Vege-Carb Trail Soup

I recently got back from a 7-day backpack trip in the Adirondacks.  He asked for my easy, nutritious, ultra-light and delicious soup recipe.  Great for fully loaded bike touring or backpacking.  This is it.

Robert’s Vege-Carb Trail Soup
Serves one.
2 cups (16 fluid oz) water
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon dry vegetable soup mix
1 bunch angle hair pasta (apx. 3 oz. dry)
1 tablespoon textured vegetable protein (“TVP”)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add salt to water and bring to boil.  Add soup mix and boil apx. 3 min.  Add pasta and TVP.  Then boil another apx. 5-8 min. (until noodles are soft).  Do NOT drain off the broth in which the pasta was boiled.  Serve with olive oil.


You may replace the TVP and olive oil with a can of sardines packed in olive oil.  To preserve the nutritional content of the sardines, I would not them.  Stir them in at the end or in your eating bowl.

TVP comes in various clump sizes.  Use the smallest clumps for this recipe.

If you’re cooking for a group, just multiply all the quantities by the number of people (e.g., for 2 people, use 2 tablespoons of vegetable soup mix.).

To make dish cleaning easier, add the olive oil or sardines to individual serving dishes and not the cooking pot.

This recipe is for a vegetarian soup.  For a carne alternative, I’d serve, on the side, sardines, dry sausage or a hard cheese like cheddar.  I’d figure 2 oz. of sardines, sausage, or cheese per person if you use TVP or, if you leave out the TVP, figure 4 oz per person.
You can make an excellent variation on this by using fresh kale or other quick-cooking veggies in addition to the dried vegetable soup mix.  In my experience, kale lasts a one to three days, depending on the temperature, and can be slightly crushed in a pack without turning to green glop, though I try not to crush it.  I’ve used fresh veggies on the early days of trips or after stopping at a road- or trail-side grocery or vegetable stand.
For best taste, always use high quality, fresh ingredients.

I’ve used miso soup mix and ramen noodles with unbelievably satisfying results.  Strongly recommended.

This link is similar to the vegetable soup mix I buy.

For those doing cozy-cooking, this recipe almost works, but you’ll need to change a few things.  One problem is that big chunks in the soup mix, like peas, must be boiled to rehydrate. Similarly, the pasta is better if it’s boiled.
To ensure the soup rehydrates, put the soup mix in a bowl with a quarter cup of boiling water, seal the top, insulate it with your hat and jacket, and give it a few minutes to rehydrate and get a head start.  You could also pulverize the soup mix in a food processor before you start your trip.  This will help it reconstitute faster. (If you’re cooking at elevation, this is even more important.)  For the pasta, either “quick” thin ramen noodles or cous cous will rehydrate faster and use less fuel.

I specify boiling the water several times.  The main reason for this is to kill anything in the water, on the dishes, or in the food that could make you sick.  Remember that if you’re cooking at elevation, water boils at a lower temperature so merely boiling may not sterilize the water and food.

Stay well and eat well,

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2015 Robert Matson


Energy Pellets, no cook

Here is this Fall’s recipe for Energy Pellets (no cook)

1/2 C(up) almond butter
1 C peanut butter, salted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 C corn syrup
1/2 C ground flaxseeds
1 T(ablespoon) chia seeds
1 C Grape Nuts (or similar coarse multi grain ready to eat cereal)
1/2 C rolled oats (5-min. quick oats)
Fleur de sel (sea salt) to taste
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C chocolate M and Ms or their likeness (I use Sunspire brand.)

Use a highly conductive non-stick sauce pan, for best results.

Thoroughly combine nut butters, cinnamon and corn syrup in sauce pan over medium-low flame.

Stir these evenly into the goop mixture, a bit at a time:
Flax and chia seeds
Grape Nuts
Rolled oats

Let mixture cool a bit so the M and Ms don’t melt when you add them.

Sprinkle M and Ms around the mixture and then stir them in as best you can.

Mold mixture into balls with freshly washed hands (I’m just saying).
Sprinkle fleur de sel over balls to taste.

Put into resealable plastic containers and then into fridge for 8 hrs.

Store in fridge.

To take them on a ride, I put them into plastic zipper-closure bags.

Food is love, share it,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson


Customer generosity: fundraising for “Moveable Feast”

Anne G., on her famous telemagenta Street Machine Gte
at the 2012 event, covering 140 miles.
(bike is from New York City Recumbent Supply)
Photographer: unknown (as of now)

Anne Griepenburg, a friend and customer, is raising money for Moveable Feast, an organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to folks with HIV and their families. Her team name? “Bike Curious.”
Click here for Anne’s fundraising page.

Anne’s fundraising goal is $3,000 and, as of the time of writing, she’s over half-way there.  Help her go over the top!

Your donation = meals delivered.  The generosity of people like you, reader, enables Moveable Feast to deliver nutritious meals to folks with HIV and their families. Last year, Anne, her amazing team of riders, and their wonderful supporters raised over $19,000!  This meant that over 14 people and their families were fed for an entire year thanks to the Bike Curious family!

But I (Robert) am getting ahead of myself. There’s a cycling event behind this. It’s called “Ride for the Feast” (RFTF).  It’s a two-day, 140-mile charity bike ride. Day 1 is a 100-mile ride from Ocean City, MD to Wye Mills, MD.  There’s an overnight stay at Chesapeake College.  Then, on Day 2, riders pedal from Sandy Point into Baltimore City and cross the finish line at Moveable Feast’s East Baltimore headquarters. The ride is 140 miles long because that is the exact distance a Moveable Feast driver must go to deliver to their farthest client.  100% of the money raised by participating riders and crew members goes directly towards putting food on the table for Moveable Feast’s clients.

The 11th annual “Ride for the Feast” takes place next weekend, May 11th-12th, 2013.  Interested in riding next year?  Watch the org’s website at:

Join the Bike Curious Team.

Team Bike Curious is riding together for their 4th year in the 2013 Ride for the Feast!  They are artist, health care professionals, educators and technologist from the Baltimore area who ride to raise money and awareness for Moveable Feast. They see it as their way to give back to the community through a grassroots organization that is providing healthy food and other services for people living with AIDS, breast cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

Team Fundraising Goal: $20,000.00
Total Raised: $12,191.00

Members Recruited
Recruitment Goal: 15
Members Recruited: 8

Have fun, stay healthy, and deliver some love and nutrition to those who have less than you,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson


Staying strong through winter, ready for summer.

It can be a challenge to stay strong over the winter, especially if you live in an area where winter cycling means riding short and frantic trips on studded tires while wearing windproof underwear, multiple layers of wool under wind jackets, insulated boots, and neoprene Glacier Gloves. And still freezing.

The tendancy is for riders to get strong over the summer, reach a peak in the fall, and then loose much of their conditioning over the winter. For me, as it concerns my recumbent muscles, this is definitely true. To combat this, a strategy is to incorporate exercises into one’s exercise routine that, at minimum, keep those muscles active so the body remembers why it needs to spend precious energy to maintain them.

My own exercise routine won’t work for everyone, but it may help you generate ideas on how to stay in shape over the winter so that, once spring comes, you don’t have to spend the first three months building up strength so you can — dare I say it? — ride a recumbent up a steep hill.

Maintain your summer body weight

First and foremost, over the cold winter months, when you’re craving sweet and high-fat foods to keep your body warm, try not to add a layer of warm, cozy fat. Maintain your summer weight. It’s incredibly difficult to lose fat once you gain it, so don’t.

Another aspect of this is that a large proportion of recumbent riders are middle-aged and as we age, our metabolisms generally slow down, we get cold more easily and it gets harder to lose the weight we gain.

When it’s cold out, and your body feels chilled, your instinct is to eat, both because you need energy to stay warm, but your body also wants a layer of fat to keep comfortable in the chill air. If you’re like me, you’re more than happy to oblige with two or three cups of organic hot chocolate with added organic heavy cream from grass fed cows. Uh oh. But there’s a way to trick the body into thinking it’s already warm and comfortable and needs no extra layer of fat. This may help you (me) keep it to just one cup of hot cocoa a day. A trick I use is to wear what is essentially an artificial, removable layer of fat: long johns. I wear a merino wool base layer, top and bottoms, more or less every day during the cold, wet months, from November through March. I’m wearing a base layer anyway when I ride down to the pool in the morning (see below), so I just leave it on the rest of the day. I also sometimes wear a hat while I work.

Another trick is to eat hot meals as often as possible. The classics are soups and stews. These help you stay warm without relying on sugars. And it goes without saying, eat your vegetables. Root vegetables are at their best during the winter and so are greens like kale. Go heavy on them. You can also go heavy on nuts like walnuts, which have loads of highly nutritious fats. Avoid sugar except when you’re expending huge amounts of energy for example while you’re active and outside.

Keep up a winter exercise routine

I probably spend more time swimming than cycling. Fortunately, it’s a sport I can do all winter long and it keeps me fit for just about any other sport I frequently do, which is mostly cycling, skiing, running, and hiking. The trouble with swimming is that it doesn’t work the same leg muscles as cycling. That’s also a good thing: cross-training saves the body from overuse injuries.

Here’s my exercise routine, on a normal day:
4:45am up and at ’em; fumble around in a haze; eat a light breakfast; put on shoes.
~5:15 bicycle (usually on a recumbent) a half-hour down to the pool or else jog/walk 45 min.* to the pool.
~5:45 stretch, short pilates workout
6:00 swim (typically an individual medley workout)
~7:15/7:30 stretch, pilates, jump rope
8:00 bike a half-hour — or jog/walk 45 min. — back home.
8:30 breakfast
9:00 begin work

(*My jogging/walking route takes a direct, nearly crow-flies route from home to the pool. My cycling route has less car traffic, but is far less direct. I also stop for red lights, which slows me down considerably.)

After that, any errands, any commuting, everything I need to do out in the city I do by bicycle. I consider that  element of the day’s exercise icing on the cake (please forgive the sugar and butter metaphor).

If I miss my swimming workout (for example, if I’m up late the previous night), I’ll either run for one to one and a half hours, or do a high-intensity biking workout, or do a rowing workout on my Concept II rowing ergometer. The erg has been with me for over two decades. Highly recommended.

Key elements of the workout as it concerns biking.

Obviously, the swimming is the main workout; it’s great, low-impact cardio. It’s fun. I enjoy seeing my teammates on my U.S. Masters team. I like the challenge of the individual medley, which is my event of choice. And there’s little chance of being hit by a car while I’m exercising.

The benefits of the jog/walk probably don’t have to be explained though it may be useful to specify that I alternate walking and jogging when I go to the pool by foot. I don’t jog the whole way. There are a few reasons for this. First, I’m taking cement sidewalks, which are hard on the body, so the walking segments give my body a necessary break. Secondly, I no longer train as a runner and don’t wish to inflict that on my body, so the jog/walk gives me speed for a quick foot-based commute, without stress — I can make it as hard or easy as I like by increasing/decreasing how much and how fast I jog. Thirdly, I’m still stiff at that hour and I use this foot-based commute as my warm-up so, by the time I’m at the pool, I’m really ready to go. A fourth benefit is that running, more than swimming or cycling, is really unforgiving of excess body weight so it firmly reminds you of why you want to keep down your weight.

The stretching. It’s necessary for helping you avoid or minimize injuries. And it becomes more necessary as you get older because — yes, as you get older, you get stiffer — but mainly it’s preventative: it takes a really long time to recover from injuries as you age.

Jumping rope. This is the primary way I remind my legs to stay strong for biking. This is also how I push my max heart rate to again, remind my heart and lungs why they have to stay strong. My rope workout isn’t particularly fancy, but I do something like a Tabata workout, alternating sprints with slower jumping and alternating one-legged jumping with two-legged jumping to keep it interesting. Maybe that sounds fancy.

And the biking part of it? Not really a key element. It’s too short and easy to count for much, but it does serve a little to remind my cycling muscles why they exist. Sometimes I’ll add a few miles around Prospect Park when I head home, sometimes loaded with groceries from the Park Slope Food Coop. The park includes a hill, but normally the cycling part of my morning routine is purely practical; it’s just commuting and, though better than nothing, I’m going too slowly for it to feel like exercise.

Have fun, stay healthy, stay in shape,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson


Peanut Butter Corn Flake Energy Chunks*

For instant energy and not so much for instant nutrition.

1 C smooth peanut butter
1 C light corn syrup
1 C sugar
2 C Grape nuts
4 C corn flakes
1/2 C instant oats
1/2 C chopped dates
3 T ground flax seeds
some Tapioca flour

Combine peanut butter, corn syrup and sugar in large pan.
Heat on stove top until it begins to bubble.
Stir in Grapenuts, corn flakes, oats, dates and flax seeds till thoroughly coated.
Press into lightly oiled pan.
Allow to cool.
Cut into chunks of about 1″x1″.
Coat chunks with tapioca powder so they don’t stick to each other.
Place in plastic storage containers till needed.

At freezing temps (e.g., -7 Celsius), the bars are firm but not rock hard.  Put a chunk in your mouth and let it melt.

*I keep changing the name of these.

Have fun and stay (sort of) healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson


10 Tips for Getting Warmer When the Heat Is Off

By Robert Matson, WFR
Illustration by Mike Clelland
To download this entry as a reprintable PDF, click here.

Do you lack heating in your home? These ten tips will help you stay warmer.

1. If you start feeling cold, get moving. Jump up and down or do jumping jacks every time you feel a chill. If you have trouble moving, voluntarily force yourself to shiver. You can also shake your arms, your legs, your head, and your hands. The more you move, the warmer you’ll get. Talking to others — and yourself! — will also help.

2. Wear dry clothes. If your clothes get damp, remove them, including underwear, and put on dry clothes.

3. Eat! When you feel cold, you can quickly generate warmth by eating sweet foods like candy bars, hot liquid Jell-o, and sweet breakfast cereal. Beverages like hot chocolate and milk with added sugar are good whether served hot or at room temperature. If you like coffee or tea, add sugar — real sugar and lots of it — to help you warm up. In addition, eat complete and nutritious meals throughout the day to maintain your energy and do not skip dessert. This is not the time to diet. Have a snack before going to bed.

4. Sit on a cushion. When you sit down, sit upon something that provides insulation between you and whatever you’re sitting on. These are good: a cushion, a pillow, a piece of foam, a towel, a spare piece of clothing, a yoga mat, or a blanket. Avoid sitting directly on cold, hard surfaces like metal or wood chairs or benches or floors.

5. Wear layers of clothing. On top, layer-up like this: first a t-shirt, then a long-sleeved t-shirt, then a baggy button-down shirt, then a hooded sweatshirt or sweater. On the bottom, layer-up like this: first underwear, then sweatpants, then jeans. Loosely-fitting stockings are also a good first layer.

6. Wear loose-fitting, baggy clothes. Avoid tight clothing, which may inhibit circulation to your extremities and which may, in turn, make you feel cold.

7. Wear a hat, and a scarf, and a hooded jacket. Instead of a scarf, you can also tie a dry towel or shirt or wrap a men’s tie loosely around your neck.

8. Wear two pairs of thick socks and a pair of extra large shoes. The socks should be thick, warm and non-constricting. Find shoes that are big and loose enough that you can comfortably wear them over your socks (you may look goofy, but you’ll feel warmer).

9. Cover all exposed skin, including hands, ears and neck. Wear mittens, gloves or thick socks on your hands. Button all buttons. Wear a hat that covers your ears. Pull up your pants.

10. Put on a thick, insulated winter jacket if you’re still cold during the day. If you’re still cold at night, wear all your layers to sleep and cover yourself with blankets.

Written by Robert Matson, Wilderness First Responder, 2012 (Brooklyn, NY)

Illustration by Mike Clelland, 2012 (Driggs, ID)

Sources: Wilderness Medicine Newsletter and Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities,

Rights and Permission:
Permission is granted for reprints as long as: no fee is charged for those reprints, no changes are made without permission, and the writer and artist are credited as listed here.

Stay well,

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson


Getting a new bike? Easy. Getting in shape? A lot harder. Be kind to yourself.

A friend and customer wrote me this morning, following a weekend with beautiful weather.  My reply to him follows his note.

On Mon, April 16, 2012 11:03 am, wrote:

> I like the bike [Volae Tour] but do not like hills.  A physician friend mentioned
> decreasing muscle mass in old folks.  Still, I’ve got to drop 15 pounds to
> give myself and the machine a fair shake.  That loss would, on hopes, be
> fat and not muscle.
> Thanks for the advice.

Hi T_D_,

The best hills are the ones with a view (which means they’re the high ones).

Be kind to yourself, always.

View yourself as a “beginner” athlete, at the start of a new athletic career that you want to last for decades.

Ride/exercise well within your abilities, of technique, of your muscles, of your heart and lungs.  Take it easy.  Ride so you always have enough “breath” that you can keep up a conversation.  The trainer’s term for this is “conversational pace.”

On hills, shift to low gear and take ALL the time you need.  Ignore the riders around you.  Walk up hills if you feel any discomfort.  If you feel pain, stop, rest, relax, hydrate (water).  As you ride, over the months and years, your muscles and cardio will improve and you’ll be able to do more.  Also, right now and over the years, you’re getting to know yourself in a new way; listen to your body; let it tell you what it can and can not (yet) do.

Stretch after every ride.

Lose 15 lbs?  Okay.  If you’re serious, I recommend Weight Watchers.  My sister did it and got great results.  Follow the program, be disciplined, and you’ll get healthier.  Forget about losing weight, focus on being healthy and your weight will move to the correct level.

Eat lots of fresh veggies, fruits and nuts — broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, salads, fruits, nuts :-).

All best,

# # #

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson


Good lightweight camping food – it exists

Better pre-packaged lightweight camping food.

(This entry is as much a “note-to-self” as it is a note-to-readers.)

First of all, the nutritionally conscious will buy a dehydrator and make their own dehydrated meals (which are generally considered more nutritious than freeze-dried meals.)

Or, if you want someone else to do the work for you, here are two nice options, recommended by reliable sources:

Hawk Vittles
Lightweight gourmet meals made by a chef.  Nutritious, creative recipes.
(Post trip review: good taste and looks good, but doesn’t thoroughly soften and bag shape makes it difficult to stir. Quantity size: okay.  Those who need more calories may want to buy double-sized meals.)

Pack It Gourmet
Haven’t yet tried it.

This one is an internet discovery.  Haven’t tried it.

Pack Lite Foods
Try it and let me know how it is.

Wise Company

But better than what?

Alas, both these brands have carried me through hundreds — maybe thousands — of miles.  But, I’m simply no longer enthused by their offerings.

Backpackers Pantry

Mountain House

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2011 Robert Matson


Camping food: No-cook Trail Brownies

On a recent trip, Brian T., appeared with the following “Trail Brownies” recipe. On that trip, the brownies made their appearance in the form of my birthday cake with a match as a candle.

No-cook Trail Brownies
Serves 4 – 8

In a quart freezer bag put:
1 package graham crackers, reduced to crumbs.
1/4 cup broken pecans (toast them first for best results) (optional)
2 Tbsp powered sugar.

In another bag put:
3 oz (about 3/4 cup) chocolate chips and
3 Tbsp powered milk

In camp: Add 1/4 cup water to the chocolate. Bring a pot of water to boil and dip the bag to melt the chocolate (the higher-quality the chocolate, the better it melts and the better it tastes). When melted, add the graham cracker crumbs and knead to mix thoroughly. How you eat it is up to you. You can let it cool and break it into chunks.

Tips: Use mini morsels, which tend to melt faster than regular chocolate chips and take up less space in your food bag. Use about 3/4 of a cup of “minis” because more mini morsels fit into a cup than bigger chips. If you add too much chocolate it tends not to harden completely.



Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2011 Robert Matson


Building a better bicycle engine.

Building a better bicycle engine.  (Or, once again, it’s not about the bike.)

When you ride a bike, you’re exercising.  Working out.  Getting fit.  Improving your cardio.  Getting healthy.  Using those muscles.

And sometimes you’re pulling muscles, straining tendons, pushing your heart near it’s maximum capacity, and getting hurt.  Just stop that already.  I know of no instance of a bicycle user guide including a note telling new purchasers to get a physician’s approval before riding it.  Maybe that would be good.

In the case of ‘bent riders, most of us are old…enough to know better.  We bought a ‘bent, because we’re wise enough to know a good thing when we see it, free of all the hype around the latest, lightest, greatest, or hippest.  We bought a bike, some of us after not having ridden for many years.  We thought we’d just start tooling around town.  But suddenly, we’re masters athletes, using our bodies to propel us to unnatural speeds.  And after a year or so of this, we begin to look a bit like master’s athletes, muscles in new places; better results from the cardiogram; greater interest in what our bodies can do.

But we may have forgotten that we’re not as agile as we were when we last worked out for 10 hours straight.  Our bodies are no longer as forgiving.  When our muscles get sore, they stay sore longer.  When we eat food that is nutritionally void, it effects us longer and more deeply.  If our muscles get tight, they get tighter, and the secondary problems caused by tight muscles are that much worse.

The other month, a user on Yahoo’s excellent user group for Rans owners lamented about the speed of his bike, yet rather admirably offered that perhaps the engine is in part to blame.  It was a good insight.

When we start riding again, please, think hard about the bike, but after you buy it, try to forget about it.  Just ride.  And think about the engine.

What to Think About:

– Stretching.
Not even 21 year old athletes can get get away for long without stretching.  At masters age, you definitely can’t afford to overlook it.  You must stretch both BEFORE and AFTER you ride.  For 30 years I’ve owned Bob Anderson’s _Stretching_.  I don’t know if it’s still in print, but if it is, I recommend it.  If you can’t find it, find another stretching book written by a qualified author, like a physical therapist.

– Cross train.
Do something besides riding to keep your body in balance.  Lift Weights.  Swim.  Jog.
Take dance classes (I’m not joking).

– Do Sprints.  But only once or twice a week.
Specifically, look up “tabata sprints.”  The essential idea is these are short sprints, repeated.  The version I follow consists of: 20 second sprints, 10 seconds rest, repeated eight times (for four minutes total).  By sprints, usually it means 100% effort.  This is incredibly hard, even though it’s only 4 minutes.  Before I start sprint workouts, I first warm up for about 30 minutes.

– Do fewer long, long, long days.
“Love” might be too strong a word, but I have an _affinity_ for endurance activities: the 70-mile ride, the multi-day hike, the 5- or 10-kilometer swim, the 12-hour work day.  But I’ve begun to strongly suspect that the long cardio workout isn’t good for me; for you, I don’t know, but it probably isn’t good for you either.  We all want to do the long ride, but I’ve begun to believe that it should be the occasional thing, rather than the everyday thing.

– Days off
Take days off from exercising.  If you ride to work everyday, consider taking the subway on Wednesdays.  (Yuck, I know.)  Or at least, take some easy days.  Give your body a break.

– Massages
And I don’t mean the cheap ones.  I mean the good, professional, $200 for 90 minutes type of massage.  New York City’s leading Thai massage master is Al Turner, (appointments: Tel: 212-501-3833).  I wouldn’t waste my money on anything or anyone else.  When you were young, massage was a luxury.  For masters athletes, if you want to outlast your Volae, it is a necessity.

– Eating nutritionally rich foods will help you feel your best.  Eating carb-rich foods leave me feeling awful.  I used to believe in the carb-rich runners diet, but not any more.  These days I eat more fruts and veggies than ever and feel a lot better for it.

Spend good money on good food.  You probably already know what you’re supposed to be eating, but in case you’ve forgotten, I’ll remind you.  Lots of vegetables.  Tons of fruit.  Fish, chicken, turkey, quality ham, quality beef.  Eggs.  Milk.  Cheese.  Soy.  Complex carbs.  How much vegetables and fruit?  Eat till you’re full before eating the others.  If you’re a vegetarian, you already know what you’re supposed to be eating.  And use olive oil.  Buy free-range, grass-fed, buy organic even if you wonder if it’s worth the cost, buy fresh.

Avoid soda pop….potato chips…ice cream…avoid dry crunchy stuff that you’ve been tricked into thinking will fill the vacant hole of sadness deep inside your heart.  Avoid candy like the plague.  If it’s got an advertisement associated with it, avoid it (except “Got Milk”).  Forget about bagels.  Someone has to tell New York Road Runners club that bagels aren’t particularly nutritious.  I say this, suspecting that NYRR management, given how smart they are, know this full well.

I’m no longer a fan of sports drinks and foods — all brands — with the sole exception of Gary Null’s nutritional products.  I strongly suspect the sports foods are little more than candy by clever name.  I’m very suspicious of the designer foods one finds in sports shops; they may or may not include ingredients that are prohibited by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.  If you’re not racing, you may not care, but you should; if they’re prohibited, it means they’re probably very bad for you in the long run.  I’m suspicious of anything that is purported to make me faster/stronger if I consume it.  There is no easy route.  Anyone who promises you an easy route — like with a special food or a special bike — is simply conning you.

If you want a sports beverage, drink DILUTED fruit juice; nothing, and I mean NOTHING is better than a good orange juice or an organic grape or apple juice, and they’re usually a lot cheaper than the mass-market sports drinks.  If you need sodium, throw in some fleur de sel or good sea salt.  If you really need some high-octane carbs, i.e. during a race, use honey (nothing’s better than good honey) and/or brown rice syrup and/or barley malt.  Coffee, tea or a coffee-sub like Inka with barley malt is unbelievable.  If you must have a “sports food,” eat a banana or two…or five.  Eat nuts and seeds and fruit for snacks and as a “post-workout” fuel-up.  Right now, I’m adding walnuts to almost everything.

And then, experiment with real foods every time you ride.  Don’t try anything new on “race day” — on the day of your big event or ride.

– Take dance classes: modern, ballet, ball room, tango, hip hop.  And I’m not joking.  Will it make you faster?  I don’t know.  It’ll make you more agile, that’s for sure.  And it’ll make you a more interesting person for the people you meet.  Mind you, I’m a clod; three left feet; but I still like dance classes.

When you find yourself thinking that your bike is slow — and, yes, maybe a more aerodynamic bike would make you faster — but do think also about how you might take better care of your engine.  For that’s where you’ll get the greatest speed gains over the long, long term.

All best,

Robert Matson
NYC Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2009 Robert Matson