Category Archives: nutrition

Riding a sine wave of emotion

I’m halfway up the eastern track, winding its way up the Worcestershire beacon, with a murky rural Herefordshire unfolding on my right. The wind is howling up, over and across the rolling hills beating my bike across the path. The going is tough, and whilst my mind is stubbornly focusing on reaching the top of the climb, it does waver briefly to reminisce about my experience last month at the Bristol Oktoberfest.


It was lap 3 where my race went awry. Having discovered that my “out-of-date” energy bars were well past the sell-by-date (a good year by all accounts!) I found myself heading out from transition onto my third lap with no food on board, and just a bottle of carbohydrate-charged drink to keep me going.


Mistake. After an enthusiastic start, only a quarter of my way into the lap I can feel the nauseous, light-headed feeling creeping in behind my eyeballs as a dreaded sugar-low begins.


“Just get yourself through this next section”. My minding struggles to push the empty legs on.


“C’’mon… …it levels out in 100 metres…”


I don’t want to stop on the incline, but my legs have lost all power and feel like I’ve donned a pair of lead ankles weights. The drain on my energy is so much that I almost come to a standstill as turning the cranks on the singlespeed steed takes its toll.


Then the incline levels out, slowly turning to a gentle decline allowing me to freewheel and reach into my back to grab my emergency gel blocks. I scoff half and swill the gelatinous mouthful down with the carb-drink.


Slowly the energy seeps back into my muscles and the light-headedness ebbs away, minutes more and I’m back on it and swooping through Ashton Courts finest.


Lesson learnt – no matter how unfit I felt before going to the event I really should have gone a little more prepared on the nutrition front. Mental note; also make sure you have an emergency pack of gel in your back pocket to get you out of a mess.


Back to the Beacon, and I’m cresting the top of the hill and whilst the wind threatens to rip me from the very spot where I’m standing, the view is grey but clear – it’s good to be alive.

I know the chicken noodles were over but I thought the Molotov concoction of fiery sauce might help!


It’s been a point of weakness for me in the past, coming from the bad boy school of fry-ups before rides and heavy nights on the black stuff. But I’m finding that as you get closer along the road to your aspirations, the finer detail becomes important.

I’m sat waiting for my lift out to Mountain Mayhem for the 24 hour endurance race in Eastnor, Herefordshire. I’ve just finished a hearty jacket spud with tuna, my food & recovery drinks all packed for the weekend. I chuckle when I think back to our first some 8 years ago, as I seem to recall we were a little on the green side when it came to surviving an endurance race. A couple of years on I disproved that lager was a suitable means of revitalising yourself between laps. Yup, we have fun memories of Mayhem.

I wouldn’t say we take things any more seriously these days, but our fitness has improved & experience shows when it comes to pack for such an event (it also comes from doing several in a year!).

There’s the obvious stuff that everyone generally knows about; carb-loading the day before a physical event. Pasta parties were an early lesson in the biking competition world.

Then came carbohydrate drinks to stave off cramp during later laps as the legs began to tire. A crucial second learning & I’m surprised to find the odd biking acquaintance who doesn’t generally keep some hydration supplement handy, particularly at events. I’ve certainly come to use them religiously during hard training, long rides & races finding huge benefit in recovery & stamina. These days I find myself experimenting with quantities & variety of products, favouring Torq for hydration & Clif Bars for substance between laps.

What do I have to add to the story? I feel I’ve gone full circle For those of you starting to train hard & compete for the first time, don’t forget the basics: less sugar & more carbs, your 5-a-day, 8 pints of water a-day… 8 hours sleep (where you can get it). Maintaining your health & strengthening your immune system is key in continuing to train & compete. Oh and certainly avoid overripe or out-dated foodstuffs as I found out to my dismay last week, finding that my stomach is less cast iron than I thought, after a rather overripe Pineapple…

Has anyone had any revelations in terms of hydration & nutrition in training & competing?