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Eating when you don't want to eat

Old 05-27-17, 11:47 AM
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DXchulo
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Eating when you don't want to eat

Any tips on this?


I seem to get tired of eating after 8 hours or so. I also have trouble getting enough calories from liquids alone. Is it just mind over matter? I tend to hate gels because they're not very high on the bang for your buck scale, but they are easy to choke down when you don't really feel like eating. I'm going to try carrying a lot of gels next time.


Last weekend I wanted to do a 420-miler without sleeping. Got tired of eating and switched to liquid calories. I wasn't getting enough calories per hour, and my legs died a long, slow death until they couldn't take it any more and I had to stop and turn it into a 2-day ride. I was hungry, but couldn't force myself to eat. I could only drink so much without upsetting my stomach.


Stomach issues are always my biggest weakness on long rides. Sometimes I wonder if it's physical or mental.
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Old 05-27-17, 03:43 PM
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Effective eating becomes harder for me with increasing intensity. Through trial and error I've discovered I can digest about 300 cal/hr on an endurance ride (i.e., not full throttle) without GI issues. The problem is that I burn around 650 cal/hr. The difference comes from stuff I ate well before the ride, but to access it you need to ride an aerobic pace not an anaerobic pace. You'll run out of stored glycogen soon enough (probably 1,500 to 2,000 calories stored and available) so you'll naturally slow down after several hours even if you feel like being a rabbit.

Making sure you've got your electrolytes in balance (not just sodium but also potassium, calcium and magnesium) may help you keep an appetite and also keep your muscles firing. I take electrolyte caps and drink only plain water. On rides of >48 hours this makes a real difference for me. Now I just use the same routine all the time.

I typically go through an early "sweet" phase and a later "salty" phase up to 400km. After that, all bets are off. Could be sandwiches, pizza or whatever is available. At PBP I really like mashed potatoes, fruit salad (canned), green beans and ham. You definitely will need protein over a couple days.

I try to stay away from most meats but beef jerky is one of my secret weapons. The mouth feel alone is a welcome change from gels and Clif bloks. The protein helps limit some muscle breakdown. I'll sometimes drink chocolate milk for this reason (plus the calcium) but check to see if you can tolerate it. Ice cream is a great source of dense calories.

Of course sugar and caffeine (could be a Coke, could be a Starbucks double shot In a can, but never Red Bull for me) can be jet fuel for the last 40-50 miles but make sure you judge this correctly so you don't run out of gas before the finish.

Last tip: eat well for a couple of days before your ride 24+ hours.
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Old 05-27-17, 04:06 PM
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I mix bottles of "food" that run 750 calories each, plus carry more powder in baggies for big rides. Perpetuem works as does Sustained Energy. Since I'm cheap, I make my own powder from maltodextrin and Optimum Nutrition Gold flavored whey protein, mixed ~7:1 by weight. 2c = 750 calories or thereabouts. I buy the malto in 50# bags from a homebrew supply, about $70 or so/bag. I can drink that stuff all day and half the night. Never get tired of it because it's not sweet and has very little flavor. For a 400, I also eat stuff from convenience stores, Hostess fruit pies being a fave. I don't drink caffeinated drinks because of the sugar, taking caffeine tabs instead.
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Old 05-27-17, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Flamme Rouge View Post
Effective eating becomes harder for me with increasing intensity. Through trial and error I've discovered I can digest about 300 cal/hr on an endurance ride (i.e., not full throttle) without GI issues. The problem is that I burn around 650 cal/hr. The difference comes from stuff I ate well before the ride, but to access it you need to ride an aerobic pace not an anaerobic pace. You'll run out of stored glycogen soon enough (probably 1,500 to 2,000 calories stored and available) so you'll naturally slow down after several hours even if you feel like being a rabbit.

Making sure you've got your electrolytes in balance (not just sodium but also potassium, calcium and magnesium) may help you keep an appetite and also keep your muscles firing. I take electrolyte caps and drink only plain water. On rides of >48 hours this makes a real difference for me. Now I just use the same routine all the time.

I typically go through an early "sweet" phase and a later "salty" phase up to 400km. After that, all bets are off. Could be sandwiches, pizza or whatever is available. At PBP I really like mashed potatoes, fruit salad (canned), green beans and ham. You definitely will need protein over a couple days.

I try to stay away from most meats but beef jerky is one of my secret weapons. The mouth feel alone is a welcome change from gels and Clif bloks. The protein helps limit some muscle breakdown. I'll sometimes drink chocolate milk for this reason (plus the calcium) but check to see if you can tolerate it. Ice cream is a great source of dense calories.

Of course sugar and caffeine (could be a Coke, could be a Starbucks double shot In a can, but never Red Bull for me) can be jet fuel for the last 40-50 miles but make sure you judge this correctly so you don't run out of gas before the finish.

Last tip: eat well for a couple of days before your ride 24+ hours.
I could have written this whole post myself. Reflects my experiences very well, even down to PBP!

I don't know, DX, what your electrolyte management is like, as you don't mention it, but I think it really is key to successfully transfering nutrients from the stomach and intestines to the bloodstream. You haven't mentioned bloating, but that can be a symptom that indicates I haven't got the electrolyte balance right.

I agree that liquid food and gels just don't cut it. I have always been a real-food person, but that doesn't mean I haven't experimented with liquid food, and it has worked quite well about 50% of the time, and the other 50% has been when it has become just too... blech.

The mix of maltodextrin, glucose, fructose and Lite Salt (sodium and potassium) I make up at home without any flavouring seems to work best. We've got big half-full bottles of Heed that are years old because we just don't use them because of the taste factor (OK for the first 20 moutfuls, then awful after that).

Gels simply don't do it for me. It seems like the hit lasts about 10 minutes. Then I am feeling like I need something more. They also present the potential for a sticky mess on me, the bike or both. And you have to put the wrapper somewhere, not on the road or roadside.

There is a valid point about the protein aspect. I try to make sure I have some sort of protein intake during a long ride, something which gels and most energy drinks don't account for. I don't know the exact physiology of why it works for me, but it does. When you look at a slice of ham (a la PBP) or a sausage roll or a dim sim and go "YUM! I;ll have one of them" you know you need proteins.

Others say to leave it alone because it takes too long to digest, but I look at protein (well the amino acids) contributing to muscle healing as I ride (yes, I know, the majority of this happens when I sleep, but still...) and a spreading out of energy uptake. My intensity isn't high enough to worry about instant energy hits anyway.

Coca Cola is indeed for me an elixir from the randonneuring gods. I will pour a 600ml bottle into my bidon so it de-carbonates as I ride along. I think it's the combination of sugar and cafffeine in it that works. Pepsi and other soda don't have anywhere near the same effect, and you can get Coke almost anywhere (ours in Australia has real sucrose, by the way ). I don't rely on it for the whole ride, but certainly it's helpful for the last quarter or so and especially when there has been or is a lot of climbing.

Sooo... variety is key. Ultimately, it also depends on how you ride. I still adhere largely to the tradition of randonneuring being fast touring, and that we ride a little quicker so we can take a little longer at checkpoints or cafes or gas stations or wherever along the way to eat solid foods.
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Old 05-27-17, 06:59 PM
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I have to use liquid nutrition because I can't get enough solids on the bike. But it seems to only work for about the first 100 miles
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Old 05-27-17, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by DXchulo View Post
Any tips on this?


I seem to get tired of eating after 8 hours or so. I also have trouble getting enough calories from liquids alone. Is it just mind over matter? I tend to hate gels because they're not very high on the bang for your buck scale, but they are easy to choke down when you don't really feel like eating. I'm going to try carrying a lot of gels next time.

Stomach issues are always my biggest weakness on long rides. Sometimes I wonder if it's physical or mental.
I also experience stomach issues on my long rides and probably the first thing which helps is this ...

Nibble often.

I need to start nibbling regularly after about 6 or 8 hours on the bicycle, and by that I mean, I need a store of cookies, salted almonds, and gummy lollies in my bento bag or easily accessible in my handlebar bag and I need to take a small piece and pop it into my mouth about every 15 minutes.

As mentioned above, variety is the key so I'll alternate between the three.

If I let it go longer than about 15 minutes, I start to run into problems so I've got to keep the eating going ... just one lollie, or a couple salted almonds, or a tiny bite of cookie ...

As mentioned, electrolytes are also a key ingredient in feeling well on the bicycle. When I started cycling longer distances, I used to read about people in the southern US using electrolytes and figured it had to be really incredibly hot before a person needed to use them, but since then I've discovered that any temperature that has me sweating is the time for electrolytes. This includes cool temps where I've overdressed slightly or, lately, the days when I experience hot flashes.

Electrolytes can be found in foods like salted almonds, potato chips, the combination of beef jerky and dried apricots or 100% pure orange juice ... so my rides will usually include something from that list. But we also bring electrolyte tablets. Sadly and oddly, electrolyte tablets are not easy to find here in Australia!

When we stop at a control, I'll go for a beverage with calories ... coke, apple juice, orange juice, or ice tea are the ones that seem to work the best ... and I'll drink the whole thing right there if possible. And then I usually go with something salty and fairly bland. In Canada it was perogies. Here in Australia it might be dim sims and potato cakes.

I often bring a can of Ensure, or a baggie of Ensure powder, with me as well just in case all the tricks above don't work. I did the Rocky Mountain 1200 in 2002 mostly on Ensure. I've tried others but Ensure seems to work the best.

And I'll have a few gels with me just in case.
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Old 05-28-17, 02:03 AM
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I've found chewing gum helps get the appetite going a little. Also gets rid of that horrible sweat and sunscreen taste in your mouth!
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Old 05-28-17, 09:08 AM
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All of the above is sound advice. So here is one out of left field. If you're in a state that has it available, and you don't mind getting a bit high, get some edibles (the fun kind). Gummy bears have sugar and you will probably get the munchies soon after.

Yeah Yeah; it's dangerous and irresponsible, probably illegal, etc. It also soothes the aches, takes your mind to interesting places, and makes food sound good again. YMMV
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Old 05-28-17, 02:15 PM
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best food at 2 am is "coffee nut" m&m's.

I don't expect to be too hungry while riding. I have gone long distances on 1/3 or 1/2 of what I would normally eat for lunch. I have also found that it's important to eat something, but it doesn't have to be much. I have taken a few sips of hot chocolate and ridden 30 miles over some big hills on the fleche when my stomach was upset. I also find that soda helps me eat. I recommend avoiding cola, something like Sprite or root beer is good. And if it takes up room in your stomach, it should have calories. Plain water is wasting stomach capacity.

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Old 05-28-17, 07:25 PM
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My experience is that alternating between salty and sweet keeps the bloating/nausea at bay.

I can't tolerate only gels and liquid nutrition (usually maltodextrin-based) for more than 8 hours.

I find Chex mix , salty nuts, and chips - alternating with powder drinks and Lara bars - - keep my stomach feeling okay. Every 5-6 hours , a half-tuna sandwich and Coke does wonders for me.
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Old 05-28-17, 08:28 PM
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Spiz. Whey protein-based meal replacement/endurance fuel. I never get tired of it and never have blood sugar (bonk) problems when I use it.

Throw in the occasional cheeseburger, strawberry Kwik or Mtn Dew and I can go for days.

Maltodextrin is fine for short rides, but you really need fat and protein in the mix for anything over 6-8 hours.

YMMV (and probably will), but that's what works for me.

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ps - the only problem with being liquid fueled is I have to stop and pee a lot. Still working on that.
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Old 05-28-17, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by rando_couche View Post
Spiz. Whey protein-based meal replacement/endurance fuel. I never get tired of it and never have blood sugar (bonk) problems when I use it.

Throw in the occasional cheeseburger, strawberry Kwik or Mtn Dew and I can go for days.

Maltodextrin is fine for short rides, but you really need fat and protein in the mix for anything over 6-8 hours.

YMMV (and probably will), but that's what works for me.

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ps - the only problem with being liquid fueled is I have to stop and pee a lot. Still working on that.
Mix it up a lot thicker, 750 cal./24oz bottle. Spiz is good stuff.

My malto/protein mix is 7:1 malto/protein, where Spiz is ~5:1 and is supposed also have a tiny bit of fat in it, but the ingredients list doesn't say what it is. My guess is that it's the normal small amount of fat that one gets in whey protein. An ultra friend of mine uses 4:1 malto/protein. Everyone's digestion is a little bit different.
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Old 05-28-17, 09:17 PM
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I agree that liquid fuel has it's limitations. After about 200k, I really need to chew something, so I eat some solid fuel, and eat more maybe every additional 100k. On really long rides, I get about half my calories from liquid, the rest from "real food." For one thing, it's not worth it to carry enough powder to ride more than ~300k.
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Old 05-29-17, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by john_mct View Post
All of the above is sound advice. So here is one out of left field. If you're in a state that has it available, and you don't mind getting a bit high, get some edibles (the fun kind). Gummy bears have sugar and you will probably get the munchies soon after.

Yeah Yeah; it's dangerous and irresponsible, probably illegal, etc. It also soothes the aches, takes your mind to interesting places, and makes food sound good again. YMMV
I think the minds of most randonneurs on anything above a 400 have gone to interesting places without any assistance!
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Old 05-30-17, 06:19 AM
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[Disclamer: no one should mistake my remarks for advice. I have less randonneuring experience than almost anyone on this forum. That said...]

On my recent 400k I thought I did pretty well by eating whatever I felt like eating whenever I thought I could get something down. I carried a lot of food... Panda licorice, dried mango, Cliff bars, Lara bars, two kinds of gels, gatorade, and an ample supply of salami-swiss-pita sandwiches. I didn't finish it all. The main advantage was I spent very little time at the controles.

I had one strange thing happen along the way. Somewhere around 250 km I ate a Lara bar while on the bike, which took a good ten or fifteen minutes; and just as I was finishing it, I had that sensation I was about to bonk. I took it easy for a while, and the sugar hit my bloodstream and I was okay.

More bothersome, toward the end of the ride my salivary glands seemed to shut down. I couldn't chew anything dry, no matter how much water I put in my mouth. Instead I ate a gel, and it seemed to burn my throat, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, since it forced me to drink a lot of water to get it down.

After the ride I was able to eat the lasagna they'd provided, and it tasted good. But my salivary glands were screwed up for another day or so. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
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Old 05-30-17, 08:00 AM
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Don't apologize for inexperience, especially now that you have ridden a 400k. That's the classic randonneuring distance. Longer rides are just a 400k plus some other rides. 1200k == 400k+300k+300k+200k. See? Easy.

that might just be a symptom of dehydration. Any other signs? I'm almost always a little dehydrated on brevets.

I think eating dry things on a long ride gives most people problems. And then it takes a lot of chewing to swallow, which is very inconvenient, if not gag-inducing. That's why bananas were so treasured back in the day. I like to eat things that are at least a little moist. A counter-example is payday bars. They work really well, but they are dry. Best eaten if you keep them in a pocket for a while.

I have a lot of problems eating things too much and then not wanting them at all. Cliff bars comes to mind. maybe if I was bonking. I made it through most of a 1200k on chocolate milk and reesee's cups, now they leave me cold. I should probably try that again though, they are very effective for me.

I need a better front bag so I can carry food. It's on the todo list.

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Old 05-30-17, 01:46 PM
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Tried again this weekend. Kind of slow, but I did it- 401 miles in 28 hours and 40 minutes.

I just took a wider variety of stuff and forced myself to eat. It worked pretty well. Not sure what the issue was last week, but my stomach was tolerating food this time. I think once you get into a big enough deficit you're just screwed.

I wish I had a magic answer, but I don't. Switch up the textures a little bit and switch between sweet and not so sweet. I also watered down all my drinks. Maybe that was easier on my stomach, too?
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Old 05-30-17, 04:55 PM
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maybe you were still hungry from last time. Was it warmer? That seems to help me unless it's so hot that I have to drink a lot.
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Old 05-30-17, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DXchulo View Post
Any tips on this?


I seem to get tired of eating after 8 hours or so. I also have trouble getting enough calories from liquids alone. Is it just mind over matter? I tend to hate gels because they're not very high on the bang for your buck scale, but they are easy to choke down when you don't really feel like eating. I'm going to try carrying a lot of gels next time.


Last weekend I wanted to do a 420-miler without sleeping. Got tired of eating and switched to liquid calories. I wasn't getting enough calories per hour, and my legs died a long, slow death until they couldn't take it any more and I had to stop and turn it into a 2-day ride. I was hungry, but couldn't force myself to eat. I could only drink so much without upsetting my stomach.


Stomach issues are always my biggest weakness on long rides. Sometimes I wonder if it's physical or mental.
I think this happens but I can't prove it. I think leaning over on the bike messes your stomach up. The last time I tried doing some long riding I rode 301 miles in 22 hrs. run time and quite as I meet my 300 mile goal. This is hard to believe but the ride was called 24 hrs. of Booty in Columbia MD. and yes it was on a 2 mile looped course so I did 150 laps. With this set up I had my food set up just past the start finish line and pretty much got off the bike every 50 miles. The ride was from 2 pm Sat. - 2 Pm Sun. My food set up I had was turkey cold cold sandwiches, Amish Macaroni salad and chocolate milk. I drank a bottle of water and then followed that up with a bottle of Accelerade 2 scoops in a Polar bottle. You have to find out what works for you when you stomach goes out because it is going to. Ice Tea works for me. I finished that last 3-5 hrs on ice tea alone. I don't do fast food but get me in a ride over 150 miles and I want the greasiest hamburger and fries out there. I can't explain it but it works. I am a mouth breather and on the 1200k's I normally get a sore throat from breathing in all that air so I have found I have to use some throat lozengers to fight that. I don't think gels will help you but I might be wrong. I switched to fig bars and eat them every 5 miles. I also mix in Cliff Bars/Little Debbie Brownies and all kind of granola bars like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and sweet and salty. I think variety is the key there. Yes there are times when you don't feel like eating and you have to force it down. I also have carried boiled potatoes with oil on them so salt will stick to them in my back pocket.

Good luck
Zman
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Old 06-01-17, 12:51 PM
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Not in the class of you-all long distance riders as far as experience and frequency, so my first attempt this past February at Bike Sebring 12/24 Hours was a new challenge regarding fueling. I've done an IRONMAN's 112 miles non stop with the marathon following and fueled during the ride with gels, fluids and a banana always keeping in mind that too much could cause issues once off the bike and the pavement pounding begins. Bouncing up and down would do no good for my 64 year old stomach back in 2014 during the marathon if the nutrients consumed on the bike had not passed through the stomach.

As far as my 307 miles in 22 hours at Bike Sebring, the 100 miles during the out and back road portion were fueled with gels, a couple of bananas, some choco candy and Coke. I did bring along at the start a 20oz bottle of Mtn. Dew Throwback that I finished in the first 50 miles since that was a non stop distance then 2 brief stops on the return was the coke. Before I started the 11 mile road loop for the second segment, I had a Big Mac and more candy/Coke. After 88 more miles it was time to transition to the Sebring Race Track for the second 12 hours during which I had a couple of Egg McMuffins, candy, gels, Coke, PP&J sandwichs but since this was on a closed course and only an additional 115 miles in 10 hours including the stops to refuel, I found it not to be a problem with consuming all of the solids which would have been impossible for the first 100 since my effort was much greater out on the open roads.

My goal for next February's Bike Sebring 12/24 Hours is to complete 400 non drafting miles in the 24 hours allotted for a RAAM Qualifying ride and I will be working out a strategy for fueling as this year's riding progresses. Finding what works at the efforts being expended is paramount since the body's ability to process any thing consumed varies as a long ride continues.
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Old 06-04-17, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
[Disclamer: no one should mistake my remarks for advice. I have less randonneuring experience than almost anyone on this forum. That said...]

On my recent 400k I thought I did pretty well by eating whatever I felt like eating whenever I thought I could get something down. I carried a lot of food... Panda licorice, dried mango, Cliff bars, Lara bars, two kinds of gels, gatorade, and an ample supply of salami-swiss-pita sandwiches. I didn't finish it all. The main advantage was I spent very little time at the controles.

I had one strange thing happen along the way. Somewhere around 250 km I ate a Lara bar while on the bike, which took a good ten or fifteen minutes; and just as I was finishing it, I had that sensation I was about to bonk. I took it easy for a while, and the sugar hit my bloodstream and I was okay.

More bothersome, toward the end of the ride my salivary glands seemed to shut down. I couldn't chew anything dry, no matter how much water I put in my mouth. Instead I ate a gel, and it seemed to burn my throat, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, since it forced me to drink a lot of water to get it down.



After the ride I was able to eat the lasagna they'd provided, and it tasted good. But my salivary glands were screwed up for another day or so. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
Yeah you are a mouth breather and sucking in all that air hurts. Try taking some throat lozengers next time and see if that works.

Zman
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Old 06-05-17, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Zurichman2 View Post
Yeah you are a mouth breather and sucking in all that air hurts. Try taking some throat lozengers next time and see if that works.

Zman
Yes, good point. And you raise another subject that may or may not be related: seasonal allergies, nasal congestion, antihistamines, decongestants, and so on.
Lest I confuse this thread too much, I'll start another one.
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