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Primal Europe Blogs – Fuelling for a Century
Fuel for endurance sports? Lots of info on how to do it right, how to carb load properly, hydration, enough salt, enough sleep, suggestions for getting up at 2am to have a smoothie, pasta is good for you, pasta makes you gain weight. The conflict between media and proven methods is a minefield. But having participated in countless half marathons, two marathons, cycled long distances, and all sorts of other events over the years, I should know pretty well what works for me and what doesn’t. For years I had such a severe intolerance to starchy carbohydrates that I went on an elimination diet to see what was causing my problems, had tests for celiac that didn’t come back here or there, and then spent 11 years eating low carb. And the complimentary health foods my friends said looked and tasted like cardboard. At one point the intolerance was so sensitive that I would clutch my left side in pain even if my fork came in contact with the mash potato before touching my forage. I slowly started reintroducing starchy carbs back into my diet and the odd episode caused discomfort but now I can eat more or less anything. The choice to start doing this was only because I wanted to be more active, I wanted to run, I wanted to play football, I wanted to cycle but without introducing potatoes and I wanted to last longer. The rice returned to my plate and I had to work it.
Fueling and hydrating for endurance is something that’s easy to miss during a heat wave, and even more so. If I’m not worried that what I’m eating is pointless junk (as I plow my way through the chips on the Fatboy plate while I fork into my salad), what I’ve eaten is enough to sustain me for a long time to come. Distance or fast travel, gives my body a balance of quality and proper nutrition rather than cheap and happy. Then there’s the issue of burning more calories than you eat and not eating enough to replace the calories burned. My head spins. Sometimes I can go out for a brisk walk or run and feel great and then there’s the odd occasion when I’m so busy with home life that if I go out I forget to eat enough and I pay for it and Ashby’s 100, 105+ That’s what happened in the days leading up to the mile ride, which last year was a fun-only ride at the cycling club and then became an official event this year. With the youngest member of the household having spent most of the day ‘gizzard puke’ before waking up at the magic hour, I was fitting in time to train for my upcoming triathlon, then holiday shopping and being busy all around. Pick up any last minute essentials and help with bike maintenance ready for the Ashbys 100 and so not only was I sleep deprived in the days leading up to the ride, I hadn’t really eaten much, let alone thought about how hot it would be. on that day
The morning of the ride I woke up and dressed in my Primal Ambassador custom kit, threw on the neon crush arm warmers because it was a hot day and sat on the edge of the bed staring at my sockpile wondering what to wear, electric shock socks or pandas, it’s always a tough choice but ends with symbols. Sipping on my black coffee my brain and stomach couldn’t really coordinate, I was awake even though I couldn’t finish my breakfast. I packed some gels, flapjacks and salt tablets in my jersey pocket, enough to see me through the 50 mile feed stop and headed off to meet the other riders for the 8.30am start. About 20 riders participated in this competition. Coach Matt gave us a pep talk including making sure we ate enough breakfast. You know when you’re in a school assembly and the principal calls out something to the students to find the guilty party, that’s what I felt and my inner self said “Oh!” Sighed a little. He then reiterated the intervals of when to take gels and stay hydrated, “If you’re thirsty it’s too late” he said, which I was relieved to be because I was one of them and we only had 50 miles to go. First feed stop, how bad could it be.
We set off at a leisurely pace, chatting as we made our way across the open landscape towards St Ives and Warboy, it was starting to feel very warm for that time of the morning. As we turned onto a road some of us slowed down to wait for a few others on the way back to make sure they saw us before trying to catch up with the pack ahead. Riding through a rural landscape dotted with fields of bright yellow rapeseed, the riders looked like a snapshot of the Tour de France riding through sunflowers. Some of the riders coming back from injury were starting to feel the effects about 40 miles into the ride as we pushed a few backs into headwinds, I was feeling fine but my bike felt very heavy and this was partly to blame. To change the tires from my usual SWorks Gripton, a set of temporary road tires that came as an extra set with my CX bike and I wasn’t going with them. The tires had a noticeably different roll and felt heavier in comparison, making my legs work harder as the group began to push Fenn into headwinds. Despite sitting in the middle of the pack I suddenly dropped back and found myself again working hard to keep up with the group which now sat around 19mph, nothing unusual about the pace though. Frustrated again I went to the stop point where everyone had gathered for a quick drink and regroup. We only had 4 miles to go until the feed stopped and I thought what do I have to do, keep it up or call it a day at 50 and I didn’t want to quit.
Arriving at the food stop, we met some of the club members who had made cakes and sandwiches, supplied drinks and sun cream. It was getting hotter and many riders were already sporting a cycling tan by 11.30. I felt so much better after eating and was ready for the second half. All was going well until Poor Bill, the event organizer, had a freehub mechanical 10 miles into the second half of the ride. Waiting for the replacement bike, the riders took a break and hit the grass, a good chance to top up sunscreen, hydrate and crack some terrible jokes before heading to our second stop in Denver which was about 80 miles away. I was feeling better after eating so now it was just a matter of conserving my energy regardless of the tire situation and the rising temperature. 5 miles before we reached our second stop, the sun was beating down on us and we wanted to reach our destination, Coach Matt was bored and I needed a distraction as the heat was getting to me so we started playing Eye Spy, to guess the most obvious thing. Funny how long it takes. Finally arriving at The Jennings Arms, a riverside pub in Denver, we parked our bikes in a cul-de-sac and headed to the bar for salty snacks and drinks before heading for the final stretch home.
Riding along the river bank we passed river boats and exchanged waves, poor Bill had a 2nd and 3rd mechanical trouble within minutes due to a puncture. As I set off again I felt myself feeling a bit out of place. The heat had given me too much time and I was losing the power to push in my legs and was falling back. The main pack had moved on and it was just Bill and I for company. Coach Matt was ahead of the pack but noticed that Bill and I were not in the group, coming back to us he saw me struggling. Saving his Cherry Bakewell Torque Gel for a “special occasion”, he handed it to me along with half a pack of dextrose sweets and told me to eat it with the gel. Meanwhile, I was pedaling and doing as I was told, I too was expected to answer his many questions which included the answer to the letter ‘D’ before our I Spy. Speaking became more difficult as the dextrose and torque gel began to mix and foam almost like a magnesium tablet. It was making me laugh and I was just laughing. Handing me a loaf of Soarin Malt, Matt asked me to eat it, as I digested the Torq gel and dextrose sweets, I couldn’t help but smile as the malt loaf clung to my teeth and the foam receded. Within minutes the combination of the three started and Matt explained to me the three levels of energy reserve and I was quickly brought up to the 3rd energy reserve probably due to the heat and my pre-ride fuel. I cycled another 9 miles before the group called a sweeper car to another pub for a fill up, another puncture repair and to take me home. I WELL AND TRULY HIT THE WALL AT 91 MILES!!!!!!!
The next day I decided I wanted to make up the miles I hadn’t completed the day before because that was unfinished business. Taking the baking easy on another hot day, I headed out into the sunny countryside in my Theta shorts and jersey, well fueled and hydrated, and about 10 miles… 27 miles. Later I came home. It was so hot that the rest of the week was a matter of taking it easy. It was too hot to throw myself into my triathlon training and I didn’t want to get hurt. It’s not in my nature to sit still for too long but as the weather was nice I took advantage of my free time and went shopping with the aim of buying a tri belt and laces, however, I arrived home empty handed. But a new road bike was ordered. I went to the store with a Fatboy bank card for coffee and tomato sauce and came home with 10 bags and no sauce or caffeine.
The following week my new bike, the Liv Envie Advanced 1 was ready for me at Rutland Cycles, after the bike was fitted and the aero water bottles were added I was able to take the bike home. This bike was a real joy to ride and I had a lot of laughs practicing the swim to bike section for a triathlon. So, with lessons learned about eating right, weather in mind and a good fueling plan in place I look forward to my first triathlon, hopefully it’s not too hot otherwise I’ll keep swimming.
Until next time…
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