Day Twenty Nine: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

When I was ten years old I had no idea what music I liked.  It was off my radar.  Records were too expensive and tapes meant having a tape recorder, which, to all intents and purposes were as affordable as an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.  As a result my musical library consisted of old records my parents had purchased for parties that featured songs for games of musical chairs and pass the parcel.

Today my eight year-old daughter has a vast library of mp3 tunes stored on her mobile phone, which came free with a six pack of Spanish cereal. I am told it is a very basic phone, yet it comes with Bluetooth which enables her to swap tracks with her friends, all of whom eat the same cereal.

I am not sure quite where these tracks come from but I suspect they are downloaded from a dodgy web site run by an eleven year old boy in Germany that writes Blogs on how to hack your iPhone, publishes cheat sheets for console games and advises national defence agencies on network security.

Before going to bed last night I showed my kids the powers of Google Street View.  I was amazed at being able to wander down a street in San Francisco, Perth or Fairbanks Alaska, but they just shrugged their shoulders and asked why they couldn’t see the cars moving? They fully expected it to be live web-cam footage. The scary thing is I can imagine that it will probably be live footage one day.  Probably next Tuesday at the rate things are moving.

I spent way too much time on the Internet yesterday as I was hunting for the lyrics to a Mad Mad World, a song I wanted to put on my iPod.  I spent the entire day at home because I had man-flu and could not train.

We all know that men and women are different.  A woman will eventually, or rather reluctantly, go to the doctor, carrying her leg in a carrier bag, claiming that it is nothing more than a flesh wound.  She will already have dropped the kids off at school, been to the supermarket and IKEA, only then stopping off at the doctor on the way home. A man however will call the paramedics upon waking when he discovers his nose is running. This is a fact.  Women are the Black Knights of this world.

Which brings me onto Krating Daeng.

Back in 1987 I was training on my road bike in Thailand.  I was out exploring on my own and had bumped into a local triathlon squad.  It was managed by the national judo champion, who had defected and become a triathlete. He was a short squat man with veins the size of irrigation pipes in his legs, a shiny bald head and a large friendly smile.

He invited me to join him and his club on an out and back ride the next day.  I woke up, forced myself to eat a bowl of spicy noodles, filled my water bottles and met them at the cross-roads in the village. It was hot and so bright outside I needed a welders mask not sunglasses.  We set off at a pace that would have made Lance Armstrong complain.  For mile after mile Judo Man hammered on the front of the pack.

I decided any notion of heroics was out of window, that I would follow the wheels of the riders in front, to try to stay out of the wind and save some energy for the return trip.  I tried to count each climb we encountered on the way out, visualizing the return journey.

Eventually we stopped at a small roadside shack.  The roof was tilted to one side like a theatrical hat.  There were no lights inside and it smelt of garlic, lemongrass and chillies.  As my eyes adjusted to the contrast I watched as crumpled notes changed hands and small glass bottles were handed out to the Thai cyclists.  Whatever it was, it looked rather suspect.  I managed to have a look at the label before the condensation caused it to slide off the bottle in a pool of dissolving paste.  It had a red graphic of two bulls charging at each other.  It was called Krating Daeng.

150 ml bottle of Krating Daeng (Drink) Copyright (c) 2006 Geoff Martin

150 ml bottle of Krating Daeng (Drink) Copyright (c) 2006 Geoff Martin

The bottle was about the size of a shot glass.  The liquid inside tasted of cough medicine and was flat and thick, like treacle.  Judo Man wore a serious look and told me to drink plenty of water to wash it down. I thought I was drinking either bull sperm or bull wee. I resisted the gag reflex and forced it down thinking ‘when in Rome’ and all that.

Ten minutes later I was on the front of the bunch pushing the pace along at fifty kilometres per hour.  I was flying.  No matter what gear I used on my bike, I eventually spun it out.  The group was in a long line behind me as we tore across open fields growing rice, past small villages full of cheering children, running bare foot beside the road.  We sprinted up each of the climbs on the way back oblivious to the gradients and were back home in no time at all.

At three in the morning I was still wide awake, swatting mosquitoes the size of sparrows in my tiny room wondering what on earth it was I had consumed.

It was of course the pre-cursor to Red Bull, only far stronger than the fizzy, watered down version we know of today.

At about the same time that I was lying in bed wide awake, an Austrian by the name of Dietrich Mateschitz was probably doing the same.  He was the international marketing director for Blendax, a German toothpaste company. He had visited Thailand in 1982 and discovered that Krating Daeng helped to cure his jet lag.  To cut a long story short, he adapted the drink for the European palate, weakened it and made it fizzy. He launched Red Bull in 1987 and is now a multi, multi millionaire.

What a mad, mad world we live in….I bet he is wide awake at night though.

I leave you with another video, courtesy of YouTube.  I have the lyrics too if you are interested and will probably be singing them on my run tomorrow evening.


1 Comment

  1. Ed,

    Men do suffer differently than women when it comes to the flu:

    You’ve probably seen it but you appreciate it more today!




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