Hard work

So this weekend just gone, I popped up to see my parents up in Cumbria and took the opportunity to do a little cycling.

The first eight miles to Little Salkeld were reminiscent of Cornwall.  Very steep but short brutal hills.  After a most pleasant tea and cake at Little Salkeld Watermill, I headed up to Hartside Cafe.  This is on the C2C Route 7 route at is 1903 ft.  There is a lovely cafe at the top which is well worth a visit.

The journey on the way down however – awesome! 

Four seasons in one day

We’ve done it!

The Mad March hare Sportive 2015. A tale of wind, rain, sleet, beautiful sunshine, and more rain.

Weather for 1st March 2015

We set off from the start line after a little splash of rain and sleet, all in good spirits and looking forward to the ride (if not the climb). The first 30k’s seemed to go quickly as we cycled South through Ullenhall, and further on to cross the river at Welford-On-Avon.

As we carried on through 38 and 50k’s we could see our challenge in the distance, and soon after we turned towards the village of Saintbury it started. For just under two miles it was a low gear grind punctuated by the odd pause to allow the heart to slow down and return back inside the chest. 600 vertical feet later, and a few deep breaths we were rewarded with an amazing view Half way upand an even better downhill stint.

The return route crossed itself a couple of times and as we passed the 55km mark the downhill section from the start, turned into an uphill section to the finish. The final 20k’s were a drag on our tired legs and the miles seemed to pass slowly. Every little push from the (sort of) tailwind was a blessing, and the squalls, gusts and freezing rain were not. After a short stop at the refueling point for more flapjacks, energy drink and tea we were on the final 15 miles, and after six and a half hours of pedalling, we turned and saw the finish point – a great feeling, as was the feeling of a bacon sarnie and a tea in the hand.

Frank and I looked on this as a taster for some of the LeJog days – kit performed well: we performed well. Great support from the organisers and other riders – just move it to the Summer please 🙂

And one more thing, would it be too much to ask that the ones who use energy gels, and throw the empties on the road; please don’t. It’s not the best advert for a cycle ride.

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Fueling up

With the Mad March Hare ride looming, it’s time to start thinking about our calorie intake for the ride to avoid Hitting The Wall. So I’ve gathered some interesting posts.

Step 1. Carb loading

Carbohydrates are your body’s best source of fuel, so you want to make sure you’ve given it a plentiful supply before rolling over the start line.

For the 48 hours before the event, base all of your meals around carbohydrates and have carbohydrate snacks throughout the day. Breakfast can be cereals, bread, fruit, and yogurt. For lunch, go with sandwiches, jacket potato, pasta salad, and/or wraps. And for dinner, try to eat something rice-based, pasta, or lean meat with potatoes. Treat yourself with yogurt and fruit for desert.

Energy drink, dried fruits, and cereal bars can all be used for snacks throughout the day.

Step 2. Race day morning

Have a good carbohydrate-based breakfast two hours before the start. Your aim should be to have at least two servings from the following list: cereal with toast and jam, porridge with fruit juice, and cereal bars and yogurt.

Step 3. Mid-ride refuel

Your body stores energy as glycogen in the liver or muscles, but these supplies only last for roughly 90 minutes of exercise. To stop your energy levels depleting, you want to constantly top up on fuel throughout the ride. Don’t worry about the first 45 minutes, but from there you need to ingest around 60g of carbs every hour (the maximum amount an average body can absorb).
Sports energy drinks, gels, bars, or other easy-to-digest carb snacks are great for maintaining your energy stores, as they’re designed for easy digestion and quick absorption. If you’d rather go the traditional route, cereal bars, small wrap sandwiches with low-fat fillings, and dried fruit are all excellent alternatives.

Step 4. Avoid temptation

Feed stops are often filled with tempting things to eat, but be aware that these are not always ideal ride food. Foods such as cake, biscuits, pastries, crisps or sandwiches containing cheese and/or containing mayonnaise may taste great, but they’re high in fat and will sit heavy in your stomach, taking time to digest. This can make your following 10-15 miles after the stop quite uncomfortable.

Step 5. Post-ride recovery

After your ride you need to replace muscle glycogen by eating carbohydrate, and protein to help repair muscle damage. High glycaemic index carbs are best, so we’re talking scrambled eggs on white toast, rice with chicken and vegetables or tuna pasta.

Should I eat before an early morning ride and if so, what should I opt for?

You should eat where possible before your morning ride; especially if it is a longer session (1 hour in duration) or a high-intensity session. The body uses carbohydrate stores (quickly broken down to energy) for high-intensity work, and if cycling having not eaten breakfast you may not be able to maintain the quality of exercise. Due to the body’s position on the bike, riders generally find it easier to tolerate food closer to cycling, though you should try a few strategies and see what works best for you.

Here are two morning situations to plan for:

The early riser – if you wake up 2 hours before your cycle, good options include:

Porridge plus
Blueberry bircher pots
Mango & banana smoothie
Cinnamon buckwheat pancakes with cherries
Scrambled omelette toast topper

Straight out of bed – if you prefer to get straight out on the bike, the following, quickly-digested, options are good options for you:

Fruity teacake
Breakfast smoothie
Breakfast bar
Breakfast muffins

If you can’t tolerate any food before your ride, or prefer not to eat, try increasing the carbohydrate portion of your evening meal the night before, as this will be stored in the muscles (as glycogen) ready for your morning session.