A few weeks back I had a rough experience at the end of a century ride. Usually I carry a little pack on long rides that has food, identification, and other miscellaneous items. That morning I left it sitting on the couch at home. Fortunately a friend let me borrow some money for the ride. We stopped at around mile 40 at a buffet restaurant. Usually I would eat pretty light and rely more on the food in my pack to get me home, but this time I overdid it some. I had a big helping of mashed potatoes, Salisbury steak, macaroni and cheese, and a ton of veggies. For the first ten miles after eating I had some weird stomach cramps. I was able to pedal through those eventually and managed a good pace most of the way back.
Then I hit mile 90 and SMACK — I bonked. Hard. All of a sudden I went from riding 16-18 mph to 12-14. On hills I was practically worthless, going all the way down to the lowest gear on an average-sized hill and struggling with it. My heart rate soared and I did what I could to hold on. Fortunately I had a good riding partner who talked to me and pulled me along. That last stretch took me nearly an hour and I was never happier to see my car when it was over.
After this experience, despite the unusual circumstances, I decided to get some help. I had been a longtime reader of LovingtheBike.com. They occasionally have a nutritionist post little tips about what to eat. Most of these tips are cycling-specific, but they could help anyone who is athletically inclined. After clicking around a bit, I found that this nutritionist named Kelli at Apex Nutrition was for hire. I signed up and this may have been the best thing to happen to my training yet.
Kelli conducted a thorough evaluation of my food choices and put together a customized, comprehensive meal plan. I thought my eating had been relatively healthy, and it is probably better than most, but she quickly pointed out some problem areas. She also gave me specific guidelines for how to fuel myself for rides. Her guides varied based on the type of ride and time of day. It took a little work to get these healthier (and yes, more expensive) foods into my diet, but almost immediately I saw results. In the long rides I’ve taken since working with her, I have felt vibrant and energized throughout. I haven’t yet bonked, or even come close to this point, while I have been picking up the intensity and pushing myself harder. Not only have I felt better on my rides, but I am riding considerably faster. Over this past weekend I found myself at or near the front of the pack just about all day.
Kelli also offers ongoing coaching, which I plan to take advantage through my training for Mitchell. She has already given me a battle plan for this weekend’s Marquis de Sade ride, which will the biggest challenge I have faced yet.