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:
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.