This post has been a long time in the making. Okay, since we’re two days away from the Atlantic, I suppose it’s taken the entire trip. But I needed to amass enough data, people, so as to bring to light an accurate and informative record of the gastronomic side of BratAmerica. La cuisine de la cycliste!
What I mean is that I needed to stuff my face for three months.
Since May 13 we have eaten like pigs. With unrepentant disregard for health, taste and decency we have consumed greasy meat dishes, bacon, ice cream, cheese, butter, and a disturbing array of fried foods on a daily basis. Fried potatoes is the least of it; we have had fried green beans, fried mushrooms, chicken-fried steak, fried zucchini, and fried chicken gizzards among other morsels. Oh, we’ve had some nutritionally balanced meals here and there—the odd upscale restaurant meal of salad and fish (or something of the sort) when we can find it. But for the most part, we have eaten what is commonly termed the Standard American Diet (SAD), and a particularly
delicious nasty version of that diet to boot. White flour, too much meat and fat, few vegetables (unless fried, see above). Too many unpronounceable additives, preservatives, and plenty of FD&C food coloring. And sugar. Oh, the sugar.
“But you’ve been cycling, burning off a bunch of calories,” you protest. “You can eat whatever you want, surely?” My digestive organs beg to differ. Lately I’ve felt as if my small intestine is housing a dead gopher.
And still, we have gorged on.
If you are going to cycle across the US, you will of necessity find yourself in the sparsely-populated countryside much of the time, especially in the Western states. Such places are great for cycling—there are fewer cars and the scenery is much more pleasant (if not outright stunning). Sadly, what you gain in scenery you lose in quality of available victuals. You might be riding through pristine forests or open, sweeping plains, but at the end of the evening it’s gonna be gas station burrito for supper, not arugula salad with grilled tofu. Simply put, you can’t eat well on a cross-country cycling trip. All the other cyclists we met, or read about online, were eating much the same way.
Maybe if you have loads of time every evening you can ride miles out of your way to find the only grocery store in the county and purchase raw ingredients which you must then cook, but then you would be losing time, precious time. Time you could be spending drinking.
Because, oh, trust me: YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO DRINK.
(Well, probably. If you don’t drink as a general rule you will almost certainly want to develop some soothing and nerve-numbing nightly ritual to pacify your tired limbs and frazzled mind. For most of the world that is drinking, but I suppose
Valium a cup of tea would suffice for some.)
Aside from a lack of healthy food, the other defining factor in the cyclist’s diet is good old fashioned hunger. When you’re as out of shape as we were at the beginning of this trip, cycling 40 miles or so is an excuse to stop for an all-u-can-eat buffet extravaganza. In fact it is imperative that you do so, because you are starving. Hunger rules the day. And by the time you’re fit enough to do the daily cycling without the benefit of 6,000 extra calories worth of pork fat and chocolate, you’re accustomed to the gluttony and are, shall we say, disinclined to stop it.
So it is that for the last three months we’ve shoveled five times more food down our gullets than is reasonable. Sometimes our appetites led us down a perverse and deviant path:
And sometimes our repast was merely bland and boring, Ma’s Underseasoned and Overboiled Classic American Home Cookin’.
But sometimes it was, without a doubt, just plain good.
Now that we’re two days from the end of the glut-fest my head is full of the nice, healthful, virtuous things I’m going to eat when we get home. No more giant double-scoop ice cream cones for snacks. No! Not one Milky Way or half rasher of bacon will pass my lips. From the day we get home it’s quinoa and greens and brown rice and tofu.
But we still have a few more days until then, and the estimable charms of beachside boardwalk food—hot dogs, funnel cakes, popcorn, soft serve—beckon us both. We plan to savor the last few days of this unique and precious time in our lives, a time when we ate whatever the hell we wanted, knowing that it will all be over soon enough.