Have you read Messenger of Doom’s guide to cycling nutrition? If not, go and read it now. It’s very short, and will make you laugh like a drain.
And I think he might have a point. You know how I went on and on about being knackered in my last post? The kind of knackered where your whole body aches, and your brain can’t hold a coherent thought for longer than a few seconds, and you know that a mere eight hours’ sleep might just about scratch the surface? (I didn’t even sleep that well last night – I often don’t, when I’m that tired.) I was really really really knackered. And also quite hungry – so I ate my usual Thursday night supper of a massive jacket potato, a pile of broccoli and a couple of mackerel.
But first I had half a baguette and a tomato salad.
That’s a hell of a lot of food. I think it counts as two dinners, and both of them were fairly generous.
But it did the trick. Today was Friday and, after four really hard days, I was expecting it to be a nightmare. But (as I mentioned above/below/in the last post) Fridays have a peculiar adrenaline-infused quality to them. Or perhaps it was all the food. Because I was flying. Racing around town, overtaking people left right and centre (well, mostly right – I can’t abide undertakers), storming through the traffic, feeling unexplained surges of strength in my legs with every push of the pedals, finding the breath and energy to sit back and sigh contentedly as I sped along at well over 20mph – whereas yesterday I was puffing and panting and wheezing, and almost couldn’t make it over Waterloo Bridge.
It’s the food, I tell you. Or, more specifically, the over-eating. And there’s some precedent for this. A few years ago I rode from London to Telford. It was about 145 miles, which was the furthest I’d ridden at the time, and I did it on a fixie, slightly hungover, after four hours’ broken sleep on a friend’s living room floor. It wasn’t a good ride. My legs never properly woke up, and I actually had to stop for a bit of a snooze halfway through.
I then spent the night at a friend’s house, before carrying on to my parents’ place in Wales the next morning. Other cyclists are the best people to stay with when you’re touring – they understand that you need lots and lots of food and a hot shower, they don’t mind you going on and on about your saddlesore, or that puncture you had near Kidderminster, and they accept that you won’t be able to make coherent conversation after about 9pm.
And L. was no exception. I arrived to a table groaning with afternoon tea – sandwiches, scones, chocolate fingers, and several different sorts of cake. At first I thought this was the customary post-ride pre-shower snack, but there was so much of it that I wasn’t sure, and L. was on a diet, and barely eating anything, so perhaps this was all I was going to get. So, although I was still kind of hoping for a massive plate of pasta, I gratefully tucked in, and managed to put away a good half of what was on the table. I can eat a lot of cake, when called upon.
When I could eat no more, I went off to have a shower – and came back to find L. putting a massive plate of pasta (just like I’d been dreaming of) on the table, next to a smaller one for her, and a large pot of extra pasta, in case I needed seconds. So I ate the massive plate of pasta. And then I ate another massive plate of pasta, since I can never turn down a second helping. And then I sat back and sighed the sigh of the truly replete, whereupon L. went back into the kitchen and brought out the pièce de résistance – a large homemade rice pudding. And I …well, it would have been churlish not to. And then I went – stumbled – to bed, cradling my swollen stomach, belching slightly, and trying not to think about how many thousands and thousands of calories I must have stuffed into myself.
And then I woke up, breakfasted generously, and did the remaining ±60 miles to my parents’ house like it was nothing at all. At one point I found myself accelerating up a hill and grinning broadly. It was one of my best cycling days ever, and I couldn’t understand how it had come on the heels of one of the worst.
It’s the food, I tell you. Or, more specifically, the over-eating.