Friday, May 16, 2014

The Best Bacon Chedar Cheeseburger I Never Ate

Barry's* talking with his brother John. My eyes (and nose) have devoured that wood-fired pizza on the counter several times by now. My stomach growls. I'm hungry. I'm always hungry. Why is that? Sigh. They're still talking. When are we going to eat? Impatiently, I move closer to help myself. As I do this, John slides the pizza off the cooling rack and onto the cutting board. I inch in closer as John reaches into the drawer for the pizza cutter -- wait -- what? That's no pizza cutter. He's got a bottle opener. He opens two bottles, one for him and one for Barry. They forgot about me. I'm about to open my mouth to protest when he reaches back into the drawer. A glint of light flashes off the rounded steel pizza cutter as his hand reemerges from the drawer. With a crusty-crunch, he drives the disk through the pie, first into halves, then quarters, then eighths. Finally. John offers Barry a piece as the melty-cheese stretches from cutting board to hand. He then takes one for himself. Pigs. They forgot about me once again. I open my mouth and these words fall out:

"Arf-arf, arf."

Crap. That's not what I was thinking. I clear my throat and try once more.

"Arf, arf-arf."

Again? And why is my stupid tail wagging? I'm a dufus, that's why. They're eating pizza and all I can do is bark and wag my tail. I give one last desperate plea:

"Arf, arf-arf"

Oh the calamity of being a dog.


Several months ago when Katherine was in Singapore, I took my dog Emmylou on a road-trip to visit my brother John and Connie in KC. One of the several highlights of that trip was enjoying wood-fired pizza straight from his outdoor brick pizza-oven. Till date, We've never had better pizza than at John's house. By "we" I mean Emmylou and I. Yes, she eventually got some pizza.

Of course, dogs always seem to be hungry. Maybe it's because they're bored with their boring old bland dog food. It probably makes the food we eat smell especially tasty. Regardless, they always seem to be hungry.

The closest I can come to replicate that feeling of being extremely hungry is when I bonk on a bicycle. At the point that I'm depleted of carbs, almost everything seems edible. If it's even slightly appealing to the nose, then even more so.

Case in point: last Sunday I was scheduled for a two hour ride on my TT bike: a 30 minute warm-up, followed by a best effort 30 minute time trial, and then ride tempo for 60 minutes.

This type of workout requires preparation. Topping off one's carbs and being well-hydrated before riding is advisable. My hasty preparation cut a lot of corners. This isn't advisable. I left the house with a slice of toast washed down by a cup of coffee. Then, 30 minutes into my warm-up I grabbed the water bottle to find that only a couple good chugs remained. Now, a wise person would have waited to refill their water bottle before throttling up to TT speed. Not me. I gulped down the last of it, hit my lap button, and dropped the hammer for the next 30 minutes.

To my surprise, I had a fantastic TT. I just felt great. Even more, after completing the test I rode at a strong cruising tempo for the next 20 minutes. Then all so suddenly, I felt altogether woozy. A few minutes later and I was in a full-on bonk, wearily cranking away at 9 mph.

Meanwhile, all I could think of was the Culver's restaurant a few miles up the trail. Refilling my water bottle wouldn't be a problem. But food was another issue altogether since I was wearing a skin suit that had no pockets for cash/cc. I was penniless.

When one's bonky, perspectives change.

I then considered dumpster-diving. Sure, the fries might be a little soggy from ketchup, old oil, etc, but it was still starchy potatoes. And salt. I found new motivation to turn the pedals. My speed increase to 10.2 mph.

After reaching Culver's, I refilled my water bottle before checking out two trash cans for scraps. Nothing.

I looked lustfully upon customers stuffing butter burgers and onion rings down their pie holes. My ears perked up when I heard a morsel fall with on tender thud onto waxy paper wrappers. And the delightful smells that flared my nostrils were none other than delicious, deep golden crinkle-cut fries.

"ORDER 42 FOR RANDY!" a guy from behind the counter called.

I spun on my carbon sole and saw a burly man in coveralls step up to the counter to collect a Cheddar Butter Burger with Bacon combo. My eyes followed him from counter to soft drink fountain where I stood. He filled a cup with Root Beer while I was awash in the smells of the juicy beef, smokey bacon,  tangy cheddar, spicy mustard, sweet ketchup, sour pickles, salt and pepper. I could practically taste each and everyone of them, right through the paper wrapper covering it. My eyes then followed him to his booth, where upon he sat down, and unwrapped that 741 kcal package of greasy goodness before sinking his yellowed teeth into it.

I look directly at you now and say, "this is what a dog must experience 24x7x365. Pretty much exactly."

In the end, I left Culver's without consuming a crumb. While I pined for that cheeseburger, my liver was converting enough lipids into glycogen to get me the ten miles I needed to get home.

About an hour later, I had a nice little feast at my house. So did my dog, Emmylou. We were both fat and happy that afternoon.

Speaking of fat and happy: Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.


  1. First, you are a dork for not stuffing a Honey Stinger or some form of carbohydrate into your socks or tri-goodie bag that you triKatheletes buy and hang off your handlebars.

    Second, you are a double dork for not having a $20 in your shoe under the insole like I have at all times to avoid a bonk.

    Third, you are so kind to describe my pizzanailial ability of creating tasty pies.

    Last, I'm hungry......and like EmmyLou, I too have a hard time not snitchelling something from everywhere and everyone I see eating....

  2. Don't feel bad Brady. The Tropic's Burger was way better than anything Culver's ever thought of serving. According to my dad, the Blue Ox's #7 (before it closed and reopened) made the Tropic's Burger look like something Emmylou would turn away from. So the 2 best burgers ever are no longer available anywhere. Ok never mind. Feel bad, Brady. Also, I thought your dog called you "Barry."

  3. John, you have a gift for pizza. Start off with tomato slices and fresh basil? Yes please. Second round: potato pizza? Bring it. Round three: Pear and Gorgonzola, now we're talking. I could go on, but I've made my point. Seriously no joke, the best.

    As for being a dork and not be prepared with cash, I'll grant you that. I didn't say I was wise or anything. It was more like I was hurried due to a small window closing up due to weather.

    But I will draw a line in the sand right here and now about what does or doesn't adorn my bike. Allow me to be clear: I don't have, nor ever will have, a tri-goodie bag on my time trial bike. That sled's stripped down to practically bare anodized metal. I only put a water bottle cage (one) on it because I was going out for over an hour. So lay off brother, or I'll bring up your mirrors that dangle off handlebars and helmets and god knows where else.

    Fred: no Culver's Butter Burger or Tropic's burger will ever match your Dad's Blue Ox #7.

    *edit: changed Emmy's dialog from "Brady" to "Barry". Thanks for catching that, Fred. You do pay attention.