Feb 17 2010
Tired of winter? So am I. Are you impatient for spring? Me, too. Winter’s beauty is starting to pall. To make matters worse, I’ve gotten bored with fighting the battle of the bulge on a stationary bike and rowing machine. Swaddling myself in puffy layers and donning Yaktrax to pick up the mail have also lost their novelty. Luckily, there’s a hint of change in the air. The days are noticeably longer, and the winter stillness is yielding to the quickening cacophony of spring. Woodpeckers are already hammering away, staking their claims to territories, while chickadees are singing the fee‑bee song with ever‑increasing vigor. And the squirrels have shaken off their winter lethargy at last. Now they’re chasing each other round and round the trunks of the tallest pines, chattering furiously as they leap from branch to branch.
There’s renewed activity on the home front, too. Cyclists are dusting off their fair-weather steeds, oiling the drive train, and pumping up tires. They’ll be hitting the roads as soon as the accumulated slurry of sand, salt, and slush has been washed away with spring showers.
Many Canoe Country paddlers are taking their drysuits out of the closet and trying them on, hoping against hope that they haven’t “shrunk” over the winter. Why? That’s easy. In less than two weeks, the first club outings of the new year will bring scores of eager, shivering boaters to muddy put‑ins along New York’s and New England’s south‑flowing rivers. Of course, if you live a bit closer to the equator, you’ve probably been on the water already.
But even if there’s no thaw in prospect where you are — and if none is likely for another month or two — I’ll bet you haven’t been idle. There’s nothing like longer days to get cyclists, paddlers, and hikers thinking about Big Trips to come. And food’s always an important part of our trip preparations.
That’s no surprise, is it? Whatever your fancy — whether it’s leisurely bike rides round the countryside, hard-charging centuries with a group of like-minded friends, strolls along the local nature trails, scrambling steep slopes, chasing the run‑off down mountain torrents swollen with snow‑melt, taking laid‑back day trips on Golden Pond, or embarking on summer‑long sojourns as far from “sivilization” as your legs or paddle can take you — this is a good time to ponder how you’ll keep your motor running between meals. There’s no such thing as passive cycling, hiking, or paddling, after all. When you’re the engine, you have to keep fuel in your tank. And what happens if you ignore your body’s warnings that you’re running on fumes? Simple. Your engine will sputter to a stop. Marathon runners call this unhappy state of affairs “hitting the wall.” North American cyclists call it “bonking” (and get giggles from any Brit within earshot). Whatever you call it, it’s no fun. Luckily, though, bonking isn’t inevitable. To avoid it, just snack frequently, keep your water bottle handy, and take short rest breaks every hour or so. Better yet, lay the foundation for every day by eating a hearty breakfast. But breakfast is only the beginning. The prudent cyclist, hiker, or paddler is a constant eater… Read more…