The excitement built as we rolled into the donut stop at Saturday’s Tour de Donut in a rural village a few miles outside Arcanum, Ohio. But so did the uncertainty.
How many donuts could I eat in a bike race in which each one knocks 5 minutes off your cycling time?
How many should I eat, given that I was riding with a 12-year-old who had only recently upped her mileage to the point that she was just barely capable of finishing the 16-mile “mini” course?
“Donuts, I’ve got donuts!” hollered the most passionate of the volunteers, sounding like a roaming peanut vender at a baseball game. “What if you could have won your age group with just one more donut? Don’t leave it on the table!”
Colleen and I each took three of the glazed dough rings while a volunteer made three tally marks on our race bibs. Polishing those off with relative ease, I realized that I’ve never eaten more than three donuts at a time in my life. But … had I ever had the opportunity to eat more? Had I ever tried?
Just for the heck of it, I grabbed a fourth. It went down without too much trouble, though I felt just a bit queasy as we picked up our bikes and rode past curious residents. There were maybe 100 people living in this tiny village, and over 2,000 cyclists would be passing through here today. Though we were near the tail end of the 16-mile group, the 32- and 64-milers would still be passing through.
“My stomach hurts!” I cheerfully hollered at one lady sitting on her front porch.
“You sound like a 6-year-old!” said my 12-year-old.
But it didn’t. Not really. I was just getting into the spirit of the event.
The scary thing is, I think I could be good at this. I’m still a fairly slow cyclist, but I ought to be able to ride 16 miles in about an hour on a fairly flat course such as this one. I wound up getting credit for six donuts on Saturday – a final stop near the finish gives you one last chance to eat a jelly donut for double credit – which took 30 minutes off my time. It didn’t matter much since time wasn’t a factor for us this time, but an adjusted time in the 35-minute range would’ve easily won my division.
In the men’s age 19-50 category, the winner actually wound up with a time of negative-20:18. He rode 16 miles in 1:09, but he consumed 18 donuts along the way.
This was a fun spectacle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we do it again sometime. But I’ve got mixed feelings about the competitive eating angle, given my past life as a fat person — and even more so since I started writing for a diabetes magazine as one of my freelance gigs.
How many times can I flood my system with sugar before my pancreas hollers “enough!”?
If I don’t want to find out the answer to that question, maybe I’d be better off never trying to find out how many donuts I really can eat without puking.