Say you wanted to take a long bike tour somewhere. Suppose it was a winter-ish trip. Let's assume that the place you're going is devoid of humans or structures. You'd not only be alone, but everything you needed on the trip would have to come with you right from the start.
With me so far?
You'd need to figure out all sorts of logistical challenges in the months and years leading up to the start. Getting there is one part, getting all of your stuff there is another. But before any of that can happen, you'd need to figure out what to take, what to leave, and how to carry all of it.At some point you have to sit down and make some educated guesses: How many calories will you need every day to maintain a pace that'll get you to the finish of your route? What kind of calories do you need--what ratio of carbs, protein, and fat? Will you need supplements to keep your body working after a week's worth of labor along the trail? When (during each day) will you eat? How will you prepare the food?
Lots of questions, with many 'right' answers to each of them. The only way to truly know any of these answers is to go out and complete the tour, taking some notes along the way. That's not an option here so you're back to making educated guesses.This is where it gets fun, or funny, depending on perspective. Based on past trips of a similar length and duration (but completed in a different style) I estimate that I'll need to consume about 8,000 calories per day to keep moving, keep warm and recover when sleeping, and to maintain a reasonable body mass throughout. On past trips I've eaten significantly more calories each day and not lost any weight, but there are differences: most of those calories were easily processed simple sugars, which kept the motor running but not running well.
An even bigger concern is that to carry enough calories in simple sugars would mean carrying hundreds of pounds of food. If you know anything about keeping a snow bike afloat on a gossamer thin crust, you know that this is simply not an option. Not to mention that you'd need to add even more food to account for the extra work you'd be doing to haul the hundreds of pounds of food to start with. Gah.Armed with this knowledge, the last two winters I've done several weekend overnights eating custom assembled (my own recipes) freeze-dried meals that I thought would be 'optimal' for such a trip. I learned quickly that I simply can't process 8,000 calories worth of this kind of food in a day while working this hard. So I adjusted each recipe and tried again. Couldn't even get 5,000 calories in. Went back and tweaked each recipe to get more carbs and fewer proteins and fats (carbs are much easier to digest when working), but it made little difference: I was still too physically full to take another bite. Not to mention significant GI distress.
So now what? If you're gonna ride/push/drag a bike for 4 solid winter weeks, you gotta fuel the motor or you're not gonna make it very far. Carrying hundreds of pounds of food is not an option. Eating more is not an option.Some folks have addressed this issue by having food drops placed for them along their route. For this winter's trip I *could* feasibly do this, but for next winter's it is not possible. Besides, it seems more than a bit wasteful to employ multiple airplanes to support a recreational bike tour.
I can only think of one alternative: Hyper-loading.We're all familiar with the concept of carbo loading to theoretically store more glycogen for a ride, run, race, etc... Same theory here, but a slightly different execution. A pound of fat on one's person is worth approximately 3500 calories. In other words, if you burn 3500 calories you'll lose ~one pound. Most athletes don't have too much available in terms of extra calories to burn, but what if you could somehow gain a chunk of excess weight before your event, while still maintaining adequate fitness to complete the event?In this case, I don't see any other alternatives.
-I need to be eating 8,000 calories per day for 25 days = 200,000 calories.
-I can only eat about 4,000 calories per day = 100,000 calories.
Means that I need to pre-store roughly 100,000 calories.Do the math there, and brace yourself for a grin: I need to purposely gain 28.5lbs!
Digest that (ha!) for now. More later.