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World bicycle adventures: Eat dessert first!

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"Cookies always taste better than meat

and potatoes."

A third grader

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Couldn't have found a more perfect spot among tall pines and a needle soft floor to pitch my tent on this day, which I shall remember for the rest of my life. Birds are chirping above me as the light fades from the sky and a cool wind whispers through the trees making them creak as they sway back and forth. The campfire chases away the darkness in a small circle surrounded by towering redwoods.

Sunshine blessed us today as we rode the 49er Trail toward Sonora, California.Flowers bloomed along the road like a bouquet from a child's coloring book. But something happened today that fills my heart with sorrow.

When Doug and I awoke this morning, the sun had broken through the cloud cover, revealing immense forests shrouded in gray mist. A green mantle of pines swept toward towering peaks of the High Sierra. The mist swirled like giant pinwheels above the treetops while we ate our breakfast.

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Doug and I eat foods that give us top performance. While touring, we buy seven-grain cereal and mix it with sunflower seeds, raisins, and fresh fruit. A loaf of wheat bread hangs off our packs, and we spread peanut butter over each slice. Water is the simplest liquid to keep and pour over the cereal. Because bicycling utilizes so much energy, breakfast is topped off with an apple or an orange. We eat our food from the same stainless steel pots used for cooking and washing dishes. After breakfast, we break camp, and push the bikes out of the woods to the highway.

We had descended from a snowstorm at 6,000 feet out of Yosemite National Park.The rolling highway led us away from Yosemite through tall trees, high mountain beauty and spring colors. The dripping wet color of pine green glistened along every mile in the road. We dropped another 1,000 feet before stopping for lunch on a grassy spot near the road. Doug grabbed his food pack, and I followed him with mine.

Our lunch ritual was the same every day. We bought groceries for two days riding. Complex carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables, rice and lentils were our main staples. We celebrated lunch because hunger constantly stalks a cyclist. We sat in the shade, spread our towels and prepared sandwiches. I'll admit it--Doug eats more than I. No, let me clarify that statement. He inhales more food than a humpback whale. He makes a shark look tame when it comes to appetite. To give you an idea how much Doug eats at a sitting, I'd lay bets on him in a pie eating contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.Doug would eat them under the table.If there was a word to describe how much food he consumes, it hasn't been invented yet. That's Doug, all 6'4"of him. Yet, through the modern miracle of bicycling, he's lean and clean.

He sat with his legs stretched out in a V. He laid out eight slices of bread, along with a bag of vegetables. He carries a cutting board which he washed off with his water bottle. Within minutes, he cut everything into slices. He stacked tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers on top of each other before topping his sandwiches with mustard. His eyes lit up as his tongue licked his lips in anticipation of the coming feast. Not to be outdone, I too chopped with vigor. Hunger is fun on a bicycle adventure, because we love to eat, and food dazzles our taste buds. Thirty minutes later, we polished off four bananas for dessert.

We were ready to go when I held us up for another minute because I had to take a bathroom break. Back on the road, we cranked up a hill with sweat dripping from our bodies. Not five minutes later, we saw a bicyclist coming the other way as we rolled into a valley. At the bottom, he coasted to a stop. Doug and I slowed to a stop.

I was looking at the bike rider when I noticed he was carrying a black puppy on a platform on his rear rack. I smiled, "What a nice..." I began to say. Before I could finish my sentence, the puppy bounded off the platform and ran across the pavement toward us. I heard a vehicle coming, but before the driver or anyone could bat an eyelash, the puppy yelped in a death cry after being crushed by two sets of wheels from a pickup truck going 60 miles per hour.

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From a happy disposition with blue sky and sunshine overhead, I was jerked into pain and bewilderment. My first thought was for the fellow across the road who had seen his puppy crushed to death before his eyes.

Blood gushed out from the dog's body.

"Oh no, oh no," I said in a withered voice.

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Frosty Wooldridge Bio: Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His books (more...)
 

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