Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How cyclists actually recover post-ride

The suffering is over.
Many hard miles logged, metres climbed. You’re so tired you’re unsure of your own name. After a hard ride there’s only one thing on your mind. It’s not stretching. Or active recovery, or even your ‘nutrition strategy’ otherwise known as eating. No. Get me off this bike, you think. Now.

Minute 1

You’re off the bike. For once your precious is far from your thoughts. You’ve abandoned it somewhere, you’re not sure where, you don’t care. Feet on the ground, the earth seems to move, a sailor returning to land after months at sea. Only it’s your legs that are quaking, quivering under the load. You fumble with your door keys like a drunk after a big night out.

Minute 2

You fire up the computer. Strava time. Priorities. Ride uploaded you marvel at your conquest, your great adventure. You spend a few seconds looking at some graphs and pretending to understand them. Time for a beer.

Minute 5

Ha ha, brilliant you think, having finally come up with a name for the ride on Strava. You check for kudos. Nothing. Disappointed, you hit refresh to no avail whilst opening beer #2.

Minute 6

You’ve emptied the food cupboards and your kitchen looks like it’s been burgled, ransacked by wolves. You have no idea what you’ve just eaten. You didn’t chew, just swallowed. Your pet dog trembles in the corner of the room, out of sight, hiding in case it’s next on the menu.

Minute 7

You check Strava for kudos again. Nothing. One more refresh. One more beer.

Minute 8

You’re lying on the floor in filthy Lycra. Your stretching routine consists of opening and closing your mouth. You’d cry if you had the energy. The ceiling above seems to spin and the dog comes over to see if you’re still breathing. You do not flinch when it licks your salty face.

Minute 15

It takes over a minute to pull yourself off the floor and return to the fridge. So hungry. You look for protein but see only salad. Noooo! Thirsty too, all beer drunk, the only cold liquid is the small bottle of fish sauce that’s been in the fridge ever since you tried cooking Thai curry five years ago.
You pick up a scent and gag, something smells like it’s dying. You sniff the fridge for a moment until you realise the smell is you. Must shower. It’s winter and you’re wearing more layers than an onion. Try as you might you cannot pull the sweaty base layer over your head. You imagine being in an emergency room, doctors skilfully cutting your clothes off with scissors.

Minute 18

You’re finally naked. You check your calves and stare at the muscle definition, convinced it is more pronounced than last week. You admire the bulging veins whilst doing your best not to look at your emaciated upper body. You trace the outline of your old summer tan lines, still there, waiting for a top up.

Minute 19

All is well in the world, Strava kudos ahoy. Thanks random person / automated bot in Lithuania.

Minute 20

The shower is hot yet you turn up the temperature despite the fact you’ve almost passed out three times. You catch a glimpse of your face in the mirror and wonder what the white streaks across you cheeks are. Snot. Not that anybody would have noticed, so busy would they have been staring at the blob of banana stuck to your chin.

Minute 40

You finally leave the shower. Back in the kitchen you’re on the hunt for food that will cook as quickly as possible. You begin to panic, the magical 20 minute window to refuel long gone. Coffee brewed, you find yourself with a weird concoction of carbs and protein in a saucepan. You don’t bother with a plate and eat stood next to the kitchen worktop, stretching your legs in what can only be described as half-assed. You review your ride on Strava again, proud.

Minute 41

You’ve eaten everything, even the salad. Masses of food sits heavy in your belly, pulling you to the sofa. You lie down and elevate your legs where you remain like a dead rat. You stare at your ride on Strava for a moment until sleep strikes despite the coffee. You sleep like a baby. A drunken baby. Nothing disturbs you.

Two hours later

You wake up, legs sore, devastation all around you. Damp and dirty Lycra strewn all across the floor, the kitchen a bomb site. It can wait. You stand gingerly and try to remember the post ride stretching exercises you read about in Cycling Weekly but the best you can manage is an impression of an old man trying to put his slippers on. You cook and eat again. Good job you never washed up eh? You climb back on the couch and pick up the massage stick, which you use to bring the remote control closer before rolling it back beneath the couch.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Food for Treks

Daily Food

Pretty much any snacks work to provide energy for a Day Hike since you can eat a healthy breakfast before hiking and a nice dinner when you get home.
Once your hike becomes multi-day, your nutrition needs change greatly. You now need to ensure your body is receiving more than just calories.
A good distribution of foods from the food pyramid, possibly supplemented by a daily vitamin will keep you hiking strong for days, weeks, and even months on end. The calories you consume should be around 15% proteins, 50%-65% carbohydrates, and 20%-35% fats.
Carbohydrates provide faster energy, fat more long-burning, and protein replenishes and keeps muscles healthy over time. Reducing protein too much will be devastating on a long-distance hike.
Carbohydrates and proteins have 4 cal/gram (113 cal/oz), while fats have 9 cal/gram (255 cal/oz). It is a good goal to find calorie-dense foods so fewer pounds are carried for the same amount of energy. A food pack containing about 4.25 cal/g (120 cal/oz) is fairly dense. Most multi-day hikers carry 1.5 to 2.0 pounds of food per day. That means carrying more than about ten days of food becomes impossibly heavy. For longer treks, read about supplying food along the way.
The process to outfit your trekking food is:
  • Estimate how many calories are needed with this Calorie Calculator.
  • Create the meals with this Menu Planner.
  • Shop for food. Start early and buy when items are on sale since they can be stored.
  • Repackage. Just before the trek, repackage food into meals so all ingredients are easy to find.
  • List required utensils. Choose food to minimize the extra tools needed.
The planning of food, shopping for ingredients, and repackaging into meals is an enjoyable part of planning for a long hike. It's exciting to think I will be preparing this meal while the sun is setting on some far mountain.
Figuring out what tastes might work together, making sure I have enough but not too much food, understanding what utensils are needed to make the meal - all parts of the planning that can be a lot of fun.
Some people like real food, such as steak, stew, hamburgers, or other items that take real cooking and weigh a ton. These people tend to take day hikes from a base camp, exploring an area thoroughly.
To take an extended trek requires changing your expectations of food and the effort involved in carrying it and preparing it. Minimizing the weight to carry and the time, fuel, and utensils needed to prepare a meal are the main goals.

Reduce the Weight

  It makes no sense to carry any more weight than necessary. Since a large portion of total pack weight can be food, that is a good place to start lightening the load.
There are a number of ways to reduce the weight of your hiking food:
  • Dehydrate - buy your own food dehydrator and dry fruits, vegetables, and meats.   Most inexpensive and healthy option but requires effort at home. A dried apple is still an apple, just without the water.
  • Buy Prepackaged - purchasing freeze-dried or dehydrated meals is the easiest. It is also the most expensive and can introduce large amounts of sodium and preservatives.
  • Calorie Density - read the nutrition labels on foods. Find those that are dense in calories compared to weight. Sunflower kernels are 190 cal/oz while an apple is 15 cal/oz. and a dehydrated apple is 100 cal/oz.
  • Repackage food - you'll be surprised how much garbage labelling you'll throw away. Better to just leave it at home rather than carry it mile after mile just to throw away later.

Other Trek Food Tips

  • Take dehydrated fruits and vegetables to help input vitamins not found in processed foods.
  • Take a daily vitamin each day to help fill any lack of nutrition in your food choices.
  • Pack spices. Take a lightweight container of 5 or 6 common spices to add flavor to meals - salt, cayenne pepper, garlic, cinnamon, chili powder, onion, or whatever you like.
  • If you expect cold mornings, or aren't eager to start hiking bright and early, have oatmeal and hot chocolate. On long treks, I prefer packing up and moving right away with a break for Pop-tart, granola bar, or trail mix after an hour or so. This saves a lot of time heating water and clean up. It also means less fuel to carry.
  • The ultimate lightweight meal packaging is to just take your credit card. When thru-hiking a long trail that goes through towns, it's a lot lighter to eat at a restaurant or buy fresh food at a grocery store than to carry your meals.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Preparing to hike a fourteener

There’s nothing quite like looking out over the world from an elevation of 14,000 feet above sea level. Therefore, we’re not surprised that the Colorado 14ers have become world-famous, drawing adventurers from near and far. Although there are 14er hikes that are ranked as “easy,” don’t be fooled. Hiking a 14er is not something you decide to do spontaneously; you need to properly prepared. Even the easiest hike can be dangerous. So, before you start to venture up the mountain, make sure you are properly equipped, both with gear and with knowledge.

Mountaineering safety

The first rule of mountaineering safety is to talk about mountaineering safety. The more you know about the dangers of taking on these peaks, the better and the more enjoyable your experience will be. When you are heading towards an elevation of 14,000+ feet, you’re going to encounter changing weather and terrain. You need experience and common sense to keep you safe on the peaks. You have to account for altitude sickness and fast-building storms, and you need to have the right gear and supplies to keep you hydrated, warm, and dry.

Before you take on any peak, familiarize yourself with the route, weather, and terrain. Take a class and do your research. If you are a beginner, head out with experienced mountaineers who can help you get to the top and make the right decisions in a pinch. The weather report may say something different than the dark clouds forming above. Don’t ignore warning signs because you insist on getting to the top. We know it sucks to have to turn around halfway up the peak, but it’s better to cut your hike short than to let your pride lead you into a life-threatening situation.

Camping gear for hiking 14ers

If you are staying overnight, be sure to get an all-weather tent. You’re also going to want a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, a properly fitted backpack and waterproof pack cover. You may also want to bring some waterproof bags and rope to keep your food and hang it in a tree. You could also bring a bear canister and a carrying case.

14er essential supplies

You’re going to need supplies to keep you hydrated. Make sure you have a lot of water and a hydration system that is easy to carry. Besides a lot of water, you’re going to need navigation equipment. There are great satellite GPS systems, but we also recommend a good old fashioned map and a compass. You can’t always rely on technology in the wild. Finally, you’re going to need proper shoes, clothing, hiking equipment, and a safety/emergency kit.
You’ve probably heard the hype surrounding Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers lately or even seen someone out on the trails using one. But what can a GPS do for you as a mountain biker? If you’re currently using a cycling computer to keep track of ride data or you’re interested in making your rides safer, you may want to consider purchasing a GPS unit.
When I first heard about GPS a few years ago I didn’t understand the point. I mean, this thing can tell you your position at any time but who cares? Great, I’m at 39.30778 and 105.41283, now what? I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my GPS unit could does much more and was truly user-friendly.
First off, a GPS unit can do everything your cycling computer can do. The GPS unit will tell you your speed at any time and also the distance you’ve traveled. If you’re traveling in a relatively straight line to a known point the GPS can even estimate how long it will take until you reach your destination! Of course you can read your data any way you like to find average speeds, trip times, and more. More sophisticated units can tell you how much you’ve climbed or descended on your ride and can tell you in real time your rate of climb. If you’re a data junkie like me you’ll find that the GPS gives you something to look at while you’re struggling through that impossible climb or waiting at the top for your friends. No cycling computer can match the amount of data even the most basic GPS unit will provide.
Next, if you’re using a guidebook or map while riding an unfamiliar trail the GPS unit can help you determine where you are in the ride. For example, Falcon Guide Books give you maps, elevation profiles, and mileage-based descriptions in their trail descriptions. With a cycling computer you can certainly keep up with the mileage-based descriptions but the GPS lets you do much more. When you’re climbing that major spike on the elevation profile map it’s nice to know how much farther you have to reach the top. With the elevation data your GPS provides you’ll be able to figure it out quickly. Also the overview map can be helpful as well because your GPS unit draws a map (called a track log) that you can compare to the map printed in the book. For a loop trail you can estimate what portion of the loop you’ve completed and the types of turns coming up (switchbacks for example).
Another great reason to consider a GPS is for safety. The track log feature on a GPS is essentially a digital breadcrumb in case you get lost. Most mid-range units allow you to “back track” over the route you traveled, a great feature for an out-and-back trail. You can also mark landmark points (called waypoints) such as where you parked your car (always a good idea). If you find yourself lost you can navigate back to any waypoint via a straightline route and you can even see how far you are from that point. Because waypoint navigation is given as a straight line, as-the-crow-flies direction, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of waypoints marked so you can travel from one to the next without doing too much trailblazing.
Speaking of trailblazing, I’ve used my GPS unit more than once for this purpose. For example, you may have gotten off trail at some point and want to get back on the trail you traveled out on. With the GPS track log map feature you can see where you’ve already been and can head back to the trail you used to ride out. Most GPS units will also calculate the sunrise/sunset times for your particular location so you’ll know if you have enough time to get your ride in before it gets dark. Make sure the unit you choose also has a backlight feature for those times when you don’t quite make it back before sunset.
You might be wondering how you can effectively take a GPS with you when you ride. GPS units rely on a clear view of the sky and they like to be held face up so that the antenna is properly aligned, making it critical that you affix your GPS to your handlebars properly. Most GPS manufacturers sell or includehandlebar mountsand in my experience some work quite well. The GPS unit itself is usually larger and heavier than a cycling computer so you may not want to bring one along on your next race. However, the amount of data and sense of safety that having a GPS offers makes it a great thing to have with you on your next ride.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hiking Overnight

Day hikes are usually simple affairs that start and end at the door of your vehicle at a trailhead, or maybe at your own front door.
When you get the urge to travel further than your legs can carry you in a day, the affair becomes a bit more complicated. More skills, gear, food, and planning are required for a successful multi-day hike.

No two people hike the same. We each have our own pace, endurance, nutrition and comfort needs, as well as sources of enjoyment. Some are willing to sacrifice comfort to cover many miles while others prefer slower, more comfortable, and possibly heavier hiking.

Nomads have carried their homes along with them for eons. You will be a nomad on your long hike, taking your home along mile after mile. Choose a lightweight, comfortable shelter that protects from the environment.

Sleep Systems
Cowboys used to throw down their saddle for a pillow and wrap up in an old blanket. That can still work for you, but there are other options to stay warm and comfortable through many cold, wet, windy nights. Flexibility to work with varying temperatures is a good goal for your sleeping system.

There's nothing wrong with planning a completely non-cook menu for a multi-day hike. You can live for days and weeks eating crackers and cheese and jerky, but at some point, you'll be ready to kill for a hot, steaming meal. On long-distance hikes, there are quite a few options for cooking your food so you can choose which works best for your trek.

Long Distance
Hiking in 5 miles and back out the next day is a great weekend trip. A 40-mile loop through the mountains over a week is a real challenge. But, what happens when you get the bug to really hike far? There are special concerns when hiking for weeks or months on end, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Depending on the trail you hike, there may be permanent shelters, established campsites, open camping, or no legal camping allowed. Decide what kind of camping you are willing to do and then plan your day hikes to end where you are able to camp.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Equipment Used for Hiking

When out in wild country, the gear you have along is all you have to rely on. Until you get back to the comfort and safety of your home, it is up to you and whatever equipment you bring along to make your hike comfortable and safe. Failing to bring along the right stuff may mean a miserable experience or worse.

Gear Up, Dude!

Hiking Essentials
Anywhere on the trail, you can have a fun debate about what are the 10 most critical items to take on a hike. You may find that you absolutely must have a fingernail clipper, but other than that, this list should be a good starting point for the gear that is essential for safety and success.
Gear List
In addition to the ten essentials, most folks take along a bit more. This checklist gives the more common items to take along and reasons why you should consider them.
Hiking Boots
Your feet are your vehicle while hiking. Treat them well by supporting them and protecting them with sturdy, comfortable hiking boots or shoes and your trek will be oh so much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, there are gazillions of marketing ploys for hiking gear since it is such big business. You can spend as much as you want.
Hiking Socks
Socks aren't discussed much outside of the hiking community, but they are extremely important when you are counting on your feet to convey your tired body over miles and miles of rocky terrain. You may not realize it, but there are good socks and bad socks - choose wisely, grasshopper.
Hiking Clothes
Just like there are snowbunnies, there are hikebunnies. People that dress the part, but don't really walk the talk. Real hikers come to grips with the fact that no one looks good after grueling along for 6 or 7 miles in the dusty heat. The clothes we wear can make the trip more comfortable and safe if not better looking.
Hiking Packs
Day hikes don't require a lot of gear, so a small pack is just fine. Even in small packs, there are quite a few choices to make and your personal preference along with expected conditions and group size will help you pick a perfect pack.

Hiking Sticks, Poles, and Staffs
OK, if you tired of the 10 essentials debate on your next hike, ask fellow hikers what they think about hiking sticks and poles. That's sure to be a healthy conversation for an hour or more. Hiking poles have religious believers as well as nay-sayers. They can be useful, but learn to use them correctly and don't expect miracles.

Hiking Umbrellas
For heavy rain, or wind-driven storms, a full rainsuit provides protection. For occasional showers, better ventilation, and sun protection, consider taking an umbrella on your hikes.