eating on the bike – for cheap


from the active strand

Cycling is an expensive hobby. Fork out the ludicrous cover price for a dedicated road cycling magazine and you can see in all its glossy glory the kind of money people are willing to spend on two wheels. I’m not sure how it happened, but “entry level bikes for under £1,000” is considered bargain hunting. And that’s before you’ve taken things like cages, bottles, shoes, bibs, jerseys, gloves, and helmets into account.

The high-carb cherry on top of this debt-denting sundae? Nutrition.

As the Tour de France gets underway, cyclists across the land are likely to be suckered into the glamour of four hour rides through the country. Given that any endurance athlete needs to refuel every 60 minutes or so, that’s going to mean taking on a substantial amount of food during the ride. Over the course of a season, you can spend hundreds on speciality carbohydrate bars, caffeine gels, isotonic drinks, protein recovery and more.

For the budget-conscious, here are five cost-cutting alternatives.

1. Dioralyte

Even the shortest rides require you keep hydrated, and there is no end to sports drinks and powder mixes on offer for the cash rich cyclist. But if you’re trying to save money on a long sportive, use Dioralyte.

The sachets of powder are designed to replace salts and nutrients lost through illness, but they’re packed full of exactly the same goodness (glucose and minerals) that you sweat away while cycling. Six sachets will cost you a little over £3.50 at Boots, but an even better option is the pharmacy’s own brand, which is almost identical and costs £2.99.

By comparrison, a single packet of Torq or High5 energy mix will cost you more than £1. Nuun hydration tablets are coming down in price all the time, but they will still cost you more than the Boots mix in most cycling shops.

A bonus tip: Dioralyte have introduced a new product called Relief, which combines the rehydration qualities of the original with rice starch. That starch adds about about 6 grams of carbohydrate per sachet, and carbs are always welcome (see point three). They’re slightly more expensive at £4 for six, however.

The worst thing about using Dioralyte instead of your usual electrolyte-heavy sports powder? The taste, obviously. Their ‘blackcurrant’ flavour, for example, brings to mind memories of diarrhea rather than blackcurrent. Add a drop of cordial into the mix to expunge.

2. Coca Cola

If you can’t help but buy a premade sports drink like Gatorade or Lucozade, there’s a suprising and cheaper alternative. Coca-Cola, which is high in sugar, salts, carbohydrates and caffeine, basically offers the go-to mix for long rides. A Lucozade Sport costs around £1.20 and a Gotorade is £1.75, but a similar sized bottle of Coke is £1.15. The real saving comes with the bulkier buys, though. You can get nearly 2 litres of Coca-Cola for less than £2.

Fizzy drinks don’t sit well while you’re exercising, so the experts suggest you leave it to go flat – in the fridge with the lid off – before taking it on the road. Alternatively, buy a can during a drinks stop, pour it into a glass, and swirl with a spoon until the fizz leaves.

I’ve had mixed results with this. It works for a quick hit but, even more than the Dioralyte, taste is a significant issue. The sugary mixture can also gum up your water bottle.

3. Marzipan

A stick of marzipan

Carbohydrates are the lifeblood of any cyclist. The main sports nutrition companies offer a myriad of carb bars that vary in quality and price.

My favourite, the SiS GO bar, is £1.20 for each 65g hit (on long rides, I find I can easily put away two or more). Each bar boasts more than 40g of carbohydrates – but there are plenty of supermarket alternatives at a fraction of the price.

Marzipan may be better associated with Christmas cakes, but the almond treat is also surprisingly high in carbohydrate. One 40g bar has 26 grams of carbs, which easily competes with the top-tier alternatives. And you can get a pack of five, chocolate-covered, from Aldi for £1.30.

They have the added bonus of being delicious.

4. Potato farls

Potato farls

If sweetness isn’t your thing, Irish potato farls are another good and cheap source of carbohydrates while out on long rides.

Otherwise known as potato cakes, you can pick up a pack of six from Tesco for 50p and each one contains around 20g of carbs. Toast two before your ride, spread on some butter and sandwich them in foil.

They’re quite dense so can be broken up without too many crumbs and eaten without stopping, and they can be salty, which makes a nice change from the fructose overload associated with most sports nutrition.

5. Honey

Energy gels are the in vogue sports nutrition, and for good reason. They are easy to consume and deliver results quickly, offering many a rider last-minute salvation from the dreaded bonk. But they are also expensive. SiS, Torq and High5 gels can cost up to £2.30 each.

Enter honey. According to a decade old University of Memphis study, which has started to resurface on sports blogs, honey is a natural sports gel. The double-blind test gave groups of cyclists a placebo, a manufactured carbohydrate gel or honey, and the results were staggering.

The riders who used the honey finished the 40-mile time trial on average three minutes quicker than those who took the placebo, and just seconds behind those on the tailor-made gel, and they did it with a lower heart rate. The reason is that honey contains a mix of easily absorbed sugars and – in every teaspoon – about 17g of carbohydrate.

The main problem? Figuring out how to transport it.

Surf Rage and the Rugby Tackle


When Tom Thimpson suffered a horrendous drop-in he reacted in a fashion people might call extreme. We will endeavour to find out what happened a couple of seconds after this mid-face rugby tackle.

“It’s all happened to us before, you’re out surfing, enjoying a good session with just you and your mates.” Writes Tim on Vimeo “Then you suddenly get that sinking feeling as you see 10 people pile out into the lineup, all at once, heading for you like a homing missile. Oh well, it was bound to happen at some point, so you just smile, wait your turn and try enjoy the remainder of you’re session.

“This would work except the newcomers have a different attitude, continuous snaking, consecutive drop-ins and generally bad attitudes would make you think you have entered into a WQS final. As luck would have it, one particular homing missile decided to head my way to fade me for the third consecutive time, let’s just say my exit off the wave was either poorly timed or perfectly executed, depending on how you look at the situation.”

The moral of the story? Don’t drop in. Be respectful and earn acceptance. Sadly by including the line: “Brazilian’s play soccer – Kiwi’s play rugby.” It is sure to incite a whole lot of jingoistic nationalism. Please take those country stereotypes and hang them in a dark cupboard where they belong.

eTape Pennines 2014 – brutal but a day or two later and I am enjoying it more.


Well I entered the eTape Pennines as a way into the eTape Caledonia which is always oversubscribed – tickets are never available but i like many others entered the double just to get a place. I loved the Scottish event and was looking forward to this one but it is a very different race.

Event Summary

The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines, England’s first closed road sportive, quickly established itself as one of the toughest sportives in the UK following its debut in 2012. Starting and finishing in County Durham, the 60 mile course takes riders through the ruggedly undulating North East scenery.

With over 2,000 metres of climbing to overcome, it’s certainly a challenging ride, but with panoramic views and speedy downhill sections to look forward to, your hard work is duly rewarded. Cycling Plus took part in the 2012 event and said “Beautiful but brutal, the Etape Pennines has the makings of a classic”.

Located in a busy market town, Barnard Castle provides the dramatic backdrop for the start of this year’s Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines. Upon setting off, riders will soon find themselves riding through the stunning rolling countryside at Middleton in Teesdale, which will warm the legs nicely in preparation for the challenging section which awaits.

Following the completion of this uphill section you will be rewarded with a thrilling downhill section into St John’s Chapel. Use this descent as an opportunity to catch your breath and rest your legs, as before long you will be in scaling yet more climbs in Blanchland, home of the iconic moorland Etape Pennines has become renowned for.

From here you drop down Crawleyside Bank into the town of Stanhope and then climb to the top of Bollihope Common where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views across the dales before going back down to Egglestone and into Barnard Castle to collect your medal.

Well the ride down was good and we watched the weather with a keen eye as the earlier in the week forecasts of torrential stormy armageddon gave way to the possibility of a nice even sunny ride. Organisationally it was quite good – the big bugbear being the parking. We turned up in the camper only to be turned away and told that it opened at 4:30am. So we drove around looking for camper parking and not finding any and had to spend the night in an industrial estate with some chavs playing dance music and kicking a football around post pub kick out until 2am ….. aaargh not what i needed when we were going to be up at 5am.

2014-07-20 12.53.49

Then it was race time

2014-07-20 12.19.56

Unlike the eTape Caledonia there was nobody in the ride to work with – well maybe the early group had a peleton but our later start certainly didn’t ….. and I think the course although shortened seems to have been shortened at the expense of flat sections where a group might start working together. For the first part of the ride, my friend Jim and I seemed to be pulling along 2 or 3 other guys who either hadn’t cycled in groups before or had not worried about the etiquette of sharing.

the route

the route

I found the route quite brutal in that it was impossible for me to build up a proper rhythm – it seems to be difficult up and then steep down for most of the race. The bonus being that I hit a top speed of over 52 mph which is a max for me.

Garmin Connect Stats

Garmin Connect Stats

Strava stats

Strava stats

slight difference in top speed between the sites – so best go with the higher one then.

We managed to lose tom at the start of a KOM section, but we knew he might fall back. But a sudden section that lurched left and up which was damp (or some say had spilt diesel) meant i wheel spun and had to step off on the 20%+ slope walk up 20 foot and get back on. Jim in the meantime had gone on so when i got to the first pit stop i stopped hoping he would be there. He wasn’t so I quickly got a refill – the sun was out and already 20 degrees, and then started going again.

It was on a long climb as i crested that i suddenly found myself catching up so we had only been separated for 5 miles or so. We cycled the rest of the way together (we are pretty evenly matched – he ascends and descends faster and i was better on the less steep gradients)

At the very end 10 miles from the finish he stopped to fill a bottle so i carried on thinking he would catch up …. but he never closed the distance and finished a paltry 1m40s behind me. Tom at this stage was still 10 miles out ….

results for us 3

results for us 3

the stats for the KOM and a sprint section (but why place it right after a climb??)

2014-07-20 12.19.05

 

and a bad photo I haven’t bought

Jim left - me right

Jim left – me right

 

So would we do it again? well maybe

what a great day


god I just love kitesurfing …. there it is

belhaven Dunbar

belhaven Dunbar

DCIM103GOPRO

slam

slam

DCIM103GOPRO

surfboard

surfboard

other guy

other guy

roll transition

roll transition

slam the waves

slam the waves

beach jumping

beach jumping

look at the small people down there

look at the small people down there

getting some water out the wetsuit ... no pee

getting some water out the wetsuit … no pee

underwater

underwater

jumping on starboard not my favourite

jumping on starboard not my favourite

go go

go go