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November 2, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Feed my bike habit

Everyone knows what cycling is really about—cycling is costly, unnecessary, involves too much lycra in any one outfit and generally involves both pedestrians and drivers hating the sight of you, particularly in Melbourne. Cyclists lay into drivers and people wax lyrical yet again about building more bike paths. For me, cycling is a regular and integral part of living and working in Melbourne. But there’s a hidden drawback, one of which I was not aware until I began riding regularly—the cycling appetite.

I’ve written about the pedestrian versus cyclist debate in Melbourne, even the Bike Woodstock-style after-party you receive once you’ve ridden 50km or more with a group of other cyclists. But these were foreseeable issues and events; it’s the appetite that seems to have caught me unprepared.

It starts off fairly innocuously. An apple ten minutes earlier than the time you normally get hungry, an extra biscuit. By the time you’ve been riding three or four days a week for a month straight, you’re clawing at the mini-food pantry supplies you have in your office drawer, praying you’ll just happen to find a sandwich in there. You might have forgotten about one you put in there a few weeks ago, but that’s not likely and even if it was, you’d pause for a few seconds before conceding defeat and actually eating it. Fortunately, it seems most of the recommended snacks for cyclists come in tins, which is also useful in case of unexpected nuclear strikes, as long as you can huddle under your desk and are happy living off baked beans.

Once the transition into regular riding has begun, a typical cycling day involves a ‘doubled-up’ menu: double breakfast, double lunch, double dinner. After such a rigorous snacking routine, a regular cyclist begins to proudly wear the mantle ‘thighs of steel’ and ‘helmet head’. It has benefits. For example, I can competently change a tyre, bike or otherwise, without calling the RACV. I can get places without pressing an accelerator button or beeping at a Camry driving half the speed of everyone else. But a major drawback to cycling comes with the mounting costs of ever-larger packets of muesli, the need to have an orange tree growing in my cupboard and the necessity of stocking disgusting protein powder, one of the few things that will stave off the hunger pangs for a few hours.

Protein powder aside, an excuse to eat regularly is a blessing for those who love food. So get on your bike and bring me a sandwich already!


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