I've definitely tested the limits on either end of the spectrum. Oh, the many winters void of biking, but overflowing with vats of eggnog, stacks of buttery cookies, countless holiday parties, spent languishing over huge breakfasts. Or months spent in Mexico, surviving on the popular tourist diet of guacamole and pina coladas. The waistline suffers, and every year it seems to become a little more elusive.
When spring rolls around, and the bikes are pulled from the dusty reaches of the garage, the burden of winter is felt, literally and figuratively. It's so painful at first, and every year I cuss myself for not keeping up with training, not doing more to stay in shape, and for eating and drinking so much of X, Y, and Z.
But, it just so happens that I love food as much as I love biking, and it's a hard habit to break. I love everything about it. Food is my focus—growing it, preparing it, sharing it, reading about it, taking photos of it, and writing about it. My nerdy side takes over on a regular basis, ranting about farming practices, analyzing food chemistry and preparation techniques, and rambling endlessly about the merits of a good Brie.
I recently learned the dangers of underconsumption and activity level when I completely bonked during a mountain bike race. About halfway through, my blood sugar levels dropped so low that I couldn't recover. I ate, and I ate, but my legs and my brain would have nothing of it. They rejected it. I couldn't walk, and I couldn't ride—an awful predicament to be in, stuck on a ridgetop with no efficient means of getting down. Especially during a race!
All because I hadn't eaten enough calories. In that moment, in the throes of near-delirium, I wanted to go back in time and strangle my post-winter, figure criticizing self for not appreciating the bounty when she had it. For not relishing times of abundance and health when she had them.
Weak and dejected, I made it down, but I learned a good lesson. Food and mountain biking are a natural pairing. A perfect union, their whole is far better than the sum of their parts. Like Brie and a crispy baguette, like a warm spring day and a favorite trail. Chocolate and a fine wine, a cushy bike and a rock garden.
Separate them, and you're just asking for trouble.