Staying warm, eating food

Twice during my training, I’ve stupidly failed to eat enough during the ride, and both times the effect has been pretty severe.  Typically, I’ve been out on a ride which turned out to be longer than I expected (eg. because of a strong headwind).  Then I run out of food/water, and I think “stuff it, I just want to get home” and press on rather than stopping to refuel.

This is a really bad idea.

Three things happen.  Firstly, your energy just goes away and cycling suddenly becomes hard.  Secondly, your body temperature seems to drop rapidly – but you don’t realise how chilled you’ve got until you stop cycling.  Thirdly, your concentration, risk perception and reaction times become seriously impaired.  The worst part of this is this: It happens fast, and I don’t realise that its happening.  I mean, I know I’m tired and hungry, but I don’t notice the temperature drop, and once you’re in the bad zone you’re just thinking about getting home and nothing else.

Boy, this is all good stuff to learn during training.  Actually, I’m much more conscientious about eating and drinking when I’m on long rides.  Every time I even think about water or drinking, I take a drink.  And I eat something at least every 10 miles or 45 minutes.  But I seem to have a dumb blindspot during ride of about two hours.

I guess the main risk during the actual LEJOG ride is towards the end of the day when I’ll be tempted to “just get there”.  Or to try and take a ‘late lunch’ instead of stopping at the right time.  So I hope that writing this down will help me remember this!  And I’m definitely going to pack some glucose sweets for instant emergency refueling.

Edit:  It’s just occurred to me that there was also something else in common on both these rides.  The first part of the ride was slow and hard work (hills, or against the wind) so I was hot and sweating.  Then the second part of the ride was at higher speeds and colder weather.  So, the temperature drop combined with the wind chill on damp cycling gear makes for a nasty combo.  A wise cyclist would stop, adjust layers and be comfortable …

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