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It's About The Journey

[This is Part 3 of the “Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition” Series. Click here to read “Part 1 – The Macro on Nutrients“, or “Part 2 – Calories In, Calories Out“]

How you’ve managed to stick around for this much reading is beyond me, but kudos! In the last part of this series, we went over the common mistakes with caloric burn rates and caloric replenishment, as well as the upper-limits of replenishment. In this final segment of this series we’ll deal with the caloric deficits inherent to cycling, and some post-ride scarfing that – when done right – can help make up for it.

Unblancing Act

Try as you may, the output is stacked against you.

Try as you may, the output is stacked against you.

So… notice a problem here with the numbers we’ve seen over the last few posts? Let me give an example:

  • Average glycogen reserves: ~2,100 Calories
  • Yesterday I did a ride in which I burned 734 Cal/hr
  • I ingested about 150 Cal/hr (really, I should do MUCH better than this)
  • Calories available after processing: 135 Cal/hr
  • Hourly caloric deficit: 599 Cal/hr
  • Total ride time: 2 hours
  • Total caloric deficit: 1,198

Now, for a 2 hour ride, that’s okay. I have more than enough glycogen stores that I shouldn’t bonk (assuming I start replenishing right after the ride), and in fact I didn’t bonk, even with my low ingestion rate. But if I were to extend this to a four hour event, that caloric deficit is would’ve been huge – 2,396 Calories. Even with having eaten 600 Calories over those four hours, my tank is definitely on empty, and I probably started feeling that approaching wall around the 3:30 mark if not sooner. Had I eaten twice as many Calories, I would’ve been at a deficit of 1,856, which my glycogen stores should be able to just about cover, meaning I’d have been getting worn down but most likely wouldn’t have bonked.

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[This is Part 2 of the “Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition” Series. Click here to read “Part 1 – The Macro on Nutrients“]

Welcome back! In Part 1 we covered what the various macronutrients used by the body are, and how they are used. Today, we’re going to go over the loss of and replenishment of calories: the rate they’re burned, how many calories we need, and how fast we can replace them.

The Numbers Don’t Lie To Us, But We Do

Riiiiight....

Riiiiight….

Before we figure out how much we need to put in the tank, we need to figure out how much we’re removing. Many cyclists use activity trackers that track power and heart rate to give us a pretty good idea of the calories expended on a ride. When we get home, we see those burned calories and think, “Yes! I can eat a whole extra day’s worth of food!” Slow down. Yes, you burned those calories, but one thing a lot of cyclists forget is that some of those calories would’ve been burned even if you were just sitting around watching the Tour de France.

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We work out. We eat. We work out. We eat some more. What is it that we’re eating? How do the things we eat ultimately drive our legs? And how many calories are we really burning? I’m not going to give you specific eating guidelines since everyone has their own dietary needs, and needs to adjust them to their activity and personal requirements. But it’s good to understand what food really is to the body, how it’s used, and how fast it’s used.

Notes on Notation

Okay, yes, "c" is also for "cookie."

Yes, C is ALSO for “Cookie.”

Before I delve too deeply, I want to clarify something regarding calories. There are two notations for calories:

  • c (lower-case “c”): this is the scientific notation for a “calorie”, and is equivalent to 4.184 Joules of energy – the energy needed to increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere.
  • C (upper-case “C”): known a a food, nutritional, or dietary calorie, this is equivalent to 1,000 calories (lower-case “c”), and is also called a kilocalorie. A calorie is very small amount of energy, so when working with food, it’s easier to use Calories (1,000 calories) instead.

For the purpose of this article, all references to calories will mean food calories (upper-case “C”).

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Appreciate the darkness for the opportunity to see the light.

Appreciate the darkness for the opportunity to see the light.

You’ve all heard it before: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Usually, that idiom just means “don’t worry, it’ll get better.” There are plenty of these little perk-you-up phrases, like “Every dark cloud has a silver lining,” and “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” One I’ve heard in Spanish is “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” which literally translated means there is no bad from which good does not come.

In cycling, there are plenty of dark times. Everyone’s been there: you’re out on a century and you’re feeling awesome; 70, 75, 80 miles in. Then you do a particularly strenuous climb, and suddenly that finish line seems eons away. Maybe you’re in a race and you’re riding with the leaders, but suddenly it seems like it’s taking everything you’ve got just to hold.

And we’re always told to focus on the dawn, on the silver lining, on the good that’ll come. That’s a good notion, and a positive outlook. But I think we’re giving those dark moments a raw deal.

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Seriously, if you can do this, don't even bother reading any further.

Seriously, if you can do this, don’t bother reading any further.

Stretching. Yes, I know half of you just went “Ugh!” and felt your ham strings involuntarily tighten. But like anything else that’s hard – sprinting, hill climbing, distance riding, changing a flat – you have to do it if you want to get better at it. Today, I’d like to go over why stretching is important, the various types of stretching, the pros/cons of each, and when they should be done. NOTE: I won’t get into specific stretches, because you can find plenty of examples online, and it would take forever to go over them all.

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Hydro Power

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Yep, you're reading that right. 119° at the 2011 Hotter 'n Hell.

Yep, you’re reading that right. 119° at the 2011 Hotter ‘n Hell.

Our body is built around water. We can go a long time without food (though we’ll cover that problem next time), but we cannot survive without water. So, let’s go over hydration.

Water to Sweat

Sweat is pretty impressive. A single, bead of sweat can cool nearly 1 liter of blood by about 1° F. The thing that makes sweat work so well is that it’s made of water. It takes advantage of the large heat of evaporation of water; to keep it non-technical, that means a lot of heat is released into the air as water evaporates from a surface (taking the heat from that surface with it into the surrounding air).

Now here’s where it becomes a problem: about 60% of our body is comprised of water. About 55% of our blood is fluid, with 95% of that fluid being water. That means over half of our blood is made from water. When you sweat, water is removed from the body. It’s gotta come from somewhere, and that somewhere is mostly your blood. The more you sweat, the lower your blood volume. As your blood volume decreases, it becomes more difficult for the body to shed heat.

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Happy New Year

May the best miles of your past be the worst miles of your future.

We ride. The year was full of ups and downs, first times, last times, good times and bad. And we ride.

We’ve seen friends injured, and we’ve seen friends fall. We’ve seen friends stand up again, and seen friends help each other back to their feet. And we ride.

We’ve lost friends whose like we’ll never see again. And we’ve gained friends that will enrich our lives for years to come in ways we cannot imagine.

And we ride.

If there’s one thing I want to take from last year, it is this: I may be strong, but we are stronger. I may be fast, but we are faster. Each of us has the strength and courage to face this ride that is life on our own, but all of us make it a ride worth taking.

Thanks for being along for the ride.

Beyond the miles, beyond the hills.

    Beyond the heat and cold.

Beyond the wind and rain and ice.

    Beyond the tires old.

We form a line, a bond, a link,

    We take it all in stride.

We face the year and miles ahead,

    And together, we shall ride.

Semper equitare, and Happy New Year.

Might not look like much, but a long, steady, simple ride is where it all begins.

Now that you’ve got that little earworm stuck for the next 10 hours, let’s get to it.

What are base miles, why do we need ‘em, and how do we go about building them?

‘Bout That Base

Cycling has turned into a 365-day sport. If you can put two wheels on the surface, we’ll ride on it. If you get two people together on that same surface, we’ll race on it. This is great, because it’s increased accessibility to cycling year-around, and throughout so many different terrains/regions. But with so much up-time, it’s easy to lose the benefits of down-time.

Base miles aren’t designed to stress your muscles to the breaking point. Instead, they’re used to help your body recover from the previous year’s events, as well as aid your cardiovascular system by building endurance without adding stress to an already-beleaguered system.

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Forget the climb, THIS is where the pain begins...

Forget the climb, THIS is where the pain begins…

Rolling News. December 9th, 2014.

What started out as a casual conversation has turned into a profitable business model.

Will “The Wookie” Chambers was speaking with local esthetician Lila Marx while fixing her bicycle, and they got onto the subject of hair removal.

“I know cyclists that shave constantly, or have tried home solutions for hair removal with… shall we say, unfortunate results,” said Chambers. Chambers asked Marx about her hair removal services and the possibility of going into business together.

“I never really thought about it,” said Marx. “I mean, we’re always looking for new, stable customers. Never occurred to me what a great demographic it would be to target. One that’s already obsessed with how they look and continuously willing to spend gobs of cash? What a niche!”

When asked how his customers are responding to the new services, Chambers indicated that his clients have had only positive remarks. “Many male cyclists feel weird going into a beauty salon to setup a waxing appointment. But they’ll come into a bike shop, try on tight spandex shorts and skin suits. They just needed a place that they’d feel comfortable.”

My chariot. May it's footing be swift and sure.

My noble steed. May it’s footing be swift and sure.

I am a good cyclist. Why do I think that? Because I believe a large part of being a good cyclist means knowing what I’m bad at. And for me, that’s sustained power output. And basketball. Oh, and making pretzels. But I digress.

Enter the Time Trial
When you want to get better at climbing, you find a hill and you climb. And then you climb it again. And again. If you want to get better at sprinting, you find a marker and sprint. Then you do it again. And again.

Sensing a pattern? So I figure if I want to get better at sustained power output, I better output some sustained power. And nothing says sustained power like a good ol’ time trial.

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