Monday, November 14, 2005

Fuel

There's another CycleDog out there somewhere. But it's not an old bicycling dog like me. It's dog food. Do a Google search and you'll find it quickly.

Now it would be nice if there were a CycleDog energy bar, a sports drink, and maybe some other products proudly emblazoned with that cartoon of my face. I won't hold my breath, though. And I was going to say that it would be doubly nice if the products were suitable for both people and dogs, but I know from experience that dogs view most 'people food' as a special treat. Mollie, my Springer Spaniel, liked chocolate chip cookies, Italian bread, and even sauerkraut! I tried to understand her fascination with Milk Bones by trying one. Believe me, Milk Bones will never be a popular supplement for cyclists. They're only a little harder to chew than a Power Bar, but at least a Power Bar can be used for an emergency tire patch.

I'm fond of telling people that my bike runs well on beer and Italian food. And although I write about beer a lot, I really can't drink much of it. Years ago, I was diagnosed with pseudo-gout, a condition aggravated by the proteins found in beer, red wine, red meat, and cheese. Trust me, pain is an excellent behavior modifier! If I over-indulge, my hands, knees, and big toes provide some truly excruciating pain.

Welcome to middle age. If you get here without an 'interesting' medical history, you haven't lived enough.

Getting regular exercise provides one bright spot. My body needs more protein, so that allows me to eat just a little more of the things I love. Still, a week or two off the bike due to bad winter weather, and my knee swells up like a football. Or at least that's how it feels.

My doctor says that having a drink at my age is actually a good thing. The alcohol is a diuretic, too, and that reduces my blood pressure. I certainly don't need the calories, but there's no way I'm going to drink 'lite' beer. If I have to limit my intake, I want good stuff! Diet beer need not apply.

My beverage of choice these days is coffee. I’ll have two strong cuppas in the morning, and sometimes another in the afternoon. When I get home, it’s usually a cup of decaf after dinner or after an especially cold ride. Again, the doc told me to limit my intake of caffeine, so just like beer, I want the good stuff. Lately that’s been French or Italian roast because I like the intense flavor. And one side effect of the longer roasting is that these coffees have less caffeine.

Our bodies run on carbohydrates. Sure, the latest diet fad is 'low-carb' everything, but for cyclists, carbs are like gasoline. We can eat pasta, rice, and potatoes as basic fuel. They're the long-burning sort. Sugars are short-burns. Most of the sugars found in fruits are the quickest energy sources. If I recall right, glucose can be used directly and fructose almost as quickly. Common table sugar is sucrose and it takes just a little longer to kick in because the body has to do some chemical tinkering first. Regardless, it's a faster energy source than the complex carbs in a bagel, for instance.

I'm fond of Italian food, but I like Mexican and Chinese too. Actually, I like pretty much anything, and that was one of the problems. I ate entirely too much. One reason for getting back into cycling was to lose some weight, and I've done that mostly through mild exercise and watching the portions on my dinner plate.

For instance, Mary made King Ranch Chicken tonight. It’s chicken, veggies, and cheese over tortilla chips. Granted, it’s probably off the chart with sodium and fat, so the best approach is to limit my portion. But I don’t WANT to do that! I want to eat and eat and eat until I’m full and sleepy.

And that’s exactly how I got up to 245 pounds.

In the kitchen just now, Jordan was getting himself a large second helping. At fifteen, he can afford to eat like that. The kid’s a bottomless pit for food! But he’s growing rapidly too, so I can’t complain. He offered to put more on my plate, but I controlled my greedy little appetite.

I can hear the ice cream singing from the freezer. Was it Odysseus who had himself lashed to the mast so he could hear the Sirens song? I could lash myself to the couch, but Mary would probably think I was getting weird again.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jill said...

Coffee is great bike fuel, though my favorite is still Pepsi. That's the great thing about biking - you bike, you eat more, you have more energy to bike. You always win!

1:57 AM  
Blogger ItsJustMe said...

Welcome to middle age. If you get here without an 'interesting' medical history, you haven't lived enough.

I've heard that a few times. I have to respectfully disagree, to some extent. I'm just starting into middle-aged at 42, so I may be speaking prematurely, but I really have no health concerns, no chronic pain, I take no meds, I do what I feel like and don't hurt the next day. I eat whatever I feel like, neither gain nor lose weight, and my blood numbers are all on the low side of nominal.

I feel at least as good now as I did when I was 20. I feel like I've been active and do everything I want; skiing, cycling, hiking, camping, etc. I've done my share of stupid stuff. I've never broken any bones, even with all the idiotic crud I did while growing up on a farm and climbing dangerous places.

Some people just are lucky in their combination of genetics and in picking the right dumb stuff to do that doesn't break limbs, or in just not being clumsy at the wrong time.

Reading around here, it seems I should go out and find something really stupid and dangerous to do so that I can have broken bones and chronic pain, because then I "will have lived."

While pain is certainly part of life, I don't think how much physical pain you've managed to dole out for yourself by a certain age is necessarily a good measure of how much you've enjoyed life so far.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Fritz said...

Mountain Dew is the energy drink of choice for me.

I'm like ItsJustMe -- I'm approaching middle age (I suppose) but without any major medical issues other than thinning hair. I'm not quite as fast as I used to be, I don't jump out of trees like I used to, and wrestling with the kids can be painful; but I'm still capable of sprinting down the street with my kids. I'm also blessed with great genetics.

12:29 PM  
Blogger mags said...

Ahhh - FOOD! There are few things in life I have a more love-hate relationship to than food. But I am proud of myself, because I know I make more good choices than bad. Because of my relatively high volume of training, I can technically eat whatever and however much I would like. But, when I eat "bad" or "empty" food, I suffer on training. I am blessed with a good upbringing which led to good habits. We never had soda, very little candy and no fast-food (I was actually 18 the first time I had fast-food, at a training camp in Europe). Do I feel deprived? No, I never had an urge to drink soda and eat fast-food, and I still don't. I'd rather have a carrot. Or at least that is what I keep telling myself.

4:27 PM  
Blogger the old bag said...

coffee, coffee, coffee
hot chocolate
laced with cinnamon
both in the same cup!

and after a hard ride
on a hot day? Coke.
real coke
all the sugar
all the caffeine

Like ItsJustMe, I've been pretty lucky when it comes to obvious 'interesting' medical history, but age creeps along in its mostly unobtrusive way...gradually increasing cholesterol levels, tighter ligaments that require more careful stretching before yardwork(!), overuse injuries from jumping into seasonal activities instead of easing into them, the need for more recovery time after a hard effort (when compared to the competition in their 20s), a bit more indigestion than when I was younger...and, was that a night sweat?!?

I'm probably more active and feel better than I ever have, but the sleight-of-hand tricks that AGE exhibits are apparent. They're subtle. They remind me not to take life for granted.

- TOB

8:01 PM  

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