Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dr. Spalm

Bikes and Beer.  That is the primary theme of this blog.  In a prior life, some of us responsible for this blog did a prior blog, of which we were reminded yesterday for a couple of reasons, which skewed towards bikes more, but a certain amount of beer.  During that time, we had a semi-regular contributor named Dr. Spalm.  There is a lot we don't know about Dr. Spalm, but here are a few things that we do: we had to pay him by the word to answer questions (this lead to wordy responses, but his rate was very low so it worked for us); he claimed to have medical credentials, although this claim originated about the time he is also known to have emerged from a Central American jungle after an extended disappearance; he suggests that he was born in Europe, although without really saying where and he is also suspected of feigning ignorance of the English language to suit his own purposes.

Why then, did he seem like a good person to answer questions in our blog?  I think we were drunk at the time.  Nonetheless, we have made the decision to bring back Dr. Spalm at least in re-run form.  We have started asking around to see if he is interested in answering more questions, so while we scour bus station bathrooms and flea bag hotels for evidence of his whereabouts, please enjoy this prior post.  And, if you have any questions for Dr. Spalm related to cycling or beer, please let us know.

Dr. Spalms Answers Your Questions

Having just returned from a tour of scientifically interesting sights throughout Eastern Europe seeking the latest and most unusual in medical techniques and off-label drug use, Dr. Spalm is now in need of replenishing his coffers by providing answers to the readers of our blog at his usual per-word recompense level. So now, without further ado.

Rider 1 recently described a phenomena of riding in very warm weather and not sweating until he stopped exercising. A reader describing himself as "Mark" (surely a pseudonym meant to disguise his real identity) asks "Why do I sweat? And, "Why do I smell burnt toast on White Road?" (Actually, Mark asked his questions in a less grammatically correct form, but Dr. Spalm has graciously corrected these minor errors to help the readers of this blog post be more comfortable with the actual question; recognizing, as Dr. Spalm does, that most readers of this blog are highly erudite and well-mannered.)

These two questions are in fact very different kinds of questions. The first, why do I sweat, is an easily explained pysiological response to certain stimulus. The second, why does the reader smell burnt toast on White Road, is much more interesting and layered.

To dispense with the first, you sweat because you have applied a physical stimulus to your body causing this reaction. In other words, if you apply heat to the organ known as "skin" or more clearly to your entire body, whether from external sources or from an internal workload, your body's response is to sweat. This means that the pores in your skin will dilate or open, and allow the tiny demons living in your soul to leave. These tiny demons are tricked into thinking that you have entered hell and they are assuming that they will be welcomed back home. As these demons exit your skin, the lack of the real heat from eternal damnation is not present in the atmosphere and they cannot survive such temperate conditions; therefore they oxidize immediately and the condensation from this process appears on your skin as water or sweat. As we all know, the tiny demons are inside you because we are all evil at our core.

Now, to the more interesting question of smelling burned toast. This is not a phenomena that is capable of such a clear and cogent explanation. In fact, there are multiple reasons that you might have the smell of burnt toast within your nostrils as you travel up White Road. For those of you not familiar with our local area, White Road in this question refers to the 3/4 of a mile section of said road that rises at a 10-15% pitch from Highway 195 up towards Cedar Road. In about 7/10's of a mile, the road gains 800 feet in elevation. As a result, a rather significant exertion is required to ride this portion of the road.

A number of potential reasons come to mind to explain this occurrence. First, I should note that it is odd that you paired these questions, because White Road is known to have a strong demonic presence. So the smell you may be picking up may not actually be burnt toast, but burnt souls that have been collected across the Palouse and brought to the White Road Demonic Processing Center. Many people have been known to confuse these smells, which is ironic because toast can be such a comfort, while having your soul demonically processed would be just the opposite. Very ironic, like a fly in your chardonnay.

Second, and continuing with our demonic theme, the smell may be because you sweat more than usual going up White Road and therefore there are more little demon oxidizations going on all around you. By the way, for proof of my theory, after a long ride take off your riding shorts, close the waist band opening to allow you to put your nose in and take a deep sniff. If that is not proof of demons, I don't know what would be.

The third explanation is that it is possible that you commonly ride up White Road during one of two times; either in the morning or during the mid-afternoon. Mrs. Magillicutty has four boys that she is raising in a rented duplex about half-way up White Road and she makes toast for them almost every morning for their breakfast and again in the afternoon for a snack. Because those four kids are a bit wild, ruffians if you will, it is not uncommon for Mrs. Magillicutty to burn the toast while she endeavors to re-direct the boys' energies. Be forewarned, however, Mr. Magillicutty was a cyclist and left the family to serve espresso to Euro-pros in Girona, so Mrs. Magillicutty's is not a good place to stop for water. Or toast.  She has reserved no goodwill for our cycling brethren. 

Fourth, there is a wives' tale that one smells burnt toast as a sign of stroke. There are two problems with this suggestion as a solution to your question. There is no scientific evidence that this "burnt toast" phenomena is actually attached to stroke; it would be considered an olfactory hallucination, but you are just as likely to smell figs or your grandmother's perfume as you are to smell toast if it is indeed a precursor to stroke. Next, the more likely medical condition from climbing White Road is tachycardia followed by myocardial infarction. Much more likely than stroke. Also, myocardial infarction is a lot more fun to say. Try it. BTW, rumor has it that Mrs. Magillicutty has a home defibrillator if you are really desperate. On the other side of the road, Satan is not rumored to have one, so be careful about where you seek help.

Fifth, in the list of possible reasons, is that you have entered a parallel universe in which you can literally smell analogies or similes. In this world, which is extrapolated from the quantum mechanics work of DeWitt, you are "toasted" or "burned like toast", and your olfactory senses can actually detect this in the air. This is not the same as an olfactory hallucination, in which you are sensing something that does not exist. Keep two things in mind if this is the case; a) Be glad you didn't enter the anthropomorphic alternative universe; and b) feel free to be "toasted", but don't tell your riding buddy that you feel like a piece of shit.

And the sixth explanation for you smelling toast is that you are pregnant.  You probably don't know this, which is why I am answering the questions, but the burnt toast phenomena is associated with early pregnancy symptoms. I think this is the mostly likely answer.

Thank you for asking.
Dr. Spalm

1 comment:

  1. I can tell you, with my medical expertise, that I agree completely.