The stats on the day: 69 miles with over 4100 feet of climbing over McClure Pass at 8700+ feet elevation. We traveled from Hotchkiss to Carbondale. Calories burned: 4500.
Replacing the 4500 calories burned would normally require a stop at Olive Garden where you might need an order of cheese sticks to top it off. So you might ask, “Tony, how do consume enough food to complete such an outing?” Easy answer: you don’t. You can’t. One, you don’t have the time to eat that kind of volume of food. Two, even if you could binge 4500 calories, you can’t digest it. Under athletic stress your digestive system slows way down. It can handle stuff ready to go into the bloodstream, but it’s not going to do much with Fettucini Alfredo.
The solution to this problem is science. Admittedly, there are as many theories on how to deal with the calorie problem as there are bike manufacturers. You’ll see people packing hamburgers in their jerseys. You’ll find people that swear by peanut butter-filled pretzels. But expensive chemicals mixed with water is what works for me. For Ride the Rockies I traveled with about 15 pounds of various energy and electrolyte supplements.
So here’s the scoop on how I go about it. I skip breakfast. Unless you can eat at least three hours before you start it will just be a lump in your stomach. I do put something in there — like half a banana or part of an energy bar — and then roll with a supplement that contains protein and other things that can be accessed easily by my system. In my other bottle I have electrolyte supplements which are key to avoiding cramping. I have to carry additional amounts of this stuff as I work through it on the ride. I will not replace anything close to the 4500 calories I burn, but I will keep the furnace stoked enough to finish. It’s only then I can dig into the food buffet.
Now on the other end of things: how to recover. Today’s science says there a magic window of about 30 minutes after finishing an event when your body is optimally receptive to replacement calories, proteins, etc. This time window sparks a lesser known Ride the Rockies race: the race to see how quickly you can park your bike, get your bag with your normal shoes, get some fresh water and go find the food hall.
Ideally, you throw some stretching in there. Super ideally, you throw a massage in there. The scientific evidence is mixed on the benefits of massage, but who cares? It feels good while it’s being done and you leave less sore. Bingo. The naysaying scientists obviously have never had a massage.
Today’s stop was Carbondale, but we were housed in Glenwood Springs. The lady in ice cream store in Glenwood Springs said that it was the number one tourist destination in Colorado. I have no reason to doubt her. It is a great little town: pretty, Canadian-like friendly people, plenty of very good restaurants and a real hot spring. Our hotel gave us a free pass which we intended to use the minute we could get to our room and free ourselves from our ripe biking gear. The water is naturally mineral-filled and comes out of the ground very hot but is cooled for the public. The big pool is 94 degrees and smaller pool is 104 degrees. Perfect. The scene was reminiscent of Europe with families and people of every age enjoying a community activity of well-being. (BTW, I can only imagine how good these pools must feel in the winter.) I think every town should have one. There’s a shovel-ready project for you Mr. Obama!
Tomorrow is a big day: 7,000+ feet of climing, topping out at 12,000 feet of elevation. I’ll soon find out if my recovery methodology is worth a damn or not.