In 2002 traffic was at a standstill in the right lane in Oak Brook, Illinois. This was the pattern every day, a holdup I learned to avoid. It wasn't an accident or an on-ramp. It was a passion for a kind of donut newly introduced to the greater Chicago area, a pillowy yeast effluvia with a gentle sugar shell. And the effect of eating one or two, when hot, was soma-like--calming Midwestern nerves, allowing us to maintain the stoic calm with which we faced a thousand miles of plains and prairie grass.
They were called Krispy Kreme donuts, and if you could find a hot one, you were lucky.
Eventually, our guilt got the better of us and we stopped buying Krispy Kremes, especially as the donuts became ubiquitous. Much of this, I think, had to do with the franchise's whoring the donuts out to gas stations and supermarkets. Krispy Kreme were the Pamela Andersons of the food service industry.
The little golden rings that had once been an expression of precious freedom now became surplus bloat hanging about the waist and dulling the mind. They were things to eat regretfully in church basements or while driving to Peoria--things to shovel in the mouth to quiet the belly, a symbol of wallowing laziness rather than earned reward.
Thus they became part of the competitive eating repertoire.
David "Coondog" O'Karma is one of the three men Jason Fagone profiles in his book on competitive eaters, Horsemen of the Esophagus. Among Coondog's feats are eating 45 hard-boiled eggs in 8 minutes and 10 seconds, making him the WCUE Egg-Sucking Champion. He would have won the 2002 Wing Bowl, having consumed over 100 wings, but unfortunately he vomited. Among his lasting achievements is his feat of eating an astonishing 25 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts in 15 minutes--an act which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
After what I witnessed this weekend, I'm absolutely astonished that this record stands. I saw a man--and I'm not making this up--one up Coondog in the following manner:
(1) ride a bike at 25 miles per hour for 30 minutes,
(2) eat 15 Krispy Kreme donuts in less than 10 minutes
(3) ride a bike at 23 miles an hour for another 30 minutes
(4) eat 15 more Krispy Kreme donuts in less than 10 minutes
(5) ride a bike at 22 miles per hour for another 30 minutes.
All told, that's 30 Krispy Kremes in 20 minutes.
Can you believe that nonsense?
Let's break it down:
Fat content ingested: 360g (430% of RDA)
Carbs ingested: 660g (290% of RDA)
Put it this way--you'd have to eat 12 pints of Haagen-Dasz ice cream to pack away the same amount of fat Frank Gonzalez ate in 20 minutes at the Donut Derby.
And you'd have to do it and be able to get back on your bike and ride at your FTP without upchucking.
Our strategy, as a team, was to drop Frank on the first section and hope that when he came to the first donut station he'd be feeling uncharacteristically unmotivated to eat. For the past two years he's eaten nearly 30 donuts--subtracting almost a 90 minutes from his ride time, since each donut eaten knocks off 3 minutes of ride time.
The five of us attacked from the gun and set a furious pace. Frank, who also had a support team, responded by chasing down our attacks. We grew more and more desperate trying to shake them. We grew so desperate that we decided out of sheer desperation to take a wrong turn, and despite their many years of doing the event, Frank's team went with us.
Our group of about 15 riders took a detour that added about three miles to the first leg of the race. This meant that our GC guy, Chas, and Frank would both have to eat more donuts.
When we arrived at the first station and watched Frank begin to work, it was clear we were doomed. Chas stacked three donuts and smashed them down, and started working his way through them. Frank stacked five donuts and devoured the lot in less than three minutes. He smashed them with his feet somehow. His teammates stood around as if this was normal. Children were present, which was unfortunate.
Within 10 minutes, Frank had eaten 15 donuts, and his team was on the road and gone. Chas was just beginning his third stack of three.
At that point, we knew the race was over--that what happened on the bike was pretty much irrelevant. Frank could've walked the 35 miles and won.
Consider several hypotheticals:
(1) Fabian Cancellara shows up at the Donut Derby and decides to average 36 miles per hour. He does this ride in 70 minutes.
Frank still beats him.
(2) Let's say Fabian shows up with his whole team, Leopard Trek, and they do the ride in 60 minutes, averaging 38 miles an hour.
Frank beats the entire Leopard Trek team.
(3) Let's say Leopard Trek does the ride at 37 mph and that Fabian manages to eat ten donuts along the way. It takes him 13 minutes to eat the ten donuts.
Frank Gonzalez still beats Fabian Cancellara and the entire Leopard Trek team.
On the other hand, if you take the time to eat a Krispy Kreme, without having to shovel it in your mouth because your competition is Frank Gonzalez, they're actually pretty good donuts.