Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Taste, The Feel ... of Milk

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with the chocolate-milk-as-an-energy-drink idea. Perhaps it is because, being cheap, I know that I can buy milk for very little cash. Perhaps it is because I just dropped a ton of bones on my Synapse, and can't justify any other expenses to my wife--yet she wouldn't care if I just drank more milk. Perhaps it is the hilarity of the whole concept.

I remember a commercial put out by the national dairy foundation (or some such entity--I don't know if it even exists, so I elected not to capitalize it). It showed "active" people "on the go". You know, roller-bladers, basketball players and even mountain bikers drinking chocolate (or some other flavored) milk to cool off and re-hydrate. I distinctly remember laughing about it with my wife: "who would drink milk to quench their thirst during intense activity?"

This morning, I got up early for my usual early morning ride-on-the-trainer-which-works-my-legs-but-doesn't-really-count-as-a-ride ride. Normally, I don't eat anything, and I only drink water for such rides. I mean, I only have about 45 min to 1.5 hours before I need to get ready for work, so it really isn't worth it to take in extra calories. On a whim, though, I decided to mix up a water-bottle of chocolate milk. I say "mix up", because I didn't have any chocolate milk in my house. Instead of using chocolate syrup, I opted for Ovaltine because of the extra vitamin content. I did this to see if I could handle exercising while drinking milk, and because I figured it was better to start in the safety of the garage, rather than on an actual ride, where getting sick might mean I didn't make it home.

Trainers are too smooth to keep the Ovaltine mixed with the milk. Also, because it is really cold in my garage, I'd actually rather have tepid water than cold water. The milk was, of course, cold. I also wanted to drink more than usual, because chocolate milk is tastier than tap water.

The Verdict
Surprisingly, it worked. That is, I could tell I was getting hydrated as I should. I did have a bottle of water on the bike, as well, which helped clear my mouth of the sticky milk residue. I don't think this is unique to milk--that is, the need to drink water as well. I always carry water when I carry energy drinks on a ride. My system wasn't in any way adversely affected by the milk, either, as I worried. At the end of the ride, not only was I not exceptionally thirsty, I also wasn't as hungry, which could be seen as a benefit.

For this informal experiment, I used 1% milk mixed with less than the recommended 4 TBS/cup Ovaltine. These results are by no means conclusive. I still don't know how well I'd like it on a hot day, or once the milk was no longer cool. I'll probably try it out later in the season, though, and report back how it works out.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mmmm, Warm Milk.

I stumbled upon this article about using Chocolate Milk as a sports drink, and it left me with many questions:

For one thing, the thought of drinking milk on a hot day sounds terrible. What would be worse, is that, most likely, the milk would be quite warm after a short time.

When I ride, my body produces mucus at abnormal rates, I don't want to even imagine what milk intake would do to those high mucus levels.

Most energy drinks can survive a hot day on the road/trail in a waterbottle and still be in about the same condition. How long would chocolate milk last in 90 degree weather? What about 100 degrees?

Sometimes, on really long solo rides, it is nice to bring energy drink mix with me, so I can re-fill waterbottles with it while I'm out. (I love ELETE for that.) Could I mix something like Ovaltine (or other chocolate milk powder) with powdered milk and bring it along?

I'm not lactose intolerant, but how well can my body handle all the fat and lactose when I'm bouncing down a trail, or sprinting up a steep incline? How well will all that churning sit with my digestive system?

My hydration pack reservoir is lined to prevent muck from forming inside it. Would that work with chocolate milk, as well? Would I have to rinse it out every time?

If I am exercising, would I be able to blow through a whole gallon of chocolate milk in less than an hour and not throw up?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Beware the Curse of Spring!

It is a beautiful day outside. Indeed, it seems as if Spring has arrived. Sunny, a little breezy, and warm.

In the daytime, at least.

The Curse
There are a few pieces to the curse, but they all revolve around my desire to ride in this beautiful weather, and my inability to do so.

First, there's the Spring cleaning. Why is it that things left undone for months NOW have to be cleaned? More importantly, why did we leave them undone for months? Saturdays in Spring are almost always set aside for this type of work, which cuts into those long Spring rides in warm weather you've been dreaming about for months.

Second, yardwork. I really don't like yardwork. This is evident by the frequency with which I mow my lawn in the summer. Of course, I tell people that grass thrives better when it is left long and then cut down all at once, but even I don't believe it. Saturday is another prime time for yardwork. Between Spring cleaning and yardwork, most afternoons are shot.

Finally, the third part of this wicked curse is the weather. Most people, myself included (which is why this post is being written in the first place), work in the day. As it turns out, this is really the only time when the weather is nice and balmy. When I do have time to ride (in the early morning pre-dawn hours), the temperature is still hovering around 30. Of course, I'm in that springtime mentality, so I don't quite dress warm enough in the morning and freeze.

Such is the Curse of Spring. I love it. I love the warm weather and the days getting longer. I only wish I could enjoy it on my bike.