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  1. #1
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    On bike fueling issue

    Went out yesterday and as a result of the experience I think I am under fueling. First a little background. At age 68 I am down to 180 lbs which is 2 lbs over what I weighed when I finished Basic at Ft. Jackson in '69. Been riding about 100 mi./wk and better than I have in the past 10 yrs. Yesterday's club ride was 66 mi. with 4,000 ft. of climbing according to Strava. Our group was about 12 riders of various ages. I was the oldest by about 10 yrs. Going out everything seemed fluid and easy. On the way back with about 20 mi. to go I began struggling on any sort of elevation. It wasn't that I couldn't do the climbs, I was just about 2-3 mph slower than most of the group. And, I was really hurting when trying to power up climbs. My gearing is 50x34 crank and 12x27 10-sp cogs. I was climbing with the 27 and trying to spin. Near the very end of the ride we were on a long slight down grade and then on a long section of flat. One of the guys (this was a mix of male/female riders) took off. I was now back in the main group and I jumped on his wheel. I then pulled up next to him. He was shocked to see me there. I could have gone by but just sat there and chatted with him. When we re-grouped we got on the flat back to our start and I cruised along behind the lead rider. There are two things I do well...I recover really well and I know how to suffer. But, what's with the climbing? FWIW my average speed for the entire ride was 14.9 mph.

    At first I thought this was just 68 yr. old legs. But, then I started thinking about how I fueled before and during the ride. In the morning I had 1/2 peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich. During the ride I had the other 1/2 sandwich, 2 GU gels and a Power Bar. Also had 2 water bottles w/GU tabs and 2 w/water. Note: on my body fat scale I am at 21%. One other thing....temp was around 77 F and comfortable humidity. Not a lot of wind either except in a few spots. I'm estimating that over the 4:24 ride I burned about 3,000 cals. That's just a rough estimate based on formulas I've seen on-line.

    I'm just wondering if, for my weight, I am not fueling enough and also wondering if there are better bars/gels to use. I would be grateful for any insights.

  2. #2
    Señor Blues on the path's Avatar
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    After seeing my ride on Strava yesterday, a friend asked me about my in-ride fueling. My ride was very similar to yours - group ride of 14, many strong riders and of varying ages, 40's and 50's mostly, 65+ miles with 4000'+ of climbing. Without going into too much detail, I have some thoughts about your situation.


    Quite simply, sugar is your friend. I'm guessing you didn't have enough easily accessible fuel. Among other things (water, banana, power bar, peanut butter) I brought a bottle of home-made sweet tea with me yesterday. I was really craving the sweet tea for the latter part of the ride. I went with my craving and I still had plenty of energy at the end of the ride.


    There is so much talk these days about how bad sugar is for you. For most people at most times, it is bad for you. BUT, if you are exercising (cycling in our cases) for many consecutive hours, you need a regular supply of easily accessible energy. At those times sugar is good for you. Sports nutrition is mainly about keeping the body supplied with fuel and electrolytes, i.e., sugar and salt.


    I suggest you try bringing some type of sugar water with you. I like black or green tea, and the caffeine does help the muscles process the sugar. Kool-aid would work too, but with real sugar, not artificial sweetener. As always, see my sig below..
    IMO, FWIW, CFM, YMMV, E PLURIBUS UNUM

  3. #3
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    On the way back with about 20 mi. to go I began struggling on any sort of elevation. It wasn't that I couldn't do the climbs, I was just about 2-3 mph slower than most of the group. And, I was really hurting when trying to power up climbs. My gearing is 50x34 crank and 12x27 10-sp cogs. I was climbing with the 27 and trying to spin.
    I'm not so sure it's a fueling problem.

    I'm 170 pounds and also a 21 BMI. The last ride I did similar to what you describe--just over a metric, around 4K feet of climbing--for breakfast I had a bagel and cream cheese, then fueled with a mid-ride banana, one water and one Gatorade. (It was during the polar vortex a couple of weeks ago, so it never got out of the 60s, and could skip the water stop.)

    When something similar has happened to me, it's always been a training problem. If I don't get out often enough, hilly enough, and long enough, I get exactly the problem you describe. I go along fine for 40 miles or so, then my performance falls off, particularly in climbing. Once I've had a bit of in-ride recovery, (read: a long flat section) things come back to normal for the final climbs.

    The cure for me is always more hills, more miles, more often.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    At this point I am going to work more on training for hills but I have to say all our rides are fairly hilly. I'll probably try fueling a bit more and differently to see what happens.

  5. #5
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like a fuelling problem to me. You can absorb only about 250 kcal of carbs (that's around 60 grams) per hour, and from your account you consumed more than that during the ride. So quantity doesn't seem to be the issue. Timimg, maybe? Did you delay eating until you were a couple of hours into the ride? If not, I'd look elsewhere for the solution. It may be that you just had a bad day?
    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.

  6. #6
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Just from my experience I don't know that it's a fueling issue. I know of exactly what you're describing and my guess would be it is a power to weight issue. I've tried different fueling techniques for similar situations and nothing has worked for me. My index is very similar to yours in the low 20's.

    The fact that you do not have any issues on the flats and even were able to close the gap on a rider off the front late in the ride leads me to think that it was not fueling. I suspect in the first half to 2/3's of the ride you were able to stay with the group but with effort.

    Where power to weight shows up most dramatically is just like what you described....and also the inability to accelerate when trying to close a gap when you've been dropped. Just an educated guess, but I suspect while you're weight is a little lower than your 20's, your leg strength might be a little less than what it was in your 20's. Had you by chance spent much time on the front pulling during the ride....even close to just before the climb? Where there many times during the ride when you were able to power up the hills but ran your HR up into Zone 4 or 5?

    What you've described happens to me deep into rides when I can stay with any group but have to really work way too hard to hang on on the hills. I have found that a lighter wheelset can make a lot of difference. Even a lighter bike can help.

    Do you do much interval training where you run your HR up for a short period, let it come down and then do it again several times? Not only can equipment changes make a difference but working on the cardio might just be enough.

    What I've found that I really have to discipline myself to stay off the front when riding with good groups. While it doesn't seem like it at the time, I'm using reserves that I really need to save for situations just like what you've described.
    Ride your Ride!!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    At 68 and an average speed of 14.9 I would be ecstatic. Just sayin'
    "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -Mark Twain

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  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    bike fuel

  9. #9
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    I think I just figured it out and I'm really stunned. Today we were prepping for our Weds. ride and I just happened to check the height of my saddle. Bear in mind I had a fitting and it's supposed to be 93.5. Imagine my surprise when It was 88.5! So I raised it and went off to ride. I should mention that the seat post bolt was not loose at all. I couldn't figure out how it had slipped down. Before the ride I asked a couple guys who work at the LBS if they had ever seen this. Was surprised to hear that it is not uncommon with CF seat posts. Apparently the difference in seat post material and frame material (my bike is a steel Guru) causes the seat post to slip without the bolt being loose. In any event we had a group of 15 riders and went off on a 34 mi. ride. Near the end of the ride I went off with the two strongest riders and we did a stretch of a couple miles on a slight incline at 20 mph. I ended up with a 15.5 mph average and was actually climbing well. I feel like I'm born again.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    I think I just figured it out and I'm really stunned......Bear in mind I had a fitting and it's supposed to be 93.5. Imagine my surprise when It was 88.5! So I raised it and went off to ride.........I feel like I'm born again.
    Halaula!!!! Great riding.

    No worries about that happening with my ISP frame.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    When will it get to the point that athletes get sensors that monitor their vital signs during vigorous exercise? That way we'll know about this fueling issue.

  12. #12
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
    Halaula!!!! Great riding.

    No worries about that happening with my ISP frame.
    Yeah, now I can stop whining and that should make everyone happy.

  13. #13
    rck
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    A truly well planned ride calls for a pie stop!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  14. #14
    BF Avatar Zombie Hunter Jseis's Avatar
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    My sense is that older riders dip into glycogen reserves a bit more to roll with the young'ins. Like everyone rolls with nitrous, you just flipped (unconsciously?) the switch more. On flatter rides, it'd never show up quite as much but hills...... Remember..old age and treachery always supplant youth & ambition! Now go out and be treacherous!
    Amerika, Land of the Very Brief.

  15. #15
    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    I think I just figured it out and I'm really stunned. Today we were prepping for our Weds. ride and I just happened to check the height of my saddle. Bear in mind I had a fitting and it's supposed to be 93.5. Imagine my surprise when It was 88.5! So I raised it and went off to ride. I should mention that the seat post bolt was not loose at all. I couldn't figure out how it had slipped down. Before the ride I asked a couple guys who work at the LBS if they had ever seen this. Was surprised to hear that it is not uncommon with CF seat posts. Apparently the difference in seat post material and frame material (my bike is a steel Guru) causes the seat post to slip without the bolt being loose. In any event we had a group of 15 riders and went off on a 34 mi. ride. Near the end of the ride I went off with the two strongest riders and we did a stretch of a couple miles on a slight incline at 20 mph. I ended up with a 15.5 mph average and was actually climbing well. I feel like I'm born again.
    Get and use some Carbon Assembly Paste it will not slip.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

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