Every cyclist’s (twisted) dream

November 30, 2012 § 41 Comments

“How would I ride if I lost 25 pounds?”

Every cyclist has wondered what it would be like to shed massive weight and dramatically reduce body fat over the course of a few weeks.

“Would I climb that much better?”

“Would it make me that much faster?”

“Would it be worth it?”

“Is it even possible?”

“Why am I so fucked up?”


Wankmeister drinks the Kook-Aid so you don’t have to

There is a long story about how I fell into the black pit of the Hunger Diet, but it’s not worth telling other than to say that a big belly and some unflattering race day photography led me to my current folly.

At first it was simply to reduce the belly roll’s jelly roll. Gradually the diet took on a darker, more morbid aspect, as it became dieting for the sake of dieting. Having numerous educated, experienced people caution me against my methods only spurred me on.

At 146 pounds I’ve almost reached my “goal,” not that I ever had one. My beginning weight was 167-170; guesstimated body fat was 25%. I’m now down to 12.2%, maybe 11%.

At 6 feet, 1/8 inch, this has been a dramatic loss of weight in a mere seventeen weeks. If you’re considering something similar, I can’t advise you either way, except to say that only the somewhat unhinged have even a remote chance of “success” if you define success as being profoundly unhappy and lethargic. Likewise, I can’t say how this will affect your cycling, though I can say how it has affected mine.


The bulk of the Hunger Diet consists in being hungry. Not, “Hey, honey, I’m hungry. Let’s grab a bite, ok?” but more like “I will fucking kill anyone who obstructs me from licking these three tiny pieces of dried oatmeal stuck to the pan.”

It is like doing the hardest interval of your life, and each time you look up someone screams in your ear, “You’ve got another hour to go or we will tear your nuts off!”

This interval of hell continues as long as the diet continues, except for brief rest periods called “eating.” As soon as the eating stops, however, the hunger interval picks up where it left off. So it will suck to be you.

This type of diet can’t be healthy. I don’t know how it’s unhealthy, exactly, but you can look at my food log where I’ve blogged my daily eating plans and decide for yourself which aspects of my physiology I’m wrecking forever.

Aside from being an unpleasant and unhealthy experience, people will treat you like you are a total pariah, even more than they already do, I mean. As a cyclist you’re ten times trimmer and fitter than the other slugs in your office, and they secretly envy you and may even openly make fun of you when you prance around in your tighties.

Once you let them know you’re on the Hunger Diet, and you actually put a digital food scale in the lunchroom to weigh your raisins, they will fear you and hate you and despise you and envy you, all at the same time, occasionally accompanied by a public beating. Their feelings will manifest themselves in countless disparaging comments.

“You don’t need to go on a diet! You’re too skinny already!”

“Being too thin is very, very unhealthy!”

“You’re anorexic!”

“You’re going to lose all your muscle, which is metabolically active!”

“You look like a cadaver.”

“I like my [men/women] with meat on their bones.”

“Is that your lunch? I could NEVER eat that.”

“I hate [tofu/canned tuna/yogurt/fruit/nuts/anything that’s not soaked in lard and deep fried]. How can you stand to eat that?”

“Life’s too short to diet.”

“You’ll gain it all back.”

“How’d you like some of THIS?” [Holds a chocolate Hag bar in front of your nose, makes disgusting smacking sound.]

“It ruins the pleasure of food to count the calories in it.”

“Science doesn’t have all the answers.”

“You work out too much as it is.”

“It’s important to eat some fat.”

The list of demeaning and unsupportive comments is endless and can’t be combated. Just agree with them and keep methodically weighing out the raisins. Perhaps you can toss in the odd comment about the fact that there are 5.71 calories per gram of potato chip. You can’t refute them, though, as they’re pretty much right.

Massive weight loss and cycling

When you’re racing you can’t lose lots of weight because you won’t be able to race. When you’re training you can’t lose lots of weight because you won’t be able to train.

Slow and gradual is the ticket, but is impossible for one reason: You’re a fucking cyclist and you don’t want to do anything gradually.

But here’s what I’ve found. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that I’m…lighter. Even going slow, or bonked, or completely flailing off the back there’s no sense of sluggishness. My legs turn around a thousand times easier, it seems. If this is what PED’s feel like, no wonder people take them.

I’m not any faster or stronger, at least according to the Strava times of the routes I normally ride. On the other hand, I’m completely focused on losing weight rather than putting in big efforts, so it’s possible that I will ride faster if I’m able to build power and endurance at this new weight. It’s also possible that I’ll become a unicorn.

Although I am slower and weaker, it’s balanced by having lost all endurance such that I want to get off my bike and sob after about thirty minutes into any ride, regardless of intensity. So there’s that.

With regard to vanished endurance, when your body is in constant shrinkage mode, all of the reserves are gone. You know that funny burst of power and euphoria that comes right before a massive bonk? I get them all the time now…along with the bonking. In the chubby days, bonks used to send a pre-bonk notification via a well-dressed, manicured, clean-cut bonded messenger. “Excuse me, Mr. Davidson, our blood sugar center has indicated that recent withdrawals have exceeded deposits, and barring a reasonable infusion of sugary glop in the very near future, the bonk that has been shipped out will be arriving in approximately ten minutes.”

Now it’s a little bit different. The delivery dude hasn’t shaved in two weeks, is covered with “FUK U AND DYE” tattoos, and just barges in without even ringing. “Yo, fucker. Bonk here. Enjoy.” Then wham, just like that, he dumps the bastard on every muscle in my body and the whole thing grinds to a halt, immediately.

The plus side to riding while completely bonked is that it forces your body to consume gristle, bone, heart fiber, internal organs, and brain matter, which further reduces weight and impairs your ability to force yourself to stop losing weight. So you can put another big tick in the “plus” column.

As quickly and viciously and unexpectedly as the bonking happens, recovery is ten times quicker than it used to be. This is the one thing I didn’t expect and that I truly love. Recovery. No matter how hard I go or how deeply I bonk, I am completely recovered in minutes. “Recovered” as in “ready to go again at 100 percent.”

In the old days there would be a hard effort followed by a big message posted over the windows, which had been boarded up with enormous cedar timbers: “Closed for business until further notice.”

Further notice was usually Thursday of the following month.

Now, on the Hunger Diet, it’s like you’ve got a team of professional fluffers at the ready the second you infuse sugar or get off your bike for an hour or two. “2000-watt effort? Oh, noes! Don’t worry! Come on, boys…fluff!” Then there you are hard as porcelain and ready to go again. I’m talking about cycling, by the way. The other area in which hardness is so important, what with all the starvation and deprivation is, ah, shall we say, sadly under-performing.

More incredibly, on days where I do the NPR and then have to commute home at night, I used to be a dead man pedaling during the end-of-day struggle up the Hill. No more. The morning beatdown, no matter how vicious, leaves no imprint on my legs by five or six in the evening.

This feeling alone has made the whole ordeal worthwhile, that and the sensation of turning weightless legs. My cycling hasn’t improved in a competitive or performance sense, but it is worlds easier as an activity. No idea why this is so, but for me it is.

Postscript (Or: Why the experts are experts)

Yesterday I awoke with a new low of 145.5 and a massive stomach ache but nevertheless went on a fool’s errand. It was raining and cold and the NPR was going off on schedule, so I dutifully rode over to the 6:40 AM start at Manhattan Beach Pier to see how my new wonder weight would fare under the pressure of a full-on effort.

It fared worse than badly.

I stopped at the end of the alleyway to take off some gear and would have never caught back on had Jonathan Paris not waited for me. The group was driven by Stathis the Wily Greek, and without ever taking a pull I thought my legs were going to fall off. That effort alone, on a flat stretch of road sitting on a wheel, was all I could muster.

It went downhill from there.

The entire ride was an exercise in no power, no endurance, constant muscular pain, and a stomach cramp worse than any menstrual period I’ve ever had. Frozen and shattered at ride’s end I sat in the Kettle Restaurant back at the Center of the Known Universe and tried to atone for my sins with a massive breakfast of grease, huevos rancheros, grease, beans, and potatoes topped with grease.

This wise dietary choice got me as far as the office, where I showered, changed, and drove home, doubled over in pain. Six hours of sleep, and constant food throughout the day revived me (somewhat) so that I was able to drive back to the office, do some work, and ride back home in the rain in time for dinner, where I ate more food, completely abandoning all pretense of diet.

I went to bed at 7:30 and awoke at the point of 4:00 AM today, ravenous. Morning weigh-in confirmed the damage…149 pounds, a 3.5 gain in 24 hours.

The motivation to return to the Hunger Diet hasn’t abated one whit, though. One carefully measured 1/4 cup of oatmeal and some raisins later, and I’m raring to hit the gym and convert more of those brain, heart, and liver cells into muscle.

My only advice to you, though? Don’t.

Tagged: , , ,

§ 41 Responses to Every cyclist’s (twisted) dream

  • dckubler says:

    Let me see here — staring at 167 and 25% fat you went to 146 pounds. Your total loss was 21 pounds. Assuming it was all fat you fat went from 41.75 lbs to 20.75 pounds. Current body fat 14.2%. Of course you lost water, muscle, bone mass, and even brain cells.
    You’re right, don’t do it.

    • Admin says:

      Like I said. And there weren’t a whole lot of brain cells to spare. Might have been staring at 170, I was using a very inaccurate scale. Current body fat 12.2 with calipers.

  • A-Trav says:

    Mea says welcome to being a woman.

  • Rick says:

    Sounds like a bad idea.

  • bill stevenson says:

    Wonderful! You need to publish a collection of your work. I would buy copies for all (3) of my cycling buddies

  • […] Every Cyclist’s (twisted) Dream […]

  • Sandbox says:

    Why does Karen Carpenter come to mind and her singing “We’ve Only Just Begun”?

    • Admin says:

      Whoa! Did Karen ever break down and scarf a plate of huevos rancheros? DID SHE?

      (Please don’t tell me she did.)

  • Brian in VA says:

    Thanks for answering the question for me. Way back in the dark reaches of my mind, I’d been thinking about it.

    Now I’m going to Five Guys instead.

    Great writing on this; I laughed out loud several times.

    • Admin says:

      Five Guys is your five best friends. Slam an extra one for me, okay?

      Just seeing “Five Guys” makes me think of that massive paper sack soaked with grease at the bottom and stuffed to the brim with fresh, yummy fries. Gawd. I mean, “Dawg.”

  • Erica says:

    Nothing I love more than diet advice from people fatter than I am. Way to go, office mates. It’s up there with real estate advice from people who are underwater. I guess most people just want you to do things the same way they do so they can feel better about themselves. You keep going with your food weighing bad self.

    • Admin says:

      Har! The advice sausages and the sausages giving advice, peas in a pod! I’ve always been good at ignoring reality/criticism, and thanks for the attaboy.

  • Edmund Dantes says:

  • Tim Daniel says:

    An extremist! Right up my alley. Just think how fast you’re going to be with a few “energy calories” added to your daily intake at 146 pounds.

  • Ryan says:

    Wanker, I never know whether to believe you or not. You were all laid up with a major back injury then were racing a few days later so I think this is all a bunch of palaver. So why do I read it? I suppose I see too much of my own neuroses present.

    If, we assume for the moment you are telling the truth, then show the pictures (unPhotoshopped naturally) as the proof will be in that pudding. Does he have cheekbones? All the sexy kittens do! And carrying on a bit more, you have taken it too far – but that’s what you wanted to hear right? I take it you don’t ride with power meter to track the decline in power but the notion of frequent bonks and inability to hang on wheels suggests you have gone too low. I argue that as long as you are hammering the body you can hit up mass quantities of appropriate nutrition. Staying lean and powerful.

    Don’t make me post photos!!

    • Admin says:

      1. I’m very sincere.

      2. I posted photos earlier. They’re on the blog somewhere.

      3. Also posted a photo on the diet blog.

      4. I got cheekbones sharp enough to peel an apple.

  • vavoom says:

    Nice post WM.

  • Mike says:

    “Science doesn’t have all the answers.” –umm, yeah…kinda why all the scientists still have jobs, but whatever.

    Also, I’m taking your advice. Thx.

    And lastly and just because it’s fucked up to make you think about it; what was the calorie count that you took in yesterday while you were way the fuck off the wagon?!!

    • Admin says:

      All the details are posted at http://southbaybikerdiet.wordpress.com/

      Stupid scientists. Can’t even get us to the moon and back. Oh, wait.

      • Mike says:

        Crap, even when you’re a glutton you’re eating healthy.

        I want the descent into the 7th level of hell where you scarf down a package of Keebler fudge stripes followed by a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, or chow an entire pizza, or feast on the supreme enchilada plate with rice and beans on the side after you’ve devoured 2 baskets of tortilla chips and at least 3 bowls of salsa.

        That’s where us mortals live, anyway.

  • Albacore says:

    My present dream is not how I would ride if I were 25 pounds lighter but rather HOW will I ride. The misfits I choose to align myself with here in the eastern expanses have all flaked on tomorrow’s ride.


    The first one cheesed out on Thursday saying, “I’m not ready for that kind of mileage. . . I’m sure you’ve seen my Strava logs, poor.”

    “That’s why I built in sag stops. Plus, Strava is for pudnockers and Stravassholes. I give more credence to the logs in the porcelain bowl.”

    Then today I get this, “The weather looks bad too.”

    “There is no bad weather, only soft people [Bill Bowerman], and inadequate clothing, and an acclimatised upbringing in an environ opposite that of what you are currently riding in. HTFU.”

    Another this morning tells me he is overwhelmed getting ready for Christmas. “Have fun preparing for your Griswold family Christmas,” I tell him.

    “Funny, but thankfully I don’t have a cousin Eddie.”

    Everyone has a cousin Eddie. He who says he doesn’t probably is Eddie. Shitter’s full.

    The ringer of the group has a CX race he’d rather be at. Good. For one, he’ll actually have decent CX weather. Secondly, he can ride the doors off all of us so go pound someone else’s dick in the dirt. You know what we think of CXers anyhow.

    Lastly, the one I figured for sure would make it just texted me that he has to bail out ’cause he has to watch the kids. Put the kids in their room with toys, snacks, and some water and call it good. I grew up just fine left in the house with dad’s Playboys and Steakums and I turned out. . . err, on second thought, you should stay home and take care of the little parasites.

    So that leads to HOW I should ride. Do I continue as planned and ride the 116 miles by myself? Or, do I opt for a mountain bike ride and take advantage of the perfectly tacky dirt? At present the weightier decision is do I opt for a beer or rum? After whichever ride I embark on tomorrow I will come home to a house inundated with Mexican women hand-stuffing tamales. There will be no hunger pangs in this household.

    • Admin says:

      Your alleged riding pals are gutless and nutless.

      Christmas is not a holiday you prepare for. It’s a creepy nightmare of weird people, bad food, and drunks for whom you develop a series of bulletproof excuses as to why you’re unavailable. Tell your weak-willed compadre that if he’s really getting ready for Christmas, he deserves it.

      Childcare? In a day of flat screen TV’s and iPhones that stream porn?

      The only semi-honest doofus in the bunch is the one who admitted he was weak. Semi-honesty is like semi-virginity. We’re not interested in it by halves.

      Weather is a state of mind, except in Southern California, where it’s existentialist to the point of nonexistence. It’s never too cold, too wet, too windy, too hot, or too anything to ride your bicycle.

      I’d join you tomorrow, but I’m getting ready for All Druid’s Day festivities. And I have to watch the pet brown recluse spiders.

      Enjoy the tamales.

      • Albacore says:

        My Wankmeister-wannabe-morning: steel cut oatmeal with cranberries, black coffee, 56 mile ride, tuna with Siracha, pink lady apple. Kill me now.

        • Admin says:

          You are profoundly ill. I can’t help you now. But I’m proud of you.

          Your epitaph will read, “He lived a bad life and didn’t even enjoy it, no thanks to WM.”

  • I don’t know who this Applecore guy is (at least I hope it is a guy, a girl with that resonance and attitude would put me off my crack whore diet) but I like his (or herz) attitude. Crap, I’ve written a sentence with inner resonance and the reverb is making the keyboard shake and that ain’t good. Whatever the case, Apple, and you too, Skinny Wankerman, I am making a list of all the better (hold on, this walmart keyboard won’t hold still)…of all the better…

    I’ll get back to you.


    • Admin says:

      Applecore is of undetermined gender, but a general badass on the bike and a very specific badass when it comes to firefighting.

      • OK. Thanks. I should warn you that my comments invariably attract the attention of Congress and there ain’t that much I can do about it. It is the operative’s imperative that we get the message out as best we can.

        My dad was a firefighter. And a booze fighter. I just wanna hear more Albacore. And cowbell.

        As an aside, reading about your asceticism has made it far easier for me to get by on fewer calories. My son is living on a diet of hot air and almonds and bragging to me about something called “ghost poop”. He lives in Laurel Canyon, though, where ghost poop probably is the normal kind.

        Me, I live in a trailer park in Florida. But I like slumming around via the wacky world of webular wonder and and I enjoy wanking around here on your site. I suspect there will come a day when I click on your comments page and the first comment will be “podium”.

        Until then, I am , yr loyal etc

  • josh says:

    I hope you’re not sniffing the peanut M&Ms.

  • […] a day of coffee, granola bars, sushi and turkey. Or,
    what one could compare to two months of the Wankmeister Hunger
    Diet. Two nights ago; however, dinner was brie, two kinds of
    cheddar, and a cured meat tray. Last night, […]

What’s this?

You are currently reading Every cyclist’s (twisted) dream at Cycling in the South Bay.


%d bloggers like this: