Cyclists are known for their superstition. You could call it rituals. It is well known that Michael Boogerd wore new, off-white socks every race. For some riders the salt must be passed on correctly during the evening meal and many carry a prayer plate. People used to believe that eating a juicy steak during breakfast made a positive contribution to the course of the day. Scientifically based on nothing, but a firm belief also brings you a long way. We know better now and the positive effect of sports drinks, gels and recovery shakes has been proven in various studies. You should therefore make this part of your rituals. Right? As an (ex) runner, I have to admit that since I cycle, my feeding rituals have been running backwards. At the time of marathon training, food and drinks were the only thing we discussed. Stacking carbohydrates and tapering in advance. At the time of the race, the big question was whether to bring your own drinks or rely on the beverage stations? Tactics while drinking could be walking slowly or running fast and folding a cup? Take a drink at every feeding station? Take a gel every half hour? Which drink, which gel, which bar ?? We could talk about it endlessly.
As much as this was discussed while running, so little of it spoken about while cycling. Whether or not you prefer electric shifting, the absolute must of disc brakes, rim sizes, frame weights, I know everything about my bike buddies … except what is in their water bottles or back pockets. Is it less important and can your body handle more variety of nutrition sorts when cycling versus running (have you ever seen what cyclists eat at a feeding station??)? I am curious to find out. I have been trying various bars and gels but stuck to one sports drink. I notice that because I need to eat so much more during cycling, I like the variety and secretly hope to stumble upon a great energy bar that I don’t get sick of after having eaten them several weeks in a row. I am afraid that is wishful thinking, as people and I, love variety.
One thing I aim not to vary anymore is my recovery drink taking habit. After arriving home from cycling I tend to eat and drink everything I can lay my hands on. This can be a bag of crisps, cookies, a can of diet coke. Nothing is safe from me. Does this do me well? My mind? Sure! My body? Could do better. I feel I can still profit a lot from improving my food & drinks rituals. This one should definitely turn into my ritual. And hence the list of riding rituals elaborates.