16 June 2011


double bow
With all the negative cycling headlines we've read over the years, I decided to disclose what I do to get up the mountain. Yes, you heard that right! I have tools that help me pedal longer and stronger!

My LizardMy biggest, most important, most giant, greatest motivation when pedaling up a mountain comes when The Lizard is riding with me. He rides a much, much, much faster speed than I can ever hope to attain. We always start off together. I always shoo him on, blow him a kiss and wish him a great ride. And he always asks, "Are you sure? You don't mind riding alone?"

No, I don't. Because I know he's ahead of me, and I can picture him in my head racing up that mountain. I sometimes imagine him racing against some of the greats... Merckx, Hinault, Anquetil, Indurain... and yes, even Armstrong and Contador. I can picture this because he's always at my side when we're in the basement at home on our trainers in winter, and I get to see his intensity. We watch ancient VHS tapes of the greatest races with the volume turned down and the stereo blasting our favorite cycling songs. When Grand Tours coverage shows cyclists from behind via cameraman on the back of a motorcycle, it feels almost as if we're riding right behind legends. That makes being indoors on the trainer tolerable.

better than flowersI don't mind riding alone because I know I'll see The Lizard again when I hit the halfway or two-thirds mark. He reaches the top and always comes back down to repeat the remainder of my ascent with me at my pace. If I'm struggling, he puts his hand on my back and gently pushes, giving me just the encouragement I need to keep going. If I'm doing well, having a good climb, he'll stay just enough behind me to chant verbal love notes. "Push, push, push!" "You're almost there!" "This is your best climb ever!"

I've heard some guys talk about their better halves being slow. "I can't keep my bike upright at her pace!" But My Lizard doesn't do that. He always speaks respectfully. He teases me sometimes, but he never crushes me. He never tries to make me feel small.

Too bad that isn't a drug. I would bottle it and make a fortune!!!

The Lizard is my best medicine on the bike. But I do have others. I likely will battle blood sugar the rest of my life. I've been fortunate enough so far that I have been allowed to control my hereditary diabetic tendencies myself with diet and exercise. My levels currently are low enough that I'm not even considered pre-diabetic. I'd like to keep it that way for as long as I possibly can. So I'm sticking with the no-sugar routine for life. It works.

mmmmmm!Pre-ride, I'm exactly what you expect from most cyclists. Pasta. Love it. The cyclists' power food of choice. I try to eat only whole wheat pasta, and I prefer it with sauces that have as few chemicals and with as little processing as possible. I adore pasta with fresh veggies. I've recently learned how to make my own cheese sauce from fancy cheeses in the dairy case. My favorite sauce combo at the moment (but continually evolving) is serrano peppers, curry and LOTS of fresh coconut.

On the bike, I drink Hammer's Fizz, herbal tea, Celestrial Seasoning's Zingers To Go, sometimes a no-sugar-added orange juice/cranberry juice mix, and good old clear water.

I do sometimes treat myself, especially on huge rides like the MS-150 or Ride the Rockies. The MS-150 is awesome about providing nutrition for every known dietary need. One of the caterers provides brownies and chocolate chip cookies made without any refined ingredients and without chemicals. That's my kind of food!

Monte Vista potato barEvery once in a while, an event will offer a baked potato bar. I cannot eat white potatoes and must stick to sweet potatoes at home. But, I make an exception during big rides because I burn off all that starch super fast. I use up every ounce of energy and nutrition a medium-sized potato with chili, cheese and sour cream provides in exactly nine miles of headwind. Yes, I've run calculated experiments to reach that conclusion.

My favorite treat on most rides is a banana. I love it when I can have a banana at every rest stop. Most events, though, rotate treats so riders don't get tired of having the same thing over and over and over. So the first rest stop might have apples and oranges, then the next one bananas and raisins, and the following one grapes and goldfish.

nanas!!!Last year on the hardest day of Ride the Rockies, my first and only time doing three mountain passes in one day, I probably would have been sick of bananas by the end of my 12.5-hour ride if I'd had bananas every hour. (The Lizard completed this day in just over five hours!) Variety was necessary.

Ouray to Durango was a huge day of climbing, and I was burning tons of carbs. I felt justified in buying hotcakes atop Red Mountain Pass, zucchini bread atop Molas Pass and TWO rice crispy treats atop Coal Bank Pass. Then at Hermosa, I learned I still had two more miles of climbing before the misery would end. I didn't know if I had two more miles of climb in me. I was so spent. No cycling food sounded appetizing. I wanted a mattress and a pillow! Not to eat, of course.

eat or drinkI slurped some Hammer gel and sunbutter (peanut butter made from sunflower seeds instead of peanuts) and made it up the hill to Fort Lewis College. Those are two of the items I carry in my pack at all times. I carry an assortment of food I can eat in case there is no food I can eat at designated rest stops.

These are my "drugs" of choice. My pack always includes at least one Larabar, Luna Bar for women, Hammer bar, a resealable bag of nuts and dried fruit (sometimes including fruit I dry myself and hopefully one day fruit I grow myself before drying!), Hammer gel, sunbutter or hazelnut butter or almond butter and a foil pouch of spicy tuna. The Lizard says tuna works like magic on me when I'm running out of steam. Sometimes I carry a whole wheat tortilla or two, and sometimes I stuff my whole wheat tortilla with cheese.

The most recent addition to my regular stash is Jason's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. I haven't used it on a big ride yet, but oh, is it ever the answer to hunger!

I'd eat cherries at a rest stop...All the commercial products I like best do not have refined sugar, and most are easy on the chemicals, too. I'm extremely picky about that.

I do sometimes carry a couple of products that aren't diabetic friendly because they work when I need them. PowerBar Triple Threat is something I probably should never eat, but after 60 miles, man, does a Chocolate Caramel Fusion ever hit the spot! I've also been known to ingest a Chocolate PowerBar ProteinPlus when I have trouble staying motivated (getting close to bonk).

Once the ride is over, one of my favorite treats is a bottle of Naked Juice smoothie, my favorite being any combination with mango. They say chocolate milk is one of the best recovery drinks you can get, but I've never liked milk. Dark chocolate soy milk works great for me, and recently I've been finding dark chocolate almond milk available in more and more places. If I could have any drink I want after a ride, that probably would be my first choice.

Another recent addition to my regular diet is hazelnut milk, which isn't easy to find, especially in small towns. I also like coconut milk. Sometimes I add sugar-free chocolate to both.

Quizno subdeliciousMy favorite meal after a big ride (or cross-country ski or mountain climb) is what they call in these here parts "the Aspen." It's an overstuffed sandwich custom made while you wait in the deli department of grocery stores here in Colorado. Big whole wheat bun with a ton of veggies and avocado spread, heavy on the tomatoes and hold the cheese unless I'm craving protein, and two hard-boiled eggs. And a banana! Unless I ate 13 of them during the ride... Veggie subs at Quizno's or Subway will suffice when we're away from home and the grocery store doesn't have what I want.

No, I am not vegetarian. I just don't care much for meat. I found out, though, during the year of my first Ride the Rockies, that if I don't eat any meat at all, I will bonk. Period. I can't eat enough beans and nuts to provide the protein my body needs in high energy mode, so I must eat meat. I just don't eat it often. I've acquired quite the taste for spicy tuna sushi, and I will eat salmon, tuna, chicken and turkey.

And now, for the forbidden part, the "drug" I hope they never test my blood for at the end of a ride or the end of my life...

Lindt. Enough said.

simply heaven


  1. Ahh, Lindt ... the 70% is my all time fave for eating and cooking although I know you like the really dark stuff.

    I envy your self-control with sugar, although I understand the powerful incentive provided by health issues. I avoid milk and cream cheese like the plague because of lactose intolerance (and I LOVE chocolate milk, and cream cheese on bagels). I've learned I have to buy more expensive cheese for digestive purposes - the cheapest brands mess up the gut too.

    Sounds like you've got the glycemic index thing down pretty well. We don't eat a lot of meat either (kind of lost our taste for it) but sometimes you just need it. You probably already know that if you eat beans, adding rice makes a complete protein (beans alone are incomplete).

    It's hard to think that all the great names you mentioned were fuelled by steroids. Sort of takes the shine off what they accomplished. But it's still fun and inspiring to watch the footage. (Mr. M loves watching classic Tour videos.)

    The Lizard is definitely a keeper. What a sweet guy he must be. Those men who complain about their wives' pace probably don't stop to think that there are plenty of other things their wives could beat them at doing. Different skills and strengths, that's all. (They should try tandem riding! It can make or break a relationship. I speak from experience.)

    Thanks for the fun post.

  2. Ooh, CHOCOLATE!!! Now I know your secret! And the Lizard is so sweet... =]

    Btw, that was interesting about the meat. I feel like I end up eating a lot of meat, but I don't really, um, exercise.

  3. I read both your blog and Lee's and each of you talks in glowing terms about the other. What a great basis for a relationship.

  4. It sounds like you guys make a great team. ;)

  5. No surprise that you ride "clean", Deb. :-) What a great coach The Liz makes.

  6. The Lizard sounds like an amazing man...and I am totally impressed with your regimen.

  7. Those bike riding photos are just gorgeous! Who wouldn't want to be out among beauty like that. You'd miss it in a car.

  8. I figure I could eat healthier, but i know I could eat worse, so for now I am enjoying the middle ground. Enjoy fueling your body. I used to pull my bike into a general store to get some grapefruit juice when I was on a long ride.

  9. Today I visited your blog for the first time, driven by a knitters link.
    I want to tell you that I am astonished by your strength in life.
    The 4/11 post and this one... they rock!
    I admire you, I hope that you can enjoy life -the way I see you really enjoy it- for many, many long years!
    My love from Athens, Greece.


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