Random review

Torq have brought out a line of flapjacks (called Explore) – apparently launched in April, so I’m surprisingly up to date. I found them in a running store near to work and decided that they looked potentially bike-worthy.

For some background – I lose my appetite on long rides and also get flavour fatigue on those long rides. Not a good combination. So I tend to keep an eye out for possible on-bike foodstuffs to be able to have a selection of things on a given ride (and preferably not always the same selection of things).

The apple-strudel flapjack makes the cut – it’s not dry, but not too damp; not dripping butter/oil/random goo; it’s easy to chomp off a bite and the flavour is good. Not bland, not weird. It tastes reasonably home-made, in fact.

One bar = 263 cals, 43g carbs. That’s reasonable, overall. I try to aim for 60g if carbs per hour, with about 1/3 from hypotonic hydration. I don’t eat a full bar of the flapjack per hour, as I mix it with other food (babybel, mini pepperami, skratch bars, Veloforte bites, random sweet things etc etc).

Generally recommended – the apple-strudel flavour, anyway. I’ve tried the carrot cake as well, but that was less successful. Whatever spices are in there don’t work with my tastebuds; the texture etc is all fine (similar to the apple flapjacks) but I would have difficulty persuading myself to eat the carrot cake version mid-ride.

(As usual, no-one’s paying me to say this. I bought the bars myself).


Puttering around North Oxfordshire this morning, checking in for the Rapha Women’s 100 (which has been moved from July because … who knows?) Read more

Not cycling, coffee (so pretty close to cycling)

I’ve been running an informal and hardly scientific experiment in trying to find a decent portable coffee cup/container (to reduce waste etc from disposables etc, even though Charlie uses recyclable cups) over the last couple of years or so, and I think I may have found the optimum one (for me. Your mileage is highly likely to vary). I’ve tried the following:

  • Klean Kanteen – no idea of the name, but it looks like a coffee cup with a lid. Pluses: right size (8oz – I don’t like buckets of coffee), aesthetically pleasing, keeps coffee warm. Minuses: leaks all over the place as there’s no way to plug the drinking hole. This minus kills the cup for me because I need to be able to put it into my backpack when I’ve finished my coffee. No matter how much you drain it, there will always be dregs of coffee that leak out onto papers/phones/computers/bag lining/etc
  • Random thermos-type. Pluses: keeps coffee warm, can usually be sealed so it doesn’t leak dregs. Minuses: take up too much space in bag (my backpacks/bags mostly do not have external bottle pockets – which is a flaw and the “one true bag/backpack” search continues)

Current winner seems to be the Stojo – lid seals, so no leaks (so far …) and it collapses down so fits in bags without taking up too much space. It’s also pretty light, being silicon. It’s nothing like as aesthetically pleasing as the Klean Kanteen, and 12oz not 8oz, but I’ll live with it. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to work out that the name isn’t some trendy Scandi thing but essentially “stow joe” (“joe” as in coffee). I think. Maybe I’m overthinking and it is just a trendy Scandi-type name.

As usual: not an ad, it’s stuff I’ve bought and tried out. No-one’s paying me for this.

Update: the Stojo didn’t survive an accident (silicon does tear under stress, it turns out). Now using a Frank Green coffee cup (gratuitous cycling connection: it’s the Rapha version) which is working well. It’s also a lot more aesthetically pleasing and smaller. It doesn’t scrunch up, but doesn’t take up a lot of space and is proving (so far) not to leak when empty.

Still not an ad.

Update 2: for days when I need more coffee than will fit in the Frank Green option, I’m now using an rCup – all recycled and, a bit like the Frank Green, a useful pop-up top to allow drinking with limited/minimal leaking.

Still not an ad.

Thursday random stuff

Gym continues – possibly my longest streak of gym attendance for a while. The Fitbod app continues to be useful (again, not an ad. Just stuff I use), which may be part of it. Things I like: the ability to change exercises on the fly – the gym was busy the other evening and there were no weights benches free, so I changed the seated stuff to standing variations. If something doesn’t appeal, I can change it to something else that is more interesting/less uncomfortable (Supermans hurt my leg, for example). I also like that I can check what muscle groups I’m covering in the workout vs what muscle groups are relatively fresh (not my quads. Never my quads!) and make sure that I’m getting a reasonable spread of exercises. I’m not doing upper vs lower and so on – I’m looking for all-round fitness and, frankly, my legs (other than hamstrings) get a fair workout just from riding. The app is a bit like having a personal trainer on tap, to mix things up.

I’m watching what I eat again, with a bit more discipline. Eating lower carb, for various health-related reasons. I should have done this some time ago, although it’s proving as awkward to get the balance right with cycling as you might think. Tentatively, I think I have to fuel rides from the outset (instead of taking on carbs after a couple of hours) – it worked ok last Sunday, for a given value of ok. I’m following another app for this, with a group thing – because I know I stick to things better if I think I’m accountable to someone else. I’m old enough to have given up trying to change my personality and instead focus on working with/around it.

20ok ride this weekend, since I figure I should get in a metric double century before reading for the imperial double in three weeks …

Food for thought (and other cliches)

Not feeling great – and have been feeling lousy for a couple of days. It doesn’t seem to be the viral crud going around, to any great degree. I’m wondering whether it’s related to an increase in exercise whilst still restricting calories. Read more


A useful and tasty mixture:

  • 150g Skyr
  • 100g pumpkin puree
  • 25g granola
  • 10g mixed seeds

Add all to a bowl and eat (swirl together or leave separate as you choose …) It’s a decent slug of protein and vitamins (and gets in a colored veg!)


Things learnt in a 200k ride

  • Lucozade diluted 1:2 with water tastes like Portuguese Tang (the original orange version, not the updated sweetener version)
  • The Wahoo Bolt probably does 14+ hours per charge (23% left after 12 hours, so that may be conservative) – but it chews through phone battery if you leave it talking to the phone (so, turn off bluetooth on the phone, or switch to flight mode)
  • The settings on the Bolt can be adjusted directly, not just in the app – the power button, when tapped, allows (I should really RTFM one day)
  • The Bolt also doesn’t plot the route more than 5k or so on advance – not great when trying to find your way back on a diversion, as the route doesn’t show on the map when you zoom out. However, it picks up the route just fine when you locate it again
  • Turn by turn navigation isn’t great at staggered crossroads and other fast multiple turns – not sure if this is an issue with the Bolt, with ridewithgps, or whether it’s just a feature of turn-by-turn
  • Even so, the turn-by-turn is relatively useful at reminding of changes: with a couple of caveats – the key word is “turn” and not “junction”. It doesn’t notify when the route is straight on over a junction. It also doesn’t notify when the route stays on the same road but turns off at a junction (e.g.: where following the A1000 south of Hatfield requires you to take a left hand turn to come off the road you’re riding on – if you stay straight on, the road immediately becomes the A1001. The navigation doesn’t recognise this as a turn …). With all those caveats in mind, I’m still going to keep using it as the beeping is a useful reminder to look at the map function.
  • The Apidura food pod works – as in, I‘m feeling a lot more chipper than I was after an 80 mile ride recently. Some of that is additional training but I think a fair bit was also that I ate/drank more steadily this time – liquid every 5k (or more often if thirsty), food every 5k or 10k, depending on how I was feeling (but every 10k even if I didn’t want to).
  • Food that works: ‘claws’ blackcurrant & beetroot fruit sweets; mini Babybel light; nakd bars.
  • Drink that works: nuun lemon & lime (2 per bottle); Lucozade Sport Orange (diluted 1:2 with water)

Ride long

Herts 100(k) plus there & back added up to 82 miles and a little over 3,300ft of climbing, averaging 12.5mph – it felt like there was more elevation, but it’s a rolling course (north Herts does roll more than you might think – nothing extravagant, but it’s pretty non-stop).

This was the first wet/chilly ride of the year – as I’ve been off the bike for so much of it – but the gilet did what was needed to keep the worst off (it rained for maybe 25% of the time; the cold was mostly wind-related). I was amused by how many riders ended up waiting under trees etc – I finished ahead of a much stronger group who just kept stopping whenever there was a raindrop.

I had forgotten how wonderful a hot bath is after getting chilled (I’m not riding hard enough to try icing my legs, thank you).

Average power down a little – 126w: maybe because I’ve been out on the bike more than usual this week (most hours out on the road in a year; this is my longest ride (bar RL100, which is a rather different thing) in over a year. Overall I’m pleased with it – the key is hours out on the bike right now, and the speed is coming back with the hours (up from 11.5mph on a similar route a couple of months ago).

Heart rate monitor failed to work, despite electrode gel; will try another monitor strap to see whether it’s that. I keep thinking about getting a wrist monitor, but DC Rainmaker’s views seem to suggest they aren’t quite there yet for cycling.

And food … well, this time I did stop and eat at the feed stations – not a lot, but I ate (fig rolls, bananas, cheese) and took two bottles of Skratch Matcha drink for added carbs. I also finally remember to set my Garmin to beep at me every 20 minutes, to try and remember to drink. So, well below requirements overall – I need to eat more breakfast, I think.