Tag Archives: food

Just a wee thing – ughhhhhhhh!

How small is a bug? How big is it’s effect? Two and a half weeks ago I was jetting off to Mallorca (Majorca) for a cycling holiday. I had done a 90 mile Sportive the week before and felt very fit and raring to go. The morning of the flight I had a tickly throat. The temperatures for the week were exceptionally hot, one day averaging 30ºC, despite starting early. I seemed to just feel thirsty the whole time, despite drinking litres of fluid.

How I feel now!

How I feel now!

Halfway through the week the cough started and as ever I rode through it, thinking “It won’t get any worse” -it did. We managed a lot of cycling both in length and height amidst some amazing scenery, with good food and drink (for me mostly non-alcoholic), and I thought “when I get back, I’ll have this cough for a wee bit, then I’ll be back to normal”. I didn’t and I wasn’t.

The Spiral

The Spiral near the top of Sa Calobra

A week & a half later the antibiotic is kicking in, the cough is finally subsiding, and I’ve still not been out on the bike yet and it has been so dry and sunny, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! Plus I had to cancel a four day canoe/camping trip down the River Spey from Loch Insch to the sea at Spey Bay.

Last Spey trip 2013

Last Spey trip 2013

But at least I’ve got the feeling that things are improving, though I will have lost that hard gained fitness I suppose. It’s a re-run of November for me.

Meanwhile I have been saddened by events in Nepal. I went there in 1999 and have stayed in touch with some Nepal folk there since then. It has made me upset to see the destruction, devastation and loss of life caused by the earthquakes. At least one of the villages I stayed in has been reduced to heaps of rubble, with just one house left. I visited the monastery there with its ancient scrolls, wall paintings and hospitality, now just swept away. And throughout the country so many deaths, which will become worse when the monsoon arrives and lack of proper shelter, further landslides, food shortages and disease have their effect. It is such a poor country and the effect on tourism will be devastating to add to all their woes. The Disasters Emergency Committee (http://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/nepal-earthquake-appeal) are collecting donations to help in the UK and I know there are probably others in your part of the world. So if you feel inclined to give something that would be great. And if you’re doing it from the UK & pay tax remember to claim gift aid. Anyway, here’s to my next ride out and DEC continuing to help.

Langtang with the monastery at the back, now all swept away

Langtang with the monastery at the back, now all swept away

Langtang Monastery in 1999

Langtang Monastery in 1999

Langtang Monastery in 1999

Langtang Monastery in 1999

Langtang Monastery in 1999

Langtang Monastery in 1999

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Especially for Burns Night & veggies or discerning omnivores all

Whoops, this got lost as a draft, so a bit late!

Just in case, you’re going to veggie Burns Supper you’ll need;

“Ode To A Vegetarian Haggis

1. Oh vegetarian haggis whit a view
Thou glorious, steaming bag of veggie goo
No one could ever say that you
Dish death to beasts,
Not a single murdered chicken, pig or coo
Taints your braw feasts.

2. But noble pud you must ignore the taunting bores
From meaty Caledonia’s shores,
The moaning bloody carnivores
Who think you need
To slaughter sheep in scores
To have good feed.

3. Thy beauteous form can satisfy
The keenest neb or mouth or eye,
Wi’ as braw’ a meal as ane could buy
Pulse, veg and spice
And ev’n sheep eaters that dare to try
Say Oh it’s nice!

4 So stuff the purists and their cries of sin
Let’s split this pudding, serve and shovel it in,
And what the hell if it’s wee skin
A humble plastic bag is.
Let’s drink a toast and we’ll begin
The vegetarian haggis.

Tim Dalling January 1993”

ps for those who don’t know Robert Burns is Scotland’s national bard (poet)

What Do You Taste?

A bit of ice to keep me warm!

A bit of ice to keep me warm!

Another in my self imposed series of the senses.
Taste is closely allied to smell, take way your sense of smell and it will diminish the taste of food or drink. If you can normally smell everything OK and get a bad cold it can take away the taste of food and diminish your appetite.
So what about taste and the bike? It is certainly varied according to the seasons, the terrain, the atmosphere etc.
So it probably starts before you’re even on the bike. Maybe that breakfast taste of marmalade and toast, that hot butter and coffee all still weaving their spell on you taste buds?
Eventually it fades away and the taste becomes a background consciousness of saliva or mucus working away in your mouth. In winter maybe this will be all, though following the peloton could alter this, for better or worse. In summer other tastes will float in with things like the pollens from the fields or forests, such as the sweet sickly taste of oil seed rape, sticking in the throat once your long past the bright yellow field. Or the salt in your mouth as you past the sea front on a windy day, with a faint spray making contact. Or that dry dust thrown up by the wind.
Then there’s the winter with the others in front of you, especially those without mudguards. Yuch, that mud thrown up, that earthy taste. Double Yuch, you pass a field of cows recently herded in, just keep that mouth shut otherwise this just isn’t going to be the sensation you want in your throat. Sometimes though it’s just snow flakes melting on your tongue.
Then bliss, a stop for coffee and scones. That quenching taste of the hot liquid heading down the tongue, lingering again when you’re on your way once more.
But there’s one I hope doesn’t happen too often, that familiar taste. You hit a bad pothole or a bump in the road hard, the blood is in your mouth from biting down suddenly. So much for trying to be alert for 100% of the time, it just won’t happen.
Your water bottle can provide a bit of variety, the slightly metallic taste of some energy compound mix, or sometimes, in my case, sometimes a faint sense of that tiny, tiny bit of red wine I mix in before I go. Also the gels or snacks for energy may give you another thing to savour.
And then there’s that delight when a great smell from a gorgeous field, or pine wood translates itself into a taste that just lingers gently in the background as you cycle on.
So, what do you taste when you are out?

“And I would ride 8,000 km” – not quite the same ring as . . . . . . .

Looking across Belhaven Bay towards Traprain Law, next to the cycle path

Looking across Belhaven Bay towards Traprain Law, Scotland next to the cycle path

to paraphrase The Proclaimers famous song – ‘And I would ride 5,000 miles’ – it sounds so much better, even though it is less impressive, maybe?

Being a maths graduate (seems another lifetime away with the flares & tie die shirts), I love statistics, numbers & spreadsheets etc. So I accumulate masses of stats (thank you Garmin).

Just recently I reached the 8,000 km mark on the bike this year, which included 86,00 metres of ascent, over 350 hours of cycling and endless amounts of fun, happiness, companionship and enjoyment. My biggest ride so far was 147 km (92 miles) with 1,478 metres ascent (4877) – this was done on a blisteringly hot Scottish day, ending up fairly dehydrated. Was going for the century ride, but enough was enough. So, call me a geek if you wish, but, that’s your problem not mine.

There was also some angst, pain and frustration mixed in.

So what does it all mean? Not too much I suppose to most, but recollections of some excellent times for me & my pals. I usually annotate rides with weird titles & descriptions, but they mean something to me. So looking over my rides what churns away in the memory banks?

“Wott!! No coffee, scones or sprinkles?” – I have been out with one Sunday crew for a while now, but was requested to join another so popped along to see. The group is around 25, so we cycled along sort of together for a while, then split into fast & slow. Knowing there was a lot of downhill & flat I went for the fast and we flew, managed to stay with them for a long while till we hit the sea front and woosh, off they went, clung on for a few miles & then finally acted my age, and I wasn’t alone. But – no coffee stop as is usual for me. So – nowadays I alternate between the two groups, both of them good in their own ways.

“Tour of Tweedale,1ºC at the start, 30+ miles to warm up – then glorious”  – a Sportive in the Scottish Borders, 82 miles and 1,270 metres (4,000 ft) of ascent with a few tough climbs (one ramps up to over 20% – the Wall of Talla!) It was great, with a couple of pals, a magical food stop with wonderful home made soup and goodies plus plenty of good craic & meetings with pals and groups to follow (and lead) – just perfect despite the initial cold. I’ve done this for the last 3 years and the distance has varied from 80 to 99 miles – definitely the best Sportive I’ve taken part in.

“No Day of the Triffids” – a ride over the hills on the Sunday, the Triffids were the huge wind turbines which usually suddenly loomed close by as we crested the top of the hills.  Because of the thick, thick mist we couldn’t see them this time so had to creep down the hill slowly, slowly dodging gravel, potholes each other and one daft, mad car – so no daft 45+ mph descent for me this time!

And then there was South Africa – a whole different experience in oh so many ways.

Out in the bush, South Africa on "that bike" @£$%$&^%)?!!!!

Out in the bush, South Africa on “that bike” @£$%$&^%)?!!!!

And then there’s the wildlife met en route. Deer, badgers, swans, hares, rabbits, stoats, weasels, skeins of geese, rabbits, dogs, heron, eider ducks, fish, sheep, skylarks, pheasant etc. etc. Wow. are we cyclists sometimes so lucky to be involved in biking?

And looking forward already to next year, I’ve booked a week in Mallorca with the Tuesday bunch I cycle with – yippee!!!!

Cycle nutrition, clothing, gear etc.

I sometimes wonder about the cycling/ sports industry.

As more and more folk take up going out on their bikes, so the pressure mounts to buy special foods/ gels etc., drink special concoctions, wear special clothing & footwear.

For a while I’ve thought that a lot of it must be a load of tosh for the vast majority of us, this was confirmed for me in a BBC Panorama report as well as other news items.

So what do I do?

Drink water but not much, occasionally with a bit of orange juice (or wine) in it.

Make up goodie bags of nuts, raisons dates, dried fruit, bits of chocies, jelly babies etc which I can nibble on from a triathlon bag on my crossbar (or whatever it’s called nowadays).

Look for bargain bike shoes or clothing.

And it works for me.

But I have spent big & enjoy good bib shorts, winter bike shoes (it’s cold in Scotland sometimes).

So maybe some of it does the stuff, but at least I don’t seem to but into it all.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18863293

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01l1yxk