‘Carb’ is a truncation of carbohydrate, but also of carburetor. So we’ll engage a little creative disambiguation between these things without ever, even once, thinking about how ambiguous the term disambiguation feels.
I don’t think it’s worth diving deep into a discussion of the relative merits of carburetion vs. fuel injection. The technology has moved on. We know the answer. Robots drive cars now anyway. I’m not even sure why you would open the hood. There’s just a rat’s warren of ‘modules’ and ‘systems’ under there, gremlins and hex plot governed spells of forward locomotion and occasional heartbreak. The more things change, the more they stay unerringly the same.
Bongs, both conventional and water-equipped, also have “carbs,” which allows the user to introduce air at the right time, i.e. to give the smoke a sudden and crucial impetus to draw into the lungs. It’s not unlike the function of the air intake in an internal combustion engine, although unlike the engine, the bong does NOT promote forward motion. Quite the opposite. I’m not a pot smoker myself, or at least not for a very long time, but I’m persistently amazed at how clever people who want to get high are about the ways they get high.
That brings us to carbohydrates, simple molecules that combine carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, as in a KitKat bar or a Clif Blok. Carbs, in this case, deliver and store energy. I’m not going to get all science-y on you, but carbohydrates are an essential part of human nutrition, and an awfully important tool for bike riding, if you’re trying to do a lot of it.
There is a curious phenomenon that has emerged among diet and fitness people wherein the simple carb has been vilified. Everyone is “cutting carbs,” or going “low carb,” or “eating keto,” which is another way of saying “carb starving.” My question is: “But who the hell is gonna help me eat all these KitKats?”
Carb hate seems to me to be a reaction to the obesity epidemic, such as it is, with the idea that an abundance of readily available carbs has led to people overdosing on high-energy food with no consistent activity to balance. The other driver seems to be vanity. Our society tends to value skinny bodies for some reason, and so we are constantly looking for new ways to starve ourselves thin.
My take is this: 1) Pop Tarts are delicious. 2) Some people have bigger bodies than others as a matter of simple biological destiny. 3) I have seen people in all sizes of bodies do amazing things on bicycles. 4) Ice cream. 4) I’d be dead on the side of a road somewhere (probably New Hampshire) without the intervention of carbohydrates. 5) Simple, categorical responses to complex and nuanced health challenges bear decidedly mixed results. 6) I couldn’t actually understand how a carburetor works any better than I can the fuel-injected computer in the car in my driveway. Cars are magic carpets to me.
I am sure, speaking in favor of complex and nuanced solutions to the commensurate problems, there are good carbs and bad carbs. For example, I like a Milky Way, but Almond Joy isn’t my thing. I’ll drink a Slurpee one-handed on my way home from a ride, but it’s got to be cola-flavored. Don’t come at me with Blue Raspberry. That’s an affront to nature.
There was a time in my life (high school), when I would gladly (and inadvisably) use all three carbs at once, sipping a Cola Slurpee in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s barely operative car, my thumb poised over the small hole in the side of whatever bong his older brother had given him, but now I try to confine myself to the inoffensively edible kind, the sort you can stow in a jersey pocket or bury your face in after a long ride.
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