How to Eat Optimally For Cycling as You Grow Older

There was a recent article in CyclingWeekly (UK) that outline a few essential points on aging and exercise

Essential points

  • You may require fewer calories as you get older
  • You’ll need more protein to offset age-related muscle loss and ‘anabolic resistance’
  • Consuming omega-3 fats and vitamin D becomes more important
  • Thirst becomes a less reliable indicator of your fluid needs

While the article had a lot of information and links to other articles I had read, the key points were:

Do: eat 30-40g protein at each meal. Get this from a medium-sized (125g) chicken or turkey breast, a (150g) fish fillet, one small tin (120g) tuna, four large eggs, or 400ml whey protein shake.

Do: fill up on low-calorie, high-volume foods like vegetables and fruits to maximise your diet’s nutritional density and water and fibre content.

Do: estimate how much fluid you need to drink during exercise by calculating your sweat rate — the difference between your pre- and post-workout weight. Divide your hourly sweat rate by four to give you a guideline for how much to drink every 15 minutes.

Do: refuel with protein and carbohydrate within 30-60 minutes of completing any long or hard ride. As you grow older, recovery from hard workouts takes longer.

Do: boost vitamin D and omega-3 — aim for one portion of salmon, mackerel or sardines a week, or one tablespoon of flaxseeds, chia seeds or walnuts daily.

Don’t: eat less than 20 per cent of your calories in fat form, otherwise you risk deficient intakes of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. Aim for mono and unsaturated fats from oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil.

Don’t: go to bed on empty. Studies at Maastrict University found that muscle protein synthesis was 22 per cent higher in athletes who consumed 40g of casein protein after a resistance workout and before sleep.

Don’t: go overboard with supplements. High doses of vitamins C and E may actually reduce beneficial adaptations to training.

You can read more by looking at the full article, I just saved the points I am trying to work with now.

Effective Cycling

"In cycling, practical experience still outruns science."

ForesterBradley Wiggins’ amazing Tour de France and Olympic gold medal wins has inspired us to take a break from swimming posts to dive back into John Forester’s Effective Cycling. Here’s an excerpt from Forester’s “The Physiology and Technique of Hard Riding” chapter:

Abilities of Cyclists

Cycling is by far the most energetic activity you can undertake. Other activities may produce more force, as does weight lifting, or more muscle power over a short period, as do track sprinting or most swimming events, but there is nothing that approaches the long-term, high-power demands of cycling. In these events, the cyclist is working as hard as possible in the most efficient way for many hours at a stretch—for 4 hours for a 100-mile race, for 12 or 24 hours for long-distance events, and even for several days in the longest events, interrupted only by the amount of sleep that the cyclist chooses. Stage races may require only 6 hours a day, but the biggest has 22 racing days in a month.

The contrast with many other activities becomes more apparent when cycles of motion are considered. Many weight trainers consider 20 or 30 repetitions adequate. A long swimming race may require 500 strokes. A marathon run requires about 30,000 paces. The 200-mile ride, which is probably cycling’s equivalent to the marathon, requires 50,000 pedal revolutions. Even the century ride, which cyclists of all types complete, requires 25,000 revolutions. The world’s record of 507 miles in a day probably required more than 100,000 revolutions.

These demands for energy, and the ability of first-class cyclists to meet them, exceed the boundaries of our physiological knowledge—at least as it is published in scientific journals. We do not have sufficiently accurate explanations of exercise physiology to enable us to recommend training practices for hard riding that are based on laboratory knowledge. Rather, we are still at the stage where the known capabilities, techniques, and experiences of hard riders are the base data for extending our present physiological theories of short-term exercise into the realm of long-term, high-power exercise. As a result of this inadequate knowledge, when current exercise physiology has been applied to engineering design for cyclists, such as in the design of bikeways, the results have been contrary to experience. One ludicrous result is the published criterion for bikeway grades, which states that the highest hill that most cyclists can climb is 34 feet high. Cyclists should be skeptical of all recommendations that have been made by exercise physiologists, for these are generally based on scientific theories that do not apply to the conditions of cycling. Scientists typically continue to apply generally accepted theories to particular situations, even when the data for one situation (cycling, in this case) refute the theory. In cycling, practical experience still outruns science.

Known Facts about High-Performance Cycling

Cyclists are able to exceed 25 mph on the road for up to 8 hours, and to exceed 20 mph for up to 24 hours. Competitors in these events, like sporting cyclists in general, ride with cadences between 90 and 110 rpm. Cyclists eat and drink while cycling. Cyclists who take early leads in massed-start events (as opposed to unpaced time-trial events) rarely are in position to contend in the final sprint. These are the known facts that must be explained by any legitimate theory of cycling.

Injury Report: What Am I Supposed To Do?

Injured my calf in January and now find myself with the injury coming and going having to sit for an extended period of time.  Off the bike as it seems to tighten the calf and then it injures itself running.  After all these years of doing both, it seems odd that I finally am bitten with this sort of injury.  I haven’t changed my routine that much, and therein lies my problem.  But I can’t afford a coach and I don’t have a current running partner in Portland to lean on, so I am simply going to rest it, no running or biking for a week, and then ease back in.

Where does this leave me for the big Mother’s Day half marathon competition?  Reading Andrew Gertig’s article How to Hack a Marathon If You Aren’t a Runner for inspiration that no matter what training level I ultimately have, I will finish and survive it.  Blasting through the run in a top 10 age group time is out of the question now.

2010 Indie Hops Mt Hood Cycling Classic

Is COMING on June 1-6th.  Mo and I usually volunteer and have a great time, come out and support the riders, either volunteer or cheer them on!

The Indie Hops Mt Hood Cycling Classic 2010….6 stages, 2 in Portland, 4 in and around the Columbia River Gorge! Again, will prove to be some of the toughest racing in the US!

Pros/Cat 2 Men Race Schedule June 1-6
Pro 1-3 Women/Amateurs Race Schedule June 3-6Food, Racing, Music, Vendors, and a GREAT TIME!

Preparing For Your Long-Distance Bike Tour

From a Facebook post by Darren Alff (see notes at the end).  For those not on Facebook.

Packing for a bicycle tour is one thing. Preparing your body and mind for life on the road is another. In this article I address how you can 1) get in shape and 2) mentally prepare for a long-distance bike tour.

Get In Shape — Ride Your Bike
Bicycle touring can be a workout…and you need to be physically prepared. Before you even step on your bike, you need to assess your personal level of fitness. Some people have never ridden a bicycle before. Others are experienced cyclists with thousands of miles under their belts. Most of us are somewhere in between. If you are an experienced rider in good physical shape, you can likely skip this step. But if you are new to cycling or know that you are not in as good a shape as you should be, then please keep reading.

It is important that you see a doctor before heading out on a bike tour, and before beginning a training regiment. Once you’ve been given the go-ahead to start training for your trip, jump on your bike and start riding. It’s important to ride your bike as much as you possibly can! The goal to 1) get in shape and 2) feel comfortable, safe, and in control of your bicycle. Working out at the gym, improving your cardiovascular workouts, and eating healthy foods can also play a part in preparing for a long-distance bike tour. But while working out at the gym is good, riding a bike for long distances is even better. You know you’re ready to depart on your bike tour when you can ride at least 20-30 miles without feeling any extreme discomfort.

Become A Strongman — Add Some Weight
Once you’ve become comfortable riding your bike, start adding some weight. Add a couple panniers to your bicycle or start pulling a trailer. As your departure date nears, start riding your bike with more and more weight added.

Riding a bicycle with no weight on it is completely different than riding a bike weighted down with 30-60 pounds of additional gear, especially if you plan to ride with front panniers, which drastically affects the way your bike handles.

Riding with a weighted bike while close to home will help to ensure your safety on the road once you start your tour and it will get your body in shape — as carrying that weight on your bike does require some extra muscles.

Understand Your Gear — Practice Packing Your Panniers/Trailer
Experienced bicycle travelers will pack and unpack their bikes several times before they leave on tour… and I recommend you do the same. This packing and unpacking process will help you understand what items you REALLY need for your trip. It will also allow you to practice distributing the weight of your gear evenly across your bike and placing your personal items back in the same place each and every time you pack your bike.

Know What It’s Like — Live Off Your Bike
As your tour grows closer, start living your life as though you are already on your bike tour. Pack up your bike completely and start living off of it. Start sleeping in your sleeping bag; bathe with the same toiletry kit you’ll be using on your tour; wear the same clothes you’ll be traveling in; and go on bike rides on a daily basis — even if it means riding to and from work. Do this for a few days (or even a few weeks) and you’ll get a taste of what it’s really like to be on tour.

Toughen Up — Sleep On The Ground
If you are really into the preparation process and you plan on camping while on your tour, try sleeping on the ground (or even outside) for several nights before you leave on your trip. Camping is a very hard thing for some people to adjust to. But if you can get used to the camping process before you leave on your tour, you will be that much more comfortable once you hit the road.

So, there it is! Five things you can do right now to start preparing for your upcoming bike tour.

What else would you add to the list? How are you preparing for your next bike tour? What questions do you have about preparing your body and mind for life on the road?

DARREN ALFF conducted his first long-distance bicycle tour in 2001 at the age of 17. He’s been traveling by bike ever since and just recently returned from a 9-month tour of central and eastern Europe. Darren now runs the website at and is working to inspire a new generation of bicycle travelers to get out and explore the world.

Time to Drop the Fork and the Competition

The peloton of the Tour de France
Image via Wikipedia

I wanted an inspirational piece of advice to begin the new year with and this article Back in Racing Form After Dropping the Fork published in the NYTimes.  They have a clever picture on the front page, and a great article about a racer getting back in the game at the old age of 34 and while I have never been a racer, I also don’t have to get back to that level.  The question remains, what level can I get back to?