Monday, April 2, 2012

Training, bonking... and DIY Sport Drink...

The handcycle record for 12 hours is 160 miles for the Calvin's Challenge.  I know I can break it if I could have the record attempt in August on a flat course. “Calvin’s Challenge” is a well-known  race for all types of leg powered (and hand-powered) vehicles from standard bikes, tandems, recumbents, faired recumbents, Human-Powered Vehicles (HPV) and even handcycles.  Participants come from the far reaches. And the course is pretty flat (315' up and 315' down over 50 miles).  It is but five weeks away.  So, I am training for it now and I must be ready for it in just weeks.  (I have a lot of work!)

I decided to attempt to train without consuming any carbohydrates – just water – in order to teach my muscle cells to use the fatty acids for energy at a greater percentage as compared to glycogen.  So Saturday’s 90 miler was my first long attempt at this.  I had finished two 60 milers the weekend before with just water.  No problem on those – but I also kept the speed down around 14.3 miles per hour over rolling terrain and it was warm.

This Saturday’s attempt was on pretty flat terrain – 1000’ up and 1000’ down – over 90 miles.  But I wanted to maintain at least 15.5 miles per hour.  For the first four hours, I felt really good.  I was averaging right around 16.5 mph with much of the speed in the 17-19 mph range.  A few long climbs (but not steep) pushed me down to the 14 mph range on the climbs.  All told, though, I felt pretty good – until I hit the wall hard that is.

One contributing factor for my bonk may have been temperature.  The afternoon was to be in the 50’s with sunshine.  Instead, I was caught in the mid-40’s with a fine mist in the air and under-dressed.  (Matter of fact, after getting home, it took a good two hours to get my body temperature back up).

 After hitting the wall – I went from averaging 16.5 mph to precipitously losing 0.1 miles per hour in what seemed like every few minutes – I finally stopped to get a milk shake in a small town with one stop light and the "Purple Monkey" eatery.
Purple Monkey -- I gotta try their pizza... maybe after Calvin's Challenge

It helped tremendously, and I regained speed pretty quickly.  Overall though, my average speed came down to 15.8 mph for basically 6 hours of cycling.  My recovery from hitting the wall was much longer (2 days) than if I had not bonked.  Much longer!  

DIY Sports Drinks:

From this, I started doing some research into sports drinks.  Usually I just use Pepsi (less fizz than Coke) since it has the caffeine, sodium, and carbohydrates.  It actually works very well.  But studies suggest that long-chained carbohydrates (as compared to fructose or sucrose) absorb at a quicker rate and can improve performance over simple sugars.  Additionally, the addition of protein to the drink may be valuable. The addition of protein appears to aid fluid retention. When a beverage is too dilute, it tends to pass quickly through the bloodstream to the bladder so it doesn't "water down" the blood and other body fluids. 

But I just hate giving away money for what are relatively inexpensive ingredients (Pepsi is pretty cheap) and I enjoy making my own stuff.  So, I ordered a 50 pound bag of maltodextrin (60 bucks).  I already have plenty of whey protein (fantastic for me relative to recovery from hard rides) and salt and water.  Caffeine is sold in tablet form and I can decide on how much to use.  I can also add cocoa or a fruit extract for taste.  Salt should give me plenty of sodium and potassium.  Anything other ingredient that the sports drinks may advertise as great enhancements appear to have no real science behind them.  Water, maltodextrin, protein, and salt…  One may vary the carbohydrate by adding some fructose, dextrose, or sucrose (I have to study that more).

Here is a link for a recipe. 

The 50lb bag of maltodextrin:

Orange Extract (I usually like orange):

I expect to change the recipe over time as I determine what works for me.  One of the more important aspects of digestibility is the concentration (or lack of it) of carbohydrates.  When the concentration of carbohydrates goes above 6%-8%, for many people, more severe gastrointestinal discomfort appear and absorption of the carbohydrates is actually reduced. So if you make your own sports drink, you might read the literature beforehand.

Here is one study:

This study is interesting relative to adding protein to the carbohydrate-based drink:

But a counter to this:

This study may remove some hesitation in using protein as part of the mix:

But then again, maybe protein itself does not cause an improvement as compared to carbohydrate only drink:

I drink a LOT of chocolate milk… And this study shows what I have personally found:

Why one might add protein, but not subtract carbohydrates in order to do so:

And a handcyling study:

Hopefully, I get the ingredients in this week so that I can test the DIY Sport Drink on Friday or Saturday with another 90 miler over the same course.  At least I will have a reference speed...(and a eatery if I bonk)...

Some more design work on the tilting rear wheels

March Madness gave me a bit of time to design the tilting rear wheels assembly (while listening to some games).  I found some commercially sold square carbon fiber tube that can work for building the left, center and right channels.  Additionally, I have found fittings that I can bolt my  rear wheels (from my existing handcycle) into. And finally, I have found the correct carbon fiber tube that will accommodate those fittings.  The 3D drawings are updated to detail the correct size of pipes, bearings, and square tubes.

Yep... gotta go to the parallelogram rear wheels..

I have attempted to ride the 2-wheel handcycle on the back roads without the discomfort of vehicles or other riders in close proximity.  While I can easily "keep a line", I cannot keep the balance.  Usually, when a bike falls to one side or the other, one would steer in the direction of the fall in order to shift the balance back to center.  That does not work well since my center of gravity is so low.  I do not believe that practice will help.  So, I will start building the rear parallelogram.