Junkyard and I were pedaling back from the NPR this morning, comparing manorexic dieting notes.
“Down three in three weeks,” he said.
“Slow and steady.”
“That’s what works.”
“I’ve whacked out all bread and milk products.”
“You have no idea. Me and pastry, we’re like, man…” His eyes wandered off into the distance in a happy, loving trance as he envisioned chocolate croissants made of infinitely thin layers of buttery, hand-kneaded pastry dough.
“With the first ten pounds you can pick the low hanging fruit,” I said.
“Yep. That’s pastries and yoghurt and bread. What was yours?”
“Trader Joe’s extra heavy thick double arterial clotting whipping cream. Put that shit on everything. Coffee. Fruit. Black tea. Salad. Gyoza.”
“Heavy whipping cream on gyoza? Gross.”
“That was my other low hanging fruit. Gyoza. Mrs. WM would fry up four skillets-worth of those little boogers, sop ’em in vinegar, soy sauce, raiyu, and garlic, and I’d go to town. Hell, between the gyoza and the cream, that was ten pounds the first week.”
“Yeah, I bet.”
“But the hard part’s coming.”
“After the low-danglers, each pound is a zillion times harder to lose than the one before it.”
“Hmmm. Kind of like when you start getting fit.”
“Going from flubbery sloth to your first century, you know, that’s a huge performance gain in a short time, right?”
“But once you’re race fit, those last few watts are exponentially harder to come up with.”
“You’ve got a point.”
“Hell, yeah. Intervals. Monastic celibacy. One beer per trimester. Over the course of a year, that’s maybe ten watts. If you’re lucky. What are you at now?”
“I bottomed out at 148, but am back up to 154. Fried shrimp for dinner last night, enchiladas with guac and beans and rice on the menu tonight, will be pushing 158 by the weekend. New Girl caught me eating a scone after NPR this morning and called me out in front of everyone sitting on the bricks. ‘Wanky’s getting fa-a-t, Wanky’s getting fa-a-at.’ Dangit.”
“No plans to get back down to the 140’s?”
“Plans, sure. But it’s not looking good. What about you?”
“A few years ago I hit 135.”
“Yeah, and a few years ago I had all my hair and most of my original teeth. But now?”
“Maybe crack the 140’s. That would be nice. I think I can do it if I just up the mileage.”
“That won’t help.”
“‘Cause if it were just a matter of upping the mileage, Thomas Dekker would be in fighting trim for next year’s Tour. As it is, he’s already whining in CyclingNooz about needing to lose five more pounds, and the dude’s almost 6-2, weighs 154, and he trains 600 miles a week. So what hope is there for you?”
“Riding more won’t cut it, huh?”
“No. The only thing that will cut it is eating less. Which you can’t really do, because you’ve already cut out the low-danglers. Shit that’s left is the real food.”
“Man, I’m munching on stuff all day. It’s all healthy, low cal stuff, though. Organic oatmeal blossoms fertilized by free-range goat turds. Coconut water filtrated with reverse osmosis purified carbon filters. Special oxygen tanks filled with air from the Himalayas. Sugar-free sucrose, even.”
“Yeah, you’re hosed. You can’t lose weight by eating.”
“But it’s all healthy!”
“I didn’t say it wasn’t. I just said you can’t lose weight by eating. With the dark and awful place you’re trying to reach, the only path is cutting back. Living with the hunger. The wretched hunger.”
“You’re pretty fucked up, dude.”
At that very moment we were passing by Fukdude’s house. “Hey, let’s see what Fukdude’s up to.”
Fukdude was parked in front of his computer, surrounded by fourteen bikes, two stacks of C++ and .NET programming manuals, a home gym pull-up bar rig, and an upper spine-neck traction rig. “Hey, dudes, what’s up? You dudes want to buy some old programming manuals?”
“I’ll pass,” I said.
“Trying to quit,” said Junkyard.
“What’s with the neck traction rig?” I asked.
“Fuck, dude, I’m selling it on eBay.”
“You break your neck?”
“Fuck no. I had it hooked up to the ceiling and secured to my chin with this cup-holder deal, then filled this bag with 40 pounds of water and suspended it from a rope through that pulley there.” He pointed to a pulley that had been screwed into the ceiling.
“Jesus,” I said. “What’s it for?”
“Aw fuck, dude, I was having neck pains. Got it at Save Rite Drugs on a clearance sale. It was rad except for you had to perch on the edge of your chair and not move when you’re typing. You fucking move it’ll shift the weight hanging off the rope and jerk you off the chair by your chin, fucking hang you to death. Fucking rad way to die, dude.”
“Did it work?”
“Fuck no it didn’t work. Why do you think I’m selling it?”
“Did it at least help?”
“Fuck no. I was working a couple days ago and the fucking bag sprung a leak. Forty pounds of fucking water on my servers, and suddenly the weight goes to zero and I’m fucking falling backwards off the chair with my chin hooked up to a rope on the ceiling. Fucking fell against that stack of programming books, kept me from hitting the floor. Fucking saved my life, dude, but one of the books flopped down and sheared off that new SRAM rear derailleur. Fucking shit’s expensive dude. Cheaper than a funeral, though. Had to get new servers, too. Sell you the neck rig and the books, and throw in a reconditioned derailleur for $250.”
“Can’t, man. I’m broke.”
Junkyard nodded. “Me, too.”
“So what’s up?”
“We were just talking about losing weight.”
“Aw fuck, dude, you don’t need to lose weight. Why you want to lose weight for? You already look sick. And I mean that in a bad way. Terrible way, actually.”
“Trying to up my power-to-weight ratio.”
“Fuck dude, you need to up your suckitup-to-whinyquitter ratio. You can’t fucking win bike races when all’s you do is give up. Why not just eat an extra tub of ice cream and deal with it? You suck. No one gives a fuck. Life’s too fucking short to be fucking passing on the baked donuts just so you can go from last to third-from-last.”
“I’ve got plans for next year,” I muttered.
“Fuck dude, plans for what? You can’t even beat Jules on the Switchbacks. He’s thirteen, dude. You’re almost fifty. In dog years, that’s like 300.”
He was making a lot of sense. “But I’m working out at the gym, too.”
“Gym? You? What the fuck for? Nobody ever won a fucking bike race at the gym. Gyms are for people who can’t race. Go push around a bunch of fucking steel plates and think you’re getting somewhere, while the break rolls up the fucking road. ‘But I got a six-pack!’ Dude, no one gives a shit. Eat the fucking donuts. Want a beer?”
“It’s nine a.m.”
“So? You’ll lose your next race whether you start drinking now, start drinking after dinner, or don’t drink anything at all, ever, until you die.”
“I think he’s right,” Junkyard offered. “And he does kind of know what he’s talking about.”
Fukdude had just won the national masters scratch race championships, and the previous weekend had beaten a stacked field in the masters points race, after which he did an 80-lap madison with several US Olympic team members racing, and managed not to finish dead last.
“Maybe I will have a donut, if you’ve got any,” I said. “But just one.”
Fukdude laughed. “I don’t have any fucking donuts, dude. I’m on a diet. Jules beat me on the Switchbacks on Saturday. Gotta up my power-to-weight.”