July 27th, Day 39: Birch Run, MI to Port Huron, MI: 88 miles, 803 ft. ascent

Today we rode 88 miles to reach the Canadian border at Port Huron on our second great lake. Easy terrain and no significant wind, so aside from the awful bone rattling road surfaces this felt like an active recovery day. We must be getting fitter because we’re feeling reasonably fresh despite averaging 17.4 mph.

I am now only 11 days from the end of a quite epic 50 day challenge. Specifically, the challenge of eating budget chain meals for breakfast lunch and dinner for 50 consecutive days without calling Hughie on the porcelain telephone, and without being ejected from the premises for expressing an overly frank opinion (although James did have to caution me to simmer down at Wendy’s a couple of nights ago).

Just to be clear, this is not in any way a criticism of the ride organisers. We are on a budget, the phrase ‘Other culinary establishments are available’  has often simply been untrue, and finally, long distance cyclists need lots of calories. And, boy, have there been calories.

Each day’s challenges commence with the enforced consumption of breakfasts that have with remarkable consistency balanced blandness with enough sugar to fuel a small diabetes epidemic. It’s hard to express quite how challenging it has become to ingest sufficient calories to cover the first 30 miles of each ride from a combination of reconstituted eggs, sachet porridge and synthetic gloopy Danish pastries. Not that there are insufficient calories on offer. Far from it, but it’s just getting tougher and tougher to persuade my taste buds to take a break while I re-fuel.

But the prize for excessive calorific content must go to the Applebee’s starter combo at a staggering 2,500 calories (I didn’t check, but that probably excludes the complimentary Ranch and Blue cheese dressings). Just for comparison, this is equivalent to drinking 12 pints of Guinness, and that’s just as a starter. 

At a recent evening meal, one of the options was turkey pot roast and mashed potato. That’s fair enough. But the weird bit was when the server asked which bread accompaniment we would like -"sweet rolls, banana bread, cinnamon bread or lemonade bread?" ...WTF?

A drinks dispenser. The label reads: "Minute Maid Lemonade, 0% Juice"
No Pretentious Unprocessed Food Products Here

On our very first day, Alastair completely failed to sell me on the visual appeal of biscuits and gravy (an occasional delicacy added to the breakfast repertoire). I am sure it is just as delicious as everything else on offer so perhaps it’s worth a try.

But no matter how exotic the prefix and no matter how witty the name, henceforth, any restaurant that includes the term buffet in it’s culinary style is really, really not going to be on my list of possible dining venues, wherever I am or whatever I’m doing.

With thanks to the great, but recently deceased, A. A. Gill, for any small way in which he has inspired this commentary. See here for some brilliant reviews by the man himself.