bob wishart was his name. a small fellow who wore the duty managers' regalia of black pinstripe trousers, black jacket, white shirt and black tie, a uniform that seemed slightly at odds with some of the tasks demanded of him. he was smaller than me, with swept back, sandy coloured hair, small features and a rather pointy nose. there's little doubting he was a fair man in respect of his daily duties, but not one you would wish to cross by neglecting your own.
as an art student in apparently gainful summer holiday employ, i pretty much failed to live up to the notion of respectability that my father wished i would inhabit. longer than shoulder length hair and a propensity to wear the company tie to hold up my overly-large trousers did little to endear me to any manner of authority, and in true art student style, i could care less. however, mr wishart found this attitude more one to be humoured than disparaged, and a stance that could be successfully undermined while in polite company. add to this my adherence to a vegetarian diet, and i had unwittingly set myself up as an easy target.
"i had no idea that carrots provided muscles" was the most pointed carp at my dietary choice that i can recall. as an employee in the stores department, it was a part of the daily toil to shift a seemingly endless number of beer kegs to the various bars dotted about the premises, a task that did not favour those with pipecleaner muscles. apparently skinny boys like me were rarely successful in such heavy-duty tasks; my vegetarianism offered just the quarry that it seemed management were after.
john hannet, at one time the practice nurse at the doctor's surgery just around the corner. it was he who was responsible for having sent out letters to all those of a certain age to attend the surgery for blood pressure and cholesterol checks. purely for health purposes you understand. well, actually i didn't, and was somewhat incensed that a honed athlete such as myself should be called in for what i regarded as spurious reasoning. in fact, i rather unfairly challenged mr hannet to join me on the sunday ride; then we'd see who needed a fitness check-up. rightly or wrongly, we now have an understanding that i'll call them, they needn't bother calling me.
of course, the latter is an embedded and unjustifiable arrogance on my part. just because i can cheerfully ride nigh-on 100km without undue despair, despite refraining from the ingestion of meat products, does not necessarily indicate that my health is beyond reproach. but, there's no telling me.
anita bean's comprehensive complete guide to sports nutrition is a substantial volume that really ought to be on the bookshelf of anyone who indulges in any form of sporting activity, whether for competitive purposes or otherwise. were i in any doubt as to the efficacy of my vegetarianism, the nine page chapter on the vegetarian athlete provided many a salient paragraph to ease any concerns i might conceivably have had. and the excellent chapter on hydration undermines the long held belief that the quickly pedalling ought to drink prior to the onset of thirst. until now the admonition that thirst was an indicator several steps too late, has now been exposed for the fallacy it apparently is.
in fact, it seems that not all scientists even agree that dehydration (up to point) impairs performance.
it would seem that there are no aspects of nutrition and hydration that ms. bean leaves unturned, along with the necessary attributions as to her sources. how one ought to pragmatically lose weight, yet continue to eat and drink to retain the performance level one thinks one has; the female athlete; body fat and dietary fat and the young athlete are all subjects comprehensively covered via colour-coded chapters. and while aspects of the science are slightly inscrutable to the more passive reader (me, for instance), there's a substantial section towards the back of the book containing calorie controlled menu suggestions (for vegetarians too) and a set of recipes that will have you drooling all over the pages. perhaps bloomsbury ought to have printed this particular section on greaseproof paper.
i cannot deny that this is a book i would have glossed over had i come across it on the shelves of waterstone's or the pages of amazon which, i now realise, would have been a major mistake. as the years roll by and the desire to remain fit and healthy gains ground, i have at my fingertips the very knowledge that will allow me to continue those robert millar impersonations well into my dotage. and for those of you in your tender years, or suddenly responsible for catering to the needs of the young cyclist of today, this is the reference manual you simpy cannot live without. mr wishart would have approved, even if he did require me to wear a woolly hat to keep that lengthy hair at bay.
sunday 3rd march 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................