For much of my life, I’ve had an odd relationship with food. Some of it has to do with a history of addiction, some with having been an athlete of some variety since I was about seven. I can plow through a dozen chocolate-chip cookies in the blink of an eye, but I still see how certain foods work better in my system and in my training, than others. So, it has been a long, difficult road to where I find food that I enjoy and that will help my riding.
My diet changes from summer to autumn, winter to spring. I will adjust the proportion of each macro-nutrient, fat, carbohydrates and protein, as well as the sources of these. Right now, the height of summer, I eat 40-50 percent carbs, depending on if I am training or actually out competing or on a long tour. Fat tends to stay near 30 percent, sometimes a little lower when I’m out. Protein I like to keep pretty close to 30 percent, though it will dip a bit out riding. If you are familiar with recent trends, you may recognize the proportions of the “Zone Diet”. Yeah, I tend to do that.
I also lean more and more toward natural foods, or even the Paleo diet. The shorter the ingredients list, the better. The more processed a product, the more calories tend to be jammed into it. As much as I like them, chili and lime Doritos are just about as processed and unnatural as a food-like product can be. A handful of almonds and raisins are at the other end of the spectrum. This is the end I try to stay close to.
Now the whole rise of processed and pre-packaged foods is based on convenience. It’s easy to pick up a Twinkie at the gas station, though it is difficult to tell, even while eating it, how long that little yellow cream-tube has been around. Real food goes bad, eventually. It can be timer-consuming to pack a steak in a bike jersey, however.
So I have tried to find options. They have shifted and changed over the years. I have eaten my share of PowerBars and Fig Newtons. I have tried more “natural” options, like the Honey Stinger offerings. Now I have come across two or three options that I have not had until recently.
Allen Lim is a Boulder-based sports physiologist. He has worked for Team RadioShack and Garmin. He invented a hydration drink with less sugar that prompted other riders to dump their sponsor’s drinks and secretly fill their bottles with Lim’s “Secret Hydration Mix”, now just called Skratch Labs mix. No artificial colors, no artificial flavors. This approach I the basis for Lim’s new book, “Feed Zone Portables”.
I’ve written about this book before. Now that I’ve tried out the recipes, I’m convinced it’s the best riding food I’ve ever had, and it’s cheaper in the long run because it’s made at home. Little muffin-tin omelets, two-bite pies, pocket-sized sandwiches, all with whole, natural-food ingredients. My body handles the food better and I can perform better. The first fourth of the book explains from a physiological point of view why this works. It’s fantastic.
Now I am in no way perfect in my diet. It’s not all food that I can chase down or pick myself. When I’m out on a ride, I like a good treat. I still prefer when that treat has few artificial ingredients and a short list. With that in mind, let me tell you about the return of the Estes Park Pie Company.
Val and Patrick Thompson opened their little shop on Elkhorn Avenue a few years back and were surprised by the positive reaction. Their pies, muffins and cookies were, in my opinion, heavenly. After problems finding an industrial kitchen, questionable dealings with other retailers, a move to Longmont and Illinois, the couple are back and their shop has reopened, this time in Lower Stanley Village. They have added to their menu, now offering meals, as well as desserts. I look forward to beginning, as well as ending, a few rides at the Estes Park Pie Company.
This weekend marks the start of the 100th Tour de France. Due two a few wars, while the race began in 1903, this year is the 100th edition of Le Grande Boucle. American Tejay Van Garderen of Team BMC has the best shot of bring the yellow jersey back to the US, but he will have his hands full. While last year’s defending champ, Brad Wiggins, is not defending his championship do to injury, the only man who came close to him last season, teammate Chris Froome, will be leading Team Sky, widely regarded as the best team in the pro ranks this year. NBCSports and NBC will carry the US broadcast of the grandest of the grand tours beginning at 5:30 am on Saturday, and running through Sunday, July 21.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you know or how hard you train. Mistakes happen. Mistakes happen with the experts, the people at the very spearhead of their professions. It takes just a split second or one bad decision or just dumb luck. We are lucky if we get to learn from this.
In 1967, on stage 13 of the Tour de France, the rider who was then the very best ever to come out of Great Britain, Tom Simpson, collapsed and died during an ascent of Mont Ventoux. He was 29. He had made the decision to take an amphetamine and alcohol, with or without the knowledge of the combinations diuretic effect. In the heat of the climb, Simpson began cramping, but by the time he stopped, it was too late.
Fabio Casartelli was an Italian cyclist riding for Motorola in 1995. He was the defending Olympic road race champion. He had won stages in several major and minor stage races. On July 18, stage 15 of the Tour, Casartelli and several other riders crashed on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet in the Pyrenees. Casartelli’s head hit a rock on the side of the road the serves as a guard rail and died. He was just shy of 25. The next day, the entire peloton road behind Motorola, as they led the stage start to finish. Lance Armstrong won the following stage in a long breakaway, dedicating the win to his fallen friend. Every time the Tour passed the memorial for the rest of the Texan’s career, he payed homage.
Wouter Weylandt was young and improving. The Belgian was riding for the premier team from his country, Quick Step, with several stage wins and some impressive placings within the stage races. In 2011, Weylandt was riding for Trek/Leopard on the descent of the Passo Bocco during stage 3 of that year’s Giro d’Italia. He was near the end of the stage, but trailing off the back of the main peloton, as sprinters often do on climbing stages. He was trying to bridge up while on a switchback section. While checking behind him, over his right shoulder, to see who might join him, he clipped the guard rail on his left. He was thrown over and landed on the road below. Weylandt was 26 when he died. His girlfriend, An-Sophie, was pregnant with the couple’s daughter, born September 1, named Alizee.
Why am I going on about this? It’s more than the recent climbing tragedy in the national park. Things happen. We enjoy a different sort of inherently dangerous sport. Things can go horribly wrong in a fraction of a second. That is the nature of cycling. The best way we can ensure maximum survivability is to wear a helmet.
Pay attention. Don’t take silly risks. Most of us do not get payed for our cycling results. We have families who want to see us come home. Know the traffic. Assume that the driver either doesn’t see you or doesn’t care. And again, wear a helmet.
Carry some kind of ID. I carry my drivers license, my insurance card and my Road ID. If you crash and can’t communicate, you want whoever finds you to be able to tell your loved-ones whats going on.
Don’t let love of the sport interfere with family. No one ever gets to the end of this life and says, “I wish I’d spent less time with my family.”
Next time you head out, be sure to kiss your spouse. Hug your kids. Make sure everyone you care for knows how you feel. Things happen and you don’t want to leave something like that hanging.
For training, we are now 11 weeks away from the Ride the Rockies. Our total miles should be up to 70 with three rides equalling 50 miles during the week and one more of 20 mile on the weekend. Keep it up. As we are expecting snow and cold all the way through the weekend, the typical spring pattern, I’ll be inside again. It may also be an opportunity to do some maintenance on the bike, or maybe just stay home and watch movies with my wife and daughter.
I’m not just saying this. I mean it. Have fun, be safe. I’m going to hang out with my family.
Pro cycling’s biggest race is near it’s end and the excitement is growing, although the win is nearly assured. A lot of drama is off the French roads or not exactly racing. But let’s eat, first.
I love food. It’s a blessing and a curse. As a result of this love, I’m on a personal quest to find on-bike snacks that taste like they are made in a kitchen rather than a lab. I have a little bit of both, this week.
The Honey Stinger nutrition company makes its home here in Colorado, Steamboat Springs, specifically. They tout a “Pure Natural Energy” motto. Their product is so tasty and effective, a certain cyclist/businessman/7-time Tour winner bought into the company, putting both influence and endorsement into the company.
A few years back, Lance Armstrong went to the kitchen folks at Honey Stinger and told them of the waffles sold in northern Europe. The thin waffles were soaked on honey for flavor and made for a great pre or post-ride snack. Honey Stinger took the idea and made a slightly less sticky version that I just love. The Organic Stinger Waffles are certified organic and sold in single-serving packets for convenience. I have enjoyed the honey flavor and vanilla for a while. This week, I found their new chocolate flavor. Like their own web site says, “who doesn’t like chocolate and waffles?
The chocolate flavor was yummy without being over-powering. It killed the cravings and took the edge off my hunger. I didn’t do this test on a bike, so I can not say for sure how it would work during a ride. I have had the other stinger waffles on a ride and had not upset stomach that some carb-heavy foods can cause. I plan to grab some of these for my Courage Classic ride this weekend so I can give a more complete opinion.
The other product I found was Dr. Allen Lim’s Scratch Labs energy drink. If you don’t already know, Dr. Allen Lim is a sports physiologist who has worked as team nutritionist for Garmin and RadioShack pro cycling teams. Lim has gotten tired of the likes of Gatorade and such and has created his own energy/hydration drink; Scratch Labs Secret Drink Mix. Reportedly, Tour riders would dump their sponsors drinks and refill with Lim’s. Hence, the name.
The mix boasts “No Artificial Anything,” real fruit for flavors, optimal sodium for exercise and less sugar and more electrolytes than most drinks. What I can attest to is that the flavor is not overly sweet. It mixes quickly and completely. I did not get tired of it going from Leadville to Granby, a 93-mile ride. I never bogged down or had any stomach issues. I was given free samples, but I plan on buying some on my way to Copper this weekend.
Now, the Tour. Bradley Wiggins of the British Team Sky took the yellow jersey a week ago Monday on a 25.8-mile individual time trial in which he took first and his teammate Chris Froome, runner-up in last season’s Vuelta a’Espana, took second place. Since then, Wiggins has been flawless, putting together a lead that only his own teammate is within three minutes. The problem seems to be that his teammate may not be content in second place.
Froome has publicly stated that he will attach if his captain falters, giving other teams both hope and a plan for attack. Froome, a near-skeletal rider, is a better climber than his boss. If the Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale or defending champ Cadel Evans can draw Froome out in the Pyrenees, there is a chance Wiggins can be dropped from his top spot. By the time this article hits the street, we will know. The other drama has been tacks on the road on the last climb on Monday, and the ejection of RadioShack-Nissan’s Frank Schleck.
Someone tossed carpet tacks on the crest of the Mur de Peguere on Monday’s stage 15. Both defending champ Evans and Tour leader Wiggins suffered flats over the top of the climb The tack caused a reported $20,000 damage to bicycle, motorcycle and car tires, as well as a broken collarbone for Astana’s Robert Kiserlovski and roadrash for Levi Leipheimer of Omega Pharma-Lotto. Tour organizers have filed an official complaint with local police.
Finally, fan favorite Frank Schleck has returned a positive test for the banned diuretic Xipamide. The International Cycling Union, or UCI, announced that they have informed Schleck of the finding and RadioShack has pulled the Luxembourger and released a statement that they do not administer the drug.
The problem is not that Schleck might be taking a diuretic, as that has no real performance enhancing qualities. It is, however, a masking agent for other performance enhancing drugs. If Schleck can prove he did not use the drug to mask anything or improve his performance, he could get off with a reprimand or a one-year suspension. If not, he will face a two-year ban from the sport.
As long as I don’t get tested for espresso or Nutella, I should be okay for the weekend.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.