Tired of Riding Indoors?
Practice Your On-Bike Nutrition
By Margaret Thompson

Are you a cyclist intent on greeting the spring of 2005 in great shape?  Are you now riding in the comparative gloom of the indoors, impatient with the thought of going nowhere fast for the next couple of months?  Now that winter has fully descended to our part of the world bicycle training outside is out of the question for all but the heartiest enthusiast.  I tell my clients that indoor training offers controls that they can easily take advantage of.   Not only can they follow their training regimens exactly as prescribed, but they can also use the time to fine-tune their on-bike nutrition.

Nutrition while riding and racing is crucial for performance.   The right number of calories and the right combination of nutrients not only aids the activity as it is being performed but paves the way toward recovery for the next ride or race. Just as one logs the hours, miles and intensity zones on the trainer, the cyclist also needs to keep a nutrition log to update after every ride.  The stationary trainer is an ideal place to experiment with caloric intake and ease of digestion, and a detailed nutrition log is just the tool to turn these experiments into successful routines that can be taken with confidence into the road season. 

Sports drinks are an ideal medium to supplement calories and hydration on the bike.   Experts generally recommend that the rider consume 200 to 300 calories per hour.   More than this can lead to gastric distress and less is, er, just not enough. Current research shows that it is prudent to use a drink made with a variety of sugars so that there can be both an immediate and a gradual emptying of the stomach.  Of late I  have been using a drink called Performance from Shaklee which not only has carbohydrates that meet this criteria but electrolytes as well.  For rides longer than an hour and a half, and as a recovery drink, try a drink with a small amount of added protein.

Are you really serious about your performance in 2005?  In addition to tracking nutrition on the bike, the more serious cyclist can use the nutrition diary to track eating for the entire day.  To get the most out of training and riding, the best advice is to put the best of ingredients into the fueling mix.  Riders faithful to this exercise will naturally start a trend toward healthier eating, as documenting the consumption of bad-for-you foods really is an eye-opener!   Was a training session just not up to par?  The reason could be as simple as the meal eaten the night before.

Often riders feel indoor training lacks the punch that riding outside has, but a structured training plan and a proactive stance on nutrition will augment their cycling in ways that just riding endless road miles cannot offer.  If cyclists take advantage of the opportunity to learn about themselves and their nutritional needs in such a controlled environment their bodies will be as ready as their minds are to get out on the road once the spring thaw arrives.