Raisins: Mystery Solved

After my recent foray into baking – including my obvious substitution of chocolate chips for chopped walnuts – I was led to ponder raisins. After all, in my experience a LOT of baked goods feature raisins and I really don’t know why. Correction, I never used to know why. I believe I have figured it out.

For the record and full disclosure, I don’t like raisins. That said, I don’t dislike them as much as I used to. I remember a time where my dislike for raisins used to be so strong that I would even struggle to watch OTHER people eat them. Seriously. And I also remember the moment I got over my dislike of raisins … or at least my COMPLETE dislike for them.

Floyd, Stewart, Me, and of course, Elin

Flashback to 2010 and my very first cycling tour (from Campbell River, BC to Kelowna, BC) – funny how things always to seem to come back to my cycling trips. In this case, it was actually during the five-day sea kayaking tour I was on prior to embarking on my cycling trip. We were about three days into the tour and had stopped for a break at one of the many beautiful islands in the area. It was during this break that our guide, Elin (who was great, by the way … I wonder what ever happened to her) brought out a snack for the group – it was actually just a small group. Only four us. Including Elin. Anyway, the snack in question was trail mix. Trail mix with more than a few raisins. My stomach churned. But I was torn. Was my stomach churning at the prospect of raisins? Or was it because I was more than a little hungry after all the paddling? Either way, I kept my anti-raisin bias to myself, secured a handful of the aforementioned trail mix, took a deep breath and ate said handful. And, much to my surprise, it was good. REALLY good. For the record, the trail mix in question also contained M&Ms but the ratio of raisins to M&Ms was overwhelmingly on the side of raisins. Even still, it was so good that I’ve been a huge fan of trail mix ever since. However, my enjoyment of raisins remains limited to trail mix. Outside of that combination I still struggle with them. I mean, I can eat them. But I don’t see the point of them.

Fast-forward to present day and my banana bread making ways. I had mentioned my new (yet likely short-lived) banana bread hobby to a friend and she mentioned that she had recently made zucchini bread (apparently that’s a thing) and then added, “I opted to leave out the chocolate chips otherwise I would have eaten the whole thing.” And in that simple sentence the mystery of raisins was solved. I doubt anyone says, “I opted to leave out raisins otherwise I would have eaten the whole thing.” My belief is that people put raisins in baking as a deterrent to binge consumption. Dare I say, it’s pretty effective.

Upon further reflection, I also came to the conclusion that this deterrent doesn’t have to be limited to raisins. For example, I’m more than a little partial to foods that aren’t entirely healthy. Particularly potato chips. I mean, I love chips. Salt and vinegar have always been my favourite but, other than dill pickle flavoured (ugh!), I’m not too fussy. For me, the problem is that an open bag of chips is an empty bag of chips. I can’t help myself. As such, about eight months ago I quit them. Cold turkey. No, not cold-turkey flavo… hmmmm… that would be a good chip flavour! I just stopped eating chips. Now when I go to buy snacks I tend to go for pretzels. Why? Well, mostly because I don’t really like them. I mean, they’re okay. But I don’t feel in any way compelled to eat an entire bag once opened.

Side note: Yes, I’m aware that I just typed three somewhat lengthy paragraphs on the merits (or lack thereof) of raisins and pretzels. What can I say? This isn’t the least popular blog on the internet for nothing!

Meanwhile, in non-raisin-related matters, the time has come to put my (somewhat beloved) winter bike to rest for the season. Sure, this could’ve been done a while ago … we’re 37 days into Spring, after all. But with the weather not being particularly Spring-like I stuck with my winter bike until now. And, as it happens, this decision was somewhat made for me.

Yes, that’s supposed to have a cable attached to it

During my most recent ride – a glorious 50 km ride, I might add – things were going wonderfully (hence, the “glorious” part) until they weren’t. With only a few kilometres to go, the front brake cable which had been serving me so well suddenly stopped serving me at all. I was approaching an intersection where braking was required and as I applied the front brake there was a distinct snapping sound and I suddenly found myself without brakes. Well, front brakes anyway. And they’re the important ones! Truth be told, in my youth I actually spent the bulk of one winter without front brakes. My braking strategy? I actually just leaned forward, grabbed the actual brakes and manually squeezed the pads against the rim. Looking back, that probably wasn’t the smartest strategy but it was effective.

As for my current situation, there were no dire consequences from my sudden lack of brakes and I completed my (still) glorious ride. However, repairs were required. With bike shops closed and my inventory of bike-related items lacking the necessary replacement cable, the most obvious (and pleasant) option was to officially bring out my summer touring/road bike.

My aforementioned summer touring/road bike has been resting comfortably inside awaiting its return to duty. With its time now arriving there were some minor maintenance items to address. Or seemingly minor, anyway. I opted to swap out my new (or new-ish) touring wheels for my older standard rims for recreational riding. This turned out to be more of an ordeal than expected. I actually have two spare sets of rims and tires to choose from – one set being slightly narrower than the other. For no particular reason I opted for the wider of the two options – in either case, both are still MUCH more narrow than the wheels on my winter bike. While the rear wheel was ready to go (well, some inflation was necessary), the front rim needed to have the tube and tire mounted. That’s where the problem was encountered.

I like three of these wheels

For those that don’t know, mounting a tire to a rim can be a very easy process. Then again, it can also be a rage-inducing process as well. In the case of this set of rims and tires, it’s the latter. I’m not exactly sure why but I do know that it’s not just me. I’ve seen professional bike mechanics struggle with this particular set which, quite honestly, makes me feel better about struggling so much with it. Adding to the frustration was that I knew I’d done it in the past – and on the side of the road, I might add – but I really don’t know how. (Yes, I do … it’s called pure rage.) I mean, I fought that tire for 30 minutes before I thought, “You know, this is why I have another set of rims and tires.” Actually, that’s not REALLY the reason I have two spare sets but the fact is that I do. And fighting any longer seemed pointless – as did invoking the necessary level of rage to complete the task. And with that decision, the wheel swap was made and my summer bike was once again road-worthy.

As a final note, I took it out for a quick test ride (literally just up and down the street) but it was SOOOOO great. I mean, I know I said I was enjoying my winter bike but the comfort level offered by my summer bike was off the charts in comparison. I’m definitely looking forward to my first “summer” ride.

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