I learned an important lesson last week while out on as longer run. By the time I got back into Edinburgh after 55 miles, I was extremely exhausted and someone asked me what I had to eat that day. I had a bowl of cereal before I left in the morning and, about half way through the 4 hour ride had about 6 squares of chocolate that I had left left over for baking the previous day.
No wonder I was tired, that was nothing like enough food to sustain me over that length of run. A friend advised me that I should have had a large meal the night before packed with carbohydrate, then in the morning a hearty breakfast. I sometime have porridge before a cycle as it allows you to have a slow release of energy, this along with toast and fruit would have been better than a bowl of cornflakes!
Another difficulty I have is eating and drinking on the go as it requires the rider to be able to ride with one hand and a bit of extra balance. Unfortunately I don’t have someone to cycle along side me and offer me a tray of delights as Andy Schleck does in the photograph here. However, I am learning to drink on the move but have had to adapt a little to enable me to do this. When I am cycling along in the pack I am aware of others eating and drinking as we go particularly when I see banana skins being hurled into the field as the side of the road. If I need to drink I tend to drop back out of the bunch so I have more space then, after I have had a drink, work my way back up. Cycling with one hand and drinking takes a lot more balance and control and I tend to wobble a bit when I do, so I have to choose my moments carefully.
I would like to learn to eat on the go because it gives the other riders an advantage and it can really help conserve energy if you can eat in the saddle. I have been exploring ways to do thins like having a little box like the triathletes do on the cross bar. Again it takes balance and for me, like drinking, it will take practice. I feel that this is an essential skill to learn as I have shown, cycling on an empty stomach is not a good idea.