Anyone who has ever ridden a stage race , whether that be a nine day Ras or two day in Adare has undergone the ‘Breakfast dilemma’ . That is the option to be like a ‘real cyclist ‘ and have plain pasta or an omelet , or to stick to your normal corn flakes or weetabix .
Martin Early often said that you should be able to do sixty miles on a cup of tea and a slice of toast . Tommy Evans takes this a step further during his fabled ‘coffee spins ‘where he does up to five hours on an empty stomach apart from a few cups of strong coffee along the way . A fast track to some serious weight loss .
While much debate may surround race food and the diets of cyclists in general it is surly the breakfast which makes B & B housewives cringe in despair . Not content with the usual full Irish most cyclists will ask for either an omelet , scrambled eggs or very often some pasta and occasionally a steak . An omelet or scrambled eggs together with about ten slices of toast should fend of the hunger knock as would the pasta , but where does the idea of a steak come from .
Well ,back in the fifties and sixties many pro’s used to have a steak as they believed that it would help rebuild tired and worn muscles . The truth however is that whilst the iron and protein content is important as part of a balanced athletes diet to eat a full steak on the morning of a race could only deplete the energy levels as it would require a huge amount of energy to digest . A good example of this energy depletion is the tired feeling you get after a particularly large meal . What happens is that the body needs so much energy to digest the food that it actually shuts down any unnecessary functions in order to direct all of its energy into the digestive system .
While the pros may have had their reasons on the continent , in Ireland there were some even more unorthodox methods employed . One Kerry ‘Iron Man ‘ was known to stop at the side of a field where cows were grazing . He would then proceed to drain some blood from a vein on a cows neck in the belief that this would be the purest form of energy available .
As to what the future holds regarding this most important meal of the day there seems to be a train of thought promoting the current phenomenon of juicing . It is true that what juicing basically does is to significantly reduce the amount of work that the body is required to do in order to digest some foods , primarily fruit and vegetables . This is accomplished by eliminating the need for the body to break down foodstuffs into waste and nutrients . The nutrients are all consumed directly into the system and the waste goes into the bin or compost heap rather than down the toilet . A certain amount of carbohydrates will also be needed but energy levels have been found to increase significantly with regular juicing , so it should be interesting to see what effect this will have on performance .