I’m hungry. I’m ravenously hungry to the point where I think my stomach is about to implode. I was warned a long time ago by my great friend Scotty, that once I started any kind of regular physical activity, my appetite would start to become more important to me. And he was absolutely right. I’ve always kind of just looked upon food as fuel – it’s never really figured largely in my life. I mean, I like nice food, and I love going out to dinner, especially to Sergio’s for pasta, but in the past, I would sometimes just forget to eat for a day or so. This seems to have changed now, and I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with what I’m finding out about myself.
When I started cycling, it was just something to do to keep my weight in check so I could carry on climbing without having to worry about hauling 5kgs of middle-age up the rockface with my fingertips. Now, however, something has changed. I’m starting to cycle harder, faster and for longer than before, even though I don’t need to in order to fulfil my initial requirements for starting. My weight has been dropping, I’m now down to around 65-66kgs, and I have a permanent feeling of hunger. But, even though I would dearly love to go and eat a small cow wrapped in pastry, lightly baked and washed down with a bottle of sportoletti grechetto d’assisi I’m not going to. I’m deliberately making sure that I can maintain this current level of fitness, to the point of denying myself some very obvious pleasures in life. Why? Why should I need to suffer? I mean, it’s not as if I’m a professional athlete. I’m not even an enthusiastic amateur – I’m not competing against anyone else. Why should I go through any suffering so I can ride a bicycle in a circle faster tomorrow than I did today? It makes no sense at all. And yet it’s something that I’m actively doing.
And why does this make me feel uncomfortable about myself? Well, that’s difficult to express really. I’m just not sure what I’m actually hungry for – my hunger goes deeper than just a physical desire for food. I obviously want something, but I’m just not sure what it is. The fact that I’m willing to put myself through this hunger for something I can’t define is what is worrying me. I just feel it’s a stupid thing to be doing, with no benefits whatsoever. Sure, I’m probably physically fitter now than I ever have been, but it’s not as if that’s an important factor in going out to hunt my next meal or escape from a rampaging sabre-tooth tiger or anything like that. And none of my trousers fit any more.