Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ham and Swiss

My dad is full of great stories, stories about the PROs, stories about the local cyclists and of course stories about the people who were his customers for over 30 years. One of my favorite stories centers on the old school technique that defines my father's 60+ years of cycling.

When my dad was in his mid-sixties, he was a strong rider; riding just shy of 300 miles a week. One summer he and a group of his buddies/customers got together for a spin. Out and back, 70 miles, nothing too crazy, just a few friends on a gentlemanly cruise. At least that is how it began. As the ride rolled north and out of town the pace began to pick up. There were a number of hard efforts and the wind was blowing in, strong and consistently. Some of the greenhorns were tuned-up for the early season races and were lifting the pace above the agreed gentlemanly level, turning the screws in an effort to demonstrate their prowess.

As the group hit the half way, the greenhorns decided to stop for a quick bite and a refill of the bottles. The plan for a quick stop turned into a plan for lunch and then a table for six. There were still 35 miles to ride and a full meal at this point would be too much. As the group began to order, my dad and his best mate looked to each other and both knew there was only one way to play this.

The waiter took everyone’s orders: milkshakes, an omelette, a double cheeseburger, pancakes, and as the orders rounded the table they came to my father. Ham on white bread, a slice of Swiss, nothing else. No bacon, no lettuce, no sausage links, no strawberry milkshake. Nothing. And a water. His best mate replied with a devious smile, "I will have the same." Once the group had finished eating it was time to head back. A slow rollout as the legs began to divert the blood from the stomach and the group began to get back into the homeward effort. The group began to get playful and the efforts began to increase.

My dad sat in right behind his mate, as the tempo increased. Almost as quickly as the heavy breakfast went down, it began to come up. The riders who had eaten the breakfast fit for a king were beginning to take on a pale, greenish color in their faces. Once the green began to show, my father and his mate lifted the pace. As the pace lifted, the greenish color began to fade into a ghostly white color. One more attack was all it took for the breakfast club to scatter in search of some privacy. The greenhorns had proven they were strong; they had proven they could bring the pain. But bringing the pain is about more than steady, hard efforts. The pain is brought with brains as well as brawn.

15 comments:

Bob said...

Back in the day when I could really bring it, I was always known as the guy who didn't take alot of food on group rides. Also breakfast was 3 scrambled eggs and 2 slices of english muffin toast. i just hated stomach distress and all the roadside nastiness that goes with it. Knowing were Bonk lives and staying on the edge of it is PRO.

bikesgonewild said...

...lovely story...poignant...nice chuckle...now i need to get my almost sixty year old ass out for a spin...
...urp...

Fer rilla said...

Smashing yarn BKW!

josh said...

and that is why i never eat a lot before races. something substantial for sure, but not too much.

on a totally personal note, want to do some embro reviews? My trusted tube of elite is running low, cx season is just getting into full swing, and I was thinking of buying something new....any reccomendations?

TOM said...

Once had one tiny baked sausage with my otherwise healthy breakfast consisting of plain toast, scrambled eggs and plain yoghurt with a banana early in the morning of a hillclimb race...how I regretted having eaten the sausage for it really spoiled my race...I must have looked like that dead Rembrandt man undergoing a vivisection! Ever since, I've been avoiding meat or other greasy food prior to races.

Radio Freddy said...

The trick to the meal is to know your body. Look at John Stamstead. He is the king of low dollar/high calorie consumption.

Josh - stay tuned. Just waiting for the temp to drop a bit.

The Mrs. said...

Love that! story! Although I bet I could ride Mt. Everest if I had a strawberry shake!

Anonymous said...

Knowing Freddy's Father I can just see the Devilish smile on his face! Great story! I bet Your Dad would have unleashed a wood-shampoo if the youngsters got out of line! ;-)

Ed O'Shea

Nate said...

As a junior, I remember going on a ride with a buddy on sunny. On the way out of town, we hit an IHOP for breakfast. Let's just say that was the last time I ate a waffle before a big climb.

Great Story

bikesgonewild said...

...here it is, 14 months later on a re-post & i'm so very aware of how valid the advice in that story is...that will never change...

spin said...

There is ALWAYS something to learn from your elders, this is what makes a good wheel, if you are young and strong,then you have the great luxury of staying with and watching, listening to great men like these.....be strong to learn to be a good wheel.

mikesibis said...

i watched john stamstead have an early morning meal of spam and milk at the 24 hrs of canaan on the original course. it was the first year he was allowed to race solo under 4 variations of his own name. my stomach could not imagine but he knew what his motor needed.

that same year i passed a rider at 11:30am sucking the dregs out of used gu and powergel wrappers dropped at the base of the long hill. that had to be the worst bonk i've ever witnessed.

Jim said...

Old age and cunning overcoming youth and treachery, eh?

What to eat is a very personal thing. On a really truly dire long ride I love eating a turkey & swiss sandwich, with a little mayo, tomato, lettuce, and tons of salt. And peanuts. Ice cold milk helps wash it down, and if I'm in really bad shape very late in a ride, a 20 ounce coke works wonders. Sports drinks with lots of proteins, rather than the carb-heavy drinks... These real (or more balanced) foods just go down well and fuel me wonderfully, if I eat them at the right time. I also have a friend who swears that his secret weapon at MTB endurance races is to start laps with a couple pieces of bacon in his mouth, where he treats it like chewing tobacco and just sucks the juices out of it. He's very good. To each his own, I guess.

Blair said...

Well played sir! It is interesting to see what people eat on rides. I had a friend that would carry 2-3 bbq sandwiches on long rides. Hey-whatever works I guess...

BYcycles said...

I remember years ago at one of the first centuries I ever rode, they actually had somebody grilling hot dogs at one of the rest stops. People were scarfing them, even the fast boys 'n girls. I figured I'd see scads of riders bent over in the gutters expunging partially digested hot dogs but never even saw one. Maybe they were some of those tofu dogs or soemthing.