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    Eating Before a Ride

    As a new cyclist, I pushed myself hard last weekend with the touring club, riding as fast as I reasonably could without killing myself, 55k one day, then 45 the next. While pleased with myself initially, it wasn't long after I suffered a lot of intestinal pain and what can be generalized as "upset" - cramping, bloating, etc. It took a day to resolve itself.

    Is there a lesson to be learned concerning meals before a ride, simply a reaction to overexertion when cycling or is there something else going on?

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailRider
    As a new cyclist, I pushed myself hard last weekend with the touring club, riding as fast as I reasonably could without killing myself, 55k one day, then 45 the next. While pleased with myself initially, it wasn't long after I suffered a lot of intestinal pain and what can be generalized as "upset" - cramping, bloating, etc. It took a day to resolve itself.

    Is there a lesson to be learned concerning meals before a ride, simply a reaction to overexertion when cycling or is there something else going on?
    You may have answered it yourself "As a New Cyclist" It does not matter how fit you are, how strong you are, or even how much you time you spend on the bikes down at the gym. Cycling is the only way to get fit for cycling. Pushing yourself hard was the next problem with once again being " A new Cyclist". Then to do it 2 days running- well.

    The body has to adjust to this new sport. OK the legs and lungs may be there, but the stomach and abdomen are not used to the rest of the body working and they Don't. Think about it.

    Now on the Nutrient side, You will be needing more Carbo-hydrates in preparation for all this cycling. A full English breakfast is a starter, but 2 hours before the ride. On the ride top up with cereal bars, fruit, sandwiches, in fact anything you want, but take it in moderation on the ride. After the ride, plenty of protein works for me but not if I am riding the next day, then it would be Pasta, rice, bread etc. All taken in small doses but frequently.

  3. #3
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    I always make certain to consume a couple hundred calories before riding. During rides of over an hour, I tend to add calories (usually a bar of some kind) about once per hour. I also drink as much as I can while riding.
    Just Peddlin' Around

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Since I like to leave at first light for recreational rides, I often eat part of my breakfast, e.g. a grapefruit, a banana, and an apple, before the ride, and the rest, e.g. lentil sprouts and steel-cut oats with flax seed and wheat germ, when I return.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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    Senior Member Red Baron's Avatar
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    I 'test' myself on many foods several years ago. Certain foods make me feel exactly as you describe.
    Oatmeal or pancakes (no meat) in small portions fit in well for breakfast.
    Sandwiches (especially with meat) - I need 3 hrs before I can ride. I eat often but SMALL portions.
    Banana's are good, Carbonated drinks are a NO-NO.

    Keep experimenting and you'll find out what works for you.

    BTW- post ride is always a beer - otherwise rarely drink the stuff.
    **Fate is a fickle thing, and in the end the true measure of a person is not fate itself, but how they master it**

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    riding a Pinarello Prince orguasch's Avatar
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    at the start of my ride will try to have a heavy meal, at the middle of the ride get another good meal, at the end another good meal
    "Racso", the well oiled machine;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    ... A full English breakfast is a starter....
    Oh joy! Eggs, toast with marmalade, perhaps ham and saugage. Tell me Doug, what other sinfully delicious ingredients of an English breakfast am I leaving out! To hell with the preoccupation with saturated fats - won't I be working it off shortly anyway?

    I think your post hit the nail on the head concerning my abdominal pain. All other exercise I've had has been in an upright position, not bending over straining above a bike's top tube. I've never been to a gym nor seen a spinning bicycle. Prior to last weekend's rides, I ate 2 srambled eggs and a coffee. Maybe that should have been toast for the carbs. Then only a little water during each ride. At this stage of conditioning, I think I'd be nauseated if I ate - food is the last think I want. I'm maintaining a sustained heartrate of 140-150+ bpm for an hour or two which is a lot at 56. At least for me.

    What's happening is, like many recreational riders on non-competitive touring rides I think, I quickly get competitive - I'll be damned if I'm going to be at the back of the pack! Even if most everyone else is on a road bike and I'm on an hybrid. I start off well enough, telling myself I'm not in condition, to try to find a comfortable cadence, to ignore the pace of others. But after getting passed a few times, I can't help myself ... I grew up with 4 brothers ... my blood starts to boil! Novice or not. "Middle aged" or not. So I feel like I've got to put all other body functions on hold, particularly eating, till I hit the finish line, ooops, I mean the end of the ride. Suit yourself - I ain't gettin' left behind!

    I have to admit, the minute the ride was over, I headed to my LBS. Rack behind the seat - off! Kickstand - gone! Bicycle chain, lock and mirror - got rid of them! After all, my hybrid has an aluminum frame with 24 gears and isn't that slow if not weighted down. Then I had the mechanic search through his catalogue for the fastest, skinniest tires that would fit my rims! "Don't bother me with details man ... I want racing slicks if they'll fit. Just order the damn things and lets get them installed!" Bill just grinned as he gleefully thumbed through page after page of the tire catalogue. He must have encountered this before. It wasn't a month ago when all I wanted was something comfortable to ride on bicycle paths.

    There's another "fun" ride tomorrow evening before another 2 this coming weekend. I'll reread all these postings and consider a better menu.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Lets start on the breakfast. Eggs(Scrambled for me)Bacon, Sausage tomatoes, mushrooms, Hash Browns, On toast, or if brave enough- fried bread. Preferably the bacon, sausage and tomatoes are grilled to get rid of the excess fat. Then Toast and Jam (Jelly? in the US). Then if still wanting, a Cereal of some kind with Milk. Good alternative is a pair of kippers and toast and jam, but it has to be a pair and they must be top quality, not supermarket.
    On the bike ride this is topped up with a cereal bar or two AND PLENTY TO DRINK. at least 1 litre of water per hour. On the nausea on the thought of eating on the ride, I used to have this, but training over came it. Heart rate is what you want it to be- I am 58 and run between 145 to 155 but will go to 165 for the big hills, and get to 172 when I have to, but then it is lie down time.

    Thin slicks at high pressures are the way to go. And not only lose the weight off the bike, Lose a few pounds yourself. Lose your weight by exercise, and unless you are overweight don't do it by dieting

  9. #9
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    When I was a runner... before all the knee problems and all that rot -- I ran 10K races and trained with a couple hard core runners (sometimes 10-20 mile runs... ugh)
    I read a book about running to cover any issues that might come up (like, "why the hell are you doing this?")

    One thing that happens during and after the course of a long vigorous workout (and a long bike ride would qualify) is the digestive system is stressed as blood and oxygen get diverted elsewhere. This of course affects long distance runners more. Stuff like stomach cramping and even temporary loss of control of your stool happen (I can *almost* vouch for this; we always routed our runs thru a woods after the mid-point in case someone had an emergency.

    This spring, I started in again in earnest ont he bike. ON a few of the first good long rides (30-60+ miles) I suffered a little with post ride cramps... bloating feeling... even head aches the next day. Consumption of LOTS of water during and after is key; eat something that will get in your system fast after the ride (we like yogurt and fruit, fruit salad stuff... with honey... get the glucose up). A couple advil after or before bed helps me too.

    we've logged 650+ miles since the last week of March and I can say that my post ride recovery has improved. I"m a bit sore, but I'm not 'sick' anymore.

  10. #10
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailRider
    As a new cyclist, I pushed myself hard last weekend with the touring club, riding as fast as I reasonably could without killing myself, 55k one day, then 45 the next. While pleased with myself initially, it wasn't long after I suffered a lot of intestinal pain and what can be generalized as "upset" - cramping, bloating, etc. It took a day to resolve itself.

    Is there a lesson to be learned concerning meals before a ride, simply a reaction to overexertion when cycling or is there something else going on?
    Did you eat anything during the ride? Once when I first started riding, I ate a bunch of Fig Newtons on a long ride. Boy, did that cause some intestinal problems!

    For me, staying hydrated during the ride has more influence on how I feel than what I eat beforehand. This is especially true if I become "competitive" during the ride (which is almost always).
    JavaMan!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JavaMan
    Did you eat anything during the ride? Once when I first started riding, I ate a bunch of Fig Newtons on a long ride. Boy, did that cause some intestinal problems!
    I ate nothing during the rides. But I drank 500 ml. of water at the midpoints. I did have an headache as well as the intestinal upset and sore upper leg muscles after the ride. Not being thirsty, not feeling dizzy and urinating normally I thought I was hydrated well enough. I'm surprised all my post-ride symptoms are so closely shared with others! But I'm going to drink more plain tepid water from now on - a litre at the midpoint.

    Doug - in the US & Canada there's a difference between jam and jelly as in the UK. I could be wrong, but you'd be lucky to find kippers in a North American supermarket. If you did they'd be packaged.
    Last edited by TrailRider; 05-26-05 at 08:36 AM.

  12. #12
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    my girlfriend bought two books -- one on maintenance and one on Cycling after 50.
    It has detailed info on nutrition and the effect of strenuous exercise, hypoglycemia and all that rot. Serious stuff. It knocks me out when I come home, skip the snack, and 45-60 minutes later, I"m spinning around feeling like I"m gonna lose it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurdd50
    my girlfriend bought two books -- one on maintenance and one on Cycling after 50.
    It has detailed info on nutrition and the effect of strenuous exercise, hypoglycemia and all that rot. Serious stuff. It knocks me out when I come home, skip the snack, and 45-60 minutes later, I"m spinning around feeling like I"m gonna lose it.
    I hate the age specific material. It's a hassle. I'm just trying to increase my fitness (and secretly beat a know-it-all brother who's a physician.) As long as I don't have a heart attack, that's my real concern. But I will pay more attention to the after ride snack/fruit salad and hydration suggestions.

  14. #14
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    I hate the age specific material. It's a hassle. I'm just trying to increase my fitness (and secretly beat a know-it-all brother who's a physician.)
    I hear ya. FAct is, she is the one that has a LIBRARY full of Self-Help books that just aggravate me to no end. (to quote George Carlin:"Those are self-help books... those are just HELP.")

    anyway, any book of nurtition and exercise dynamics for any age would say the same thing.
    The difference between normal work out regimen vs. biking (at least for us as we do our 40-60 miles rides) is: before, I'd run/walk/lift/swim for 60+ minutes and recover. With a 40-60 mile ride, it may be... 3-5 hours on the saddle depending. That's a longer period work...

    I will say that I've adjusted and it's a kick

  15. #15
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    On daily commute rides I start with a regular breakfast. I do ride 80 to 100+ miles club rides most weekends. Many are some distance from where I live so I and another rider carpool. We stop at about 45 minutes to 1 hour before arriving at a fast food joint. Our favorite is eggmcmuffin meal with coffee. Seems to be just right to get the ride started. Most rides are supported and food is available at from 15 to 30 mile intervals. Some food and proper hydration is a necessity. Learning how much is another story. To much and you suffer and too little and you suffer more.
    Phil

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailRider
    I ate nothing during the rides. But I drank 500 ml. of water at the midpoints. I did have an headache as well as the intestinal upset and sore upper leg muscles after the ride. Not being thirsty, not feeling dizzy and urinating normally I thought I was hydrated well enough. I'm surprised all my post-ride symptoms are so closely shared with others! But I'm going to drink more plain tepid water from now on - a litre at the midpoint.

    Doug - in the US & Canada there's a difference between jam and jelly as in the UK. I could be wrong, but you'd be lucky to find kippers in a North American supermarket. If you did they'd be packaged.
    in 12 days time I will be doing a 12 hour ride that will take me to the limits of my physical capabilities. I am already carbo loading, but I will be eating as much as I can on the ride aswell. On the drink side, We use supplements to plain water. One is a carb drink that will add something to our energy levels, one will be an energy drink that is mainly fructose and natural sugars and the other is an isotonic drink that will replenish our salt levels. The food will be whatever we can get inside us, but biased towards the carbo-hydrate levels that we will be rapidly losing. On the day we will go through 25 litres of water. We is me and my partner on the Tandem. That means lots of bushes to find but the colour of the urine will be an indicator of how hydrated we are. Clear and we are fine. Yellow and the density of yellow and more water to drink. Water and drinking on the ride is almost more important than how much food we take in, as a dehydrated body stops very quickly.

    On the Kipper side, I have a friend that buys a case of kippers every 3 months and shares them out amongst his friends. No such thing as a fresh kipper, but a fine scottish kipper is a joy that you can only dream about.

  17. #17
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    When I ride in the morning, I eat a normal breakfast of cereal, or an English muffin, or eggs, or waffles or pancakes. If I ride after lunch, I have lunch before I go. I don't eat on rides under 20 miles because I want to keep my weight down, not put it on. On longer rides, I'll eat fresh or dried fruit, chocolate, or a bagel. When I get home, I'll eat a meal if it's mealtime or have a snack if it's not, usually fruit. I don't race so I don't worry about bonking. If I feel tired or weak on the ride, I just slow down and take it easy or stop and get a snack along the way if that is possible. Most importantly, I always have a glass of red wine with dinner and a bottle of stout while reading in bed at night. Very important to peace of mind and the enjoyment of life.
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