I’ve got quite a long commute. It’s not Cottingtonesque, but it is 17 miles each way and I can just about scrape together the energy to do it three or four times a week. It’s also quite hilly, 1500ft on the way out.
Yesterday I rode in, did a bit of work, then headed home just before lunch. I calculated that a couple of custard dreams and a bourbon would see me home.
I’m fairly well attuned to the incipient taps of the bonk hammer. I keep a couple of gels in my bag for emergencies. Or at least, I used to, until a caffeine gel exploded in my carradice all over my pants. That was a sticky day.
Anyway. I was in the middle of nowhere, also known as Clutton. No food, no money. The bonk took hold with alarming rapidity, blood sugar crashed through the floor. I thought, ‘what would Alf do?’. Then realised he’d ring Alan Shorter to come and get him. I was stuck.
I remembered seeing an honesty box of apples in a driveway a week or so back. I had a mile to go. I managed some sort of parody of what pedalling looks and feels like, only to find that the apples were gone. My mind was empty.
Half way down the climb I saw some blackberries. I ate handfuls. They tasted beyond good, they were blackberries grown by the God of cycling, and they limited the effects, smoothed off some of the edges. A mile or so later I found some windfall apples at the side of the A37. They were very much beyond fresh and nestled up against a dead Badger. I found one that had a section that looked edible (apple, not badger), in amongst a liquid bruise held together by skin tautened by carbon monoxide. I scrubbed it on my Lycra and it tasted good. It was my get-me-home apple. It worked.
I have now put two gels back in my carradice.