The Road to Ventoux - Part 22
The Ventoux3 challenge is raising money for the Out of the Blues charity at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/outoftheblues.
I am now at crunch point training wise, with this peaking this week and next before a taper for a week or so prior to the challenge itself. A key issue that I am trying to sort out this weekend and next is fuelling. Who would have thought it could be so complicated!
I have managed fuelling fine in the past when running marathons by having an energy gel (SIS Go gels) every 20 mins or so. These are easy to digest and can be ripped open and the contents squeezed into your mouth while running. Fuelling on the bike is not so easy! To start off with, I could use both hands to open a gel and eat it when I was running. I am not at all proficient in cycling with neither hand on the handlebars! The situation is made more complicated by the fact that I will be needing to feed while cycling up a steep mountain. On the flat, it not too difficult to reach for a get or cereal bar from my back jersey pocket, and manage to eat this, a mouthful at a time, while just taking it a bit easier on the bike. However, when I am pushing the peddles hard to get up a steep slope there are two major complications. Firstly, I am going so slow that the risk of simply toppling over is increased especially when struggling to unwrap food. Secondly, I will be gasping for air which makes it hard to chew and swallow food without choking! The other issue is the shear amount of calories, or grams of carbohydrates, I am going to need to take in for an estimated 10 hours of cycling.
To try to address the issue of taking in food while climbing, I have acquired a “top tube” bag that fixes to my bike just behind the handle bars which makes it really easy food and shove it in my mouth. The plan is to fill the bag with, after extensive research and experimentation, jelly beans and jelly babies. The idea is that I have a little and often. This will be supplemented by occasional gels. It is possible that I will simply have to stop to take these. Either way, I am planning to stop every hour to have a cereal bar or banana – fortunately, the event is not time dependent: it is about completing it rather than how quickly I complete it. Tomorrow and next Sunday I have long easy rides planned when I will be practicing using this feeding strategy to check how it works out.
In terms of the amount of calories needed, the issue is that it is hard to absorb more than around 60g of carbohydrates per hour when doing strenuous exercise, even though I will be burning way more calories than this. Fortunately, the challenge involves three separate climbs. After I finish the first climb from Bedoin, I will descend to Malaucene before starting the second climb from there. Between the second and third climb I will descend to Sault. When I am in Malaucene and Sault, the plan is to take a break for half an hour or so. During this time, I will be able to swap my sweaty kit for clean stuff, check my bike, charge up my Garmin that is recording the ride, and have something to eat. The question is what I can manage to stomach prior to starting the next climb. Today and next Saturday, I have training sessions set up where I will cycle hard for around 40 mins prior to having a 30 minute break and then cycling hard for another 40 mins. During the break, I am testing out eating things I might be able to get in France. Today it will be pain aux raisins and torsade au chocolat (from the local Co-op!) washed down with some coke. Next week it will be some pizza.
Fingers crossed this works!
Further information about the challenge, and my blogs about my training, can be found at http://outoftheblues.org/news/cat/the-road-to-ventoux.