Two weeks ago, we were on a group ride on a rolling hills route. As usual, the A group riders left me far behind. Although I felt fine, I turned back early, with another rider who couldn’t keep up either. His friend tried to stay with the lead pack, but showed up at our Starbucks finish line about 10 minutes behind us.
“I just had nothing left,” he said. “I could barely make it up that final hill. I could hardly move my legs to pedal.”
That sounded like a classic bonk to me, and I asked him what he had had for breakfast.
“An energy bar,” he said. “How about you?”
“A bowl of Cheerios with raisins and bananas, two frozen multi-grain blueberry waffles, a glass of orange juice and half a cup of coffee,” I replied.
“Man, I wish I’d done that,” he said.
The breakfast topic came up again on this morning’s ride. My friend David asked me what I’d eaten this morning. It was essentially the same thing as last time, but substituting toast with jam for the waffles.
“I had two scrambled eggs, bacon and toast,” he said. “Usually I like oatmeal dribbled with honey.”
Well, I’ve never been an oatmeal guy. But I learned the hard way last year that you need to fuel up before a bike ride.
The obvious thing is to bulk up on carbohydrates. My cereal and banana work there. Lance Armstrong’s training coach, Chris Carmichael, said in USA Today during Lance’s last Tour de France win that his breakfast is a big one: Two bowls of whole grain cereal topped with skim milk and fresh fruit, a three- or four-egg omelet and some pasta, rice or potatoes.
“And don’t forget the two cups of Peet’s Coffee,” Carmichael said.
That might be why I was never in danger of bonking last fall during my century ride. I stopped at a McDonald’s on the way there, and had two sausage-and-egg burritos, a hash brown potato patty (yeah, I know — greasy — not a good thing) and coffee. It was filling, and got me off to a good start.
I’ve read that you need about 400 calories for breakfast on ride day. The breakfasts David and I had this morning should meet that target. My only problem is, I’d like some variety in what I eat.
What kind of eating strategy do you follow for breakfast? And what do you eat? Let’s try to get lots of different suggestions.