One thing I’d forgotten, or not fully anticipated, about touring is – oh my god, how hungry I get!
It’s different from couriering – on the road in London I stop and start all the time, and eat as much to assuage boredom as hunger, and am hyper-aware of everything that goes on around me, in front of me and inside me. Touring is a lot more dreamy – you just sit still on the bike for hours, thinking your thoughts, occasionally waking up if there’s a junction to negotiate …and then suddenly you start to feel light-headed, and you remember that you haven’t had anything to eat for three hours, and you’ve burnt about 1,500 calories since then.
I’ve always had a big appetite, but even so, I don’t think I’ve been serious enough about just how much I’d have to eat to keep myself going for 10-12 hours a day. I almost ran out of food in Antwerp, and panic-bought several kilos of bread, cheese and salami on my way out of town. They were almost gone within 24 hours.
And yesterday I rode through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany fantasizing about cake. Without even really meaning to, I found myself musing upon Great Cakes I Have Known. They are many.
- the sugar-free victoria sponge Phoebe made me for my 27th birthday
- the goats’ cheese cheesecake Suzy made for my leaving party
- Emmy’s peanut butter blondies
- Grace’s rainbow buns
- Marc’s incredible chocolate brownies
- the boob cake Tat made for my 29th birthday
- anything I’ve ever eaten from the vegan cupcake place in Brixton
- the massive plate of goodies served up by my friend Daniel (and son) when I passed through Bristol
…and it went on. I’m surprised as much by how much cake I’ve managed to get through in the past couple of years as I am by how much of it I remember. But then, there is something about the monotony of long-distance cycling that encourages encyclopaedic thinking.
And then a text from my friend Imogen, with whom I was due to stay in Köln:
I may have gone a bit overboard with the baking…
She wasn’t wrong. As I stepped into her flat the smell of baking was so heady and delicious that I literally danced around the room and clapped my hands with joy. And within five minutes I was tucking into a plum crumble, a chilli chocolate cake shaped like a castle, and shortbread biscuits shaped like bicycles.
I’ve been here 24 hours now, and there’s not much left. And she’s threatening to bake me some more for the road…
[This post was written a couple of days ago, in Köln, but not posted until now. I’m getting a bit behind myself. A combination of lack of internet access and far too much to say.]