Posted by: wheelywonka | October 3, 2010

Not the Time to Eat Like a Hollywood Starlet

This morning’s blog was inspired by an article in today’s Star Magazine, which reported on the prima donna-ish behavior of the cast of Glee, including my girl and head diva Lea Michele, who has apparently dropped down to 90 pounds, and is approaching the frightening “her head is too big for her body” stage…

…I’ll admit it – Sunday is the only day I do any cooking around the house.  Typically I’ll prepare breakfast for the crew, and then barbecue something for dinner.   I noticed today as I was opening a package of Hill Country Fare hickory smoked bacon that even though it was low in sodium vs. (I guess) your typical hickory smoked bacon, it said right on the box, in big bold letters, “Not a reduced calorie food”.  Well, those of us who exercise regularly and care about what we eat (a recent development for me), we have been conditioned to avoid anything that is so bad for you it has to put that on the packaging.   But, a week before riding back to back days of the Ride to the River, it may be a good idea to eat a little more than usual.  In the immortal words of the title of today’s blog, this is not the time to eat like a Hollywood starlet… 

This became clear to me yesterday, when I joined my Velo Valero team members for 85 miles of rolling countryside on the east side of San Antonio.  This was our last organized ride before the big event, and John, Chuck, David, Jeff, and I wanted to get close to a 100 miles in to ensure we could do the full century on Day 1 next weekend.  (NOTE:  A full century is a hundred miles, vs. a metric century which is around 60 miles.   The full century is one of those notch-on-your-belt milestones in cycling, similar to a full marathon for runners – something not everyone can do, and something you really need to train and prepare for).    The route John designed for us was fast and furious, with lots of wide shoulders and smooth rolling asphalt.  It included many fo the roads we’ll be on next weekend, such as the glorious 1346 which passes through St. Hedwig.   After months of grueling hilly routes on the other side of town, it was great to do a route like this for a change.   At one point,    as we were blasting south on 467 and 526, averaging 22-24 mph and racing towards Sutherland Springs, I made the comment that riding these roads was almost unfair – in fact, it was like “playing the JV”.   This was going to be my longest ride of the year, and at the rate we were going, I’d be home by 1.   I was even ready to suggest to the guys we add some miles and make it a full century…

It lasted like this until we got to Lavernia, and I hit the wall.  Hard.  Right outside of the city my legs grew heavy, and my muscles just weren’t responding the way they were before.  For around 15 miles, until I got to the c-store at 1518, it was a struggle.  I felt like I was pedaling through thick peanut butter, and briefly contemplated calling for a SAG.  (Until, of course, I realized we didn’t have SAG on this ride…)  At the store, I met up with the guys, and pounded a 20 oz Dr. Pepper, which, according to the label, had over 600 calories in it.  This was enough to revive me, and allowed me to pick up the pace again.   By the time I was on Lower Seguine, I was back up to 22 mph and feeling strong.   I finished the ride at 17 mph for the 85, but it could have been much faster…    

In hindsight, the reason I bonked was from a lack of  fuel.  I have done better this year, in terms of eating breakfast before each ride.  (I had two breakfast tacos before Saturday’s ride.)  But, this is not enough.  You have to eat regularly in the weeks leading up to a big event, and you have to eat as much as you can during the event.    Depending on how hard you ride, you may burn five to six thousand calories during a century – that, my friends, is 2 to 3 days worth of eating.    Since I haven’t done many rides beyond 60 miles in the last two years, this was a lesson I unfortunately forgot.     And, you need more than just the occasional Gu or energy bar – you need something solid, that (as my Aunt Mary is fond of saying) “fills the hole” and keeps you feeling full.    

I have a friend from work named Mike, who as I mentioned before, rode with the Texas A&M cycling team back in the day.  I rode Day 1 of the Bike to the Beach with him a few years ago, and I was amazed at how he ate constantly doing the ride.    At every rest stop he filled the pouches of his cycling jersey with sandwiches, bananas, and so on, which he steadily snacked on while pedaling.  I joked that he looked like a chipmunk hoarding food for the winter, and that he’d be the first cyclist to gain weight during a ride…  But you know, I’ve never seen Mike bonk during a ride.  And, after yesterday, I’m reminded of the reason why.

So, once again, even the experienced cyclist can learn something new (again).    This is not the week to diet.  In fact, order that milk shake when you get a chance – I promise if you ride both days of the Ride to the River and ride it hard, you won’t have to worry about gaining any weight…

See ya’ on the road!

P.S. I’m not a licensed sports nutritionist.  (As you can probably tell by the fact that I drank a sugary soft drink to revive me during the ride). 

You need to be eating more than Lea is these days


  1. Good luck to everyone doing the Ride to the River next week!

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