Robot’s Useless Reviews – Carbs

‘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.

This is the Shimano Ultegra C36 carbon disc wheel, and I’ll tell you what I think about it and about Shimano wheels more generally. It and they are tremendous values. When I was a product manager, putting together complete bike packages, I often turned to Shimano for wheels, because they are well made, like Shimano components are, and they are consistently more affordable than their competitors. We think about Shimano’s drivetrains reflexively, but most everything they make is good and you can usually afford to put it on your bike, which is better.

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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Join the conversation
  1. dr sweets says

    I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with carbs (the food; bongs are fine if somewhat inconvenient as I was more of pipe/joint guy in my more serious grasser daze and I’ve not worked on cars outside of installing a roof rack in decades). I need them for my more intense exercise pursuits, but having type one beetus since I was sixteen makes going overboard with them way too easy. This skyrockets my blood glucose and makes me feel like hot garbage. On the contrary, having too few carbs makes me like every hackneyed diabetes bit from any 80’s film or basically imagine the worst bonk you’ve ever had, take it to the third power and toss in the possibility of having yr friends attempt to force feed you sugar or worse have an EMT give you D5. Due to this conundrum finding a suitable fuel for rides has been an ongoing challenge. Nearly every hydration supplement has carbs. Drinking just plain water is okay, but won’t take you far. As such, with any fuels during rides I’d have to sip them at best to avoid a blood glucose spike and my results have been fair to mixed at best. Interestingly, I literally just came across a hydration enhancement called LMNT (watching a JK Weed video) that doesn’t have any sugar and works incredibly well. It is literally the first one I’ve ever been able to use that allows me the ability to consume all of whatever bottle of it I bring along. They make claims that their formula of salt and electrolytes helps with clarity which sounds like hooey, but I swear there is something to it. I’ve felt better on my rides than I have in a long time.The flavors are all salty, but they are sweetened with Stevia (not Stevil) and kinda have a margarita vibe to my palate. ¡Vamos!

  2. TominAlbany says

    I’m a firm believer in a balanced diet. If I’m gaining weight, I try to move more and/or eat less. However, it is maple syrup season and there’s a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream waiting to be drowned in the stuff for tonight’s dessert.

    After all, it is the dog’s birthday today. And he seriously loves licking the bowl. (Not the pot pipe…)

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