Friday, February 13, 2009

Nine hours of recharging

Date: Feb. 11 and 12
Mileage: 26.7 and 97.4
February mileage: 344
Temperature: 30 and 19

I really can not overexaggerate the energy that surrounds me when I wake up to the first sunny day after a long stretch of gray. Winter or summer, snow or rain, after a while, it just doesn't seem to matter. Gray is gray. And sun is intense color and open space, dry snow and packed trails. Sun is light. Why it would really matter what the temperature is, I've long since forgotten. Today was 20 degrees and as beautiful and energizing as any day in June.

I'd hoped to squeeze in about a 10-hour ride today, but it took me a while to pack up this morning. I loaded my bike with a good chunk of the kit I plan to carry with me in the race - about 10,000 calories in food (today, because I wasn't planning on eating the majority of it, mostly nuts and dried fruit), stove, chemical warmers, all my extra clothing (because it was so "warm" today, I was wearing my base minimum), ~four liters of water, bike repair stuff and tubes, other random little things ... The only thing I was missing was my bivy bundle (sleeping bag, pad and bivy sack), because I am still waiting on a front rack. But the bulk of it, the main weight of it, was all there.

The road shoulders, while still coated in a tire suck of loose powder/sand and clunky ice, were in better shape than I've seen them in weeks. Even with the weight of bike, food, water and gear pushing 55 pounds, I was able to sit back and coast easy. I hit up all the side roads in the Valley looking for packed trails, but didn't find too much. It's still too soon after the snow dump. I pushed my bike on the foot trails for a short while before settling back in to cruise mode.

I greedily soaked up sun through a few square inches of exposed skin on my face and made frequent stops to practice all the little things that long-distance snow-biking usually entails ... adjusting my tire pressure, adjusting my layers, feeding my face. I experimented today with force-feeding. I've gotten better about taking in calories on long rides, but still end up running a deficit before the ride is over. Small calorie deficits are fine for daylong rides, but they add up quickly over longer efforts. Today I was determined to end the day somewhere closer to even. For a nine-hour ride, that's at least 3,000 calories ... ug ... but I tried to put it down. I snacked on dried apples for close to the entire day. They were delicious at first. And then not so delicious. And then downright revolting. I supplemented the apples with Luna Bars and peanut butter cups. Both went down smooth. I ended the ride pretty close to my calorie-intake goal - and somewhat nauseated. It was a strange feeling ... I was nauseated but I had a ton of energy. With the exception of never wanting to look at a dried apple again, I felt nearly as fresh as I had at the beginning of the day, before all the pedaling and heavy bike pushing and cold wind and 90-something miles. And I'm thinking ... food is the answer.

But, then again, maybe sun is the answer. Or maybe just having a whole day to ride my bike is the answer. After dinner, Geoff and I decided to go to Costco and Fred Meyer to buy all the stuff we need for our race drop bags, among other things (Costco runs always result in about 400 pounds of groceries.)

"Aren't you too tired?" Geoff asked me when questioning whether we should go.

"Are you kidding?" I said. "All I did today was ride my bike."

And, the more I think about it, it's a pretty relaxing way to live.


  1. i usually eat 3000 calories while waiting for the start gun to go off.

    i ate 1800 calories while typing this comment.

  2. I eat 3000 calories and sit at a desk all day.

  3. Awesome post! Glad you got some sun and felt energized. Sounds like you are prepared!!

  4. Hahaha, all I did was ride my 55 pound bike through snow all day! Yeah, like most people do that and end up energized. You go girl! Keep eating too.

  5. There's nothing more tiring than work and nothing more energising than being knackered... I mean proper physically tired - and out of in on sugarey peanut cups.

  6. totally blow my mind. "I'd hoped to squeeze in about a 10-hour ride today". (this with about as much 'stuff' as you can put on a bike, and then ride/push it thru COLD and SNOW!) Yep...just a measly 10 hour know, training...stuff like that. I do that all the time. my dreams...scratch that...nightmares! 10 hours? On a BIKE? I don't like my bike (any of them) that much. But I am SUCH a wuss. Geoff must be QUITE the studly dude to hang with you.

    I believe you (both) are from a different planet that I am. We rode last night after was in the low 50's, and I wore almost all of my 'winter' clothes. Did a measly 33 miler, came back in the dark (with lights) as usual for our winter 'evening' rides.

    Of course, I live in CA and you live in there is some SLIGHT diff in our mindsets I guess. Yeah..thats it..either that, or you are just crazy (in a good way).

    Anyway...keep up the great to hear about your mamby-pamby training rides. Maybe sopmetime you could do something 'challenging' to write about though? (planning on hiking Mt. Everest anytime in the near future? Just curious).


  7. Jill,

    Add as much variety as you can while keeping your known favorites in solid amounts.

    I don't know if you are vegetarian or vegan so don't take these suggestions personally if you don't like them!

    Beef sticks! Don't freeze hard and are really good and salty!

    Pop Tarts. Tons of flavors. Don't freeze hard and can be smashed up.

    Potato Chips. I didn't come up with this solution but I've seen (Grayboy) smash them up and put them in clear plastic tubes so he can pour potato chips into his mouth while riding.

    Enough of my ideas though! Just get as much variety into your food as you can! Cheers!

  8. Jill, have you tried sesame sticks? I never eat them at home but find that I love them on long strenuous days in the backcountry when I have no appetite. They're good mixed with chocolate chips, too.

  9. Jill,

    Can you give the start date of your Iditarod race in one of your next posts - I'm sure it's in your blog somewhere but can't find it - I'll know when to start monitoring race reports!


  10. Jill,

    I'll add to the food advice. In preparing for the Fireweed 200 last year, I found that I could live on solid food like pop tarts and crackers for about 100 miles (5-6 hours), but after that I got an upset stomach and had to stop eating.

    I switched from solid food to Perpetuem and the stomach problems went away. I did the entire 200 miles of the race last year subsisting entirely on Perpetuem and a little Gatorade. I trained with the Perpetuem and knew how much I needed every hour.

    With a liquid diet, your stomach can more easily digest while exercising and the small amount of protein helps your muscles keep going longer.

    I know there are several similar products from other companies, but you might try a few and see what works for you. Just keep the solid foods for when you are sleeping or stopped for a few hours. Otherwise just liquid diet while riding.

    I know you are just weeks away from the race, but I didn't switch to Perpetuem in my training until about two weeks before the race. I kept my trusted solid foods with me during the race, but never ate them until the race was over.

    My two cents. Good luck with the race.

  11. Thanks for the food advice. On Perpetuem: I can't stomach it. I've tried, in several different situations. I take little sips and have to stop. It goes down about as easy as sour milk. Same goes for Gu. I've never had much luck with "synthetic" i.e. liquid food. Even if I did, there's also the problem of freezing. I can imagine a Perpetuem popsicle would not be the most ideal source of calories. Although Geoff used Perpetuem last year, mixing it with his water in small doses.

    On Pop Tarts: I thought I really liked them, but they seem to turn to chalk below 0 degrees. They're so dry to begin with and it gets worse as they get colder. I decided also to leave the Pop Tarts at home this year.

    On salty meats: Also have a hard time stomaching those. I wish I could. Geoff discovered pre-cooked bacon, which has a higher calorie-to-weight ration than just about any food out there, higher than olive oil. I told him it was the perfect food, but that doesn't mean I can eat it.

    I'm a pretty picky eater when I'm on the move. But I've worked on it all winter and I'm pretty happy with what I've found.


Feedback is always appreciated!