Ex-bike ed­i­tor West­lake con­tin­ues to hur­tle his way West across the USA aboard Suzuki’s finest tour­ing Hayabusa. This month it’s the Deep South: BBQ, re­li­gion and war­bling Aus­tralian totty…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By John West­lake

Mas­sive heat, Kylie's un­der­crack­ers and some meat. Lots and lots of tasty meat.

THREE THINGS BE­COME more pop­u­lar as I ride south: bar­beque din­ners, heat-in­duced delir­ium and God. Let’s start with the most im­por­tant of the three. Bar­beque food out­lets start ap­pear­ing as the Busa and I leave Ge­or­gia and en­ter Mis­sis­sippi. We’re head­ing west for 1500 miles to Al­bu­querque where we have an ap­point­ment with some mus­cle cars at a drag strip. And un­til now, food has been some­thing of an is­sue. Be­cause I’m trav­el­ling on ma­jor roads and have a sched­ule to keep, fast food out­lets are my prime source of din­ners. At the start of the jour­ney I vow not to eat at the same fast food joint twice, think­ing this will force me to seek out more in­ter­est­ing eater­ies, but I fail to re­alise how many of these calo­rie crack houses there are. Af­ter Mcdon­ald’s, Burger King and Sub­way, there’s Taco Bell, Ap­ple­bee’s, Jack in the Box (re­ally hor­ri­ble), Arby’s (slo­gan: We have the Meats), Denny’s (like MCD but cheaper), Wendy’s (Denny’s plain wife), Hardee’s (Denny’s twin brother), Waf­fle House (good for a chat), In-n-out (best fast food burg­ers ever) and loads more I can’t re­mem­ber be­cause my brain is dis­solved in un­sat­u­rated fat. Nowhere is Amer­ica’s prob­lem with food more ob­vi­ous than in a fast food joint. I stop in a Mcdon­ald’s near Gad­sen in Alabama and af­ter scan­ning the menu I spot that you can re­place the fries with let­tuce in a Big Mac meal. It’s been four days since I ate any­thing green and I sus­pect I’m de­vel­op­ing rick­ets. I ask for salad but the teenager be­hind the counter looks blank. Ad­mit­tedly, there has been some con­fu­sion with my English ac­cent as I’ve headed south so I say salad slower, try­ing to drawl out the word in a south­ern ac­cent while point­ing at the lit­tle leafy pic­ture on the board. ‘Y’all want salad?’ she asks glanc­ing be­hind her to con­firm what I’m in­flict­ing on my­self. ‘Y’all the first per­son to ask for thaaaat,’ she says, look­ing at me as if I’d just or­dered a bot­tle of Chateauneuf-du-pape. I turn round with my burger and tub of let­tuce and see a hugely over­weight woman with an oxy­gen line un­der her nose (the bot­tle is un­der the table) scoff­ing a Sausage Mc­muf­fin. She’s munch­ing away while watch­ing her com­pa­triot, Michael Phelps, do his thing in Rio on a telly above the door. I sit at the next table and won­der if the great­est Olympian in his­tory will win this 200m but­ter­fly heat be­fore the wheezy lady pops her clogs. Ev­ery­one cheers as Phelpsy wins, but I can’t help com­ing over all mid­dle­class Guardian reader. It feels like I’m in a Ge­orge Or­well novel where the overfed pro­le­tariat are all cheer­ing for their na­tion’s buff idol while they sit on their wob­bly ar­ses and munch their way to early graves. My pom­pos­ity isn’t ex­actly punc­tured by the ad breaks which con­sist of podgy folk in ex­pen­sive jumpers sell­ing drugs to lower choles­terol or re­lieve symp­toms of type two di­a­betes.

‘It’s been four days since I ate any­thing green and I sus­pect I’m de­vel­op­ing rick­etts’

(Above) Petrol sta­tions in the South are named by drunk peo­ple. BBQ is devine. (Be­low) Cross­ing the Mis­sis­sippi just out­side Mem­phis

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