Eating for four (the Rocky Road)
Trip Start Jul 12, 2013
16Trip End Oct 01, 2014
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As I near the end of my journey I wanted to write about one of the biggest parts of life on the road - food.
It's the stuff that has helped me cover over 2500 miles (4000 km), get through five provinces and two mountain passes.
I confess to having a bit of a love/hate relationship with the food and the sheer amount I am having to consume.
My father Brian put his considerable engineering skills to the test and after a string of complex calculations based on weight, speed, the alignment of the planets, worked out that I need to consume approximately 770 calories an hour whilst cycling (with another 1200+ a day for general functioning).
It surprised me how much fuel I actually need. I'm a grazer by nature, preferring to eat little and often, and at home, I have a pretty healthy diet, low in fats, little or no meat, bread or dairy.
Well, not any more.
With a typical day equalling 7-9 hours on the road that's a staggering 6590-8230 calories at the least. So if the average female needing 2000 calories per day I should literally be eating for four.
It's not as simple as it's sounds. Donuts and cakes quickly lose their appeal, plus the energy contained within them is minimal as it's coming primarily all from sugar. As runners and cyclists will know this gives you a great energy rush, which quickly peaks and dies leaving you feeling slow and lethargic. Food at roadside diners and service stations also leaves a lot to be desired on the healthy eating front with fried food and snacks the main fare. I swear I have consumed my body weight in chocolate since the start of the trip.
The weather also plays a part. Hot days sap the appetite as well as energy, all you want to do is drink, my saviour at these times has been chocolate milk, cartons of the stuff, energy, protein and down in a few gulps.
Add to this, at the end of a long day cycling, the last thing you feel like doing, after finding a camp spot and putting up the tent, is cooking a meal.
With this in my my staple diet and highly technical fuelling strategy can be divided roughly into 3 parts.
1) Drinks: coffee (for the wonderful caffeine hit), water and chocolate milk by the gallon. The discovery of Canadian brand beer and whiskey have also contributed to happy camping (purely medicinal of course).
2) Sandwiches: anything that can be conceivably captured between 2 slices of bread makes an excellent snack/lunch. My current favourites include biscuit, banana and peanut butter or marmalade and granola sandwiches.....don't judge until you've tried it, delicious.
3) Evening meals: same principle as above but with super noodles. Ready in 2 minutes, combine noodles with any random item loitering in the food pannier including nuts, more granola, avocado, tinned sardines and sachets of tomato sauce/mustard.
The final items can be freely obtained at most roadside restaurants. I can guiltily admit to leaving most service stations with pockets full of random condiments.
Of course, I'm not the only mammel thinking about food. At campsites people I meet are all quick to point out that food should be kept well away from the tent at night so as not to attract racoons, cougars and, most importantly bears
Sound advice which I have been religiously following, however my front food pannier is identical to the one in which I keep my books, money, passport and other paperwork. I have to admit that there have been occasions when, arriving at a camp late I've woken the next day to find myself happily snuggled round the food pannier in my tent, whilst it's twin containing all my important documents is hanging 20 feet away from the branch of a tree!
However strange my diet, 53 days in to the trip it does seem to be working. A few days ago I crossed into my final province of British Columbia and climbed into the Rocky mountains by way of Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise.
There followed two spectacular climbs through Kicking Horse pass (1627 metres) and Rogers Pass (1330 metres).
The photos below can't begin to show the sheer joy of cycling through mountains. Snow capped peaks tower above you as you wind uphill until you are literally cycling through the clouds. Glaciers, appear as frozen rivers of ice paused in mid flow but actually still inching their way forward on the journey down to become roaring waterfalls and great torrents in the foothills around Canmore and beyond.
For once, I am also travelling in the right direction. Crossing East to West the gradients are kinder and the climbing less, the weeks of pernicious uphill roads through the prairies have also added 1000 metres between Lake Superior and Canmore.
My second and final mountain climb was through Rogers Pass. Already at altitude, the final ascent started at 800 meters on the coldest, wettest day I've experienced so far
The wonderful visitor centre was a haven and welcomed two bedraggled cyclists with cups of tea whilst we made full use of the log fire to dry pretty much everything. The reward on leaving was sunshine and a 22 mile/35 km descent to Canyon Hot springs and a much anticipated soak in 40oc thermal pools.
Throughout my journey, when I mention the hills, the response is, without fail, wait until you get to the Rockies, then you'll see hills. While I'm here, and it's fine, it's more than fine. Yes there have been some long climbs but they are mostly gradual gradients over longer distances. Some shorter, steeper slopes but nothing I hadn't already encountered around Lake Superior. The altitude does have an effect but going slowly and allowing the body a chance to acclimatise helps
So there are a few more bumps in the road still to navigate, but the main section of the Rockies is now behind me. Mountains, for me, are magical, energising place to be and I have left these ones feeling strong, calm and very happy. The end of my Canadian crossing is also now in sight and in as little as one week, give or take, I could be rolling into Vancouver. The next entry will be from there.......
Thank yous to Ron and Louise for the soda and shade on a scorching day. To Barbara and Ann for your great tourist advice and your enthusiasm, keep on travelling. To Heather Mountain Lodge for the shelter and hot food when really needed and to Rogers Pass visitor centre for the log fire, tea and chance to thaw out. And to Ben for sharing the journey, the ups, the downs and the peanut butter.