The Blog

Cycling Adventures Part 2: Nutrition

My ride starts at 8:30am, and finishes at 6pm. That means, that to stay abreast of the van, I must aim to average at least 10mph. Yup, I'm aiming high. All I want out of this is simply not to be rescued.

Last week's training was all about not falling off. This week's is about not stopping.

Whilst browsing through the T&C's of my upcoming 100 mile bike ride, I discovered that if I go too slowly on the day, I might get picked up by a van and moved on. My Mum once did a triathlon where she was flanked by safety boat, as her swim was so slow. I don't want to turn into my mother and be the one tailed gated by a safety vehicle.

My ride starts at 8:30am, and finishes at 6pm. That means, that to stay abreast of the van, I must aim to average at least 10mph. Yup, I'm aiming high. All I want out of this is simply not to be rescued.

So this week I have been trying out various nutrition options. I was quite sad to learn that I don't get to 'carb load' yet, and it's all about protein at this stage. Seriously, I'm only in this for the pasta.

When I first signed up, lots of my mates that are doing similar events, bombarded me with advice. Telling me about all the things I'd need. Tablets, supplements, dissolving electrolyte things, and gels. One even suggested I'd need a ready supply of Cadbury's Chomps. Um, okay!

I'd never tried gels before, and I was reluctant. I like eating, I like the social nature of eating, and the wondrous range of things available for one to eat. I've never been a fan of things that replace meals, it's as though I'd be missing out on the chance of something yummy. There are an awful lot of calories in a gel, and my brain automatically goes 'um, you could have a Tiramisu for that.' Once I'd got over the calorie thing, because after all, I'd burn those calories and more, I actually found the gels brilliant.

The first one I tried was a USN Vooma Energy. I was a little hungover on this ride, and it opened with hills. I'd popped a gel in my pocket, in case of an emergency, and this was that emergency. I'd never tried one before, and I gagged a little at the sweetness. I have a feeling that this was my hangover, and not the gel. It was a little calpol-ly in consistency, but I later discovered this is true of all gels. After necking it by the side of the road, twenty minutes later, there was no stopping me. I was still feeling indestructible by the time I was onstage later in the evening. Who'd have thought the cure for a hangover is one of these bad boys and a 20k hilly ride?

On the next ride I gave a Push Express Energy Plus a go. This went down easier than the first, but I'm not sure if it's the fact that I wasn't hungover, so it wasn't a controlled test. If this were part of my science GCSE coursework, my findings would already be discounted. They were more fruity and less artificially sweet. They seem to do the job too, although they didn't have to pick me up from rock bottom as the previous one did.

The last gel I tried this week was a SIS Go + Caffeine Gel. This was like a bag of Haribo in liquid form. Definitely the best tasting, and again, they really did the trick. The problem is, is that I like both Haribo, and coffee. I still can't shake the paranoia of the calories of the gels, and might give 30k a go on sweets and a latte, for a true comparison.

It's hard to know what supplements are doing what, but I know that I'm feeling great! Despite all the work, I don't feel tired. I've tried a week on the Vitabiotics Well Woman sport range. These are the only product I'm using, that isn't from a specialist health or sports shop. Good old Boots, hey?

This week am giving these New Image Health bad boys a go. Naturally, I will report back on my findings.

Now for hydration, because, yes, plain old water just won't cut it any more. I'm already a fan of effervescent tablets over plain water when exercising. I usually use Nuun, but have branched out in the name of road testing (literally) alternatives.

These, again from New Image, which are more about vitamins than electrolytes are great, as are these Science In Sport ones, these taste really good, too.

Coconut water is also a good option for replacing electrolytes, but doesn't keep very well in a cycling bottle, I find that once it gets warm, it tastes of feet. Clean feet, but feet nonetheless.

And where did I cycle this week? Dogging sites, mostly. Yeah. I didn't know that at the time, but I seems to have taken in day time cycling tours of most of the midlands dogging hotspots, including Cannock Chase, which is known to have been frequented by former premiership footballers. I'm all class.