I did 40 miles the other day. At 15mph. Huzzah!
SLOW, I know. But for a
couch desk potato-dough ball on a single-speed, I’m fairly proud of myself. The hills around Dover can be a little discouraging [although the descents are incredibly fun], and at one point, about 10 feet from the top of a nasty hill, I was honestly about to tip over. I considered [gasp!] getting off for a split second before crushing the thought and putting my [entire] back into it. My glutes are still feeling it.
I’ve mentioned this before but this past week, I definitely felt stronger on my rides. The afternoon timing might have helped [embarrassing disclosure: that early morning ride I did last week? 12mph. LOL.], but I think it might be something even more basic:
I remember when I first started to talk to competitive cyclists about my desire to ride longer, harder, and faster; one consistent piece of advice was to eat. Eat before you’re hungry; once your hunger kicks in, you’re done. I believed it, but only thought that that was relevant to those in serious training. I was a newbie on a cheapie bike. That kind of advice just seemed cut out for those who rode 200+ miles a week.
So I exercised caution; bringing food on my rides but not touching it unless I was really hungry. The inability to ride comfortably with only one hand [or none] on the bars meant that eating = stopping. And, come on, who wants to stop when they’re in the middle of a scenic ride? I rode slowly and did super short rides at first [we all start somewhere, right?], but those rides really kicked my ass.
These past few days, though, I’ve been eating. Before, during, and after getting out of the saddle. Throwing out the old fear of carbs, I’ve made sure I’m eating something easily digestible before jumping on the bike. An hour into the ride, I’ll pop a piece of a Clif Bar or a quarter of a Larabar into my mouth and make sure I’m chewing something every 20-30 minutes thereafter. Afterwards, I’m sating my hunger with yogurt, some Kashi Go Lean, and a giant orange. I even had some animal crackers the other day. Oh yes, I love me my carbs.
But my adoration of sugar aside, I’ve seen results from my inaccurate, subjective study. My legs feel better and I’m not puttering out of steam on the way home. On Wednesday, I started chomping on my [favorite apple pie] Larabar 40 minutes into the ride, even though I was still somewhat full from lunch and not hungry in the least. Not only did I complete that 40 mile loop faster than I ever have, I didn’t realize that I had easily careened past that one stretch of road that sometimes makes me want to cry until I was nearly home.
That’s not to say I’m fast, but I’m faster. And if that 40 miler is any proof, my legs are somehow capable of pedaling faster for longer. This obviously doesn’t give me license to hit up Dunks on the way home and then swing by Party Favors for some cupcakes, but I’m not going to sabotage my rides by going hungry.
Because honestly, there’s nothing worse than realizing that you’re starving, you have no food, and you’re about 20 miles from home. Especially when you’re only running one gear.