My life, I have to confess, revolves around food.
We live in an age where the relentless experiencing of stuff has become the only acceptable way to live. Yet for me, the only experience I ever yearn for is a nice spot of lunch. It’s fair to say I mastered eating at a young age and have excelled in the field ever since.
I love a bike ride, a day out with the family, or a bungee jump into a jagged ravine, but the experience always lives or dies on the standard of the catering.
“Yes, I’m aware that these dolphins want to swim with me,” I might say, “but what do I need to do to get a sandwich around here?”
All of which make recent events at the standard Wednesday evening bike ride all the more strange.
The usual group of four or five had been whittled down to two – myself, and the youngest and fastest of our motley group. It had been three, until a random exploding tire (no, really…) at the meeting point took out one of our number.
Hanging on to the back wheel of this whipper-snapper for two hours on a Wednesday evening is the quickest route to a winter fitness boost; ‘riding a bit too fast’ is, after all, a scientifically proven method. I was up for the challenge.
For approximately four minutes.
This was when I realised I was on a bad day.
My first clue was the immediate gap between his rear wheel and my front. My second clue was the pitiful data being churned out by my Garmin. The clincher came as the road went uphill for the first time and I found myself in possession of the leg muscles of a small child.
This was going to hurt.
Mentally, physically, and emotionally.
The suffering of a tired cyclist can be such a tempting, romantic cliché to fall for when it’s being used to flog cycling kit or make a bike race seem dramatic. When you’re the one suffering, not so much.
For two hours I grovelled, my only goal to keep my riding partner in sight. There was nothing to say. No excuses to make. If I was going to be pathetic I was going to be defiantly, not apologetically, so.
It was on final climb of the evening, over which our home town sweeps into view, that the truth of it dawned on me. My Garmin said 7:45 PM. The last time I’d eaten was an early lunch at 11:45 AM.
Eight hours ago. The reason for my kitten weak quadriceps.
Massive calorie deficit.
I rolled down the hill and home, and sat at the kitchen table seeing stars. The hollow stare of a (hungry) Vietnam vet. I inhaled a cheese sandwich without chewing. Slurped a cup of tea without pause. Slowly, the creeping kilojoules soaked into my system and I returned to something resembling life.
How on earth had I forgotten to eat?
I’d walked home from work past the street food market, for goodness sake. I always stop there. The vendors will be worried about me.
The saving grace is that at least I’m not as bad at cycling as I thought.
As it turns out I’m not as good at eating as I thought, either.
(Image: Richard Masoner / cyclelicious via Flickr cc)