Okay, I started to use this space to recommend a new cycling movie that we recently watched. Then, I remembered the blog is supposed to be about issues pertaining to the training including tips and tricks to help you get more out of cycling and to stay safe. (Oh my gosh, we watched that movie at night and both of us wanted to pull out the bikes and hit the trail.) Focus, focus.
This is it. This is the time for you to be trying different foods and hydration to figure out what is best for you. What do you need before your ride? During? How often? Water or sports drink?
There are several trains of thought on this but bottom line - do what works for you. Experiment. Read up.
Before the ride -
Some suggest eating 1 to 2 hours prior to your ride. For breakfast, I have friends that swear by peanut butter sandwich and a banana. Others are hooked on oatmeal. Still others swear by protein bars. I think the common denominator is a little protein mixed in with the carbs to keep your glycemic levels steady and your energy high.
Speaking of glycemic levels, if you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, you have to watch the sugar intake closely. Exercising naturally lowers blood sugar, so how does that affect you? Consider too that many of the gels, bars and drinks are loaded with sugar for energy. As a hypoglemic, I have to watch this. Too much and I'm on a glycemic roller-coaster that can last for hours making the ride pretty un-enjoyable. (Oy! the hills in that movie - it was incredible. Made Overlook seem a bit tame. Oops! I digressed.) If you've ridden with me before, this is where I shamelessly promote one of our sponsors, Hammer Nutrition. Hammer specializes in low-glycemic products and they have some of the best customer service I have ever experienced when ordering on-line.
During the ride -
Carry a gel, banana, or protein bar and try munching on it during longer training rides. Gauge the distance or time when you begin to notice your energy draining. Then you can start eating BEFORE you start running out of steam. (In the cycling flick I mentioned earlier, the riders have a food pit stop. Some roll through grabbing their food and they just keep on pedaling. No breaks, that is unless you have a spill, flat, or are mere mortals. This movie was so energizing. Did I say that already?)
Also, consider electrolyte replacement. This can be a pill, a sports drink or special food to replace the electrolytes lost. This is especially important on warm weather rides. Another good product for longer rides - Perpeteum (by Hammer) has the nutrition and electrolytes in one product.
There is so much information about nutrition and the ratios of food to time on the bike. Do your homework and experiment. If you need more convincing on the importance of this for long rides, ask a cyclist what it feels like to bonk. We've all done it and it is quite miserable.
Just a little note here about chamois butter aka butt butter. A friend and new rider, gently broached this subject about chafing. It made me think that newer riders get the talk about gears and gloves and helmets but we forget to share the secret of chamois butter until after they've earned their own first set of "racing stripes" (chafing). Why do we do that? My gosh, that should come right after "get some good shorts". So you ladies and gentlemen, new to this sport, invest in a good pair of bike shorts AND some chamois butter.
There are many to choose from - TBS (a local product), D'sNuts, Assos, Bag Balm, Glide, etc. Most apply it directly to the skin that might be at risk for a little friction during the longer ride, if you know what I mean. Supposedly, if you have the right seat position, the right saddle, the right shorts and the right form, chafing is a non-issue. I say 'whatever'! That hot shower water HURTS when it hits a fresh set of racing stripes. Trust me. Just get the stuff and smear it on.
Okay, I give - you knew I'd tell you, didn't you? The movie is "Race Across the Sky" starring the Leadville 100 Ride. This movie gives you the cycling bug like nobody's business. The Leadville 100 race in Colorado has riders from varying skill levels trek up and over the mountain and back in 1 day! This ride in Colorado is fantastic and pulls in an amazing pack of riders. One of the heroes of cycling, Lance Armstrong, has completed it a couple of years now but he's not the only hero as you will see in the movie. Be forewarned - watch the movie in the morning 'cause I promise you will want to ride after you watch it!