Sunday, January 13, 2008

Meal planning

Date: Jan. 13
Mileage: 25.8
January mileage: 312.4
Hours: 2:00
Temperature upon departure: 30
Precipitation: .22"/4" snow

I had a great short ride today. I felt the strongest I have since my left knee started acting up in late December. My actual moving time seemed exceptionally short (the ride took two hours, but I stopped for a while in two different spots.) I hope to put in my longest single ride yet this weekend if the weather cooperates. I won't ride for 12 hours in 35-degree rain. There's just no reason to suffer that much in the name of "training."

I have been spending a fair amount of my off time trying to decide exactly what I'll have in my "kit" during the Ultrasport. In some aspects, I still have quite a bit of testing to complete before I really get my gear dialed in. I have a list and an pretty concrete idea of the clothing I want to bring, but I'm still not completely sure if it's enough. Or too much? My testing isn't likely to yield enough confidence in the end result to shave much off my current list. But I feel like the ideas I have now are a good balance of "too much" for most conditions and "just right" for extreme conditions. As long as it all fits on my bike, I'll be happy.

Something I've been a little less sure of is meal planning. How does one prepare all the food they're going to carry in a endurance event that will consume an unknown number of days? For my food planning, I'm taking a page from the mountaineering book: Hope for five days. Pack for seven. Ration if it takes nine. That I will be on a well-traveled trail that crosses several winter lodges and a couple of towns will minimize the danger of starvation, so I'd like to keep food on the light side. But that still doesn't answer the question of how much to take.

What to take, though, for me is an easier question. As much as I'd love to just carry a bunch of light-weight fatty products like butter, there's no way I can ingest, let alone digest that kind of food. My experience has taught me in heavily active situations, I operate great for extended periods of time on simple carbohydrates, can tolerate protein and unsaturated fat in well-distributed doses, and can't deal in the slightest with saturated fats and really greasy stuff. This reality seems to hold true even after more than a day. My only multiday experience is cycling the Golden Circle in August. I went for three days eating a diet that was almost entirely nut/fruit trail mix, fruit snacks and Clif Bars. I never really became tired of that stuff. In fact, the opposite happened. Knowing I had the ability to process my food and keep going was a huge comfort, and I relished in eating it. The experience that finally convinced me that a repetitive, simple carbohydrate diet is best for me happened as I rolled through Whitehorse during a really hot part of the afternoon after logging more than 250 miles in a little more than 24 hours. I pedaled by a McDonalds and several other fast food restaurants. The smells wafting from the buildings were beyond nauseating in my condition. But I continued to crave my crappy walnuts and cranberries. I also had a similarly sickening experience with French fries after the 24 Hours of Kincaid.

So I have some good ideas for foods I know I can and will eat, that pack fairly small and are either edible frozen, or thaw fairly easily. I'm still at a loss of how much to bring. I figure I can balance the fats and carbohydrates to log about 2,200 calories to a pound of food. I don't think it's likely I'll be able to eat much more than 4,500 calories in a day, but I'll probably pack and ship as much as 6,000 for each day, and maybe even a little extra emergency food. There will be some trail food, but my Whitehorse McDonalds experience has me a little concerned about how appetizing it will seem. If I don't need to head back out on the trail right away, I can always force the "free" calories down. But getting sick is always a concern.

Here's a list of the foods I have been thinking about, and their caloric value per ounce. You can gag or marvel in my refined palette. Either way, this is the stuff I'm comfortable with, and I'm not likely to change it too much.

Clif/Power Bars: 250 calories, 2.4 oz
Pop Tarts: 400 calories, 3.6 oz
Walnuts: 183 calories per ounce
Almonds: 169 calories per ounce
Pecans: 196 calories per ounce
Soy nuts: 128 calories per ounce
Sunflower seeds: 165 calories per ounce
Craisens: 92 calories per ounce
Dried cherries: 100 calories per ounce
Dried pineapple: 92 calories per ounce
Chocolate: 152 calories per ounce
Turkey jerky: 100 calories per ounce
13” tortilla: 330 calories
Fruit snacks: 123 calories per ounce
Peanut butter: 167 calories per ounce
Fruit leather: 90 calories per ounce
Tuna package: 40 calories per ounce
Wheat Thins: 137 calories per ounce