Has anyone reading this, NEVER ever hit the wall or bonk royally during a quick-paced long ride (or even during a marathon)??
Yeah...I thought so too.
Physiologically, the mainstay fuel that the body relies on during your swim/bike/run is glucose and the body stores it as glycogen (in your muscle and liver) or if in excess, as fat, unfortunately.
Once it depletes itself of the stored glycogen and the body starts needing to convert fat into fuel (it's not very efficient), you "hit-the-wall" or in cycling term, "bonk".
Of course, one may try to train the body to rely on fat as fuel (there is ample supply of fat in your body but limited glycogen....the unfair facts of life) when one "trains on empty" but I shall withhold my opinion on that notion but if you're keen to know more, do pop by Tristupe's blog for more info.
I'm not saying it doesn't work (the science behind it is pretty solid, and the idea is doable).....I'm just not a fan.
But coming back to "hitting-the-wall" or "bonk".
I've bonked many times.
So often during my Ironman training last year that it no longer is funny.
But when you're on the saddle for 6 hours-plus trying to keep up with the boys (which ultimately always led to the demise of a good and enjoyable ride), you tend to bonk.
And once you get to the point of no return and the body starts needing to rely on your fat storage, it is superbly difficult to get back on track. Which means you're left with 40-50km of riding back to the car (or wherever the end destination is) feeling like the cement truck just ran you over, multiple times.
It's never a good feeling.
However.....you can prevent the bonk....or in my case prolong it before it hits me.
The only way around it is to have constant intake of glucose/carbohydrate from the get go.
My aim is always to only inch near the danger zone with the end-point of ride destination less than 10km to go.
(Everyone has to have their personal ride KPIs.....this is mine....plus multiple selfies....but that's another story)
The 6 months leading up to the Ironman....I've tried many modalities that I can stomach.
After all, nobody likes waiting for you that long when you're holed up in some God-forsaken petrol station's toilet with stomach upset, somewhere between Bukit Jalil and Lukut (although that does happen on off....not that I'm saying it happened to me).
So 'tolerability' of your GI system is bloody important.
Besides GI tolerability....palatability is also next in the list of important things to consider. If it taste like crap...you won't be downing it that much over the next 5-6 hours so that's not gonna help much.
So in my case...I'd started with the Malaysian all-time favourite....100 plus.
1 can provides 89 calories with 22g of sugar. Not too bad. But not quite enough. And after a while the taste gets to you....or at least to me.
(So I tend to mix it with Redbull. I love love LOVE Redbull...especially when it's 3-plus hours into a ride and you're tired and you're praying someone else in the group gets a flat so you can all stop and take a breather)
I've also done Gatorade...multiple artificial flavours and colourings to choose from.
1 bottle gives you 120 calories with 30g of carbs.
Another favourite of mine was Accelerade in Fruit Punch. 1 scoop provides 60 calories but only 10g of carbs. Not adequate despite me really liking how it taste. And it's really pricey in my opinion for so little carbohydrate (and then Alp started calling it my night-cap drink...ish).
Don't get me started on Hammer's Heed. Aside from their electrolyte tabs, I tend to shy away from Hammer due to "palatability issues"....but thats really a personal taste.
My personal favourite leading into Ironman was High 5 Energy Source Plus 2:1. It came pre-packed and I just stuffed them into my bike jersey during the race. Each packet provided 177 calories and 44g of carbs with the perk of 28mg of caffeine. And I like the taste, surprisingly.
For your local supply of High 5 energy-whatever, head on over to Hobbies Sportswear website.
Alternatively....the mainstay of getting in lots of extra calories would be popping energy gels. But like everyone who rides with me on a regular basis would know...my bike handling skills suck. Which means I do need to stop the bike to consume the gels. Unless I was looking for an excuse to have a rest from the continuous sufferfest of a bike ride, I would rather just keep going.
That's why I like my calories and carbohydrate in my water bottles.
Recently, I got my hands on this new product called Carbo-pro.
It is a tasteless powdered form of complex carbohydrate that is suppose to mix well in water and will provide the necessary fuel source during my long rides.
The label states that 2 scoops of Carbo-pro has 200 calories and provides 50g of carbohydrate.
Considering what I've just told you right up till now...50g is quite a bit comparatively.
So I test-tasted it on a few of my regular weekend rides.
(which reminds me, I need to cut back on Saturday AND Sunday rides, and return to running one of the weekends)
And you know what....I love it!!!!
Yeah...it mixes alright in the water (you might need to shake the bottle a bit more vigorously) and it doesn't taste of anything.
So these days, I have it with Redbull (for the added oomph and extra calories..plus I really like the taste) or High 5 ZERO effervescent salt tabs (which also does contain some caffeine but zero calories).
Despite 2 scoops being the recommended minimum, I've tried 3 scoops per water bottle (that would be 75g of carbs per bottle) on one of the longer torture sessions and it amazed me that I could still climb the last shitty hill on big crank whereas previously I would have spin all the way up like a wuss
(or at least that was what I was told).
I'd looked through the info section at their official website...and they even recommended (of course they did...it's good for sales!) it as pre-workout (if you're not the breakfast sort of person) AND post-workout drink (to top up the glycogen stores within 1 hour of cessation of activity). So it's kinda an all-in-one sort of drink....
(but I'm sticking to Endurox post ride....I just really like the taste)
Anyway if you're keen to try Carbo-pro....it's now being sold at these centres:
Meng Thai Bicycle Center
The NEXT time I'm being subjected to the sufferfest of chasing the boys along MEX highway, I'm gonna go 4-scoops Carbo-pro (100g of carbs, y'all!!!)......coz y'know....I don't want to be the last idiot to get back. Just saying.