Among cyclists, the topic of mid and post ride nutrition is a bit of a hot potato; we all have our own ideas of how to best refuel, to build our muscles, and stoke our fires for the next time.
On the one hand there is a rather large industry out there which will gently nudge you in the direction of energy gels, bars, and electrolyte tabs, and subtly suggest a post-ride recovery drink might finish things off nicely. This stuff is packed full of science, and the shiny promise of optimized performance out on the bike.
There are others who make up their own drinks and carry flap-jack, jelly babies, sandwiches, and all manner of real food. After a training ride legend has it that Graeme Obree, hour record winning maverick and self-trained top cyclist, swore by tinned sardines on toast and a glass of milk.
So, who knows?
Luckily, no matter which side of the fence you fall on, I have happily stumbled across the greatest post-ride recovery food available on planet earth.
But before I tell you what that is, there is a caveat.
When taking my advice about what to eat after four hours on a bike you need to know how I normally behave after four hours on a bike. For the first ninety seconds after propping my bike in the garage I bask in the inner glow of endorphins and satisfaction. I wander into the kitchen, I flick the kettle on, and then a cavernous and desperate hunger sweeps through me and pulls me, magnet like, to the fridge.
The need for a sandwich engulfs me, so I select a handful of the nearest sandwich-esque ingredients with the intention of plonking them on the worktop by the breadboard and knocking up a hefty snack. Between fridge and worktop, such is my raging calorific deficit, much of the sandwich material is gone. Scoffed. Devoured between fridge door and the other side of the kitchen.
Not dignified in any way.
I then make my way back to the fridge for a fresh set of ingredients which I now have the composure to construct into a lovely, nutritious, post-ride sandwich.
As you can see, my post-ride refuelling regime is based on the fastest method of depositing the largest number of calories into my depleted system. I should be eating lean meat, oily fish, or a selection of vegetables, pulses, and grains. I’m well aware of that.
I tend to eat whatever is nearest.
After a particular arduous ride recently I was about to attack the contents of the fridge when I was stopped, mid-guzzle, by a jar of salted caramel sauce. I am a fan of salted caramel sauce. Even typing this sentence is causing me to salivate.
I was obviously thinking clearly because I realised I couldn’t turn this into sandwich filling – that is really no example to be setting my children. I knew I needed something to dip, but the cupboards were unusually bare.
I scrabbled around for something, anything, with the required structural integrity to dip and scrape around in that jar and found an unlikely solution. A pristine, unopened packet of garibaldi biscuits. I instinctively knew this was going to work. A jar of salted caramel sauce and a full packet of garibaldi biscuits later, I can confirm that it did indeed work.
And remember, I said it was the greatest, not the most nutritious. Two very different things.
What do you expect me to do? Dip sardines into that jar?
There is really only one question which now needs answering: Is there a plausible way of turning this into a mid-ride snack to slip in the jersey pocket and boost the sugar levels out on the road?
SIS, High Five, Power Bar, Torq – I believe I have invented your next most popular flavour.