Day Sixty One: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

My dad used to write lists a lot.  He would then get out a bright yellow marker pen and underline the most important things he had to do.  I think that perhaps I should do the same when it comes to training.  I will definitely put a big yellow line through the word ‘EAT’.

I used to work with a Chinese guy when I lived in Hong Kong who used to say “You can make a mistake once, if you make it twice you are really stupid.”  I was thinking about this as I ran out of food on my road bike ride for the second time in two days.  To make matters worse I was riding exactly the same route as the day before.  I had decided to do this to rid myself of the ghosts associated with 3 hours of pain and suffering.  To be more accurate the first two hours were fine.  It was the last hour that was hell on earth.

There are good times to run out of fuel.  One would be right at the end of a ride, to come home and see a lovely meal had been prepared by your super model partner.  A bad time to run out of fuel would be at the bottom of a climb fifty kilometres from home. With no money. No phone and no choice but to keep riding alone.

The onset of the dreaded ‘bonk’ was so sudden I actually stopped to see if my brakes were rubbing. Unfortunately they were not.  There was to be no easy fix.  It was hot and sunny and I was feeling a bit cold.  On the climb.  Not a good sign.  I zipped up my jersey on the descent and laughed at myself.  What a fool.  I had suffered the day before on the same route and had put it down to not being used to being on my own road bike, having been using my wife’s bike for the past couple of months.  I was wrong.  I had not eaten enough the day before and had started the ride with no reserves. I had two hours worth of food in me and a three hour ride to do.  This would have been fine if I had taken food with me. I had not.

The only way to get through a situation like this is to ride more slowly.  A lot more slowly.  There is enough fat on your body to keep you going for quite a while.  Work too hard though and the body has no choice but to give up on trying to convert fat to energy and makes use of glycogen.  I decided that my glycogen stores were at close to zero so I slowed down to give myself a chance of switching over to using up fat stores.

I am not sure if this is scientifically grounded but I can vouch for how truly awful it feels.  It is not recommended.  The weather conspired against me on the way back.  I was riding into a powerful headwind. I was feeling light-headed.  I slowed down to what felt like a crawl.

I pretended that I was touring on my bike, I tried to forget that I was on a ‘training’ ride.  I sat upright, tried to look at the view, tried to ignore the hunger.  It got worse.  As I cycled along the N11 I decided to look out for food left on street side café tables.  At first I doubted that I would actually scavenge from them however as the ride continued and the wind strengthened I decided I had no option. Unfortunately all the tables were devoid of leftover food.  I struggled on cursing myself.

As I entered Barcelona I spotted a girl riding ahead of me on a folding bike.  It was a funky looking bike ridden by a funky looking girl.  After about five minutes I realized that I was not catching her up.  It dawned on me just how very smashed to bits I was.

When I got home I was too far gone to cook a meal.  I ate whatever was on the kitchen table.  I ate two plain pancakes, leftover from breakfast.  Whilst I was munching them I put two crumpets in the toaster.  I covered these with peanut butter and honey.  Whilst I ate those, I put another two into the toaster.

I looked at the time and realized I had about five minutes left before I had to leave to collect the girls from school.  I made a mental note to make a list and circle the words ‘EAT” in bright yellow marker pen.  Either that or tattoo it onto my forehead.

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