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  1. #1
    gentleman cyclist mrmatta's Avatar
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    Pre-Century Eating ... What Did I Do Wrong?

    I just completed my first century last Saturday. My training was more than sufficient, but I'm still dialing in the nutrition. After reading the forums, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to eat enough, so I made sure to fuel up before the ride.

    My breakfast consisted entirely of foods that I've trained with repeatedly. I had:
    -1 bowl of Wheaties with soymilk (90 min. before ride)
    -1 large whole-grain muffin (60 min. before ride)
    -1 homemade granola bar with dried cranberries (20 min. before ride)

    It was full sun, mid-South humidity, and temperatures climbing up to mid-90's.

    Climbing hill #1 (a pretty steep 300 ft. climb) at mile 12, at a reasonable pace, I felt much weaker than I should have.

    Climbing hill #2 (similar specs) at mile 22,at a very slow pace, I started feeling very weak and suddenly projectile-vomited from the saddle near the summit (without slowing down at all). I was really considering abandoning the ride, but over the next few miles I started feeling much better.

    After that, it was smooth sailing. I never felt hungry at rest stops, but I ate a little at each one and took in plenty of water. I felt strong on all of the later climbs. Weird, though, even after getting rid of most of my breakfast, I never felt that primal hunger at later rest stops like I usually do on rides >40 miles (at a really flat metric recently I ate Doritos and 2 hotdogs at a rest stop and a full spaghetti dinner with an ice cream sandwich at the finish an hour later).

    Even at dinner after the ride, I had a moderate appetite. I ordered a normal amount of food and didn't finish it all. Two days later I still feel great. A tiny bit of stiffness, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    My (hurling) theories:
    -While all of my breakfast foods were familiar, I normally only eat one of the three. I simply ate too much before the ride.
    (and/or)
    -The heat and direct sun affected me more than I realized.
    -It definitely WASN'T related to a fast pace or too much effort, I never even came close to hopping on the weekend-warrior-fat/old-guy-take-it-out-WAY-too-fast-only-to-pay-later train (and there were several passing through the station).


    I'm still freaked out by how little I needed to eat (post-hurl) to feel OK without bonking. Even post-ride I never felt terribly hungry or got that sinking low-blood-sugar feeling. After nearly 8 hours in the saddle!

    My theories on that:
    -I consciously, compulsively, hydrated for two days before the ride. I'm normally not very good at keeping up the water intake. Is this enough to feel that much better/less desperately hungry??
    (and/or)
    -My training program was perfect and, after recent consecutive charity rides of 31, 50, and 62 miles, the century was actually anticlimactic.

    Any thoughts from those more experienced than I???

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    First of all about your comment about how little you needed to eat to ride without bonking ...

    If you have been eating normally in the days leading up to the ride, you've got about 2000 calories in storage, just sitting their waiting to be used. If you kept your pace down to something moderate, you were likely burning about 500 calories per hour, so if you ate nothing, you could have gone about 4 hours before really feeling effects of bonking.

    While you ride, all you need to eat is about half what you burn, so if you consumed 250-300 calories per hour, you could keep going to the end of the ride quite easily without any signs of bonking.


    As for the hurling, my guess is that you might have eaten too much before you set off. Remember, it's not what you eat before the ride, but rather what you eat during the ride. I would also guess that the heat had something to do with it. And the fact that you were climbing right off the bat. The stomach can only digest so much at a time. If you overloaded it, some would still be in there when you started the ride. If you started exerting yourself right away, like people do on organized centuries, all the blood would have been shunted to your heart, lungs, and legs, and away from your stomach, leaving the contents sitting there. Then you did these climbs ... same thing, no blood in the stomach. Eventually the stomach would just want to get rid of it all.

    Did you take any electrolyte pills along the way? I find they help settle my stomach on hot days.

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    I find that once the temperature hits the mid-90s, my performance is about 50% of what I'm ordinarily capable of.

    Maybe you over-hydrated before the ride and ended up flushing salt and minerals out of your body.

  4. #4
    NorCal Climbing Freak
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    Sounds like the heat got to you more than anything else. Lack of hunger is indicative of dehydration. I'd say you probably just needed to drink A LOT MORE. Especially considering the temperatures, I'd personally be going through 4 water bottles an hour.

  5. #5
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmatta
    Any thoughts from those more experienced than I???
    In general, I see that people are so afraid of bonking that they eat way too much. If you were already in trouble at mile 12, then that should be your first clue. I mean, I'm sure you can normally ride 12 miles without trouble, or you wouldn't have been doing a century. What usually works for me is to have a reasonable dinner, a midnight/2am snack and a light breakfast. Do whatever you would have done for a shorter distance, and just extrapolate it out...

  6. #6
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I think you need to quantify your post more. There are unanswered questions of:

    1. exactly how much is "plenty of water"?
    2. how frequent were your rest-stops and how many "2-hotdog & doritos" meals did you have total?

    Like Machka said, if you had tapered off the riding in the days before the century and eaten normal meals, your glycogen stores would be close to fully topped off. A small 500-calorie breakfast would be all you need to make up for the amount you consumed while sleeping. And if you rode at a moderate 500-calorie/hr pace, that 2000-calorie glycogen-supply would actually go further than 4-hours. That's because you'll most likely be burning 100-150 calories/hr of fat as well, so the 2000-calories in glycogen would last about 5-6 hours. Along with consuming 200-300 cal/hr of food, you'll have to go way more than a century before you bonk at that pace.

    I suspect that having so much undigested food in your stomach by the time the ride started (or even 1-hour into it). Your stomach then fights with your legs for a limited supply of blood. Having too much food that hasn't been digested will often lead to cramps and vomiting when you pick up the pace and intensity on a ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    I suspect that having so much undigested food in your stomach by the time the ride started (or even 1-hour into it). Your stomach then fights with your legs for a limited supply of blood. Having too much food that hasn't been digested will often lead to cramps and vomiting when you pick up the pace and intensity on a ride.
    This is exactly what I suspect.
    Climbing hill #1 (a pretty steep 300 ft. climb) at mile 12, at a reasonable pace, I felt much weaker than I should have
    Were you going by feel, or did you checked your HRM? Often in a group ride, some riders will start out too fast, and drag other riders with them. For your first 12 miles on your first century ride, the pace shuld be like a warm up. Pls don't take this as a sermon, but an analysis of what could have gone wrong.
    Good mentor= success

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    First of all about your comment about how little you needed to eat to ride without bonking ...

    If you have been eating normally in the days leading up to the ride, you've got about 2000 calories in storage, just sitting their waiting to be used. If you kept your pace down to something moderate, you were likely burning about 500 calories per hour, so if you ate nothing, you could have gone about 4 hours before really feeling effects of bonking.

    While you ride, all you need to eat is about half what you burn, so if you consumed 250-300 calories per hour, you could keep going to the end of the ride quite easily without any signs of bonking.


    As for the hurling, my guess is that you might have eaten too much before you set off. Remember, it's not what you eat before the ride, but rather what you eat during the ride. I would also guess that the heat had something to do with it. And the fact that you were climbing right off the bat. The stomach can only digest so much at a time. If you overloaded it, some would still be in there when you started the ride. If you started exerting yourself right away, like people do on organized centuries, all the blood would have been shunted to your heart, lungs, and legs, and away from your stomach, leaving the contents sitting there. Then you did these climbs ... same thing, no blood in the stomach. Eventually the stomach would just want to get rid of it all.

    Did you take any electrolyte pills along the way? I find they help settle my stomach on hot days.
    +1

    Too much food in the stomach is very bad at the beginning of a ride.

    And it's surprising how little food you really need to keep going, if it's mostly carbs. 250 cal/hour of carbs + stored fat goes a long way.
    Eric

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  9. #9
    SSP
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    I try to eat 2 hours before a big ride, so my stomach is not overly full at the start. Eating that much within 90 minutes of the start would mean you're starting out with a pretty big load in your gut.

    Another possible explanation is the soy milk...perhaps it was spoiled. FWIW, I've heard some bad things about soy products in general, and most exercise sites don't recommend their use.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member JohnKScott's Avatar
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    Just curious...

    Was this the Harpeth River Ride? I thought about doing the 42 mile course this year (I've only been cycling for two months but have done 35 mile rides in that same area). I would like to try to train for the century or at least the metric century next year. I ain't all that yet, but my fitness level keeps increasing as I bike more...duh!!

    Just curious if it was that ride...then I can tell what hills you are talking about and get psyched for next year!!...

  11. #11
    Videre non videri
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    Getting enough water is damn hard! I struggle to remember to drink, and I still return with most of my water left after every ride. I once did a 200 km ride where I started out with five 0.7 L bottles, and returned with one not yet empty, and two unused! I must've been overhydrated from the days before...

    Another ride, two weeks ago, turned painfully slow after four hours. I couldn't understand why, as I had been sipping regularly on my new Camelbak MULE. Half an hour later, I stopped and found out why, as I opened to check the water bag. I still had more than 2 L left, out of about 3 L! In addition to that litre of water, I had one 0.7 L bottle of "sports drink" (my own mix). I tried to catch up to rehydrate, but it was too late. The last half hour was still a major struggle.

    I wish there was some kind of "hydration countdown timer" I could mount on my bike, that beeped every 5-10 minutes, reminding me to drink.

    But one thing that may be subconsciously holding me back from drinking enough, is the fear of running out of water with plenty of distance to go. Unlike in more densely populated parts of the world, we have almost no opportunities to refill out on the road here. That's why I'd like to see some form of on-bike water tank, hanging from the top tube, with a hose and mouthpiece like hydration backpacks have. I could then bring a total of close to a couple of gallons of water on a ride. That should last even for a double century.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf
    I wish there was some kind of "hydration countdown timer" I could mount on my bike, that beeped every 5-10 minutes, reminding me to drink.
    A friend of mine I used to ride with had some sort of stopwatch which beeped every 10 minutes to remind him to drink regularly.

    It was funny in a way because there would be a group of about 10 of us cycling together and chatting about things ... his stopwatch would beep ... and we'd all stop talking, reach for our bottles, and drink in unison, and then resume our conversations! But we were all hydrated.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf
    Getting enough water is damn hard! I struggle to remember to drink, and I still return with most of my water left after every ride. I once did a 200 km ride where I started out with five 0.7 L bottles, and returned with one not yet empty, and two unused! I must've been overhydrated from the days before...
    Hydration drinks are absorbed considerably faster than plain water, and the flavor can also encourage you drink.

    The problem with plain water is that when you sweat, your blood volume goes down, which stimulates hunger. But then when you drink, the plain water dilutes your blood, your electrolyte percentage (already low because of what you lost due to sweat) goes down, and your body shuts off your thirst.

    That's why a bit of electrolytes (either in water or in a carb or carb/protein drink) is important on long rides.
    Eric

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  14. #14
    c'mon up front and work jamesstout's Avatar
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    i personally like to eat 3 hours before a race (whihc is higher intensity) even if this means i get up; eat and go back to bed.

  15. #15
    Videre non videri
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu
    Hydration drinks are absorbed considerably faster than plain water, and the flavor can also encourage you drink.

    The problem with plain water is that when you sweat, your blood volume goes down, which stimulates hunger. But then when you drink, the plain water dilutes your blood, your electrolyte percentage (already low because of what you lost due to sweat) goes down, and your body shuts off your thirst.

    That's why a bit of electrolytes (either in water or in a carb or carb/protein drink) is important on long rides.
    And what I didn't tell you in my previous post was that two of the bottles contained my own "energy drink". Lemonade (no artificial sweeteners, just plain sucrose), glucose and a fair amount of table salt (enough to make it taste quite salty).

    I have to say, though, that I prefer plain water to any kind of flavoured drink while I'm exercising. Besides, if I should need water for some other purpose during the ride, I wouldn't have any if all I carried was energy drinks. I often pour a little water over me to cool down faster on hot days, and cleaning out a wound is something I'd also prefer to do with plain water.

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