Good old fashioned cold and hungry

February and March is a tricky time as a cyclist. One minute you’ve detected the mere hint of spring in the air, and the next it’s back to the joys of full-on winter riding.

“Where’s my crisp, sunny, winter morning gone?” I thought recently as I pedalled through the deepening gloom. The late winter sunshine promised by the forecasters was all but gone, replaced by sleet, hail, snow, and every other kind of cold rain. It was looking like a cold few hours on the bike.

I can be strangely optimistic when it comes to the weather. If the forecast is grim I refuse to believe it and expect better, if the forecast is good I take it as gospel and prepare for nothing less; hence the slight chill running through me on this Sunday morning in February, wearing a layer too few and getting wet. photo(3)

An hour in, and the winter roads had thrown all manner of sludge up into the workings of the bike and halfway up my calves, but the winter bike can take it and the shoes beneath the mud-caked overshoes are pristine clean and protected.

Two hours in, and the thought that “I could do without a puncture now” occurred to me, for no reason other than this always pops into my head when I’m cold.

If I were the type to believe in ‘jinxing it’ (which I’m not) what’s more likely to bring on a puncture: thinking about the possibility, or pretending not to think about the possibility?

Luckily I’m not the type to believe in a ‘jinx’.

Fingers crossed though, eh?

But two and a half hours in, after a relative lack of drama (considering the conditions), that raging desperate hunger of the cyclist running on an empty tank reared its head – the bonk, the hunger knock, call it what you want – for some reason I called it hypoglycaemic!?

It’s not like me to plump for medical terminology – I try not to be dramatic – but the last twenty miles to home are a bit of a blur.

“Good ride?” the wife asked.
“Bit hypoglycaemic”, I said, to which she rolled her eyes.

When I replied with the term ‘hypoglycaemic’, that’s when I knew I was hypoglycaemic. The fact that I was shaking was my second clue.

“You mean you’re hungry?”
A good point.
“Would you like a banana straight away?”
Sensible advice.

For some reason (low blood sugar?) it hadn’t occurred to me that I could eat immediately now I was home. I’d had an energy gel about an hour and a half ago which may well have delivered 22 grams of carbohydrate as advertised, but in the form of 60 millilitres of sludgy goop which did nothing to address the emptiness of my stomach.

A cheese sandwich would have hit the spot, and I’d been salivating continuously from the moment I’d had that thought. For the last half hour to home my body had gone off in a huff.

“Right…I’m cold and hungry now…and that’s it!”

Under-dressed and under-fuelled – a couple of amateur mistakes – and I find myself nursing thoughts of hypoglycaemia and core body temperature.

The unnecessarily medical-ised version of good-old-fashioned cold and hungry.


  1. I always have a£20 note and a debit card in my pocket for emergency food or even train/taxi in event of calamity – remember once doing hill repeats up the crow Rx near glasgow and on the second the image of a large lamb roast popped into my head – the third repeat didn’t help and barely made the village shop to eat a giant iced bun …… sugar Ssssuuuggggaaaaaarrrrr


  2. Despite all our knowledge and experience, still rides like this hit us every now and then. Nothing worse. The devil decreed cyclists ride mostly on Sundays down country lanes and past pubs serving Sunday lunches. Oh that smell. That drool.


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