Tri to be different
I discovered during a long training ride the value of real food. Until that ride I relied on gels and gus and chews to get me through the ride. They didn’t get me past the ride, but they got me through it. The ride that changed my mind about fuel included an unplanned stop midway at a Subway. I ate a sandwich and I got back on the bike. The last half of the ride, when I was usually the most tired, I wasn’t; and when I finished I didn’t feel wobbly – there was still something left. I knew at that point that if I was going to run off the bike, I needed more substantial fuel. I just didn’t understand why and I really couldn’t figure out how to stuff an entire Subway sandwich in my bento box. (I did manage to get an almond butter/grape jelly bagel sandwich in during the bike on the 70.3.) After further research I found my answers in Feed Zone Portables by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim.
In an in depth introduction to the cookbook, Allen Lim explains the disgestive differences between real food and gus/gels/chews/liquids. The very, very short of it is that your stomach acts as a time release for fuel – if you push the gus/gels/chews/liquids through it to your gut, the energy is used quickly and often with gastric distress, but if you consume real food it slows the release of energy down so that it is continuous. (I hope I explained that correctly. His explanation is better.) Instead of having the short lived glycemic jolt of a gu, real food keeps your blood sugar constant – no spiking, no crashing, no bonking (as long as you keep up the supply :-))
However, this means that you have to rethink your fueling on the bike. Happily, this is a cookbook filled with delicious solutions that you can pack in the bento box or the back of your jersey. I have made pies (my favorite is the Curry Potato & Chicken) and rice cakes (not a fan of the coconut, blueberry, chocolate chip one surprisingly – though I made one up of mango, coconut, and almonds that was pretty tasty.) I made the baked eggs and I wrapped oatmeal in a tortilla for breakfast – a very handy (no pun intended) solution to breakfast on the go. Today I made the polenta cakes and I’ll try them on the ride tomorrow. If you are a vegetarian you can adjust the recipes. I like this because he provides recipes and ideas as a base – the inspiration is there for you to create your own.
You’ll need to figure out how much food you need to consume and how often – just like you had to figure out how many gus/gels/chews to take. There isn’t really a cut and dried fuel solution – we all have individual needs. I do think you’ll be surprised at how you feel when you change your fuel.