This is my first blog post, so I figured it had better be interesting. I have just the topic: carbohydrate gels. I ride a bike, and I’ve never been a big fan of gels, because of the mess, stickiness and cost. I’m not coordinated enough to bite open those little foil packets and squeeze the stuff into my face without getting it all over me. And I don’t like to litter but sure don’t want those sticky foil packets gumming up my jersey pockets. Anyway, I recently bought a five-ounce gel bottle and have been experimenting with it. I use a mixture of black strap molasses (which the Internet tells me is the only kind of molasses to use), honey and agave syrup, along with a little vanilla extract for flavor and water to thin it all out. Sometimes I’ll mix things up by pouring in some brown rice syrup or salt.
This system seemed to work pretty well -- until recently. It was a Sunday, and I guess I didn’t thin out the gel enough for my ride on that day, because I had to squeeze the bottle really hard to get at it. I don’t know what the pressure rating is on those bottles, but can attest that it is somewhere below the force of an average adult's grip. With a noise reminiscent of the human body evacuating a bean-and-cheese burrito that probably sat out for too long on the kitchen counter (don’t ask how I know what that sounds like), the cap of my gel bottle popped off, exploding the entire bottle’s contents down the front of my jersey and shorts.
At that moment I was passing by the Star of India, one of several museum ships docked along Harbor Drive here in San Diego. The area is a big tourist attraction, and on late Sunday mornings there are always lots of folks milling about. Such was the case on this particular day.
Inside the bottle, my gel mixture presented a pleasant and appealing chocolaty appearance. On a red jersey, it looked more like coagulating blood. No, it actually resembled something your liver might produce.
Like most cyclists who are fussy about the upkeep of their bikes, my first thought on occasions like this is to get the hell off my ride before I get something on it. I braked, jumped down, held my jersey away from my belly, and stared at the gooey, spreading mess. After a few seconds, I glanced up and saw a throng of tourists had formed around me.
I already know I ride an odd-looking bike; this scene was probably more than the tourists were prepared for on a Sunday morning. I’m pretty sure everyone thought the awful stuff on me had come out of some orifice, natural or new. I’m not quite sure how to describe the expressions. But if you’ve watched the scene in that movie Trading Places where a drunken Dan Aykroyd is chewing on a smoked salmon fillet half-stuffed down the front of his shirt, you might remember the looks he got from the other people on the bus.
Or maybe the tourists' looks were more like the expressions of the crew members in Alien when the baby alien burst out of that guy’s chest cavity during breakfast.
Fortunately, I was wearing an old jersey with a compression T-shirt underneath, so I decided to just throw the jersey away. What can I say? I wasn’t about to stuff that sticky mess into my new bag. That left me with the now-stained T-shirt beneath the straps of my bib shorts. A fine look, to be sure – if you’re Walter Brennan in The Real McCoy."
Hey, I may have been soiled and sweaty, but I still had some pride left. I scooted to a more secluded area to pull down the bib straps, take off my T-shirt, and put it back on over the straps. Shirtless, I looked up again and saw a different group of tourists now watching me. Solid looking citizens, these, probably from Minnesota I judged, or maybe Iowa. Thank goodness I have the physique of that famous actor.
No, not that one.
Yeah, that one. After enduring more horrified looks (which I was starting to get used to), I jumped back on the bike and got out of there.
I decided to cut the ride short, and just headed home.
I don't know if this has ever happened to anyone else, but I learned a valuable lesson: don’t trust stupid gel bottles.
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