Tuesday, November 25, 2008


As I slowly become acquainted with the practices of more serious cyclists - the sort who refer to the clothes they wear while riding as their "kit" - I learn that nutrition is just an important element of cycling as spandex, fancy equipment, and inscrutable jargon. As someone who refers to his riding outfit not as "kit" but as "jeans," I don't pretend to know about nutrition. For me, the essential pre-ride comestible is determined largely by the time of day: early mornings require coffee, daytime rides require, maybe, a ham sandwich, and nighttime rides call for beer. So I don't try to do any strategic energy-building with my meals (like carb-loading).

But I can appreciate the relationship between eating and ritual (see, e.g., Thanksgiving, Passover, etc.), and the value of ritual in athletic and sporting activities. The great Wade Boggs, for example, ate chicken before every game, and he was a very good hitter. I don't think the particular nutrients in chicken raise batting averages (Tony Gwynn, Boggs's contemporary and another great hitter, had no such routine) but for Boggs, obviously, there was something about the chicken-eating process that led to good results.

This morning, desirous a pre-work longish ride and knowing that riding between Bridgeport and New Haven in pouring rain is, well, sometimes a little bit miserable, I felt I needed something more fortifying than my regular eggs and cheese or cereal. So with the power of ritual and chicken in mind (thinking not just of Wade Boggs but of Cerrano from Major League who needed to sacrifice a live chicken to get the team out of its slump (and who was played, I now realize, by Dennis Haysbert a.k.a. President Palmer from 24)), I fried and ate the left over giblets from a whole chicken I had roasted on Sunday night. Giblets, of course, are the innards of the chicken, usually delivered in a wax paper bag neatly tucked inside the chicken's body. (If you entertained any notion that the giblets thus packaged were at some point attached to the accompanying carcass, let me disabuse you of that: This particular bag contained two hearts.) I figured that these would give me Wade Boggs-like tenacity, and on top of that, by eating the chicken's vital organs I hoped to capture some of its life force.

Honestly, I cooked and ate the giblets because I like giblets, especially chicken hearts. (My wife thinks this is disgusting, but that's really because SHE SECRETLY HATES AMERICA.) But I did hope for a little extra kick. And you know what? It worked. I felt strong, albeit damp and sweaty. Unfortunately, I did not have any more chicken hearts to bolster my life force supply later in the day, so after getting very damp during the ride and sitting for two hours in an inexplicably air-conditioned meeting room, I was freezing my giblets off while waiting for the train back to New Haven. What is the lesson here? ALWAYS BRING EXTRA CHICKEN HEARTS WITH YOU WHEN THE WEATHER IS INCLEMENT. ALSO, BREATHABLE RAINWEAR, IF POSSIBLE.


Brendan said...

we vegetarians will stick to HEED.

Karma said...

Beer and HEED of course.

El Presidente de China said...

Tofu hearts.

Brendan said...

Tofu hearts and rocks in our heads.

Brendan said...

I just did some vegetarian shopping at Stop & Shop and A Dong.

Those places got all the weird cuts of meat.

Rich said...

Boggs was famous for his chicken (and now his creepy hair transplant), but I'm convinced that T. Gwynn had a secret ritual of crushing several bacon cheeseburgers every day.


Sure you made the Hall of Fame, Tony...but at what cost? AT WHAT COST?!??

Brendan said...

he doesn't always look that bad: http://www.wcbias.com/2007_02_01_archive.html

BikeNewHaven said...

Baseball players are notorious for healthy living. Here's a few little known facts: Babe Ruth ate a whole deep-fried chicken before every at bat (take that Boggs), Ty Cobb smoked cigars and drink whiskey as he sprinted around the bases, spiking unsuspecting infielders, and Cecil Fielder was known to commandeer a hot dog cart on the way to the ballpark before homegames. Manager Sparky Anderson pitched dogs into his mouth to practice hand/eye coordination while Alan Trammell pulled the cart like a rickshaw. He was an amazing athlete.