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  1. #1
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Ride Report: Nutrition Bites back

    Yesterday I wanted to go for one of my favorite longer rides, 44 miles of fantastic crushed limestone through rural Nebraska. It's a ride I've done many times, and generally takes me 2-3 hours, at the most once it took 3.5 after some lazy stops and crampy legs. Yesterday it would take me 4.25 hours! Full report here:

    http://www.chubbysuperbiker.com/2012/06/wabash.html

    I started the ride with 550 calories in my belly, at roughly 2:40pm. I took with me 5 mini Cliff Bars (which honestly are the perfect size for ride fuel, a shot of 100 calories at a time) and had planned to make a stop on the way back for something a little more. My daily calories have been right around 1130 for the past few weeks, but yesterday I was going to give myself a little more.

    What I didn't factor in was the 12-18 hours of constant rain we had up until about 3 hours before I left. Last week I took a 30 mile Friday afternoon ride through the city and about 12 miles of this trail. After weeks of no rain, the trail was almost like pavement. Very dusty pavement, but you get the idea - it was nice and fast. Yesterday it was like riding through water, uphill.

    I found myself at 12 miles from my truck with literally no power in my legs. I was hurting, but I've hurt before. I've not felt my legs just not have any "go" like that before. It wasn't a bonk, it was completely different - like suddenly the power tap turned off. Even more odd was that I'd just had a Gatorade (first one in months, didn't taste good) and a protein bar giving me around 300 calories almost direct to my system.

    I struggled more than I ever have, looking back, just to make the final miles home. My legs went in and out while the usual pains of having almost 4 hours in the saddle were there. At the end I'd consumed 730 calories over 4 hours and 10 minutes on the bike - which I had no idea wasn't enough.

    So now I need to experiment. I know that I can go just fine for normal long rides - I've done a few 25 and 30 mile hot and sweaty rides yet this year - but something like that, I need to figure out something else. Nutrition is very much key, I know that had I'd had the energy, I'd have made it through just fine.

    As a case in point when I got back to the truck I had my last two mini Cliff bars and a Gatorade while driving home. Once I was home my energy in my legs was back to normal and i was bounding up the stairs after my Labrador and 4 year old.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdinger View Post
    I found myself at 12 miles from my truck with literally no power in my legs. I was hurting, but I've hurt before. I've not felt my legs just not have any "go" like that before. It wasn't a bonk, it was completely different - like suddenly the power tap turned off. Even more odd was that I'd just had a Gatorade (first one in months, didn't taste good) and a protein bar giving me around 300 calories almost direct to my system.
    Sounds like a textbook bonk to me! Lots of people get a little tired and call that a bonk. In my experience, a true bonk makes you feel like you don't have the energy to stay on the bike and coast, let alone turn the pedals over. The nasty thing about a bonk is that it's difficult to recover from it if you stay on the bike: the body can only absorb 250-300/calories of energy per hour so even a moderate pace will have you burning calories almost as soon as you consume them. When I bonked while riding down the Pacific coast, the only way I could recover was to take a long lunch where I literally sat on the beach and did nothing. Even after that, I could feel that my energy levels were still somewhat depleted.

    I struggled more than I ever have, looking back, just to make the final miles home. My legs went in and out while the usual pains of having almost 4 hours in the saddle were there. At the end I'd consumed 730 calories over 4 hours and 10 minutes on the bike - which I had no idea wasn't enough.
    The standard recommendation is to consume around 250 calories/hr while riding. 4x250 = 1000 calories, so it's not surprising you came up short. Especially given how little you're eating these days! I'm a big fan of low-calories diets, but at 175lbs I don't think I could survive on 1100 calories/day. 1400-1500 calories/day (net) is about as low as I can go before I start to feel lethargic.

  3. #3
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Sounds like a textbook bonk to me!
    And to me, too.


    The standard recommendation is to consume around 250 calories/hr while riding. 4x250 = 1000 calories, so it's not surprising you came up short. Especially given how little you're eating these days! I'm a big fan of low-calories diets, but at 175lbs I don't think I could survive on 1100 calories/day. 1400-1500 calories/day (net) is about as low as I can go before I start to feel lethargic.
    Yes, I think the problem here is less how much you ate on the ride - a 250 kcal shortfall wouldn't normally be that significant - but the fact that you were energy-depleted at the start, because of the 1100 kcal/day. You can crash diet, and you can undereat when on the bike, but you can't do both and expect it not to affect your stamina.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    YRMV, but this works for me. I must qualify this by stating that my training is for distance and endurance, not necessarily speed. I am a heart attack survivor on medication that limits heart rate to about 150.

    I usually eat 900-1100 cal during the day. Peanut butter on one slice of toast for breakfast, apple mid morning, some 200-300 cal frozen thing from Trader Joe's for lunch, banana mid afternoon, then, If I do an extended after work commute, like I did yesterday, I break a bite off a Clif bar. I did thirty miles, at 12 mph average (usually do 14-15, but headwinds were bad) Took bites from the clif bar at a couple of convenient stops, and had almost half of it left at the end.

    I am down to about 55 of the 100 excess pounds I started with, and operate on the premise that as long as I keep giving glycogen levels little boosts, my body will burn from the reserve. It has taken me a while to find what works, and what I am doing now is pretty close. On long rides I do between 50 and 100 cal per hour. As I get closer to my goal, I suspect I may have to increase this. Working with my doc to get off of some of the meds so I can work harder.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  5. #5
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    And to me, too. Yes, I think the problem here is less how much you ate on the ride - a 250 kcal shortfall wouldn't normally be that significant - but the fact that you were energy-depleted at the start, because of the 1100 kcal/day. You can crash diet, and you can undereat when on the bike, but you can't do both and expect it not to affect your stamina.
    Well I'd already planned for it, and honestly, it caught me by surprise. I pulled of a 30 mile ride while only consuming 800/day earlier in the spring, and was OK afterward aside from some very mild nausea due to dehydration. Hilly limestone in Iowa, but I managed to push through it. And last week it was rather windy, not a cloud in the sky, and 90 degrees - 30 miles of mixed terrain with no problem and no additional calories. The week before that was a tough 90 degree hilly gravel ride. More on it in a second.

    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Sounds like a textbook bonk to me! Lots of people get a little tired and call that a bonk. In my experience, a true bonk makes you feel like you don't have the energy to stay on the bike and coast, let alone turn the pedals over. The nasty thing about a bonk is that it's difficult to recover from it if you stay on the bike: the body can only absorb 250-300/calories of energy per hour so even a moderate pace will have you burning calories almost as soon as you consume them. When I bonked while riding down the Pacific coast, the only way I could recover was to take a long lunch where I literally sat on the beach and did nothing. Even after that, I could feel that my energy levels were still somewhat depleted.



    The standard recommendation is to consume around 250 calories/hr while riding. 4x250 = 1000 calories, so it's not surprising you came up short. Especially given how little you're eating these days! I'm a big fan of low-calories diets, but at 175lbs I don't think I could survive on 1100 calories/day. 1400-1500 calories/day (net) is about as low as I can go before I start to feel lethargic.
    After more thought, it must have been. My last bonk, all I wanted to do was lay down and go to sleep, and I couldn't stand up. No amount of food that I had to force into my mouth could correct it, after 2 hours I finally made it back.

    This time, though, I do realize my mistake. It was mis-judging the amount of energy exerted over the time. My longest ride prior to this, time-wise, was about 2.5 hours and I had no problem pulling it off. Yet they were later in the day, hence more of a base for intake before.

    My baseline was too low before I started, the deficit had started before I could get a chance to replenish it. Lesson learned, and don't mis-judge mother nature, either.

  6. #6
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
    YRMV, but this works for me. I must qualify this by stating that my training is for distance and endurance, not necessarily speed. I am a heart attack survivor on medication that limits heart rate to about 150.

    I usually eat 900-1100 cal during the day. Peanut butter on one slice of toast for breakfast, apple mid morning, some 200-300 cal frozen thing from Trader Joe's for lunch, banana mid afternoon, then, If I do an extended after work commute, like I did yesterday, I break a bite off a Clif bar. I did thirty miles, at 12 mph average (usually do 14-15, but headwinds were bad) Took bites from the clif bar at a couple of convenient stops, and had almost half of it left at the end.

    I am down to about 55 of the 100 excess pounds I started with, and operate on the premise that as long as I keep giving glycogen levels little boosts, my body will burn from the reserve. It has taken me a while to find what works, and what I am doing now is pretty close. On long rides I do between 50 and 100 cal per hour. As I get closer to my goal, I suspect I may have to increase this. Working with my doc to get off of some of the meds so I can work harder.
    You may look at the mini Cliff Bars. I've found the "big ones", as you have, to be too much - but the minis are perfect. 100 calories, boom, you're done. Makes for a easy gulp down while pedaling away as well!

    Also same boat with calories and most rides. Yesterday was just too many factors at once.

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