Blog Posts

Musings About Nutrition

So I’ve been trying to do some planning for nutrition on my trip. As in…how much food will I need to consume a day? Here are some rough calculations.

  • Let’s assume I average 6.5 hours in the saddle a day.
  • And let’s assume that I am able to maintain an average speed of 18 km/hr.
  • Given my age and weight, I’ll be burning around 5500 calories just on my bike for that duration at that speed.

Now…how can I possibly consume 5500 calories in a day?! IMG_0386Let’s try and put that into perspective. This can of Stagg Chili (Vegetable Garden) contains 361 calories. So, to make up a deficit of 5500 calories, I would need to eat over 15 cans of chili a day. Now clearly I’m not going to do that. That would be disgusting and unhealthy. Besides, I wouldn’t have enough room to cary 15 cans of chilli in my panniers.

My concern isn’t so much about how to carry that much food. My concern, rather, is with how to actually consume 5500 calories in a day. I’ll want a wide mix of different types of food. But I don’t think my stomach can actually hold as much food as I’ll need to maintain a healthy weight during my journey. Sure, I can stand to lose some weight…but that is a dangerous game to play during endurance activities.

So apart from just eating sticks of butter, I’ll need to do some serious thinking about nutrition on my trip. Which I begin in 4 days.

Training and Tribulations

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In the Pinery Provincial Park

I have one month to go before my tour around southwestern Ontario. As part of my training, I cycled to the Pinery this past weekend (July long weekend). It was a thing. It was intensely hot…30 something plus the humidex. And I was fighting a headwind the whole way—which slowed me down and dehydrated me. So that was nice. I made the 130 km journey in just under seven hours of peddling. It was definitely a mental game, but I prevailed. Taking a dip in Lake Huron was definitely a refreshing reward.  

Cycling back to KW from the Pinery didn’t go so well, though. It was hot again and I was fighting an even stronger headwind. It was so demoralizing. And traffic was intense. I made it half-way then called it quits. A very kind and generous friend I was camping with picked me up and drove me the rest of the way back to KW. I’m chalking this up as just a bad training day.  

I learned some things on this trip: 

  1. Hydration isn’t as simple as just drinking water. There’s a balance between drinking sports drinks and water. The received wisdom is that drinking too much
    water during intense exercise can mess with your body’s chemistry in a bad way. So drinking liquids with electrolytes is crucial…but there’s only so much Gatorade that my stomach can handle.
  2. Also…buying a lot of Gatorade at service stations will break the bank fairly quickly. So I think I’m going to carry Gatorade powder with me and just buy water from now on…and mix my own drinks.
  3. I will need to be much more dynamic in my planning and goal setting. I must be prepared for bad days of touring. And I must learn not to beat myself up over them. Cycling conditions won’t always be ideal. I won’t always be at the top of my game. Bad days will happen, and I will need to be dynamic in my goals and planning when those days come. Maybe this means cycling 50 km instead of 120. Maybe this means taking an unscheduled day off. Maybe it means hitching a ride to avoid a thunderstorm. Whatever it looks like, I must be willing to adjust my goals and change my plans accordingly.
  4. Training for a tour is very different from training for an Ironman race. I’ve been training…but I feel out of my depths. It was easy to train for the Ironman: I downloaded a training program from some website, and then just followed it. Easy as that. But it’s one thing to train for a really intense day of physical exertion…it’s quite another thing to train for days and days of physical exertion.

Two months carless. (Carless…not careless)

I sold my car just over 2 months ago. Previously I had had a car since I was 19. I’ve got to say…I don’t miss it at all. Here are some thoughts:
  1.  I have to be much more intentional in the planning of my week. Mostly this has to do with how, when, and where to buy groceries. But this is far from being a hardship…being intentional has helped me focus on what is important to me. Do I really need that 5 kg tub of Nutella from Costco? No. No I do not. I can be happy with what I can fit in my panniers.
  2. I really, really enjoy living life at 17.3 km/hr. Well, that’s the average Strava tells me I travel at. Yes, I live life much more slowly now…but so far I’ve have adapted to it quite nicely. I’m less stressed. I’m less frustrated. And I’m less frazzled.
  3. I am much more in tune with other drivers. My main form of transportation is my bike. So getting around the city means interacting with motor vehicles on narrow streets. I am so much more aware of what other drivers are doing than I ever was as a driver myself. I guess the life-or-death aspect of going up against 5 thousand pound vehicles has a way of focussing one’s attention.
  4. Most drivers are decent, careful folk. Yes there are the exceptions…the ones who are too busy texting to care about the red lights that they run…and yes there is the occasional asshole who screams profanities from their truck as they drive past me…but for the most part drivers in KW are respectful of my space.
  5. I don’t miss the expense of having a car.
  6. I feel great! The 30 minutes of cardio I get cycling to and from work on a daily basis has left me feeling great.

Maybe my tune will change come December and January…but so far I’ve enjoyed life without a car.

Elora Gorge

My trip to Elora Gorge Conservation Area was uneventful. My speed was unimpressive. But I think I can get faster the more I do this.

I’ve learned 2 things so far:

1. I have to pack my panniers differently. I made them all the same weight for the trip here. I think that was a mistake, as steering was an issue. So…bulky and lighter stuff in the front panniers. Heavier stuff in the back panniers.

2. The “take-me-to-…” function on my Wahoo ELEMNT is nice….but it takes you to your destination in the most direct route. Back roads, gravel roads, and it bypasses all towns. So I’m going to have to be more deliberate in planning my route…especially if I’m not going to carry food or lots of water with me.

First Solo Trip

This weekend is my first solo camping trip on my bike. It’ll be a short ride up to Elora Gorge Conservation Area. I’ll set up camp, eat, sleep, take down camp, and cycle back. I just want to make a low-stakes first trip to see if I have all the right equipment…and to see if it all works. My bike is loaded and really heavy. I’m nervous about how it’s going to handle. Only one way to find out I guess.

Summer Plans!

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To prepare for my coast to coast ride in the summer of 2019, I’m going to do a 1900km ride through southern Ontario this August (2018).

Roughly: From KW to Windsor, then east to Kingston, north to Renfrew, then west across to Huntsville, then south through Orillia, Barrie, Orangeville, and then back to KW.

This trial-run will give me a good sense of how many kilometres I can comfortably do in a day, how much food I’m going to eat, and how many days straight I can go with my butt in the saddle.

The Anatomy of a Decision Part III

Decision theory doesn’t tell us what to desire or value. It just tells us what to do when we have our preferences in order.

So what to make of my desire to cycle from coast to coast? Ken thought this was a patently irrational desire. His reasoning was twofold. First, he thought I was mistaken in my assessment of risk; and second, he thought I was unable to map my desire onto some specified goal.

As for my assessment of risk, I’m just going to throw my hands up and say I have no idea where to start in assessing risk.

First, there are different types of risks involved. There’s the risk that I won’t be able to withstand the physical demands and injure myself. There’s a risk that I will be killed in an accident (Story). There’s a risk that all my stuff will get stolen (Story). And then there’s the risk of running into wildlife…like bears, cougars, and moose (Story). Ugh. Why am I googling this stuff?!

Second, I have no idea how to quantify these different types of risk. I have no idea how many cyclists attempt a coast to coast ride in any given summer. I don’t know how many succeed. And I don’t know how many give up, are killed or injured, or are maimed by wildlife. So I’ll grant Ken that I’m probably irrational in my I’ll be fine assessment.

But what about my inability to map my desire onto some specified goal? To which I ask, Why do I need to do such a thing? Why do I need some larger goal in mind in order for my desire to be rational?

(Note what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that if I have a goal and one of my desires is inconsistent with that goal, that I’m not being irrational if I act on that desire. In other words, if I do have a desire that is inconsistent with a specified goal, and I act on that desire, then I am being irrational. In that instance I am doing something that will impede my achievement of my specified goal. What I am saying, is that it is not necessary to have a specified goal in order for a desire to be rational.)

I’ve been reading Flourish by Martin Seligman. In it he outlines what is needed for living the good life. One aspect is Accomplishment. Consider what he writes:

“So well-being theory requires a fourth element: accomplishment in its momentary form, and the ‘achieving life,’ a life dedicated to accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment, in its extended form.” (Seligman, 2011, p. 19)

The phrase accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment struck me as very relevant in my case. Why am I cycling coast to coast? What is my end goal? I am doing it for the lived experience. And I will take thousands of awesome pictures. And I will meet amazing people along the way. But these things are just incidental. Deep down I’m doing it for the sake of doing it. I just want to do it.

Accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment.

Am I irrational?