I thought I would share some stories from our RAAM adventure that we finished a couple weeks ago. Rather than giving a blow-by-blow account of the race, I thought I would share snippets that I hope that you will find interesting. Let's start with everyone's favorite topic...food...
I received a humorous email from one of our crew after the race in the form of a diary entry. It read:
Monday, June 18th, 2012
We’re settling in to more of a rhythm. Riders are getting to be more predictable. Crew are getting to be more predictable.
Menu requests are pretty typical.
Q: What can I get for you after your ride?
Alex: Turkey and cucumber in a wrap, please.
Steve: Turkey and mustard on bread or a wrap, please.
Chris: Whatever you’ve got.
Dana: I’d like a salad. Maybe some mixed lettuce and romaine hearts. And add some baby spinach. Organic, of course. And throw in maybe a quarter of a cup of sprouted garbanzo beans. And some pine nuts and almonds. And sunflower seeds if you have any. Raw and unsalted for all the seeds and nuts, please. And some sliced cucumber and sweet peppers would be great. For the dressing, maybe a tablespoon of olive oil with maybe a quarter of a cup of vinegar. And add lots of dill and just a sprinkle of garlic powder. And maybe a touch of agave nectar to the vinegar, if you have it.
Of course, to be fair and balanced, I should also present the other side.
Q: What can I get you before your ride?
Alex: 3 botles of Infinit Lite (2 scoops/bottle Brevet mix in Red & Black Camelback bottle, and 1 bottle of Infinit Brevet mix with protein (2 scoops + ice) in black Camelback bottle
Steve: 3 bottles of Infinit (2 scoops/bottle) labeled “Base Mix” + ice in black/blue Camelback bottle. 1 bottle of Infinit Mix Light in Camelback bottles. Light ice.
Chris: 1 bottle of Perpetuem
Dana: Banana with peanut butter.
Food is one of those topics that ultra distance cyclists get pretty worked up about. We have frequent conversations (read: arguments) about what drink mix is the best, which tastes the best, what upsets the stomach, etc. Or, as my brother summed it up so nicely (he's an ultra-distance runner): "What's with you cyclists? All you talk about is food and your digestive system...us runners...all we talk about is sex!"
About three months before RAAM, I drastically changed my diet to eliminate processed foods, minimize sugar, and increase consumption of vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts dramatically. The result was a pretty quick loss of 18 pounds, a loss of moodiness, and a tidier digestive process :)
RAAM was going to be the testing ground for this kind of diet in a longer, more intense race.
My foods in the vans included fresh fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, dates, apples and bananas; my trail mix blend with raw cashews and almonds, dried cranberries and chocolate chips for a little sweetness; some granola, and lots of water. The only processed food (besides the chocolate chips) were a couple Hammer Fizz tablets I used when it was 105 degrees in Kansas, and a couple times I stole the Sun Chips out of the crew lunches.
In the RV when I was off-shift, I ate lots of salad and a few bananas with peanut butter. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, on a particularly long shift, I even enjoyed a huge salad in a 1-gallon zip lock bag! It was pure bliss! I sprouted some garbanzo beans, lentils and green peas before the race and left them in the RV refrigerator. We also hit up the Oceanside Farmers Market on Thursday morning for fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. Also, I initially requested cheese omelets as a meal choice, but my crew one-upped my request by making me a three-egg, cheese and steamed brocoli scramble on a whole wheat tortilla every morning! By the end of the race, I think most of the crew had also caught on to this delicious and easy-to-prepare breakfast!
I also did some tortilla chips with hummus or salsa - Sabrina held out on me with the hummus until about day four...she knew it wouldn't last long! The organic, gluten-free Amy's burritos only lasted a couple days...
I remember running in to one of the racers from the Beefeaters team in the bathroom at Burger King in Athens, OH. I welcomed him to the home of what so many people in American think of as their kitchen (add sarcasm here), and he responded that he couldn't imagine how their team could get through RAAM without all of the fast food places. When I started describing our daily menu, his eyes glazed over and I swear he started drooling...it's all about priorities, man! And I want real food!
All-in-all, this meal plan worked GREAT for me! However, there are downsides to this kind of diet on RAAM. As my friend Sandy Earl points out: "What goes in must come out!" When you are on a high volume, bulky diet, you tend to eat a lot and then produce a lot out the other end. Yep, if you didn't know where I was at any given moment, chances are I was in the bathroom... :)
It's also more work for the crew. I was lucky that my crew had no problems with my dietary needs and seemed to enjoy real cooking more than preparing dozens of turkey sandwiches (or, I may have just been imagining it...).
Finally, in an RV with limited water and holding tanks, we went through water more frequently and the dump tanks filled up faster from all of the dish washing. Rather than doing a tank dump twice during the trip, we were dumping about every 36 hours. There's a story behind that too, but I will save that for later...