The Science and Reality of Eater-dynamics and Cycling; My Experience with Cycling, Food and Being Fast.
How important is a lightweight bike for keeping up with the fast group?
For anyone who’s ridden one, the answer is “pretty freakin’ important”. “Aero” is big, too, although I can do just fine with a 21 year-old frame and a decent wheelset.
Anyone who’s ridden an aero bike will tell you they do make fast easier, but you’ll be just as fast on a decently equipped non-aero bike. I can choose either weapon – the specialized just makes “fast” a little easier. The Trek is also a little more than two pounds heavier than the Specialized (15.8/18.3 respectively).
The real question is, “How important is having a lightweight body if you want to be fast”? Let me save you the trouble; it’s pretty freakin’ important. Certainly more important than the aforementioned lightweight aero bike.
Many people are under the incorrect assumption that we who are fast can eat anything we want and still stay lean. That’s not entirely true. It’s not exactly false, either. When I went from 1,800 miles in 2011 to 5,300 miles in 2012, I dropped weight. Fast. I went from 172 pounds to 151 in one summer. I lost enough my wife suggested I’d better eat more in a hurry because I was too skinny. And therein lies the rub, eating more.
Left 2012 vs Right 2015
I had to learn how to eat for all of those miles. By the time 2015 had rolled around I was back up to 168, just about perfect for how I like me. I learned to double what I ate during cycling season. My wife was happy. I was happy. And eating more was a lot of fun!
2016 and 2017 came and went with bumps in mileage (8,500 and 9,300 respectively) and all was well. 2018 was a big year at 10,100 miles but I started noticing a problem; I had become accustomed to eating a lot. Worse, I didn’t slow down the consumption over the fall and winter months, either – my definitions for full and hungry changed. My weight, for the first time since I started riding, stayed above 170 all year long. Last year was a decrease in miles and an increase in weight. I’m in the upper 170’s now… and I finally realized drastic measures are required again. This time I had to cut way back on what I’m eating. I’ve taken to what I’m calling a “half diet”. I eat half of what I used to.
As I got closer to 50, dropping weight became more difficult and it’s been too easy to justify eating with all of the miles… and what is it with age that good food tastes so much better?!
Anyway, the point is, it doesn’t matter how fast I am. I, sadly, have to watch what and how I eat now. Especially during the off-season. I’m not used to having this problem but I’m dealing with it because it isn’t going to go away with hopes and dreams and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be fat.
So; cycling is good, food is good, fast is good… I just have to watch the one in the middle even though it doesn’t matter as much to being fast as some believe. I’m faster at 175 pounds than I was at 155… particularly because a lot of that 20 pounds is in vastly bigger legs. My daughter, without being prompted, called them “massive” compared to the rest of me. Massive isn’t bad, but it’s heavy.