A couple of weeks ago I came up with a little hypothesis that I wanted to test on a longer ride. The idea goes that caffeine can help the body flip the switch from burning carbs to burning fat for energy. That might be a little oversimplified, but I was willing to test it out. This was my hypothesis:
If caffeine does indeed kickstart the fat burning process as suggested, the transition should be easier with the aid of the Energy Beans and Roctane (both have caffeine) – I could be able to switch from burning carbs to fat a little more seamlessly – without having to mess with my diet.
Here was my plan:
I’ll drink my normal 2 cups of coffee in the morning because I need that about as much as I need oxygen. Then, I’ll start out with the on-board Clif bars at the beginning of the ride, figure two of them by the time I hit 50 miles. At 60 miles, I’ll switch to the GU Roctane and Energy Beans – with the caffeine… 60 miles would be 10-20 miles before I hit “the wall” which would give the caffeine time to work.
When I went out for my 200k a couple of weeks ago Saturday, I stuck to that plan. In fact, I followed that almost exactly, but a little early. I ate a bag of Energy Beans and a Gu Roctane at the 30 mile mark. I stopped again at around 50 miles and ate two bags of Beans and a Gu and I was suffering a little bit by that point from riding into the wind for so long, so that originally led me to believe that my hypothesis was busted but then something surprising happened… I stopped at a gas station at the 70 mile mark and picked up a water, a Gatorade and a 12 oz bottle of Coke. I’d run out of water miles before and I’d been trying to conserve it as I went. Once I was thoroughly hydrated I got back on the road and held together well for another 22 miles before stopping for a rest and a recharge on Energy Beans. From that point on I didn’t have any trouble and I finished the last 30 miles very strong averaging between 2:50 minutes and 3:15 minutes per mile, or about 20 mph.
To be truthful, I really couldn’t tell a difference from when I hit the wall at about 50 miles until I finally pedaled through it at about 94 miles. Also, for that ride I had no drafting help for the entire 125+ miles so I expected to suffer quite a bit more than I had on previous centuries… I do feel there was a difference but maybe only a small one. The biggest reason for my charge at the around 94 miles was that I only had 30 to go – I could see that the end was within my reach and the mental relief was much greater than any caffeine charge.
Of course, to really test this properly I had to do that ride again – sans caffeine. Woof. I hadn’t let this out earlier, but that’s exactly what I did last Saturday on my Harrison to Midland to Harrison ride, with the exception of one Gu Roctane at the 54 mile mark. The energy beans I ate during the ride didn’t have caffeine. I didn’t even have a cup of coffee before I left in the morning. All of my other preparations were the same as any other century I’ve done… The only difference was a lack of caffeine, and I suffered through the biggest bonk I’ve ever been through – riding or running.
Now maybe there were other factors involved – I didn’t bring much with me to eat and 108 miles is a long way to go on a Clif bar, two bags of energy beans and one Gu Roctane – even with the possibility that I simply should have brought more food with me, there is absolutely no way I’m ever walking out the door with my caffeine for a long ride again… Unless I decide to test the theory one more time. I don’t know though, that last one hurt pretty bad. I don’t think I want to do that again.
So here’s a good one for you. I finally bit the bullet and set an appointment with my bone-cracking doctor. I choose afternoon appointments for reasons to do with work – my world is less busy in the afternoon. Unfortunately, with afternoon appointments you always absorb the day’s irregularities, if you’re seen on time by your doctor in the afternoon, you’ve lucked out.
So as is usual, I’m still sitting in the waiting room an hour after my appointment time. I’m having the “screw this, get up and walk out” and “but you need the adjustment, the pain is finally too much” debate… In other words, I am not a happy camper.
By the time I’m called back, I’m steaming – and that’s exactly when they take my pulse and blood pressure! Crime in Italy, Chuck – if there were a worse time to take vitals, I can’t think of it. I was so wound up they were only average! My pulse was 65, up 12 more than normal and my BP was 124/70… The only thing that did turn out right was my weight – 154.8, smack dab perfect.
So after about ten minutes in walks my doc who snaps my back into place and… Makes all that bullshit worth it. Oh my do I feel sooooo muuuuuuuch beeetttteeerrrr. Best five hours of sleep I’ve had in months last night.
And just in time for that 100 on Sunday.
More on the cause of that neck pain in a later post.