if some of your earlier school years were the same as mine, when it came to exam time, there was almost always at least one bloke (at that age, talking to girls was just something one didn't do - but i'm sure the experience transcended the sexes) who claimed not to have studied at all, or certainly not anything like as much as i had. yet come the results, they always, and i mean always, passed amongst the highest marks in the class. darned annoying at the least, and downright unfair at best.
life doesn't actually change that much.
i can hold my hand high and admit without embarrassment, that training is not something that occupies my every minute on the bike; i don't doubt that the opposite ought to be the case, but i'd have to work up some serious motivation for that to become the case. so despite this lack of application, and not reading those weekly articles in the comic, i still find myself harbouring feelings of inadequacy when someone who claims to be of similar mind is able to leave me standing when i've already reached peak performance. i think that, in both the above cases, those that claim not to have studied or trained are telling fibs in an effort not only to aggravate my aforementioned paucity of velocipedinal abilities, but to also flatter their own je ne sais qua. devil may care indeed.
so having admitted to this carefree and care less attitude to training, it perhaps ill behoves me to test products specifically designed to assist with this particular mode of cycling. however, providing one retains an intelligent perspective on one's cycling, it is possible to improve or, at the very least, to remain at the same level without a dropping off as age advances. this would mean spending at least a suitable amount of time working harder than is absolutely necessary or, at times, than you'd really rather. it's noticeable that those who cycle the same route day in day out by way of a commute or whatever, tend to do so at the same pace or effort, meaning that the body becomes used to this relatively stable degree of physical output, and standing still becomes flavour of the month.
but if we're going to push ourselves farther and faster, even if only on occasion, something is going to have to fuel those efforts: sticking to a piece and jam and a cup of coffee before leaving is just not going to do it. the average male requires around 2500 calories to get through an average day, while the fairer sex should be looking at nearer 2000, but if you ride your bike on a regular basis, you're not average and could reasonably be looking to ingest a tad more. there is a considerable array of products on the market that promise to fulfil the function demanded of such calorific intake, particularly on the bike, where it is very difficult to balance a plate of pasta or a soya cappuccino.
liquid form is undoubtedly the easiest way to grab those sustaining calories, but there comes a time when munching just has to take place. either way, the job will not be completed if neither are pleasant to take, and in the case of long rides, they need not to become sickly after a couple of bottles and an emptying of the back pockets. step up to the plate, bikefood.
a relatively new name on the tour bus, bikefood currently offer three different munchy bars in cherry, cacao, and fig flavours, as well as an orange flavoured energy drink. on the sachets received, there are clear instructions as to how to gain maximum benefit from this carbohydrate/protein mix: drink one sachet in 350ml of water before beginning exercise, mix another sachet in 500ml and sip every 15 minutes on the bike (if you're going out for a long one, you'll need to figure this out correctly before departure), then mix a couple of sachets with 650ml of water on return and drink as much of that as you can within 15 mins of striding manfully (or womanfully) into the kitchen barely out of breath and not having broken sweat.as alluded to above, i really have nothing to train for, but i am more than willing to suffer for my art: i followed the instructions to the letter, interspersing my bike ride with a couple of the bikefood energy bars at strategic locations along the way. of course, none of this stuff is going to have any effect if the taste is not to your liking; the first slug of energy drink had a distinctive tang that wasn't as palatable is i'd hoped, but that may well have been simply the newness of the very nice bright yellow bikefood water bottle, because the rest tasted uncannily like one of those cartons of orange juice with bits currently on offer in bowmore's supermarket. very pleasant indeed.
i don't really like cherries, so continuing with the artistic suffering, that's the bar i ate first - better to get it out the way early in the ride. except it tasted great: soft, moist, munchy and just the right size for a back pocket and a cycling stomach. the other bars have followed this trend: you'd have to have very restrictive tastes not to enjoy. all are vegetarian and vegan friendly, as well as gluten free.
i cannot claim to have carried out the test under anything like scientific conditions - i'm quite sure i could convince myself that there was a momentous change in physical output, that i continued for hundreds of kilometres past my norm, but i'd be fooling me as well as you. the flavour of the energy drink did encourage me to drink waaaay more often than i usually do (i am particularly bad at drinking even water when on the bike), and i did rather wish i'd taken three bars instead of just two because the taste was good. following up with a 650ml drink after home was reached, definitely made a difference. i have long been not so much suspicious of this proclaimed recovery period, as feeling somewhat pretentious that i would consider it applied to me, but it seems i have been fooling myself in the wrong direction.
if bikefood's products can have even a tinsy beneficial effect on a confirmed non-trainer (though i could be fibbing) such as myself, there can surely be little doubt as to their efficacy on the more serious and fit amongst you. if you're of similar mind and effort as i, you can simply eat and drink, safe in the knowledge that improvement might just creep up unannounced.
a 500g tub of energy drink costs £10; a box of ten 47g sachets £12; one 47g sachet £1.30. a mixed box of 24 natural energy bars costs £28; an eight bar refill £10; a three bar taster pack £4, and one bar £1.45. all these can be purchased online at mybikefood.com
i'll be at the braveheart ride at the other end of october if you want to find out if i was kidding about my training regime.
posted on monday 6 september 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................