Epic rides vs epic portions

It is essential that we all eat post ride, but what we choose to eat has a major impact on whether the calories we’ve burnt stay off or go straight back on again...

It is essential that we all eat post ride, but what we choose to eat has a major impact on whether the calories we’ve burnt stay off or go straight back on again.  Take a couple of weeks ago as an example:


It was the first week of January, and the training had properly started in earnest to shift some weight.  The AireValley wing of the West Yorkshire Yeti club had its first meet of the year over in the hills around Cullingworth.  A very impressive number of us^ braved the wintry cold, tearing up and down the bridleways like a stampede of mustangs (^ translation – actually there was a mighty two of us, Jonathan and I and our not so svelte abdominals, ambling up hill and down dale!). 

The route dips in and out of routes from Nick Dutton-Taylor’s excellent Mountain Bike Guide to West Yorkshire, and the recently opened Calder Aire link

The route has a bit of everything thrown in, from mad steep road climbs into impossible headwinds (they built a wind farm up here for a reason!) to fast, technical descents…and the great thing about it is that it has a myriad of variations built into it, which we can tweak dependent on our fitness levels and/or inclinations on the day. 

But today the headwind had gone into overdrive on the climb out of Cullingworth – hey, why do most routes always taunt us with a start up a flippin’ great big bloomin’ climb! It was like cycling through treacle today i.e. not much fun, but at least we knew we were getting a good workout.  My rudimentary maths would suggest that the force of this particular headwind contributed to roughly exactly twice the fat burn as was normally experienced on this particular climb. 

We were rewarded for our effort, though, by the sweet descent (albeit with a wet muddy arse!) down into Oxenhope.  Once there, we picked up the Calder Aire Link, and the aforementioned headwind again, before working our way into Howarth.  We had only done 9 miles, but we felt exhausted. 

Epic rides vs epic portions
Epic rides vs epic portions: epic rides vs epic portions
Marcus Farley©.

It was made worse by the fact that my bladder (the Camelbak kind, not the human kind!) seemed to be infected with some kind of foul tasting bacteria, and I had given up using it pretty soon into the route.  With hindsight, as soon as I had noticed the foul taste, I should have steered us back to the start where I could have cleaned it out properly, before embarking again on the route proper!. 

But, alas, I had stupidly soldiered on and was now feeling very empty and a bit sick.  A quick decision was taken to head home where I could re-hydrate and we could both fill our now ravenous bellies. 

As we neared Cullingworth we felt a bit deflated that we hadn’t managed a more epic ride.  However, another type of ‘epic’ suddenly filled my brain.  Epic portions at the Fish and Chip Shop!

Hooray we shouted in unison.  But then a dark thought crossed our minds – it was and the chippie closed at .  We had ten minutes maximum to clock 2 miles of headwind and rocky descent.  Any thoughts of dehydration and exhaustion were thrown aside as we pushed hard into the village.  The final few hundred metres were a gentle, yet deceptive, climb that often catches us out.  But today we big ringed it up this rise to the chippie, getting there with moments to spare before the clock struck .

…Only to discover that the chippie actually closes at !  Gutted, we coasted very slowly back to Jonathan’s house, battered (us, not the dreamed of fish we hoped to have been carrying!) and broken…But, on reflection, the mix up with the shop closing time had been a blessing in disguise. 

Epic rides vs epic portions
Epic rides vs epic portions: epic rides vs epic portions
Marcus Farley©.

This is because, for the first time in a long while, the calories/fat etc. that we’d burnt off cycling weren’t immediately put back on with epic portions post ride!

The moral of the story? If you want to lose weight, never ever start and finish a route anywhere near indulgent food places like fish and chip shops, or pub car parks.  Unless, of course, you are very strong willed, have no sense of smell, by being there you are actually resisting a far worse calorie busting place to eat or you are capable of mixing up the opening times!

Here are some calorie neutral ‘facts’ from the What Mountain Bike Magazine archives:

  • 1 cake trolley (2165 cals) + 2 cups of Earl Grey tea (4 cals) = 4 hours 30 minutes mountain biking*
  • A Buritto (465 cals) + 3 x Peroni beers (345 cals) = 1 hour 41 minutes mountain biking*
  • Chicken in Pitta (360 cals) + pineapple juice (60 cals) = 52 minutes mountain biking*
  • A baked potato and beans  (93 cals) + a berry smoothie (10 cals) = 13minutes of mountain biking*

* based on an 80kg male riding at a medium pace, not a 99kg fat lad riding at a ‘keeping up a chat’ pace.



To help get in shape and inspire your riding hunger, What Mountain Bike’s new Ride Guide section has everything you need for planning and riding a great weekend’s riding in one of Britain’s very best mountain bike destinations. Starting in WMB82, on-sale 2 April, with the Quantock hills in Somerset, it wraps up stunning photography with full OS mapping, height profiles, bike set up information, completely free .gpx downloads of the routes featured from the www.bikeradar.com routes section (just keyword search ‘WMB’ and select from the list), product tests and much more. It really is the mutt’s nuts.