Don’t Dig Too Deep

Here’s some free advice: Don’t eat fried chicken washed down with pale ale and immediately tackle a 2,000-foot road bike climb. It might sound like a good idea, but it’s not.

I pride myself on being an excellent drunkathlete. That’s an athlete who drinks (or a drinker who athletes, depending on which day of the week it is). I’ve always said that there are plenty of people who can beat me in a race, and plenty of people who can beat me in a drinking match, but a drunk race? I like to think that’s my niche.

Alas, I made a rookie mistake recently and went too big, too fast. It was a beautiful spring Tuesday and I had a ride scheduled for 2pm up Elk Mountain, a brutal road climb outside of downtown that gains 2,000 feet of elevation in about five miles. The climb starts steep, then gets steeper. With sinuous switchbacks and incredible views, it’s one of the most beloved rides in town.

Before the ride, I decided to meet my wife for lunch at Wicked Weed, a new brewery with insanely hoppy beers, a great menu, and a big patio. I had planned on ordering a salad and some water. Something light, so I could still put in a good show on the road ride later that afternoon.

The problem is, I have no will power. So I ordered the fried chicken sandwich and a beer. And another beer. And some fries. And it’s hot outside so why don’t I get another beer?

Fast forward two hours to me trying to puke while pedaling one of those sinuous switchbacks. It felt like there was an angry midget living inside my stomach. Were my bike shorts always this tight?

Puking didn’t work so I just pedaled through the pain. It was a slow slog up the mountain punctuated by really annoying inspirational messages spray painted every mile or so into the pavement. I appreciate the graffiti inspiration, but when I dig deep, all I find is saturated fat.

The moral of this story? Timing is everything. Ride bikes, then eat fried chicken and drink beer.

Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at

Share this post:

Discover more in the Blue Ridge: