Somewhere around the 5 hour mark, I bonked.
We’d been out on the trails since first light, and up until the 4th hour had remembered to take a Torq gel shot every 45 minutes. But with speed, I lost track of time.
It’s in the hour after a coffee break that I always forget to eat, and sure enough, 45 minutes later I hit a brick wall so hard my heart rate skyrocketed into the nether regions of 190bpm and my legs feel like someone has poured concrete into my veins. The ringing in my ears starts and everything goes a bit shiny around the edges.
Eating on a ride is important. But when you start putting in day after day of 5+ hours in the saddle, what you eat between rides is just as important. It’s the stuff that helps muscles recover, helps you sleep at night, and keeps your brain functioning at work the next day.We’ve hit crunch time in training for the Absa Cape Epic.
Just 3 months away, and there are literally no more excuses.For the last few years, I’ve treated the holidays as a chance to put in the miles and get a headstart on the Spring ahead. This year was certainly no exception. With family flying in from the States for a couple weeks, I’d rented a cottage outside Hay-on-Wye (and can highly recommend) to be close to the Brecon Beacons and putting the big miles right on my doorstep.
Between Christmas Eve and the 27th, I racked up 210 miles on my road bike, traversing the Beacons in three different directions, punctuated with a couple easy MTB rides with my dad (@islandbicycles) who wanted to try his hand in the Welsh mud.One great thing about holiday training in my family is arriving home after 5 hours on the road to roast dinners in the oven, and all cooked by my mom the masterchef of healthy food, I actually dropped more than a couple kilos over the two weeks.
It’s like being at a training camp with a registered nutritionalist looking after every calorie ingested.Unfortunately, the holidays came to an end, and my parents flew back, leaving me once again to fend for myself in the kitchen.
So I thought I’d share some of my favorite post-training ride healthy foods menu, packed with good calories, good fat, and good recovery fuel:
Roast shoulder of lamb with roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed broccoli and shallots with juice from the meat.
Sausage stew with baked beans, carrots, potatoes and leeks.Roast garlic chicken with steamed kale tossed in olive oil with chopped kalamata olives, sea salt and buttery rye bread.
Broiled salmon, lightly seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper with steamed sprouting broccoli, a sliced avocado, and toasted pumpernickel.
Steak salad, lightly pan-fried meat so it’s still pretty pink inside sliced atop a bed of mixed greens, bell peppers, avocado, beetroot and shredded carrot.
The monster omelet: 4 eggs with diced and sauteed veggies like courgette, onion or shallot, mushroom, and spinach.
Or whatever is in the fridge. Topped with salsa and chopped coriander.
What you don’t see here:
Cheese: It’s basically the devil’s work and can take me from superhero to zero in a matter of minutes. Don’t get me wrong: the stuff is amazing, but while my heart says yes, my stomach says no.
Pasta: Contrary to popular belief, pasta isn’t an athlete’s friend. Only from personal experience do I know the havoc reaped on my energy levels from pasta. Basically your body has to work so hard to digest the stuff that it shuts down. Food coma? That’s actually just a pasta coma.
Sugar: After a 5-7 hour ride of sucking back gel shots, the last thing I crave is sugar. I want salty protein, and lots of it. If I get a rogue sugar craving after eating, my go-to snack is an apple with peanut butter or a banana with Nutella.
So how so I make all this meat affordable? I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination so I have to be creative about how I buy meat. I discovered Heal Farm based in Devon, a few years ago, and highly recommend their direct-from-the-farm delivery service. You can buy in bulk, but all pieces can be vacuum wrapped individually so you can freeze everything and just defrost what you need when you need it.
It works out significantly cheaper than Ocado and (I think) of a higher quality. Gotta love a farm of happy animals. British, and with next-day delivery, trumps Argentinian or New Zealand meat any day.And what about meals out? I’m pretty bad when I’m famished after a ride and go out for food. If I’m not blinded by the burger selection, I usually try to go for a big salad or pie of some sort.
As the next three months of 17-20 hour training weeks commence and my legs feel the warm swelling of a weekend’s great big mashing, at least I’ve got some great big meals to look forward to.
What do you eat after 5 hours on the trails?