Dates with destiny

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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§ 41 Responses to Dates with destiny

  • New Girl says:


  • brendan says:

    Tearists? You write this with mt phone?

  • Joe Camacho says:

    This is the most helpful blog post ever! I have found on my own that TJ’s Dates are … well not great. I have been looking for a source. WM to the rescue! Thank you!

    • Admin says:

      The International Market rocks. Helpful Hint #2: Lentils, which cost $5.00 for a half-pound, organic, at Vons, are $1.90 a pound. Just don’t ask if they’ve been saved by Jesus.

  • Peter R says:

    Costco sells a 2lb box of Medjool dates, availability seems to be seasonal, they have them now for about $8.00.

    • Admin says:

      We quit Costco two years ago. No matter how much we tried, we couldn’t eat 14 jars of 68-oz. Skippy peanut butter in a month. No how much we blew our noses, we couldn’t go through a gross of Kleenex boxes every 30 days.

      Fortunately, the rest of America seems to have no problem taking up the slack!

      $8.00 for 2 lbs. is a good price, but they’re fresh year-round at the International Market, and it’s locally owned by hard working immigrant types. As more people find out how wonderful these things are, they’ll be more widely available.

  • Patrick says:

    Just got back from Albertsons. Medjool dates at $6.49 per pound. Picked up a pound but forgot to get the fig newtons I originally went there for.

    • Admin says:

      Ouch! That’s high!

      Many say Fig Newtons are the very best. I’ve never tried them.

      • Patrick says:

        I think I must have been high to forget the fig newtons. They are very good. Easy to carry, easy to eat. The problem with them is when your buddies see you eating them you’ll get the “oh wow, I haven’t had those since I was a kid, can I try one”. And then they’re all gone.

      • Admin says:

        I checked the nutrition label. Looks like junky junk food. Sugar and Nabisco’s industrialized baking processes. seems to have a healthier version, mildly.

      • ridebikesdrinkbeer says:

        Shirley you’re not serious.

      • Admin says:

        I love it when you call me Shirley.

      • Tom says:

        Fig Newman’s (the actor Paul Newman’s “brand”) tastes much better than Nabisco & the ingredients look better.

        No high fructose corn syrup, made with cane sugar, although whether there’s any real difference in terms of how it’s metabolised is questionable. There’s a lot of unscientific, N=1 anecodotes on the internets concerning HFCS.

      • Admin says:

        It just seems to me that if it’s got two words in the name, and one of them is “Fig,” and it’s a food, it should mostly be made out of figs. Or out of Newmans.

      • Sidamo says:

        Skip the Newtons and just eat actual figs. All the benefits of dates without the stone to choke on/shatter your teeth.

        You know it makes sense.

      • Admin says:

        But are they funny?

  • KH says:

    Thx Wankmiester. Done ordering goop.

  • Wanky!… Nice ona dates. I’ll try some.
    On the electralytes…I always push my favorite, Electro-Mix. It’s made by the Emergen-C people. This is a little packet I mix with water…ZERO calorie-thingies, and a zillion electrolytes!! It’s AWESOME.
    I have not cramped in a race since I have been using it….which helped me win a hand-ful of races, instead of hitch hiking back to my car at Boulevard, 10 miles to the finish.

  • […] two-way cycle track. If you can’t lose weight despite all the miles you put in on the saddle, try trading your electrolytified sugar pop for a handful of […]

  • Nealio says:

    Have been sold on dates for quite a while, they’re the main ingredient in my home-made energy bars. The winning (stolen) recipe so far is 1 part each of dates / salted cashews / almonds. Dates pitted, and in an industrial strength blender (dates have indescribable binding power!), mix it all up – press – chill, cut, freeze a bunch. The salt in the salted cashews gives you some ‘electrolytes’. Those and bananas do me – have ditched anything you have to take a plastic wrapper off

  • ridebikesdrinkbeer says:

    Do people really guzzle the GU that fast? That’s nuts. In a hard, 50 mile, 2:45-3hr ride I might have a whole pack of Gel Bloks or a honey stinger waffle with one GU. I’m a large fat man, so take it for what its worth. I just dont like to eat anymore than absolutely necessary during rides.My problem is solely #s 4 and 5 and the daily pignut. I know what I burn during rides (thanks HRM) but man, I cannot get down with eating a lot during a ride, and any coffee stops include espresso only.

  • dsb137 says:

    ‘…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….’

    Glucose – 8084mg
    Fructose – 7669mg

    Just sayin’…

    • Admin says:

      4 figs = 70 kcal
      1 date = 66 kcal

      Carry fewer dates, less gooey gunk in your jersey pockets to fool with.

  • Educational and entertaining. As always.

  • craig b. hummer says:

    Damn, no wait, i mean ‘Eureka’, now i know why i haven’t been able to drop from 170 down to my ideal climbing weight of 127.5…thanks Wanky!

  • Great post, but a little too effusive re: medjool dates.

    Am wondering if you are on the take with the International Medjool Date Council?

  • […] was reading my buddy Seth’s article Dates with destiny and I came across this […]

  • Alan Geiger says:

    TJ’s Flattened Bananas; always available, just bananas from under a steamroller, nothing else. Don’t even need to fill your jersey pockets, just wrap them around your bars (the drops that you rarely touch) peel them off as needed. Remember to clean bugs off before next ride.

  • Alan Geiger says:

    Remember Calorie Mate? You could import them; tasted so bad that you’d eat one only if you couldn’t find Onigiri.

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