23 April 2013

Race Report: 2013 Bonk Hard OGRE 154mi gravel ride

When Bonk Hard Racing first announced the OGRE, I thought they were crazy. Who would really want to ride 150 miles on a bike without getting to run or paddle? Not me. Definitely not me. But, long story short, I wound up registering for the race with my Alpine Shop teammate Jeff, who graciously surrendered his "Masters 50+" age category status to race with 29-year-old me in the Coed Open Team division. His dad Leonard and his wife Carrie would be our support crew, and our Alpine Shop teammate David would also be racing as a solo. Cool. Sounds doable.

The week before the race was filled with typical activities like buying junk food from Trader Joe's and planning bottles. To add to the fun, my buddy Zoll needed a support crew too, so we threw him into the mix and hoped he wouldn't freak the first time Jeff played the Quark Song. The boys and I met up at our favorite commuter lot and loaded the Sona van for some Ozark gravel crushing. On the way to the Lake, we ate a lot of Mexican food and visited Jeff's boyhood home, where we picked up Leonard. Carrie was traveling for work and was giving us reports of seriously delayed flights. Oh dear. But she had a game plan which involved driving through the night with three teenage girls to make it to the hotel just about the time we would be waking up to begin our race morning routines. Woman on a mission, she is.

Race check-in was at Oz Cycles and instead of packets, Bonk Hard greeted us with OGRE-approved burlap bags. Seriously the cutest things ever. We saw a route overview posted on the wall, but Gary mentioned that we might have some detours due to high water. Duly noted. We had pizza for dinner at Shawnee Bluff Winery...and honestly it wasn't that great. But it was calories and we left feeling stuffed. Then we went back to Tan-Tar-A for pre-race meeting (short-n-sweet) and gear-sorting (longer). Carrie and the girls arrived right on time, and they crashed into bed while Leonard drove us four racers to the start line at Big Surf Waterpark. I was a little slow getting all my crap together before the start, but managed with about 30 seconds left and was ready to take whatever the OGRE threw at me and Jeff.

LEG 1 (50 miles)
Don't think I know any of these riders but check out that sunrise!!! Beautiful day to be on a bike!
It's barely light out and barely above freezing (35F) as about 100 gravel bikes stream out of the parking lot. We have a few miles of downhill pavement to start, and the high speed combined with cold temperatures instantly freeze my hands despite the double-layer of gloves. Jeff's and my goal for this leg is to finish it without feeling like we put any work in, so every hill we sit and just spin our way up. Jeff is on his AR bike, a carbon Superfly 100 with a 3x9 mtb drivetrain, and I'm on my beloved battlefinch with a 2x10 mtb drivetrain. Our easy gearing makes spinning a reality and we watch with secret satisfaction as other riders stand and crank uphill. Despite this easy perceived effort, my heartrate is pretty high, but I just attribute that to race day excitement combined with an easy "taper" week. I am also using the tow frequently; it's a great tool for keeping team effort equalized (aka....Jeff is a seriously strong cyclist and helps me go faster).
Profile for Leg #1. Somehow the mind-bending climb into Pit Stop #1 is not showing.
As the sun rises, the beauty of the countryside is revealed. The more I've ridden gravel, the more I love the open views, tons of livestock, forests, everything about riding through rural areas just agrees with my soul.  We cruise into CP#1 at mile 37 (no crew access here, just an intermediate time check) in great spirits and I recognize the church from the 2012 Bonk Hard Chill, CP25. We just check in with race staff and continue on our merry way. About mile 45, we start seeing riders come back towards us. They look like the leaders of the race, but according to Friday's course map overview, that would put them about 20 miles ahead of us. Sure, we are riding slowly, but not that slowly. We are confused and scared for a few miles until we see David and Zoll fly past, as well as another guy still eating a donut. These clues tell us that the course must have been re-routed (probably due to high water) and we are on an out-and-back. Our fears are calmed. We crush the hill into the Pit Stop and are greeted by race staff and crews. Carrie and Leonard are quick to direct us to the Sona-van, where we refuel get race updates: we are the first team, and both David and Zoll are feeling good. We arrange our maps for the second leg and get ready to tackle the gnarly hills in reverse.
Hill into Pit Stop #1.
We made it!! I release Jeff's tow as we arrive at Pit Stop #1.
LEG 2 (37 miles)

Me and Jeff rolling out of Pit Stop #1
Back, back, back it up!!!
Profile for Leg #2
Armed with new bottles, new bladders, and bellies full of donuts, we roll out to crush Leg #2. Again, we are just aiming to ride steady here, staying well fed and hydrated and not pushing too hard on the climbs. We ride back to Decaturville Church for CP#3 (again, no crew assistance, just time check) and then head south along Hwy 5. I am very tempted to hammer these few rolling miles of pavement but Jeff keeps us firmly in check. After crossing the highway, we have a few worries about navigation when the maps don't seem to match up with road signs, but after a few minutes everything clicks back into place and we know we are still on the correct course. Around mile 75, I think that we are half-way done with the race, but then I remember it's actually one hundred and fifty-FOUR miles. So I wait until mile 77 for a celebratory turkey-and-cheese sandwich. Jeff and I have been chatting basically non-stop all day, but about this time we both go through a quiet spell. We are both starting to feel the effects of a long day on the bike, and I unknowingly slip into a low patch. We stop to pee and check the map, and the brief break from the bike saddle does wonders for my mood - I'm back to my normal happy self. A few miles out from Pit Stop #2, we spot a familiar single speeder up ahead - it's Zoll, and he does not look happy. We roll up to him and immediately start asking what's wrong. We bombard him with food options we have waiting at the Pit Stop - chocolate milk, coke, mountain dew, donuts, turkey jerky, chocolate covered espresso beans, bananas, the list goes on. This is classic adventure racing behavior - if a teammate is feeling bad, you start pelting them with calorie options to get them thinking about how to fix their energy lull. Even though we're not on an actual team with Zoll, he's part of the STL crew and we want him to have a good race. So we ride as a trio into Pit Stop #2 and get to work refueling. Leonard lubes everyone's chains and Carrie takes care of restocking calories and liquids. Peat comes over and helps us all too. It's beyond cool to see him there and it makes me really motivated to ride strong. We get word that David is having a good day ahead of us. Jeff and I are ready to go before Zoll, but we are confident that our crew can get him back on the road in good spirits so we take off on the third leg.

Jeff riding into Pit Stop #2.

Zoll into Pit Stop #2.

Me into Pit Stop #2. I love my bike.
LEG 3 (41 miles)
I've finally ditched my knee warmers, and the day has warmed up into absolutely perfect temperatures for riding. Again, Jeff and I focus on constant forward progress at a steady pace...no sprinting, keep eating, keep peeing, it's all good. We've encountered low water crossings all day, but I think it's here where we have the longest one, about 20 feet wide. And, there's a car parked in the middle. Ummm...what? We notice there are two people standing outside the car. At first we think it's stalled, but then we notice they have buckets. And they are pouring creek water on the car. No big deal...it's just an Ozark car wash. People, you absolutely cannot see these things unless you are riding gravel. GETCHASUM.
Profile for Leg #3.
Checkpoint #5 is at a gas station around mile 108 and as we ride into it, there are three guys talking to the race volunteer. Where did they come from? We haven't seen anyone in front of us for this entire leg and now there are three people? Just as we are rolling in, the riders depart, but we spend a few minutes with the REALLY COOL volunteer who offers us water and snacks. I can't really describe it, it's not like either Jeff or I was in a low spot coming into this checkpoint, but we left it with way higher spirits than when we came in. Thanks, awesome race volunteer guy. There's not much else to report on this leg I guess, other than clicking over 100 miles (century), and then 112 (ironman distance), and then 120, putting me firmly into longest-bike-ride-ever territory. Cool!

We ride into Pit Stop #3 and we get great news - David is still ahead of us and feeling good, despite going off course for a few miles. Zoll has regrouped and ridden out of Pit Stop #2 in a superior state of mind. And now we only have 26 miles left of this beastly ride! Carrie and Leonard have some fries from the gas station and I stuff a bunch in my mouth as I'm swapping bottles...they are goooooood. Peat is there too and cheers us on with a traffic cone. Jeff and I are totally ready to get 'er done!

LEG 4 (26 miles)
Profile for Leg #4.
There is another guy leaving Pit Stop #3 at the same time so we form a trio for the last leg. His name is Don and I met him at Tour of Hermann last weekend - he's a strong dude! We all chat until we come upon mile 131 - it's the only place on the course where Bonk Hard has warned us to GO SLOW because of a treacherous low water crossing. All three of us are decent bike handlers but the crossing is indeed tricky - no one makes it across cleanly and that water is DEEP!! Thankfully we still have plenty of daylight and we continue riding along. Soon after the tricky crossing, Don gets a flat (his second of the day) and insists that Jeff and I keep riding; he has everything he needs to fix it. What a cool guy. So Jeff and I are alone again and at this late stage in the race, it's unlikely that we'll see anyone else. No worries though, we both have plenty of calories and are feeling great, but my wrists are starting to get a little sore.

There are still a couple monster hills to be climbed, and I am patting myself on the back for the Warbird's smart gearing. Even at the end of a 13-hour day, my legs can still push a 28/36 so we ride everything. Jeff's tow helps too, although I'm trying to only use it on the well-packed climbs. It's not as beneficial on the looser gravel so there's no reason to unnecessarily fatigue my awesome teammate there. We enjoy a really nice, long downhill into the last check point, CP#7, which is manned by another really cool guy. He spots our numbers from way out and then waves us through onto a short section of private-property doubletrack. This is awesome! We get a little bit of bike-handling practice and then a very steep "run-up" which of course we walk. Then it's only 2.5 miles of pavement back to the finish line at Oz Cycles. We hear the signature Bonk Hard cowbells from the bottom of the hill and are really excited to finish as the first team and in 17th place overall! What a great day!

Jeff and I are really happy with how our day unfolded. We never pushed the pace, just rode steady and smart all day long, kept eating, kept drinking, and kept peeing (trust me, we had a lot of pee breaks...but at least they were synchronized!). We worked as a team to keep each other happy and moving forward. Our bikes were perfect with no mechanicals and no flats. The course was marked extremely well (apart from only one tampered sign), and combined with our cue sheets/maps we stayed on course all day. General consensus on course data seems to be 154 miles and about 12,000 feet of climb. Our crew was INCREDIBLE - special thanks to Carrie and Leonard for being prepared and sooooo helpful at all of the Pit Stops. Bonk Hard Racing and Oz Cycles again put on a first-class event, and I can't wait for next year!!
Jeff, Leonard, Carrie, and me at the finish line. Oh yeah!!!
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21 April 2013

Non-Race Report: Team Virtus's CAC2

Okay, Kate won the non-race report non-race, but I've still got something to say! Plus, I've got to get through my back-blog (ha..) of posts before telling you about some amazing times at Tour of Hermann and the OGRE. So, first of all, if you don't know Team Virtus, you should. This adventure racing team is what the sport needs more of - darn cool people who explore their home terrain, get super excited about it, and decide to invite all their friends to explore it with them and drink beer afterwards. Guaranteed fun, no? And since this non-race is all about fun, I wanted to participate not as a member of super-speedy Alpine Shop, but as a helper/coach/guide to some people who love adventure racing but might not be as experienced. So that's what I did, just showed up on Friday night at Pine Ridge Campground and asked around for teammates for the next day's race.

I like fire.
I paired up with Dave B who has participated in some of Bonk Hard's races as a member of team Mapping the Miles. I was excited to non-race with a new face! I've been lucky enough to race with several different people in my short "career" and I love learning new things from each person or team. It was really fun hanging out at the Friday night campfire, complete with delicious beverages and awesome people. Adventure racing really does have a great community of folks and I was so grateful to share in it.

Saturday morning started about 2.30am when some nimwit with a really loud truck (and probably a really small...) decided to drive through the campground repeatedly. Ugh. But I was able to fall back asleep and woke back up in time for breakfast and gear prep before the maps got handed out about 8.00am. Note: to anyone non-racing future non-races with Tardy Rooster's Dave, don't trouble yourself bringing any camping implement of any kind. The guy brought basically an entire camp kitchen and was happily frying eggs and sausage over the fire, plus toasting hash brown patties. He cheerily shared some eggs with me and they were delicious! Thanks Dave! Also thanks to Bob for helping with my JetBoil's finicky starter.

About breakfast time, Young Ben from my mountain bike team showed up! I thought he might be coming but also that he might have been in Honduras. I raced with Ben at the Castlewood 8-hour and he took meticulous care of the passport all day long, running and biking extra distance for punches. He's a natural at this adventure racing stuff and I was stoked to see him at the non-race. I suggested that he join up with me and Dave B and he agreed, but I think that was mostly for his mom's peace of mind because took off guns-a-blazin from the start! Anyway, we got our maps, spent some time copying the CP locations from the master map, talking route strategy, and then loading up for the drive to the start. Everything was a little frantic towards the end because I didn't have all of my gear sorted before maps got handed out. And everyone knows that if you give an adventure racer a map, they won't stop looking at it until the race starts. So I had to sort of rush through gear/food/clothes tasks and then caught a ride with Carrie and Jeff to the race start at Carrington Pits.

TREK 1 (only 1.5k and it took an hour!!)

The whole crew of non-racers just before the non-start!

Trek 1. All we had to do was go to PP. 
Since this is a non-race, the start and cutoff times are "suggested". So when Luke of Team Virtus had announced a start time of 9.00am, he really meant "sometime after 9.00am when everyone gets there and is mostly ready". Today that meant closer to 10am. No worries! We start off running down the road and then  make a left turn into the Carrington Pits campground. From there, we hike headlong into the woods which are filled with briars rivaling anything Gerry Voellinger has ever sent his racers through. Poor Dave is in shorts so we carefully pick our way through the nasty sections. Very quickly, the map starts not making sense, but I attribute it to the extreme lack of detail that all 1:24k maps have. The intricate terrain we're in just doesn't show up on USGS maps. So I keep heading generally south, figuring that since there are other teams around us, we should be good. Plus, the thorns are slowing our pace, making it seem like we've gone farther than we actually have.

Uh...that's okay to think for a while, but pretty soon it's obvious that we're nowhere near the passport pickup. Not only that, but I don't have a good idea where we are in general on the map. And I'm supposed to know what I'm doing! Dave and I have picked up Travis and Robby from Team Virtus (non-racing as a duo) so the four of us relocate to a nearby field and try to figure out just where exactly we are. We finally trek all the way back to the campground (after I incorrectly guess which reentrant we're crossing...oh and Travis WAS RIGHT!) where Luke takes pity on us and points us down a mostly-briar-less trail that leads directly to the CP. Wow...how did we miss that!??! Anyway, we all get our passports and return to the campground where our bikes are waiting.

BIKE 1 (8.5 miles)

Dave and me ready to roll out on BIKE 1.

Dave and I hop on bikes and take off to CP1. It's a pretty straightforward ride and we get there easily, mostly because of the insane tailwind coming out of the south. Then it's time to go to west, okay that's fine, and then the southbound leg is really hard!! Thankfully my biking legs are ready to work from all of my OGRE/DK200 training so I try to block the wind for Dave as much as possible.

Towards the end of the bike I am doing a lot of mental math. Before the non-race, Jeff measured the upcoming trek to be about 8 miles. Because we took forever on the opening leg, it is going to be very difficult to get all the CPs and return to the TA before the non-cutoff of 3:45pm. So I start thinking about ways to attack the course and which CPs to drop if we get in trouble. Dave and I also talk race nutrition and pretty soon we are rolling into TA ready to drop our bikes.

Rolling into the TA after BIKE 1. Photo bomb by WTFAR. WTF.

TREK 2 with a plan to get all CPs. We only got 2, 3, 5, 4, 7 and 6.
After we put on trekking shoes, we head into the woods. Non-race non-rules state that we must go to CP2 first, and then we can go in any order for the rest of the leg. The trek to CP2 is long and even though we're on a mostly clear, downhill doubletrack, we are mostly hiking. WTFAR and TV are around us too so I watch where they're going in relation to the map. Since we're hiking, I decide to take us directly to CP2 instead of the around-route on the doubletrack. This involves a really steep descent into a creek that is probably not the best decision since Dave tweaks his ankle. Sorry!! We cross the stream gingerly to avoid more ankle mishaps and are soon cutting through a thick cedar grove. It's not easy getting through the pokey trees so eventually we bail back onto the doubletrack and take that straight into CP2.

From there, we head straight over a big spur to CP3, which I'm not very clean on the nav and we have to contour around a little before finding the flag. We join back up with Travis and Robby here and all work together for CPs 5 and 4. These are two really cool rock formations! Thanks Bob for putting CPs here! After we punch these two CPs, we know we are going to have to drop some of the remaining CPs to make it back before the cutoff. We decide to still go for CP6 and then check our time once we're there. But, as we're hiking on the a road, Dave reports that his ankle is still acting up and that he wants to go back to the TA. Oh no!! I feel really bad that my teammate is hurting. I also want to keep on trekking and find a few more CPs. Since we're with Travis and Robby, we have a short conference and Dave decides to head back on his own, letting me keep on trekking.

He is confident with the nav to get back and I am excited to have a chance to see a few more cool things in the woods. So we sadly part ways and I glom onto the duo of Travis and Robby for the remainder of the race. Even though it's a non-race, we decide to respect the cutoff time and only go for CPs 7 and 6 with our remaining time. We take the trail to CP7 and run into some really really polite equestrians! Cool! (side note: I know mountain bikers and equestrians will forever be two warring factions but I happen to be a former horse owner and absolutely love them). Along the way, we talk nav strategy since we all have maps. This is something unusual and REALLY AWESOME about the CAC...everyone who wants to pay for a map gets one. Normally, in adventure races, only one set of maps is issued to each team, so there is some amount of follow-the-leader happening. However, today we all have maps so we informally take turns narrating where we're going. I'm having a lot of fun with Travis and Robby and the last two CPs go well.

After punching CP6, we bushwhack back to the doubletrack we took in the first part of this trek. We stumble upon a really neat, barbed-wire-fortified campfire circle and wonder who hauled all those containers of tiny gravel particles uphill (answer: sandbaggers). Once we hit the doubletrack it's an easy hike back into the TA. However, we are surprised to find our friend Dave on the side of the trail looking sad. This makes my heart sink...I thought he was in okay shape when we parted ways 2 CPs prior. However, his ankle has taken a turn for the worse and he's having trouble walking. I bust out the ACE bandage from my pack and we get him fixed up with the wrap and a walking stick, and continue progress back to the TA. Travis, Robby and I make it back first and we give Luke our version of the Thousand Mile Stare. Then, several things happen: Luke offers us meat, we eat Luke's meat, and I run with some of Luke's meat back to Dave who is only a few hundred meters back on the doubletrack, and Dave eat's Luke's meat too. Yay meat.

End of TREK 2, doing our best TMS.

After all the meat-eating, we get back onto our bikes for the return to Pine Ridge Campground. It's still very windy but these roads are more protected and we can smell the barn. Bob and Luke pass us in their adventure vans, do their best to intimidate us with yelling out the window, and then we all meet up again at CP11, site of the mystery event!

Hokay. So. Let's talk mystery challenges in general. I think they're awesome, until they aren't. They have to be very clear, organized, and well-directed by the race staff/volunteers in order to be effective and, most of all, fair. When you get in a really tight, tense race situation, a poorly-run mystery challenge can win or lose the race for a team, and I don't think that's an accurate representation of a team's adventure racing skills. But, in a non-race situation like this, I LOVE mystery challenges. Love them. They are fun and a cool way to add variety and personality to an event. And that's exactly what this challenge does. It involves memorization, legos, and knowledge of human anatomy. We nail it.

After we successfully pass the mystery challenge, we just have a short ride back to the campground/non-finish line. It involves a sweet bit of singletrack that Bob himself personally leaf-blew a few days prior, and it is BUUUUUFFFF. Bob, you are awesome. There are some challenging techy bits that make me remember how fun the SegSlayer is to ride. We shred right along, punch our last CP (12) at an abandoned house, hoist our bikes over barbed wire, and then arrive at the non-finish. Being a non-race, there's not really much going on back at the campground, so we put our gear away, change clothes, and cheer on the rest of the non-racers as they finish.

The atmosphere back at the campground is awesome. There is still lots of Luke's meat left over, so as more and more non-racers finish, we all chow down and share stories from the day. Several people elected to ignore the cutoff and instead go for all of the trekking CPs, which sounded equally challenging and rewarding. Eventually we all shift over to the campfire and Bob is in the finest of forms. And we eat more meat. Life is good.
Sunday's ride.
Thanks to Team Virtus for hosting a super chill, super fun adventure weekend. I really enjoyed meeting new people and getting to race with them!! On Sunday, I got to meet even more new people and crushed out 100 miles of Cock Gobbling gravel on the Battlefinch with Aaron and Jim and Dave ...OGRE here we come!!
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15 April 2013

Endurance Nutrition

Over the past few weeks I've gotten some questions about what I eat/drink during endurance events like adventure races and gravel rides. I LOVE answering these questions. I think endurance nutrition is really, really interesting so I enjoy talking/writing about it. With the gravel season really taking off here in Missouri, hopefully this will help those of you getting ready for the OGRE, Cedar Cross, and Dirty Kanza.

I'll use my experience at this past weekend's Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge as an example of how to plan/execute a nutrition strategy, as well as some things I learned and would change for next time. To give you some background, the ToHGC is a 2-day event. Day 1 had 3 loops of about 30 miles each. Day 2 had 2 loops of about 50 miles each. We stopped at Race HQ between each loop to refuel. Course maps and profiles were posted before the event.

I looked at the course maps and profiles and compared them to recent training rides I've done. The amount of climb really affects my overall average speed, which affects my total time, which affects how much fuel I bring. IMPORTANT!!!!! You'll see in the table above that I have three columns for climb (in red). I've noticed that MapMyRide significantly underreports climb (column G), so I made my own estimate of climb in column I. Once I had distance and climb numbers, I estimated my average moving speed (column J) which is based on recent training rides. That average moving speed will give me the estimated duration (column O). Then, I use my current calories/hour and ounces/hour values (at the top of the spreadsheet in orange) to calculate calories and bottles for each loop. Admittedly, there is a lot of math going on behind the scenes here, but it's all boring multiplication/division.

Anyway, if your eyes glazed over with the first mention of "column" and "equation", the main takeaway from this planning exercise is how many calories and how much fluid I would need per loop at ToHGC. Every person has their own needs and I would expect that calories/hour and ounces/hour would be different for just about every rider. For smaller riders (i.e. most chicks) I would say that 250 cal/hr is on the higher side of things, but my gut is quite happy processing that amount. For people who sweat a lot (i.e. Jeff Sona), 20 oz/hr might be woefully inadequate. Also, if this ride was in July, I'd probably increase that number myself.

OK, so we've got our calorie and fluid targets for each loop. Now, let's pick what I'm going to put in my bottles and pockets.

This part is pretty easy. I have a long list of things I like to eat and drink while riding/racing, so I just pick some stuff and add up the calories. I made one change here, deciding to bring 3 bottles on Loop 2 instead of 2. I did this because the loop was going to be the longest of the day, and it is bad to get behind on hydration in the middle of a ride. So, 3 bottles it was. Here are the products I used on Day 1 of ToHGC:
Loop 1, Loop 2, Loop 3.
CarboRocket Half-Evil, aka CR333: my #1 go-to fuel for liquid calories. Has a bunch of BCAAs (which are building blocks of protein) and also caffeine in some flavors.
Skratch: something new I'm playing with this year. Not a lot of calories but plays nicely with solid foods.
nuun: I love this stuff. Adds electrolyes and a pleasant fizz. So many flavors!!
Honey Stinger Chews: I like the way these gummies taste.
Turkey sandwich: just yer basic turkey and cheese sammy on a flatbread bun. I put some Boetje's mustard (from Thunder Rolls) in there for added flavor.
ProBar: super calorie dense!!! awesome flavors and made with ingredients I recognize.
Snickers: I have a junk food weakness. That is all.
Honey Stinger bar: Tasty!

I packaged all of these up in 1 larger bag for each loop, then put everything in a cooler which I kept right next to the timing table at Race HQ. Then, when I finished a loop, I didn't have to hunt around in my car for next loop's fuel. It was just a matter of swapping bottles and re-filling my pockets. I spent less than 10 minutes total at Race HQ on Saturday, and was able to finish ahead of several faster/fitter riders because they took longer pits than I did.

One more note, I kept an "emergency snack" with me during the whole day. It was 1 caffeinated gel, 1 Foosh mint, and 1 Honey Stinger protein bar. 300 calories of bonk prevention right there, just in case something happened and I was out on the course for longer than planned. And I did need the caffeinated gel in the middle of Loop 3. I was tired, alone, and generally not enthused about riding. When this happens to me, it is a red flag that I need calories. Do not mess around here. I ate the caff gel right away and within a few minutes was cruising along in a much happier state of mind. Endurance events are SO MUCH MORE pleasant when you are topped off on calories and fluids. There is NO REASON why you should be out there feeling miserable. 9 times out of 10 it is just a sign you need to eat more.
Photo by Dan Singer who is just amazing.
After the ride, I took stock of things that I liked and didn't like. I ate everything I brought, plus the emergency gel. I make a mistake of not bringing any caffeinated product with me on Loop 3 (besides my emergency stuff). I should have realized that late in the ride I would need the extra focus that caffeine gives me. Luckily I had a couple back-up sources on board so that mistake was easily fixed.

So, that was basically my plan for Day 1 of ToHGC. Day 2 wasn't much different, just more bottles and more calories. To get you started, here are some other things I've had success with eating/drinking:

  • Ensure/Boost or similar
  • Coke
  • Starbucks DoubleShot
  • First Endurance LiquidShot
  • Turkey jerky from Trader Joe's
  • Snickers - regular or peanut butter squares
  • M&Ms - pretzel
  • Chocolate-covered espresso beans (also from Trader Joe's)
  • Oreos!!!!! regular, birthday cake, peanut butter, they're all good.
  • Nutter Butters
  • Peanut butter crackers, the ones from the gas station in six- or eight-packs
  • Chocolate-covered pretzels
  • Fig Newtons
  • Clif bars
  • Peachie-Os gummies
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Reese's crispy crunchy bar

And a few things that I've been meaning to try for future events:

  • Potatoes (probably boiled, then salted, then wrapped in tin foil)
  • CarboPro (tastleless powder, basically maltodextrin, that adds calories to liquids)

Okay, so I've got all this stuff to eat, now the question is when to eat it?? When I was first learning about endurance nutrition, I found a really helpful article that advised "When you feel good, eat". So that is what I try to do. I listen to my tummy and when it feels good, I eat something. I try to space out my fluid consumption evenly across the ride. More basic math...if I brought 2 bottles then I need to finish the first one about halfway through the ride.
I'm #3 in this train. Photo by the amazing Dan Singer.
This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about endurance nutrition, but honestly this is just scratching the surface. There were many more considerations that went into developing my baseline, such as:

  • liquid delivery aka bottles or bladder? pack or no pack?
  • electrolyte balance and osmality
  • fat/protein/carbohydrate balance
  • group vs. solo riding and making sure you can get calories in each situation
  • riding style - keeping your heart rate low enough to happily digest everything

 I can tell you that having a plan makes race day so much easier. I know I have a solid baseline that I can adjust based on the conditions. Training with the same products I race with makes on-the-fly adjustments easy. The biggest thing is to pay attention to your cravings...if your stomach/mind is telling you it wants something, that probably means you need it! Pin It