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Taking touring to the Science level

Old 03-19-10, 08:06 AM
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Taking touring to the Science level

I wanted to ask how many people here map or track the number of calories and protien you plan for when you go on tour.

I've been touring and commuting for many years but I notice my endurance has changed lately. The last tour I rode was the Lewis and Clark Trail. I always carry the same foods - oatmeal, pasta, fruit, water. On the Lewis and Clark Trail tour, I noticed my legs really never recovered. That tour was miserable.

So talking to one of my friends who has hike the Apalacian Trail, he told me that he actually MAPS and plans his calorie/protien intake. He also maps his water intake (example: our bodies can absorb only 8 oz of water at one time. More than that will cause us to have to pee).

I have a 900 mi tour coming up this year and was wondering if anyone here maps calorie/protien intake. Maybe I need to start doing this??

Dang, I'd hate to think touring became a science!! Sort of takes some of the fun out of it!

On the other hand, being 500 miles away from home and having fatigued legs sucks even worse!

What do you think?


Jerry H
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Old 03-19-10, 08:23 AM
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I think most people here would agree that it's not a race. If your legs are fatigued, ride slower or take a break. Eat what you want when you want to. If you go to road biking you will get different answers.

Sometimes I will try to maximize calories per dollar at the gas station, but that usually means eating something gross.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:24 AM
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The number one thing I pay attention to is sodium intake. Other than that.... I just try and eat foods high in good carbs and enough protein to fight off muscle loss and try and find foods high in Potassium.

Keep in mind that the body can only work with so much protein..... so spreading it out over the whole day will help much more than trying to make it all up at the end of the day.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:31 AM
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On tour, I pretty much pay attention to my head and stomach. I have pretty much found that on tour carrying your own stuff (unsupported) that It is almost impossible to eat as many calories as burned. I stopped to eat EVERY chance i got through many stretches knowing that it could have been the last food stop for a while. I still managed to lose 15 lbs which I did not really have to lose. I never had a means for paying attention to Sodium and Fat content, but Also I don't think I ever cared that much. When you're pedaling like that, your goals are typically, Sleep, eat, ride, bathroom, ride, eat, sleep.. Start all over.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:32 AM
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Maybe its just a case of taking it easy, and tour (not race) with many breaks in-between. Listen to your body more, if hungry eat, if thirsty drink, if tired stop. I can't believe that its down to x amount of kms you need x amount of calories etc... because there are too many variables like how you feel, how is the weather, warm and dry or cold and wet, are there any hills and how many or how steep. There are some rules you can follow like always drink something, if you find your tongue is dry your too late, same with food, don't wait till your stomach growls and your legs give. Again listen to your body more carefully.
We never map our calorie/protein intake, we think its supposed to be fun, (like a vacation) if we're in the mood we just stop and have a steak and wash it down with a few beers, or ride 50kms instead of 100kms.
I think you can map your calorie/protein intake at the gym for beter and more accurate results.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:40 AM
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To understand my nutrition on the road, I registered on this website and entered several different daily diets as "My Recipes".

https://www.nutritiondata.com/

You can then compare your results to RDA's, protein and fiber recomendations, yada yada, to see if there are any deficiencies that might have an impact.

I learned that Grape Nuts, peanut butter on bagels, and salmon pasta was pretty balanced. Potassium was a shortfall addressed by adding spinach to my pasta and by drinking V8. Sodium takes care of itself.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:54 AM
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Am I right in thinking nutrition on the road becomes critical only above a certain number of miles per day? I assume all of us bicycle tourists are tolerably healthy to begin with, have a pretty good idea of how to eat healthy, and (to varying degrees) are somewhat successful in doing so on the road. So below a certain daily distance, nutrition will take care of itself one way or another; and most touring bicyclists stay under that limit. Above that, there's a gray area, but pretty soon we start getting into the territory of long distance cycling.

If anyone agrees, I'd be interested in hearing what you think those number are... I'm thinking below 70 miles daily, my nutrition will take care of itself; but at 90+ miles daily, I have to pay pretty close attention or I'll get run down after a week or two.
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Old 03-19-10, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
If anyone agrees, I'd be interested in hearing what you think those number are... I'm thinking below 70 miles daily, my nutrition will take care of itself; but at 90+ miles daily, I have to pay pretty close attention or I'll get run down after a week or two.
I think you're right. I don't know what the cut-off would be, but I'd think in terms of hours on the bike over consecutive days rather than miles.
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Old 03-19-10, 09:45 AM
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You might find this other bikeforums.net thread of interest: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...Day-of-Touring

It contained this:

A good, somewhat general purpose, way to calculate calories burned is to use a coefficient. I use a coefficient of 0.28 - calories/mile/pound.

DISTANCE * WEIGHT * COEFFICIENT = CALORIES BURNED

So if you do 70 miles and weigh 165 lbs and carry 45 lbs:

70 * (165 + 45) * .28 = 4116 calories

Ray
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Old 03-19-10, 09:47 AM
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Personally I don't pay much attention to food. I do carry stuff in case of bonking in the middle of nowhere, but generally I eat when it's time to eat. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks around half way in between each of those.
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Old 03-19-10, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Am I right in thinking nutrition on the road becomes critical only above a certain number of miles per day? I assume all of us bicycle tourists are tolerably healthy to begin with, have a pretty good idea of how to eat healthy, and (to varying degrees) are somewhat successful in doing so on the road. So below a certain daily distance, nutrition will take care of itself one way or another; and most touring bicyclists stay under that limit. Above that, there's a gray area, but pretty soon we start getting into the territory of long distance cycling.

If anyone agrees, I'd be interested in hearing what you think those number are... I'm thinking below 70 miles daily, my nutrition will take care of itself; but at 90+ miles daily, I have to pay pretty close attention or I'll get run down after a week or two.
+1, I would agree to that. But to add, that there is still a timeframe involved with LDC. Being that we are dealing with a certain amount of Miles Per Day being our variable, Wouldn't the terrain, altitude and amount of weight you are carrying play into it Much faster?

For example, I have heard the term "a "Pennsylvania Mile" is worth 2 anywhere else." It is just something I have heard but sort of come to realize is true. When cycling through the middle of the country or even in the south, it is FAR easier to reach a century or close to it. If you are touring with added weight, I would say that the scale could even increase a bit in regards to difficulty and stress on the body. The other HUGE difference is, in LDC when you are done, you know you are done so you can go those extra couple of miles on empty and recognize the opportunity to refuel and rest.
Most of the time on tour, if your body is telling you to quit, you need to rest. Eat, sleep, etc... The problem is if you don't, it completely effects your rides the FOLLOWING day/s to come. The ability to be able to stop early or go a little farther at the drop of a hat is one of the most important in touring. It's impossible to train for a tour, you just have to tour. I think the reason being is, even if you have done the route before, the terrain usually changes so much start to finish of the tour that you cannot possibly practice for it every day. In LDC you can train over and over until you hit your mark at a certain mileage. You also have to fortunate ability to track progress as most often you are doing the same or similar rides all the time.

Just my .02
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Old 03-19-10, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
If anyone agrees, I'd be interested in hearing what you think those number are... I'm thinking below 70 miles daily, my nutrition will take care of itself; but at 90+ miles daily, I have to pay pretty close attention or I'll get run down after a week or two.
Eh. Over the summer when averaging 90 miles a day (no break days), I pretty much ate anything in site. Granted, I don't enjoy eating fast food, chain pizza, etc. I ended up losing about a pound by the end of the trip (60 days), but was definitely in shape after. There were days that I know I took in over 10k calories and countless carbs. A difference in 70 and 90 mile averages though? I don't think it's much different to be honest.
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Old 03-19-10, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo
You might find this other bikeforums.net thread of interest: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...Day-of-Touring

It contained this:

A good, somewhat general purpose, way to calculate calories burned is to use a coefficient. I use a coefficient of 0.28 - calories/mile/pound.

DISTANCE * WEIGHT * COEFFICIENT = CALORIES BURNED

So if you do 70 miles and weigh 165 lbs and carry 45 lbs:

70 * (165 + 45) * .28 = 4116 calories

Ray
This might work for you (although I kind of wonder how), but this is by no means a blanket statement for cycling tourists. More goes into calories burnt than distance, weight and "coefficient". How hard you cycle, gears used (or not used), head winds, hills, temperature outside (you burn more calories in hot weather) and more intangible things go into figuring this out. 4k calories in a 70 mile day with 50 pounds of gear seems "low" to me, but I guess it has to do with all those other factors.
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Old 03-19-10, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by blaise_f
There were days that I know I took in over 10k calories and countless carbs.
Ten thousand calories seems like a lot. What and how much were you eating to get to 10,000 calories?

I find that after awhile on tour, it gets hard putting that much food through my system.

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Old 03-19-10, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by blaise_f
This might work for you (although I kind of wonder how), but this is by no means a blanket statement for cycling tourists. More goes into calories burnt than distance, weight and "coefficient". How hard you cycle, gears used (or not used), head winds, hills, temperature outside (you burn more calories in hot weather) and more intangible things go into figuring this out. 4k calories in a 70 mile day with 50 pounds of gear seems "low" to me, but I guess it has to do with all those other factors.
+1 in no way does this even incorporate terrain, heat as you said, and starting fitness level, only starting weight. There are too many factors to blanket it this way.
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Old 03-19-10, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by jharte

So talking to one of my friends who has hike the Apalacian Trail, he told me that he actually MAPS and plans his calorie/protien intake. He also maps his water intake (example: our bodies can absorb only 8 oz of water at one time. More than that will cause us to have to pee).
Backpackers have to be much more careful about planning their nutrition and water intake, as they are more self-contained and much more conscious of bulk and weight in what they carry. If they get too extreme in trying to take an ultra-light trip, then can end up not carrying enough calories to stay healthy.

By contrast, in most parts of the US, a cyclist is cover 50 to 100 miles a day, and passing at least several locations where they can replenish supplies on a daily basis. So even if we plan badly for a few meals, we're not that far away from a store or restaurant where we can load up on food.
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Old 03-19-10, 10:50 AM
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The only way to know how many calories you're burning is to weigh yourself naked before and after a trip at the same time of day (with all that entails). Each pound of fat is about 3500 calories so any loss of weight confidently attributable to fat (not longer hair, toenails, etc) can be attributed to a deficit in caloric intake.

[Total calories consumed on trip + (lb weight before - lb weight after)x3500 calories per lb] / total miles = calories per mile (for that trip).

Now who's gonna do that?

Measurements from HRM's are useless because you (usually on the better ones) have to enter a subjective "fitness level" that hopelessly skews results.

My feeling is that most tourists over estimate how many calories they burn. And by alot.
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Old 03-19-10, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe
My feeling is that most tourists over estimate how many calories they burn. And by alot.
Is that a bad thing?
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Old 03-19-10, 11:06 AM
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My feeling is that most tourists over estimate how many calories they burn. And by alot.
Most tests will tell you that the general public of No. America / Europe eats more calories than they "need", so it would be no surprise to find that. "Most tourists" (as you put it) also average anywhere from 5-12 miles per hour, and 20-50 miles per day. Those over the 15 mph (or 20 mph, oh my) and 60 mile mark are easily in the minority.
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Old 03-19-10, 12:28 PM
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Rather than ration every powerbar or measure out milliliters of gatorade, take a rest day.

As for caloric expenditure, there are plenty of fitness calculators/references online. A 70kg rider going hard at 20 mph for 3 hours will burn approximately 3500 calories. If you're doing 20 mph on a loaded rig for more than three hours, then you're a fine physical specimen who should be examined by scientists instead of talking to us on BF.

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Old 03-19-10, 01:02 PM
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You will be missing out on local cuisine and specials if you eat the same thing all the time on a tour: B-o-r-i-n-g!!!!
Go with the flow; drink before you're thirsty, eat before you're hungry. Yes we do carry extra food/water, just in case.

On a 500 mile tour in 6 days with 22,000+ ft. of climbing on our tandem, my stoker Kay put on 5 pounds by the end of the trip!
We rode from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to Mexico (no, it's not all downhill as some folks surmise) and is a real workout.
The next time we did that tour she watched what she ate (no bakery stops) and managed to gain only 3 lbs.
Temp/terrain/distance/fitness level will also dictate food intake;
She would eat a big breakfast, a small lunch and dinner (some kinda salad) with food/fruit snax in between.
We do not do energy bars or drinks.
She was so used to riding 200 miles a week that a 500 mile tour was no big deal.
Some great local foods will be missed if you stick to a rigid/boring diet. Fresh smoked herring near Duluth, MN; Kolaches (Czech pastries) in La Grange, TX;
Pasties in northern MI and WI; great brats in WI and MN; fresh local cheeses and super ice cream in Logan, UT, etc.
Amazing what your body can/will burn for energy.
Yummmm!
Pedal on TWOgether!
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