In her recent post ‘Eat What Fits Into Your Basket’ BikeableJo talked us through the pleasures of food shopping by bike.
Now, I myself do not own a kick-butt basket (I feel it would probably play havoc with the stability of my finely tuned racing bike), and so on reading the post I thought ‘i’ve never done that’…but then I thought again, and realised that my artisan re-fuelling strategy is my version of this simple pleasure – not so much ‘Eat What Fits Into Your Basket’, as, ‘Eat What Fits Under Your Arm’:
The trick to re-fuelling during a long day in then saddle is to attempt to carry just the right amount of food to sustain yourself for the duration, but no more, and I reckon I’ve got it off to a tee.
The last thing you want is great bulging jersey pockets filled with excessive amounts of sustenance but, it goes without saying, you need to carry enough calories to avoid falling victim to the dreaded ‘knock’ – the desperate hunger and loss of energy that comes when you’ve failed to keep your energy levels topped up properly.
If I get this right on a long ride then, ideally, I will have barely given my stomach any thought until the point when I enter the outskirts of my home town and pass that same familiar fish and chip shop, whereupon the smell of fried food will cause my metabolism to lurch into life, and my mouth water like a leaky tap.
Suddenly, after riding along happily for 60 miles, i’m desperately hungry!
But of course, being a wannabe cyclist, deep fried fish and chips is not what I want (although at this point every fibre of my being will disagree), and so I continue half a mile down the road and jump from my bike as I reach Filberts Bakery, my local artisan bread shop.
Filberts is the kind of bakery which is nothing more than a sparse wooden counter, a rack to display freshly made and still warm bread, and behind the counter a couple of large trestle style tables where two bakers kneed and massage the dough for their latest creations.
Puffs of flour dust the floor and hang in the air, and everyone is smiling, chatting and taking in great nose-fulls of fresh bread baking. The smell of fish and chips was just flirting and teasing me- this is what I’m after!
This is no industrial operation where you can take your pick of the world’s varieties of bread; they sell what they’re making on any given day and you take your pick. The beauty of this approach is that whatever loaf or pastry you do select will usually be fresh and warm, just minutes from the oven, and the artisans at Filbert’s produce many largely brilliant creations.
But I digress. Tired, sweaty and slightly bedraggled from my exertions I pick a loaf, salivating uncontrollably by now, tuck it under my arm, and ride the half mile back home, one-handed, warm bread against my ribs. I imagine if you spotted me at this point you would see a kind of fevered vision, pedalling frantically to get home and devour my prize.
Where the bread goes from here is anyone’s guess; smeared with butter, slapped with bacon, or simply devoured in my kitchen as I rip great lumps from the loaf, attempting to fend off my almighty calorie deficit.
So my re-fuelling strategy sounds a bit frantic towards the end I know, but it’s better than riding with jersey pockets bulging with food.
And if one day I pass the bakery and it’s shut?
Well, turn around and head back for fish and chips I suppose.