Dig a hole and bury yourself

The more I cycle the more blas√© I become regarding nutrition. The weather was beautiful this afternoon as Spring seemed to explode in warm sunshine, making up for the last few days of muggy, drizzly and humid cycles to work. There’s nothing quite as unpleasant as the ‘boil in the bag’ effect caused by cycling in waterproofs on a warm but rainy day. Being a Friday I decided to take full advantage of the sunshine and escaped work early to enjoy an extended cycle home. I started the ride with a 10 mile detour along Cotswold country lanes which eventually spat me out on a familiar road but due to the circuitous nature of the detour still relatively close to my starting point. For whatever reason I felt absolutely trashed by this point. I felt like I’d dug myself into a hole with no other option than to battle on and either dig myself out, or failing that completely bury myself. It’s at times like these that an energy gel or banana in the back pocket would save the day.

Instead I rode on, zoning out on the climbs and slowly working my way towards home. Fortunately my wife had embarked on a baking mission this afternoon and I arrived home to an array of freshly made cookies in the kitchen. Twelve cookies followed by a hot bath seemed to resuscitate my mind. This was only my second 100 mile week of the year and I’m looking forward to some rest this weekend …

Bike And Car – “why can’t we be friends”

To quickly dispel any concerns raised about my previous post, I do not intend to wipe the slate clean and start the Bike V Car graph from scratch. Having made it through this Winter with minimal damage from the car I’m hoping for another year of cycling further than I drive. And with any luck, this year I will recover the deficit and level the scores in a proper manner.

This Sunday was a gloriously sunny Spring day. A perfect day for a cycle. I wanted to take the car out for a drive so I decided to combine the two and headed down to Exmoor National Park for some riding on the moors. This was also a good opportunity to take the fancy bike on its first outing of the year. I would certainly appreciate its lighter weight on the hills.

Bike and Car

Bike and Car. Mrs BikeVCar said that maybe this car should be more friendly rather than being versus the bikes!

Despite the sun being out it was still quite cold. However I was blessed with a strong tail wind on the ride up onto the moors. It was a 400+ metres single ascent and was certainly the longest climb I’ve ridden in a while. I opted to take the Porlock Toll Road with its gentler ascent, rather than the viciously steep main road. It was well worth the ¬£1 premium:

Who says bikes have less rights on the road because they don't pay for it? Not

Who says bikes have less rights on the roads because they don’t pay for them? The Porlock Manor Estate astutely show no such prejudices against cyclists!

The views along the toll road were great

The views along the toll road were great …

On top of the moors

… however the wind was wild on top of the moors

Within the first 30 minutes I had climbed over 500 metres and when combined with the wall of wind I then faced on top of the moors, meant that I only covered about 12 miles in the first hour. However it felt good to be covering some tough miles on unfamiliar roads with a variety of changing scenery.

Sun-dappled, forest roads

Sun-dappled, forest roads

Winding roads stretching out into the long distance

Winding, undulating roads stretching out into the long distance

Bleak moorland

Bleak moorland

Obligatory bike photo

Obligatory bike photo

In total I rode for two hours, climbing over 1000 vertical metres. And the car performed well. Impressively it managed the whole trip at an unbelievable fuel economy of over 60 miles to the gallon. The same energy-efficiency could not be said for the cyclist who opted for more ‘honest’ fuel than the usual cyclist’s fodder of energy gels and flapjacks:

A quick banana and pork pie picnic was *burp* consumed mid-ride

A quick banana and pork pie picnic was *burp* consumed mid-ride

Apple & blackberry jam

Porridge is the fuel that gets my legs spinning every morning. And nothing goes better with said porridge than a tablespoon or three of sticky, sweet jam. Having consumed my own bodyweight in supermarket-bought jam over the last few months (evidenced by the vast collection of empty pots on top of the kitchen cabinets) this weekend I decided to try producing my own cycling rocket fuel.

We have a bramley apple tree in the back garden and yesterday I enlisted the help of a friend to harvest its ripe fruit. This was quite fun and involved a step-ladder, a pokey-stick and some climbing and branch-shaking. After an hour we had two large cardboard boxes full of apples.

Ripe bramleys

Today, Ms BikeVCar and I went for a muddy adventure in search of blackberries. It turned out that we were slightly early for blackberry season but we foraged a healthy sized tub of berries and will know where to go in a couple of weeks time for a full harvest.

Berry picking required some intensive foraging

The berry stash begins to grow

As well as nettles and brambles there was a lot of mud to negotiate

Stuck in the mud!

Back home it was surprisingly straightforward to make the jam. I followed this guy’s recipe which basically involved peeling and coring the apples, boiling them up with a little water, adding the blackberries, then an obscene amount of sugar and a touch of spice. After half an hour of boiling and stirring I had produced a thick paste of vibrant bloody red which smelled great. After making sure it had properly jammed up I decanted the mixture into a few sterilised jars (which I may have unsterilised by wiping jam off the inside of the lids and licking my fingers) and then stored them in the garage for future enjoyment.

A lovely rich reddy jamness

The end product – can’t wait to taste it

The importance of a fitness regimen

Ms BikeVCar emailed me this cartoon today as she knows where the pig’s coming from.

Cartoon by Stephan Pastis http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/pb/

Apparently frying Twinkies would be a step too far but she has been experimenting with homemade American baked goods recently. All I know is cycling’s a great excuse for eating and drinking like a king, and that Jeff the Cyclist wouldn’t say no to a plate of Whoopie Pies after a long ride.