Thursday, February 02, 2006

Does goo freeze?

I just ordered a pair of Neos from Campmor. I was going to go with neoprene booties and gators. But after talking to some winter cyclists who warned me of the dangers of stream overflow, I gave the Neos more serious thought. It seems like every week I purchase some type of new gear and I'm starting to feel the financial strain - but $60 for overboots that are infallibly waterproof up to 20 inches is a lot cheaper than paying a doctor to amputate toes. I won't be able to use my cages anymore - but I generally just let them dangle anyway when the snow is soft. I need feet to catch my falls. Feet are important. I feel good about my purchase.

Another thing I gave some thought to today (it was an elliptical machine and trainer day - lots of time for wandering thoughts) was food. Up until now, I've had this vague idea of my race requirement to carry 5,000-7,000 calories, 3,000 of which I have to end the race with. But what to actually eat? This is important because I want to go light. I want to go quickly digestible. But most importantly, I want to bring things I can eat frozen. Powerbars, I discovered, turn to teeth-shattering bricks when they freeze. It takes more energy to bite and chew than you probably gain by eating them. But maybe I could bring those bags of Powerbar bites, which I could stick in my mouth and wait for the eventual thaw before chewing. I wonder what the freezing point of those carbo-loaded goos are. How about cinnamon bears? Jar of peanut butter?

During my eight-hour ride, I ate two peanut butter sandwiches and a baggie of Triscuits. These foods aren't as practical for a 100-miler, but I definintly want to bring food I actually want to eat, thereby increasing my chances of staying energized rather than reluctantly gnawing on a Powerbar before I pass out. However, I'm not sure what to bring. Bananas are out. I love peanut butter ... but once a peanut butter sandwich freezes solid, can you even bite into it? I always have the option of keeping food against my body, but I only want to do that as long as it's comfortable. Is there anything out there that won't freeze under daylong exposure to subzero temperatures? (One of my co-workers suggested Vodka. That's probably not a good idea :-) Hmmm. Today I learned about Neos. Now I have something to research tomorrow.


  1. I like fruit leather - the Kettle Valley Raspberry Fruit Leather is my favourite. I've never had them freeze on me, although the coldest I've taken them to is around -15C. They're thin enough strips that even if they did freeze, it would only take a few seconds' warming up in an armpit or such.

    They're a pretty good source of energy for the weight, too (15g per strip). I did a 60km ride with a teenager last April and he was flagging around the 40km mark. I gave him a strip and around 10 minutes later he was bouncing around with energy again - he said he could feel the energy coursing through. They're also cheap, at 90 of our finest Canadian cents for 3 strips. I'm not sure how available they are in Alaska, though...

  2. OK, here's some of my comments for you. Cook up bacon, and bring baggies of the cooked bacon with you. It can be eaten cold/frozen, it has lots of calories and protein.

    You can also use some chemical handwarmers in your insulated food sack to keep everything from freezing. They only last about 6 hours, so you'll need a few pairs at least.

    Also, on your decision to dump your toe clips so you can wear safer over booties. From Kent Peterson's blog you can read his post about "Power Grips" and follow the link to the site.

    Good Luck

  3. the pictures are amazing..thanks for posting them!

  4. Joedell's advice to look into Power Grips is a good idea. I've been content to simply use pegged platform pedals all winter. The pegs grip your boot sole well and keep you on the bike. I'd wonder about the potential for ice build-up on the Power Grips if you encounter overflow, but they're flexible enough that you could probably stomp them and break the ice off. I like my Zu-Zu pedals from Sun Ringle. They're cheap and reliable. Ak29 on the forum has been using them for years and also swears by them -- and he's done the Susitna 100 a number of times.

    For keeping food warm, I like to wear an inner layer with pockets so the food can always be there. Unzip, grab it, zip back up and eat. It's easier to keep it warm all the time than it is to thaw it, which takes time and robs your body of warmth.

  5. I'd think the best way to get calories is to carry dry sports drink powder and mix it at the checkpoints. In long races I rely mainly on liquids. You need to be getting some of your calories from protein. I think the best drinks out there are Sustained Energy and Perpetuem from Hammer Nutrition since they have protein. I think it's too late for you to switch to them for this race if you haven't used them before. I've found that the crunchy granola bars do well in the cold. The chewy ones get too hard. Trail mix is also good although it's rather heavy but high in calories. I like using gels in flasks and add extra water to keep it from getting too stiff but I'd guess at some point it will freeze plus it's not light.

  6. Pemmican chunks, bite sizes! Tastes terrible if properly made, but High energy and easily stored! Chunks of fat (yup, beef fat!) are chewable after mouth thawing and easily portable as well! Also VERY HIGH ENERGY! Just store inm a ziplock, and you can put raisins in with it as well for the fructose index! I know, not very appetizing, but excellent sources of high energy!@

  7. Thom ... beef fat and raisins? Sorry, but I'm pretty sure I'd rather starve to death. But thanks for the good suggestions. I'm definitly going to check out those pedals.

  8. I think Tim's advice is good. Put the food close to your body to keep it above freezing. You'll need to eat, and it may be a lot that you'll need -- Thom's suggestion of fat isn't necessarily bad; it's a great source of calories. Beef fat is one the crows would enjoy for the winter. But there are other great sources of fat -- like PeanutButter and Avocado. Eating a bunch of M & M's was the formula for hypothermia when I was in the grand canyon ... alot of sugar doesn't hurt either when you are trying to keep warm.

    Calories count when it's cold.

  9. Hot water actually freezes faster than cold.

    I've been using Hammer Nutrition products and a hydration pack for ultra events. Back in my earlier Brevet days I used to run on chocolate milk (for fat, protien, sugar, and caffine)and orange juice(for a simple sugar boost) but most folks stomachs will not tolerate that.

    For cold weather I have had luck riding in 15-25 degree temps with the hydration pack so long as I have the insulated hose on it, below that I put the pack on under a few layers and keep the hose tucked inside a layer or two to keep it from freezing. Goo will freeze, just keep it tucked inside. Dehydrated fruit makes a nice cold weather food as well.

  10. Hey Jill,

    A couple of other food ideas. Both Cliff and Luna bars do better in cold than the good old Power bars. Myoplex bars have 400 calories per bar, a mix of protein fat and carbs, I’ve never had one though so I don’t know how they would be frozen. Cheaper off the supermarket shelf options include; breakfast bars and pop tarts they do well in the cold and have a lot of calories. They both have some protein, a solid amount of fat, but are mostly simple carb’s (ie sugar). Good luck.

  11. I remember some TV special about aome explorers in antarctic and it seemed they mostly ate butter, which I'd swear must freexe.


Feedback is always appreciated!