Mrs. WM said accusatorially, flinging the black Pearl Izumi base layer tee across the bed. “Smell onna that!”
I picked it up and took a whiff. “Kinda gamey, huh?”
“It ain’t no game! Itsa ammonia smell from your stinky underparts!”
“You mean my underarms. Not ‘underparts.'”
“Itsa stinky onna underarms, too. How come you such a stinker? I washed onna your bikin’ undershirts three times and still onna nasty old stale ammonia stinky underparts. It’s infecting onna other clothes inna laundry. Itsa infecting onna my bras and underpants so I can’t onna wash ‘em together. How come I gotta do extra separate washing loads because of your stinkyparts? How come?”
“Honey, I’m a man. And I exercise a lot. So, I guess I stink. But I read an article on Google News that says men who are super clean are less sexy than guys who have, you know, a kind of ‘manly’ smell about them.”
She turned up her nose. “Sexy stinky? Thatsa gross. I like a sexy clean.”
“But guys work out and they sweat and they smell. It’s just the way we are.”
“I do onna Zumba exercise an’ you wanna know what?”
“After I get onna body sweat after booty shakin’, you wanna know what I do?”
“I take onna bath! How come you can’t take onna bath after bikin’ and how come you can’t use a underparts deodorant stick before you going onna bikin’? I got you fifteen underparts smell sticks and you ain’t usin’ up even one of ‘em.”
“I hate deodorant. Plus, all those chemicals right next to the lymph nodes in your armpits is not healthy. Probably causes cancer.”
“You hate onna deodorant but everybody else hatin’ on your stinkyparts. Every time you pointin’ or liftin’ up your skinny arm itsa big poison gas cloud comin’ out onna your shirt sleeves makin’ everybody can’t breathe without makin’ screwed up face. Itsa nasty.”
“I still think those chemicals might cause cancer, the way they get absorbed by your lymph nodes and distributed throughout the body. Ten years from now we’ll find out that stuff is worse than lead poisoning.”
“You’re standin’ inna elevator old Mr. Stinkyparts and I’m tellin’ you everybody wishin’ they had cancer and was dead by it so they don’t have to be there with tears runnin’ outta their eyes because of stinky.”
“Okay, I get it. I smell bad. Anything else?”
“Anything else is jus one thing. Wear onna deodorant and quit infectin’ onna my underwear inna laundry basket.”
“Okay. I promise.”
She smiled. “I’m gonna take a shower and get clean. You should get onna clean, too.”
Sounded kind of like an invitation.
October 25, 2013 § 45 Comments
I’m a wuss. When I tried to get out of bed this morning, and couldn’t, I immediately assumed that my anterior cruciate coliform had fractured in the Big Tuesday Crash. “Honey,” I said. “I gotta go to the hospital.”
Mrs. WM doesn’t like being awakened at 4:30 AM. “You onna what?”
“The hospital. I think I broke my coliform nexus prospangerineum.”
“I ain’t onna goin to no hospital.”
“No, honey, I can’t get out of bed. It really hurts.”
“How come you onna gettin out of four o’clock bed? Itsa sleepy time onna three more hours.”
“But I have to get up and pee and I can’t get up.”
Now she was alert. Mrs. WM always gets alert when it comes to bed wetting. “You ain’t onna bed pissing again?”
“No, but I need help to the toilet.”
“If you onna bed pissing, you changing the sheets. I ain’t onna touchin your hot bedsheet pisswater.”
“Please … “
She relented, and helped me up. As soon as I sat on the toilet, I had to number two. But the pain in my side was so acute that as soon as the log rolled down through the logjam and started peeking at the door, a tremendous stabbing pain shot up my side, so bad that it took my breath away and forced the log back up the chute.
“Why you onna gaspin?” she asked.
“Oh my dog,” I moaned. “I gotta crap but can’t.”
She stuck her head in the door. “It sure stinkin like you can.” She held her nose.
“I almost can, but then I can’t.”
“Well, I ain’t onna holdin that for you. Grabbin on the little chin-chin to pissin in the bottle I can do, but I ain’t onna helpin you poopers.”
The spasm came again. “Gimme that garbage can,” I said. She handed it to me, and I flipped it upside down, putting my right foot on the can and thereby raising my right knee high above my pelvis.
“How come you doin onna pilates?”
“It’s not pilates. I’m trying to find the right position.”
“Now you know how a girl feels onna lovemakin. Gotta get the leg up and the middle parts down low. Better onna action traction.”
Deep in the throes of Jakeleg Facing Dog Grunting Stool, I completed the mission, dressed, and headed off to Torrance Memorial.
Marcus Welby, M.D.
I limped into the admitting area of the E.R. “What’s your issue, sir?” the woman asked.
“He ain’t got onna no issue. He just don’ wanna go onna office. He was drinkypants last night like nobody’s business.”
“I fell down,” I said.
“From where?” the lady asked.
“My bike.” The pain was so bad I could barely stand, but they clearly thought I was flopping, especially after Mrs. WM had alerted them to last night’s drinkypantism.
In triage they examined me carefully. “Where does it hurt?”
Mrs. WM, who had sneaked in with me, piped up. “It’s hurtin’ onna place he can’t be drinkypants. He drinkin onna beer last night he wasn’t complainin. But he gotta go onna office all of a sudden he can’t walk or poopers.”
“How would you rate the pain on a scale of one to ten?” the nurse asked.
“Thirty,” I said.
“Let me go get the doctor.”
As we sat in the room we listened to the people outside pleading their case to the doc. “I just need the prescription refilled, Dr. Smorgasbord.”
“I’m sorry, I just don’t see the need at this point. You stubbed your toe four weeks ago, and we’ve refilled your Percocet-Vicodin 12,000 mg prescription seven times.”
“But I’m in such pain, doc. You can’t imagine.”
Next it was our turn. “Well, Mr. Davidson, the x-rays came back negative. No fractures at all. I suppose you’ll be wanting some pain meds?”
“No,” I said.
She looked at me funny. “We were going to give you an injection. For the pain.”
“I don’t want one.”
“You said you were in enough pain that you couldn’t get out of bed.”
Mrs. WM chimed in. “He’s just onna complainin. He ain’t hurtin. Just puttin’ a leg onna trashcan and poopin like a drinkypants with too many chili burritos.”
The doc turned to me. “Your hip and back show significant bruising. How fast were going when you fell down?”
“You should really take the injection.”
“Just one question, doc.”
“After the injection, can I ride my bike?”
“Of course not.”
“Well, that settles it.”
And it did.
August 12, 2013 § 32 Comments
At the start of this morning’s Wheatgrass Ride, several riders were comparing ailments.
“My spine hasn’t recovered from that lumbar fracture of five years ago,” said one.
“I’m so sore throughout my entire body after a hard ride that I have to get a full-body massage and bathe in Epsom salts,” said another.
“After that separated shoulder, broken forearm, and hip replacement, sometimes it’s hard to even get out of bed,” said a third.
The talk continued; it was a litany of serious illnesses, broken bones, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Pretty soon the conversation turned to treatment and the reputations of various doctors, sports medicine specialists, orthos, chiros, massage therapists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, podiatrists, natural healers, and horse veterinarians.
I really felt for these folks and the obstacles they had to overcome simply to ride their bikes. Of course, I’d recently experienced a physical ailment myself, and I shared it with them.
Anatomy of an ailment
In well over thirty years of cycling, I’ve been fortunate to have escaped injury. Sure, there were the inevitable Cat 4 crashes when I first started racing in ’84, but I never broke a bone and never got more than minor road rash. Likewise, I’ve never had discomfort on the bike. I’ve never had back pains, neck pains, knee pain, hip pain, jaundice, leprosy, stinkybutt, or any other discomfiture except for the misery that comes from getting hammered and dropped.
However, last week, after doing the SPY Tuesday morning ride, I awoke on Wednesday with a muscular pain just above my right hip and off towards the left, in that soft spot between the backbone and the hip bone where I keep my fat stores for the winter. It was somewhat uncomfortable.
Each time I turned around, or when I pedaled to work, this small muscular/fatty area emitted a kind of sore feeling. On the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, I was a solid “2.” Perhaps it was even out of the 2 and even into the lower 3, but not by much.
This soreness occurred throughout the day at intermittent times and it was very annoying, almost painful, in fact. The discomforted area was about one inch in diameter, and although I could relieve the sort-of-but-not-quite-pain by pressing it with my finger for a second or two, an hour or so later after I had stopped pressing the afflicted area, the kind-of-soreness would return.
Getting old is hell
I’d heard my friends talk about the pains, illnesses, and aches that come with ageing. Until I got that sore spot I hadn’t taken them seriously, but now I can really empathize. This uncomfortable spot went away after two days, but while it was there it almost bothered me a lot. And although it was one of the worst experiences I can recall, it made me a better person because I can now really empathize with my cycling friends. It also made me realize how important it is to continue cycling, because the pain and discomfort of riding hard is what made it possible for me to get through those two days. I like to think that cycling has given me a sort of “toughness reserve” that I can draw on in times of almost feeling like I’m in pain.
I’m going to start taking better care of my health, too. This was a real wake-up call, the way that little sore spot just stayed sore for two entire days, on and off. It made me think, “If I’m already getting a little discomfort spot at age 49, what’s going to happen when I’m 60? Or 70?” Now’s the time to be proactive, folks, and to stop taking good health for granted.
So, I’m not trying to sound preachy, and certainly not trying to beg for sympathy, but it’s the tough times in life that let you appreciate the good ones. Take care of your bodies, folks, it’s the only one you have! Below is a true photo of the affected area. It was really partially uncomfortable some of the time. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
August 6, 2013 § 32 Comments
A buddy came into the office a few days ago to showcase his brain damage. Actually, he came in so that he could show me how to run a new piece of software, and he started off by telling me about his nephew’s success in a recent road race.
“It was awesome,” he said. “They put him up on the podium, gave him a big bouquet and a cool race leader’s jersey. According to my brother, he’d wear it to bed if they’d let him.”
An hour later we took a break and talked bike racing. Then we talked about crashing. He’d had a severe fall about a year ago that left him unconscious for about ten minutes. This summer he’d crashed again, equally hard, and although he hadn’t been knocked out, his helmet was shattered into three pieces and he’d been “dizzy and throwing up for about ten minutes.”
“Two severe concussions in a year?” I asked. “That’s pretty serious.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “I haven’t recovered from that last one. I can’t remember things that I should, and can’t focus on things very well, either. You know, shit that’s mindless, like filling up a water bottle.”
“Yeah. I’ll have to think extra hard about really little things and a lot of the time no matter how hard I think I can’t ‘get’ what I’m trying to get. It’s frustrating as hell.”
“You’ve got brain damage, dude.”
“It’ll take a while to heal up. A year, maybe two, easy.”
“Or maybe never?”
“Well, you were pretty thick-headed to start off with, so it might be hard to tell.”
He laughed. “Hey, man, my nephew won his junior’s road race a couple of weeks ago. He was so stoked. They put him up on the podium, gave him a big bouquet, and a cool race leader’s jersey. According to my brother he’d sleep in it if he could.”
“Yeah, it was awesome.”
“I thought it was awesome, too, when I first heard about it.”
“You heard about it?”
“You. About an hour ago.”
We looked at each other.
Those goofy bike racers
We all know plenty of bike racers who are a little “goofy,” not to mention the ones who are “out there,” and of course the ones who are “batshit crazy as hell.” I wonder how much of that is due to brain damage? Anyone who’s raced regularly for more than twenty years has almost certainly hit their head; racers who are particularly aggressive (i.e. successful) may have been dinged in the brain a dozen times or more over the course of a career.
These are hard hits, too. One buddy who got whacked by a car and was knocked unconscious took almost two years to fully recover his mental faculties, and he claims he has never fully recovered. I believe him.
What’s oddest isn’t the extraordinary danger involved in road riding, let alone racing. It’s the ease with which we forget, or rather the rapidity with which we internalize the horror and the trauma of bad accidents.
Whether it’s the buddy with a broken neck who spent six months in a halo and then had major surgery to have bolts put into his neck and a piece of his hip fused onto his spine, whether it’s the buddy who hit the deck on a concrete velodrome at 40 mph, whether it’s the group ride gone haywire when five buddies went down hard in a field sprint, or, what sometimes seems just as bad, whether it’s the fear and terror and shaking when you’re lucky enough to navigate through the mess of bodies and screaming victims and broken bicycles, the incredible thing is that we blithely continue on racing our bikes knowing full well that if you race often enough it’s not a matter of whether you’ll crash but of when and how badly.
What could possibly explain it?
Please set dial to “adrenaline”
The easiest explanation is that after a certain number of years, what is “fun” becomes nothing more than the thrill of combat. One buddy who smashed his hip so badly he was told he’d never walk again, then crushed an elbow, then broke a collarbone, the broke his other hip, then fell in a bad track accident, has stopped riding after each accident just long enough to recover. Once the bones heal he’s at it again.
It reminds me of men in combat who, despite suffering grisly injuries, couldn’t wait to return to their units. We get so used to the terror and the calamity that it’s not merely normal, it’s part of our mental fabric.
A few weeks ago one of my buddies went down mid-sprint at Manhattan Beach. He’s a big guy, and he hit so hard that you could hear his body smack the pavement as far away as the exhibitor tents. Just watching him inert on the pavement was terrible. He fixed his bike and was racing full-bore again at Brentwood.
PTSD: It’s not just for soldiers anymore
Two more buddies suffered catastrophic injuries in the past year; one in a race and one while training. Buddy A was so traumatized by the accident that he can barely ride his bike, let alone race despite being completely healed. Buddy B almost bled to death, then almost had a leg amputated, and is still disabled after numerous surgeries and extensive physical therapy. Yet another buddy who was run down from behind by a psychotic cager still has mental problems riding his bike. He can’t relax. The sound of approaching cars freaks him out. He’s recovered from his injuries, on the outside anyway.
What struck me about all of them wasn’t just the awful nature of their injuries but the battering taken by their psyches. They’re not the same ol’ girl they used to be. A part of them is missing, and you don’t have to talk to them long to figure out what it is. They’re in shock. Delayed, long-term, lingering emotional shock.
So with the brain injuries, concussions, shattered bones, broken necks, shredded faces, mangled digits (I didn’t even mention the people who’ve had their fingers sawed off while working on fixed-gear bikes doing things as innocuous as wiping a chain), and countless other horrific injuries to which the bicycling flesh is heir to, it might cause you to wonder why you keep doing it?
I think for most of us the answer is the same.
“I don’t know. Let’s ride.”
February 24, 2013 § 41 Comments
Have you ever wondered why you can’t lose weight cycling? Here’s how it goes: You look in the mirror. “Sheesh! Is that me?” You grab the flab and squeeze it in disgust.
“Dogdamnit! Tomorrow I’m going to start riding that shit off!”
So you embark on a weeklong massive bump in mileage, going from your normal 175 miles to 300+. You call it “BWR Prep” or “Strava Wanker Challenge” or “Bill’s Big Adventure” or something.
Then, at week’s end, you’ve gained five pounds.
What’s up with that?
The reason you can’t lose weight cycling is partially because you don’t understand arithmetic, and also because, as a cyclist, you’re already at your “good” weight, which is defined as “Being too fat to climb well but hellz lighter than if I ate all this pizza and drank all this beer and wine and didn’t cycle at all.”
In order to get off that comfortable number you have to start eating less, but unfortunateley cycling is designed to make you eat more. Not less. Here’s why:
- You eat back your ride before you even finish. One of those gooey GU things has 100 kcal. You’re supposed to eat one every 45 minutes, but since you’re hungry you stuff your jersey with seven or eight of them and devour them all on a three-hour ride. On that three-hour ride you burned 2,000 kcal if you were working it, minus the 800 in GU goo. So you’re only 1,200 kcal down.
- Your Accelerade-type sugarpop has about 180 kcal per bottle. If it’s even remotely warm you go through two big bottles, for 360-400 kcal; three bottles if it’s hot. Boom. You’ve eaten up 1,200 kcal. That’s the entire ride, back to zero. You’d have been better off on the couch.
- Somewhere along the way, maybe at the end, but sometimes in the middle, you pop in for a froo-froo latte with all the fixins. Wham. 600-800 kcal. And the 550 kcal muffin. Now you’re in an 1,100+ kcal hole.
- The flail really begins at home, though, because you just put in 3 hours on the bike and you’re HONGRY. Imagining that your middling ride is somehow the equivalent of a large chicken sandwich, a salad with ranch dressing, a beer, and part of a pint of Hag, you inhale all three…for lunch. Now you’ve actually gained 3,000+ kcal for the day thanks to your healthy cycling habits. Except the day’s not over.
- Your morning ride ramped up your metabolism, so you’re still hungry for dinner, and still in fantasy mode regarding what you’ve actually burned on the ride. Dinner winds up being a 2-3,000 kcal extravaganza, including that nice Pinot and the “healthy” yogurt with all the “healthy” fruit.
What’s a feller to do?
The first step is to jettison all advice and marketing poop about “energy and electrolyte replacement” while riding. Drink only water.
“But,” you protest, “won’t I feel like shit two hours in?” No. You’ll feel like shit one hour in. But the point isn’t to feel good, it’s to get rid of the baby fat, which is cute on babies but ridiculous on your pear-shaped, middle-aged man frame with the stooped shoulders, pot belly, and bony elbows.
Next, jettison all the Barbie food. That stuff is awful for you anyway. Check the active ingredients: It’s sugar + endocrinal sebaceous secretions of testicle of newt. People somehow built the Panama Canal, the Grand Coulee Dam, and the Great Pyramids of Cheops using shovels and their bare hands, and never even had a swig of Accelerade. Somehow you’ll manage to survive that 21-mile pedal along the bike path in between coffee shop stops.
“Oh, but my coach says I’ll wither up and die without the electrolytes!”
Okay, he’s probably right. No human being can make it through the day without lots of electrolytes, and since you’re a battery we’ve got to make sure you’re absolutely charged to the top with potassium, sodium, and chloride. Don’t forget to throw in some high-grade sulfuric acid, because no car battery runs without it, and you’ve got a lot more in common with a car battery than a human. What’s good for the A/C Delco is good for you, I guess. Except I don’t.
Wankmeister’s advice? If electrolytes are really such a major concern, get a big circular salt lick like they put in rabbit cages, tie a string through the middle, and hang it around your neck or other dangling appendage. When your battery loses all its electrolytificationnessizingtion, take a big ol’ lick on your salt ring. Costs .35 per pound, one ring lasts twelve years, and it’s lighter than the ten gel packs you have crammed up your pants leg.
Getting to “buy”
If you’re still unconvinced and believe coach’s advice that “All non-electrolytified cyclists die during workout” then you should take Wankmeister’s advice: Go buy yourself some dates.
The Barbie food, whether it’s Gu or Clif, costs a couple of bucks per serving. The sugarpop costs about the same. That’s $10-$12 bucks in Barbie food per ride, minimum. Dates, which have only been sustaining humans for about 4,000 years, cost $4.99 per POUND. (Note: If you eat a pound of dates in one sitting you will have a complete colonic cleanse in about eight minutes, and if you’re not careful the cleanse will also cause you to poop out a lung and your pancreas.)
Dates are super high in the only thing that matters on a bike ride: Instant sugary calorie energy. One medjool date has about 66 kcal and its primary sugar is glucose. This means it’s better for cellular reticulizing de-absorption ratios than fructose, sucrose, or chocolate. (Just kidding about the chocolate. Nothing’s better than chocolate.) And they’re way better than Muscle Milk, which of course has NO MILK and does nothing for your muscles, and whose active ingredients are maltodextrin and high fructose corn syrup. You’d be better off with a box of cane sugar in your jersey or a bottle of Karo dark molasses in your water bottle cage.
To review: Dates are cheap. They’re yummy. They have a pit that will crack your jawbone if you’re not careful. They work instantly due to the glucose. But there’s more!
They fit perfectly in your jersey. They don’t spoil during the ride. They’re super easy to chew and swallow except for the pit, on which you can choke to death. Yes, they leave a gooey, sticky film on your fingers, but this is where you learn that in addition to performing embarrassing acts with your significant other, your tongue is perfectly adapted for licking food off your fingers.
Best of all, dates look like aged baby turds, so no one asks you to share. How many times has some wanker on bonk’s door wheedled away one of your Gu gels, or your last Clif bar? Every frigging ride, that’s how many times. But it’ll be a cold day in hell before anyone wants to eat one of those shriveled, sticky, poop-a-likes that you’ve fished out of your sweaty jersey pocket, even if the alternative is getting dropped in the desert and not making it home alive.
Where to buy?
Trader Joe’s sells medjool dates, but the quality is spotty. They’re usually smallish, and old, and kind of expensive. Occasionally you’ll get a box with about half of them being rotten. Eating a rotten date makes a great fraternity hazing ritual where you want the pledge to froth and have seizures and spit up his stomach lining trying to get the thing out of his system, but it’s worse than swallowing a dried chancre when you’re on a bike ride.
If you’re in the South Bay, try the “International Market” on Hawthorne and PCH. What it really should be called is “Market of Arabs and Middle Easterners And People Who We’re Told Are All Tearists Even Though The Real Tearists Are The Ones Who Drone Bomb Civilians And Children For Fun And Profit.”
They’ve got a display case at the back with a stern-faced old fellow, and if you ask for a “pound of dates” he’ll look at you like you’re the idiot who walked into the bike shop and asked for “a bike.” What kind, dude?
They’ve got pitted dates, unpitted dats, medjool firm dates, medjool gooey dates, yaller dates…a date for every social event, including public stonings. Just point to the batch that are brown and wrinkled and aren’t the most expensive, and the old fellow will shovel in a couple of pounds and you’ll be set.
And don’t forget to tell ‘em that Wanky sent you.
On second thought, you can forget that part. Unless you want to sample the stoning as the guest of honor.
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