Friday, 4 March 2011

The All Over Body Workout

Six hours of ripio road is a wonderful substitution for a session of vibro-massage. However, if that surface can have the added assets of river rounded ball bearing gravel, and bomb crater pot holes, there are all the added benefits of improved poise, and body posture, better balance and complete composure, enlightened humility and self-depreciating humour. There’s the psychological pleasure of achievement in adversity, the addict’s high from endorphin production, the insomniac’s good night sleep and the gourmand’s total disregard for calorie counting. It can even be enjoyable, in much the same way as banging your head against a brick wall is fun…..when you stop. There are some, those at the extreme end of the alternative food world, who advocate a spoonful of rock dust daily; a few hours on the Seite Lagos road will easily accomplish your RWI, your recommended weekly intake. So ripio roads have their place in the tenderisation of body parts, in the stimulation of neural pathways and in improving muscle tone. Yet one of the places where they fail, is in facial aerobics. Cursing and verbally abusing the latest passing convoy only augments your RDI of dust, and excites the stress hormones, no matter how satisfying the initial response might be. So the travelling cyclist needs to find an acceptable method of countering this omission in the ’total body work out’. This is where three day old ’pan de campo’ comes to the fore.

We’ve headed back off the road that goes through those supposed, much warned, oft much feared, ’big open spaces’. So when a small peeling wooden board appears near the verge and claims ’pan casero y tortas’, you do as the Duke of Wellington advised his officers:’ never miss an opportunity’, we stop to investigate. He wasn’t referring to bread, but to ’calls of nature’, however the same rules and ethos apply. The forager returns, mission accomplished with three ’regional specials’ pan de campo. Griddle baked flat breads, the ’especial’ being a peppering of micro chipped goat jerky and a glaze of sugar syrup. Discus in shape, discus in weight and as it transpires, discus in consistency. Maybe the ’regional typical’ refers to the age as well as the dressing, for three day old bread does wonders for the facial muscle tone and the jaw line. Satisfying our ancient Neanderthal traits, an ancestral memory of tearing raw flesh from the bone and the mastication of fibrous vegetation. Refreshed with a sprinkling of water and toasting they start to improve. However they now have to out-manoeuvre the ’warm from the oven pan casero that we found around the very next bend. A situation that is nearly always inevitable, and incontrovertible proof of ’Sod’s’ existence. The picnic by the river bank that materialises around the corner, right after you’ve perched on a sharp rock, on a dusty verge, constructing a grit infused lunchtime sandwich. The near perfect tenting spot found early the next morning, after leaving last night’s less than perfect wild roadside camp. All come from within the same category. If only we’d carried on a little bit further….. - but it won’t work, it can’t work, because it’s against the rules, these places only appear, like Brigadoon, to confound and to frustrate. To prove that the trickster gods, Loki and his cohorts, have the upper hand, and to keep we mere humans in our lowly place.

With all this muscle stimulation and excitement comes physical ’belt tightening’, and a descent down the clothing size scale. I’d watched her step on the chemist’s scales and give soft smile of satisfaction. That 16 to 12 now implies an imminent requirement for fiscal belt tightening, as I can see the words ”new wardrobe” appearing just over the horizon. Just an other example of those ’benefits’ offered by dust and grit built ripio roads.