My bleary eyes open to the underside of a picnic table shelter. I have been asleep about 40 minutes. My legs don’t feel particularly weak as I clamber over the saddle, but as I pull out into the road I feel like my whole body has just been drained of blood, or I forgot to breathe for two minutes.
Chicken Bulion, water, carbohydrates and prunes must all be consumed in proportion to weather and activities. Too much water without bulion and I flush all mineral salts from my body, developing a pounding headache that requres at least 4 hours sound sleep to cure; too much food without water and prunes, I become constipated, and unable to comfortably consume the amount of food neccessary to ride 70 miles, short tracking the day.
In my sedentary office life I was accustomed to being absent minded and cure everything with coffee. All-day bicycling is a rude reminder that I am a complex chemical creature, not a disembodied will. Every pedal revolution produces thousands of individual molecular reactions, converting glucose and oxygen into carbon dioxide and energy.
There is no exit on the turnpike of Chemistry. To expend the energy neccessary to propel my body and 60 pounds of gear against the drag, friction and hills of the course, enough glucose and oxygen must be supplied.
I force myself to take extra deep breaths pushing up a hill. All the time I am hungry and don’t feel it. Something about the constant exertion, I do not have a “feeling” of hunger until I am off the bike and still for at least 20 minutes. But I don’t have that luxury. Huger I feel in my anemic uphill ascents, in my reduced speed and loss of focus.
“EAT” I yell at myself in a desperate attempt to make sure I get the calories needed throughout the day. A few hours of absent-minded riding, and there I am lying under the picnic table shelter, staring at the peeling paint.