Food For Thought

You know those days when leading up to a dinner at a delicious restaurant, and you starve yourself all day so that you can pig out at dinner that night? Yes you do, we all do it! I do it almost weekly, for every Friday night my partner and I make homemade pizza’s and fill our bellies to the brim. Why? Because food is amazing. And pizza is delicious. I know you don’t need convincing.

Our new bike (pizza cutter)

Like those annoying one-size-fits-all dresses/hats/pants/shoes/life tags boast in their delusional little minds, reality is much much different. That’s why it can be daunting. Because what Bob and Fred eat might not work for Jane or Mary.

With Friday being a HUGE exception to what I am about to claim… I am not a big eater. And by the time I wake up in the morning I am ready to chomp down anything that comes my way. Sometimes I can get away with not eating before training, though I find it hard to ride in the mornings when I am running on empty. It makes me feel physically sick. I usually need something small just to fill the void, and I am good to go for a couple of hours.

My boyfriend on the other hand is very different. He gets up in the morning and can do all of his training on last nights dinner. In the early days of our relationship when we would get up and go for a ride, I wouldn’t eat because he didn’t and often felt horrible. Showing what is working for him, isn’t working for me. Different horses for different courses.

Replacing all that was lost out on a long ride…

So how do you know what is good for you? Trail and error. Talking to people and seeing what they have tried, what did and didn’t work and then give it a go yourself.

To get you kick started in finding out what other people do, here are some ideas from some top chicks that I know. Kellie, Chloe and Ashley let you in on whats going down in their jersey pockets and bidons on a long ride.


Meet Kellie

Out for a scenic ride when Kellie visited me on the Sunshine Coast

Drum roll please…. Kellie has been doing triathlons for 15 years. Thats right. Fifteen Years. With the last five of those years racing in Half and Full Ironman races. She first became involved in the wonderful world of triathlon to lose weight, and soon became addicted to the challenge of mastering three disciplines. She rides a Liv Giant Envie Advanced Pro Road Bike and a Kuota Time Trial bike.

Kellie and I have been riding  and training together for the past two years in Yeppoon and have seen some amazing things out there on the road. One of our long training rides back in 2014 included a trip out to Byfield National Park, it was a really foggy and cold morning. On the road up ahead there was a strange figure, though because of the fog it was hard to see what it was. It was spooky! As we got closer, we realised it was an Emu, and it was running up and down along side the road SO fast. It then suddenly bolted across our path and into the trees. Definitely something that you don’t see very often!!

Enough banter. Let’s get rolling. 

So what do you consider as a long ride?

70km would have to be the bench mark, anything longer than that is a long ride. Or a ride that goes for at least 2.5 hours.

Do you eat on short rides?

I don’t eat on short rides, I only drink plain old water.

Do you eat before a long ride?

I usually eat a piece of toast, or a crumpet. I have been told that it is not enough though!!

What do you eat on long rides?

Long rides require some food. I usually take a couple of gels and a chewy type of muesli bar.

What is the worst thing you have eaten on a long ride?

When I was in France on a bike tour following Le Tour de France, we did a 90km ride with three Category 1 climbs. I ran out of food before I had to ride back over the last climb, I managed to stop and buy a Mars Bar and a can of Coke. I have never enjoyed a Mars Bar so much!!

Is there anything you avoid during long rides? 

Chocolate because it melts. And protein bars, they are too hard to chew and swallow. 

Do you change what you eat in training to racing?

No, though I make sure that in a race I actually eat! I sometimes get caught up with what I am doing, and forget. In Ironman races I try to stick to a plan: a gel and water on the hour, and half a bar and water on the half hour, with electrolytes in between. It is called the rolling buffet. It is crucial to get that food in when you are on the Bike when you have to run 21 or 42 kms off the Bike. Your body can not digest food while you are running.


Meet Chloe


Chloe did her first triathlon in 2013, though she was reading about them more than she was training for them. She started training properly in January 2014. Unlike most of us who start out in Sprint triathlons, and gradually progress through the distances, Chloe has gone to the king of all triathlons, the Full Ironman and has been racing that distance in 2015. Next year she is thinking of kicking back and chilling out in the cruisey Half Ironman 70.3 distance. Now she will only be half crazy. Ladies and Gents, this is Chloe Kay.


What got you involved in the sport of Triathlon?

Initially I started to try and lose weight, and also I was also looking for more of a purpose in life. At that stage, I was working and partying every weekend and I wanted something more.

What keeps you coming back for more?

I genuinely love the training and the social aspect of it, but I think testing myself and seeing little results along the way is what keeps me coming back. Seeing improvements whether they be in racing or training definitely makes it feel worthwhile, also I LOVE food, so need to keep training to eat as much as I do!

What do you classify as a long ride?

Anything over 100km I would classify as a long ride. During my Ironman training my weekly long ride tends to range from 130 – 150kms with the top end peaking at 160 – 180km.

Do you eat on short rides?

No, though I might take a banana in my pocket if I am feeling peckish. Short rides nearly ALWAYS involve coffee at the end, so I leave that as something to look forward to. 

What do you eat before a long ride?

I usually eat some fruit toast and a glass of milk. Or if I am running late to meet people or am in a hurry I have an Up & Go or a cereal bar.

What do you usually eat during long rides?

I usually drink Infinit the whole ride, I know where the water stops are to fill my water bottles so plan my consumption loosely around them. Basically it ends up being a bottle every 1.5 hours. Then I have an energy bar about 2 hours into the ride, and something about an hour before finishing, knowing that I have to run off the bike. 

There is a bakery at Mudjimba that I am partial to stopping at for a finger bun and cold water! I also have jelly beans along the way when ever I need a sugar hit or am feeling like I need something to chew on. 

Technically all of the nutrition I need is all in the Infinit so the snacks are more a mental thing (and a treat to look forward to!). 
Anything that you avoid during long rides?

No, anything that is portable is fine. I avoid the chocolatey things as they melt, otherwise I would have no rules.

What is your emergency or go to food?

I haven’t really been caught in this situation yet. Though one long ride I stopped at the bakery for a finger bun (my staple long ride snack), and after visualising its deliciousness for hours, I was extremely disappointed when I got there and they had run out! It was a hot day though, so I had ice cream instead! The fuel of champions!

Do you change what you eat in training to racing?

They don’t usually serve finger buns in races unfortunately. Though my Infinit and jelly bean routine stays the same. I also take a few gels on the bike in a race, which I don’t usually do in training.

Do you prefer liquid foods or food food? 

Mostly I prefer it in liquid so I don’t have to carry all of the food, and think too much about it. It is all in my water bottle. But if you are out there for 6 hours, then you need to chew!


Meet Ashley


Ashley has competed in lots of different sports at a high standard over the years including basket ball, though after tearing her ACL in her right knee twice, she ended up in the sport of Triathlon, and more recently Cycling. I met Ashley a couple of years ago at a ladies Rapha 100 ride, she is definitely a fun companion on a long ride. She has just completed her studies in Nutrition and Dietetics and is now going on to do her Masters, she is a smart cookie!

What keeps you in the sport of Cycling?

I love the amazing people you meet, the drive to complete events I didn’t think I could do, the ultimate test to ask what my body can do and the drive to always have a goal to be working towards. 

What do you classify as a long ride? 

A long ride for me is probably about 100kms and above. 

Do you eat on short rides? 

Short rides I don’t tend to eat at all, I find my body is fine riding in the morning without fuel, though that is just me and I have adapted to that. If I were to ride in the afternoon I would have a banana- natures perfect energy fuel. 

Do you eat before a long ride? 

I don’t eat before I long ride. Though I will start eating a banana 20 – 30 minutes into the ride. 

What do you eat for dinner the night before a long ride? 

I don’t have a select dinner that I eat, the meal the night before doesn’t phase me. The reason for this is carb loading has been proven scientifically impossible. Our body has a maximum glycogen storage capacity, meaning that excess glucose consumption will be converted to fat. In addition glycogen is stored in the liver and skeletal muscles, and are fully depleted in overnight fasting. 

I do however avoid consuming foods which I don’t eat on a regular basis. This is so I don’t encounter any unfriendly molecules that my body wishes me not to digest. 

What do you usually eat during long rides? 

I mostly eat bananas as they are the perfect ratio of carbohydrates, no protein, little fibre and no fat. This combination allows our bodies to rapidly absorb the carbohydrate without an increased intestinal transit time due to the inclusion of fibre, fat or protein and therefore allows the glucose to be readily absorbed across the luminal membrane into the blood stream. Banana’s however, only contain 15g of carbohydrate each, which tends to not be enough fuel for really long rides or high intensity activities. In this case I would consume a good natural energy bar such as Cliff Bars to make sure I am not depleted of energy. 

For fluid, I will carry a good electrolyte drink with potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride and sulfer. Good brands include Nunn, Endure Hydration or a natural option of Coconut Water. 

Things you avoid while you are riding? 

I avoid foods with high protein, fat or fibrous foods such as: nuts, protein shakes, high consumption of fried fruits, dairy products, grains (sometimes in small amounts), soft drinks, lollies, and processed foods. 

What is the worst thing you have consumed on a long ride? 

The worst thing I have eaten would be a chocolate milk when I was about to absolutely burn out on a 100km ride. It saved me and I definitely needed it, though it did make me feel sick 20km after.

Do you change what you eat in training to racing?

Nope. You have to practice nutrition just like you train your body physically. 

Do you think about foods in calories, protein, fibre…? 

Yes and no. From the perspective of someone involved in sports nutrition you have to think about calories a little, in put and out put of energy. Though the general perspective of calories have destroyed our societies relationship with food, and skewed our perspective to think that all calories are equal, which they aren’t. 

You need to think about the macronutrient breakdown of food in sports nutrition as it can impact digestive factors. For example protein, fat and fibre all increate the intestinal transit time. This means that it takes longer for the food to travel down the oesophagus and get absorbed in the small intestines. It is also important to note that sodium must be present to actively transport glucose across the luminal (small intestinal) membrane. Sodium is often found in large amounts in the luminal environment, however some sports drinks add salt to enhance this process and ensure that glucose is absorbed as rapidly as possible. 

Do you prefer liquid food, or food food? 

I prefer foods I can chew, though it is not mistake that liquid foods are absorbed much more efficiently and limit the changes of digestive issues. 


Your journey with Food (yes, it is deserving of a capital ‘F’) will continuously evolve and unravel. Be smart with Food fads that come and go. I think what Kellie, Chloe and Ashley have shared with us has been great, and I hope that you are able to take some ideas from their jersey pockets to fill yours. Thank you girls for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us, it is greatly appreciated!


In the mean time, its time to start thinking. What’s in your jersey pockets? Or water bottle (coffee) cage?

Happy riding (and eating) girls xx 

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