Catnip is a plant, part of the mint family, which has a powerful effect on cats (hence the name); they find it hilariously, uncontrollably, irresistible.
When cats find catnip they are known to rub themselves against it, roll around seductively on the ground, paw and lick it, chew it, and generally lose all ability to behave rationally. Once they’ve flirted with it they’ll eat it, which brings on drooling, sleepiness, and a general state of unpredictability. Presumably they are then filled with regret, and hoping no one has filmed them and shared it on social media.
Coincidentally, this also describes my response to the presence of doughnuts.
Wherever I am, and whatever I’m doing, if doughnuts are introduced into the room then my senses prick up. In appearance I might continue to function and carry out whatever task I’m doing, but I’m on auto-pilot. My mind is running through a strict guilt/reward based protocol and weighing up the impact of popping one into my mouth.
For us cyclists, the dangers of doughnuts are obvious.
They contain that fabled 50/50 balance between sugar and fat that is not only very unhealthy, but is proven by science to be all but irresistible to humans. And they’re also deep fried.
No naturally occurring foods are made up of this 50/50 balance, which suggests that Mother Nature, God, astrology, chemistry, theoretical physics, or whatever else you put your belief in made a big decision early on. If those kinds of foods grew straight out of the ground the human race would not have lasted more than a couple of hundred years on this planet. As a species we would have descended into the kind of lethargy that only unrestricted access to deep fried sugar and fat can bring on.
In the early days of human life, things would just never have got going.
If I allowed myself to eat the number of doughnuts that instinct says I should, I would balloon in weight, and my days as a semi-credible cyclist would be numbered. But managed correctly, maybe there is a way to harness the power of the doughnut?
First of all, in short bursts that sugary kick can really put some juice in the tank. Secondly, the very moment I allow myself to eat a doughnut the guilt/reward based protocol I mentioned earlier kicks in. I have to immediately schedule in my next bike ride and punish myself (and burn the calories off) by riding up lots of big hills very quickly.
So, in moderation, doughnuts might make me a better cyclist!?
The only problem there is that phrase: ‘doughnuts in moderation!’
My relationship with doughnuts has always been black and white. They are either forbidden, to the point where I won’t allow them to be mentioned by name in my presence, or they are ‘oh-my-god-did-i-smell-a-doughnut-give-it-to-me-now-and-then-give-me-ten-more!’
Luckily, I’ve stumbled across a third way.
Picture those old cartoons where a horse plods along pulling a cart, and the only way the cart driver can get the horse to move is by dangling a motivational carrot on a stick in front of it’s nose. If ‘stick’ won’t work – i.e. the banning of all doughnuts, globally – then maybe carrot will.
Some simple calculations could tell me exactly how many miles I would need to ride over any given terrain to burn off the calories in one doughnut (Strava – are you listening?) Suppose that on one of my favourite training routes that distance were twelve miles. I could simply lay a trail of doughnuts, one every twelve miles (perhaps suspended on poles at the side of the road?), and balance doughnut consumption with miles ridden.
The motivational effects of being allowed a guilt free doughnut every forty minutes or so could completely transform my performance on the bike. The allure of getting a doughnut every thirty-eight minutes, then every thirty-five minutes, and so on, has the potential to improve my performance to elite levels in a matter of weeks.
It would also make me very happy.
I’m fairly sure, given that scenario, I could ride my bike indefinitely. If I could find the time to lay a trail of doughnuts around the globe I could break world records. You could harness my bike up to some kind of giant dynamo and I could produce renewable energy.
The possibilities are endless. And, I get to eat doughnuts.