This really should be titled Cycling Nutrition. Or rather, How To Not Bonk. Let's face it, I really don't do anything else long enough to worry about calorie consumption. I walk a fair amount, but if I drink some water and have a snack beforehand, I'm good. And while I'd love to say that I'm a runner, the most I will ever do is a 5K, and a good part of that is walking right now. And yes, I'm a golfer, which involves walking for four hours and about five miles, but if I get hungry, there are always the snack shacks or the clubhouse at the turn. Not to mention the nuts and granola bars I have in my bag.
That leaves cycling. I can be on my bike for several hours, and burn a tremendous amount of calories. And it's not like golf, where, if I get tired of walking, I can get a cart. When I'm on my bike, I need to get back home ON MY BIKE and under my own power.
There is one incident that burned this into my memory: two years ago, my friend Marcy and I went on 34-mile road ride, from Valley to Fremont and back. We've done that route several times with no problem. That particular time, I was seriously dieting (HATE that word), so had consumed very few calories that day. In addition, when we stopped in Fremont for a snack, I had DIET COKE ONLY. We were about ten miles outside of Valley on the return trip, and I hit the wall. In cycling terms, it's called bonking, which happens when all your glycogen stores are depleted. Neither of us had any snacks in our bike bags, and only water in our bottles. Those ten miles were the longest of my life; I needed to stop about every mile or so and rest. Poor Marcy.
As soon as we got to where we parked our cars, which was luckily at a convenience store (the cyclist's best friend), I bought a salted nut roll and Gatorade. I sat for a few minutes and ate, and felt better pretty quickly.
When I was telling Alex of my ordeal, he scolded me for not having Gatorade in my water bottles when I knew I'd be on the road for several hours.
(True family story: when Erin was about 7 or 8, she was competing in the Junior Golf tournament at our club. Our friend, who was scoring for Erin's group, noticed the beads of sweat on her upper lip. Erin said, in all seriousness, "Both my parents are big sweaters." And we are.)
Ever since then, I never NOT have Gatorade if I know I'll be gone for longer than an hour, or if it's extra hot. I usually fill one bottle completely with Gatorade, and the other is about half-and-half with water. I drink the full bottle first, because at the end when I'm really sweaty (have I mentioned that I'm a big sweater?!) and hot, full-strength Gatorade is just too sweet.
I've gotten smarter about nutrition, too. Pre-ride, I make sure I have some carbs and protein in me. I've found that a PBJ and a banana or applesauce are good. And then about every 30-45 minutes, I make sure I eat something. My favorites are GU (for while I'm riding because it's easiest to eat), Honey Stinger Waffles because they're delicious, and Clif Shot Blocks because they taste like gummy bears. All have enough calories to keep me going. I stuff a few of these in my jersey pockets, and my bike bag is never without some GU for emergencies.
(And you know what's not good for a pre-ride snack? Cake. Last Easter, our friends dropped off some delicious bunny cake. I had a big piece before I went on a ride, thinking I'd burn off the calories. I'm sure I did, but my stomach hurt and I had to poop the entire ride! No more cake for me!)
But the most important thing is to stay hydrated. Keep 'em full.
And take advantage of your stops at the convenience stores. I know you're going to use the restrooms, but you need to buy something too. Fig Newtons are a personal favorite.
So my big dilemma this year is to balance my caloric intake with my desire to lose a few more pounds. My Fitness Pal has the weight loss calculated into your daily calories (mine are at 1200), and adds in calorie expenditure for your daily net. So theoretically, I should still lose when I eat the calories I'm expending. I worry that the program gives me too many calories for what I'm doing. Because seriously - I've been cycling for several years and am still not where I want to be. Maybe now because I am tracking EVERYTHING, I'll have better luck. I guess time will tell.
Okay, onto the food front. I did try a few new recipes. The first is from Iowa Girl Eats and was personally recommended by Erin. It's Thai Turkey Burgers with Peanut Sauce, and I will be making it again! I rate all the recipes I make, and this got four stars. Out of four. I do not eat leftover burgers, but I sure did this one. And I was looking forward to it!
Another new recipe I tried for dinner one night was adapted from Carrots-n-Cake's Israeli Couscous with Chickpeas, Brussels Sprouts, and Asparagus. Only I did not have Israeli couscous, but I DID have quinoa. It was delicious this way - and fewer calories. I just substituted 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, prepared according to package directions, for the couscous. (Nutrition data using quinoa, recipe making four servings: 360 calories, 13.0 g fat, 47.8 g carbs, 18.1 g protein.) This was a great dinner with some carrot sticks, and it made a great lunch today with an apple. It's a good light summer meal.
Summer? I KNOW! It's only March! But we've been having such warm weather lately that when our next-door-neighbors came over for some patio drinking on Friday night, we knew it was time to break out our favorite summer drink:
THE LEMON AMY
This came about many years ago when I had several girlfriends over for dinner and drinks. Late into the evening, we were running out of options for beverages, when Amy said "How about pear vodka and lemonade?" That woman is a genius!
And if that gets too sweet for you, there is always the Jonathan, introduced to us by Alex and Aly's friend. It was actually why we had the pear vodka in the first place.
Even though we went to a St. Patrick's Day party, I felt bereft without making some corned beef. It is surprisingly not horrible in the calorie department - 200 calories for four ounces (there are six ounces on this plate.) But am I ever THIRSTY!!
Happy belated St. Patrick's Day to you! I don't know how this old lady hand got attached to my fingernails.