Of course, a real carrot would not do. I can honestly say that nothing that still qualifies as a vegetable has been enough to make me finish a ride. I do love me some french fries, but those are about as much a vegetable as ketchup is (and the ironic thing about that episode is that the tomato is a fruit).
No, for any honestly epic ride, I am a junkie for junk foods.
On hot rides, I scream for ice cream ... although ice cream only acts as the foundation. Two scoops served over brownies, with slices of banana and pineapple, and liberal doses of chocolate and caramel sauce poured on top. Oh, and some nuts ... and maybe I can put some crushed Butterfinger pieces on top. Ooh, whip cream!
On triple-digit temperature days, that's the kind of carrot that will get you home.
When it's cooler I am craving pizza. I actually designed a permanent route to start and end from downtown Franklin, TN, just so I could easily get to the Mellow Mushroom there. I start planning my toppings around Snow Creek Road at mile 100, fantasizing about spicy sausage and onions ... or maybe ham and pineapple.
Lately, however, I've been going straight to the gutter -- a restaurant that makes few, if any, presumptions of haute cuisine. Man Food for Real Men.
Now, you were probably thinking Hardee's or McDonald's, but Puddy of Seinfeld fame liked Arby's, and Puddy was definitely a Man's Man.
About mile 100 this past Saturday, I promised myself Arby's. I don't break promises, especially when I make them to someone as important to me as I am, so I quickly got cleaned up and loaded up after the ride, pulled out the GPS, and looked up the nearest one.
It was not particularly "near." I had to get on the Turnpike, go south 20 miles, get off the turnpike (and pay a toll), and then drive three miles west to get to an Arby's. But, a promise is a promise.
When I finally got there, my needs were fulfilled. Two Beef 'n Cheddars: Thin slices of (what I can only assume is, and frankly don't care if it is not) roast beef and thick orange gooey cheese product served on a mass-produced bun that makes no pretense of artisanal bakery and such frivolities as "taste." The bun is merely the delivery system for the twin bombs Beef and Cheddar, much like a Titan rocket for an ICBM.
And Arby's Sauce -- a spicy sweet tomato-based concoction that brings out the best tastes of the Beef and the Cheddar. For years, Arby's placed large bottles of this sauce on all of the tables, so you could slather it on your food with abandon. They've cut that back, now, so that you have to dispense your own sauce into little paper cups. Tedious, true, but not nearly as difficult as opening a whole slew of those little foil packets that Taco Bell uses to make their condiments inaccessible.
For two Beef 'n Cheddars, I need nine little cups of Arby's Sauce. The cups must be moderately full, too -- don't just give it one shot from the squirty dispenser, but take care to fill to the brim. Also, make sure that you get 12 paper napkins.
You're then ready to begin ...
- Open the sandwich, pour half of a cup of Sauce inside, close it, and take a bite. This initial bite creates a valley into which you can then pour the next layer of Sauce.
- Apply sauce and bite. Make sure that you are leaning over the table, since if you are really applying enough sauce then it is going to drip on your fingers and chin.
- Wipe your fingers and chin after every other bite. Again, if you're doing this right then a napkin will only last for two wipes, tops. The last bite will be particularly messy ... but it is so worth it since all of the gooey cheesy goodness is now properly saturated with Sauce.
I ate both of my Beef 'n Cheddars, but could only finish half of my Curly Fries. I refilled my drink for the long drive back to Naples, and headed out to my car. My hunger had again been appeased, and I felt as I would explode in rapturous rupture.
I felt like a happy tick. Mmmm ...