mineral replacement. They claim to be at the same concentration as the body’s ﬂuids, matching sugar and salt levels, so that they can be instantly absorbed and utilised.
The experience ofcyclists is a particularly good test for the claims of these products. Cycling is the only sport — apart from walking, which does not compare in terms of rate of energy consumption — where it is possible to eat on the job. While a marathon runner might manage to take a slurp oforange juice from a cup held out by some patient attendant, the serious cyclist can cram all manner of goodies into those nifty pouches on the back of his (have you ever seen a woman in one?) aerodynamic lycra top. He can happily fiddle with bottle stoppers and. apparently. even extricate jammy pieces from silver foil while pedalling like crazy.
In fact, talking to Keith Morris who has cycled around the coast of Britain. it would seem that cyclists are obsessed with food. Every individual has his favourite nibble. whether it be fig rolls. fruit cake or jelly babies. Though many find something moist easier to digest when their throats are parched, Morris favours dried fruit and nuts because they are nutritious, easy to carry and take some eating— you can prolong the experience and deceive yourself into a state ofsatisfaction.
Cyclists get inordinately hungry; hungry enough to break the bounds of acceptibility. Morris has arrived skint at pubs and begged for the left-overs from the plates of strangers: Richard Davison, national coaching co-ordinator for Scotland and physiologist at Glasgow University, has known desperate cyclists to eat grass. Because you are supported on a bike. you can keep going past the point when. had you been running. your legs would simply have collapsed under you.
Davison maintains that while the value of food as a psychological
I boost should not be underestimated,
it is fluid replacement that is most
essential for both serious and casual cyclists. Often you are unaware of your dehydration because the wind is cooling you and evaporating your sweat. Ifyou are pedalling hard, you should have a sip from your bottle every twenty minutes— little and often. Ifyou have a large quantity of either food or drink you become very uncomfortable.
In Davison’s experience, the isotonic drinks are effective. though the mixes can be difficult to dissolve and unpleasantly chalky. The important thing'to remember is to get the concentration right. Over-dilute ifanything. Ordinary lucozade. for a comparison, is ten times too concentrated. In fact. Davison favours the new hypotonic drinks which are considerably less concentrated than the blood, since trying to guess the exact concentration of body fluids is hardly easy. Apart from the fact that it tastes horrible warm. there is nothing much wrong with water. fortified with minute quantities of glucose and salt.
The latest foods to be favoured by professional cyclists are glucose polymers - colourless. odourless and tasteless sugar compounds which do not have the insulin generating effect. They are taken in liquid or mousse form for easy swallowing — choking can cost valuable minutes in a race. They are not widely available as yet; some chemists will oblige. others will gawp at your Martian request.
The choice is yours. Whether you think it is worth spending the extra money on specially formulated foods will depend upon the kind ofcycling
you intend to do. Ifyou are fanatical. i
there would seem to be real advantages in understanding the physiological research behind these products, even if you do not buy them. Alternatively. there is nothing to stop you packing your capacious wicker bicycle basket with salmon. strawberries and dry white wine. propping your staunch black steed against a stile and spreading a white linen tablecloth on the grass. . .
I Tabak 219 Fenwick Road. Giffnock. 638 6797. In the wake of its success in Byres Road (it already feels like an institution though it has been open for less than a year).the very sympathetic brains behind Tabak are offering Southsiders a taste of so-civilised continental cafe life. Emulating the low-key ‘estaminets‘ of France. Tabak eschews the tactics offashion conscious theme bars. maintaining that people notdecorarcimportant- I
lasting meeting place. it will do so through evolution. not publicity campaigns (well maybe — Ed). Like its models over theChannel.Tabakopens at 7.30am for breakfast. 1 strong coffee. milk - no alcohol as yet. At lunchtime. reasonably priced light food such as pastrami sandwiches and prawn salads are served. and in the eveninga selection of tapas (olives. chorizos etc — £1.60 across the board) are available to pick at with drinks. The idea really is to be anything to anybody at anytime. When will they open one in Edinburgh?
j I Maitland Hotel 33
l Shandwick Place. 229
i 1467. The ambitious team
behind Cafe-Bistro who
run the Fruitmarkct
Gallery and Traverse
I cafes. as well as providing
an outside catering
service. has just taken
overthe bar and
restaurant at the recently
refurbished Maitland Hotel in the West End.
They are intenton
i huge and highly eclectic culinary repertoire to match the grand
proportions of their new
' premises. lwish them luck.
I ' we. .
V IN PRIN I The Green Cook's Encyclopedia Janet Hunt (Green Print. £7.99) A book with an identity crisis. Part consumer guide. part wholefood recipe book. it fails to be either satisfactorily. Hunt's preface offers a challenge that none of us can afford to ignore: our lifestyle is having a disastrous impact upon the Earth. and one way we can change this is to ‘eat with care’ — after all. food production is one of the most significant factors in any economic or ecological equation.
Sadly though. Hunt fails to help her readers through the supermarket minefield. Her ‘encyclopaedia‘ — from additives to yoghurt — is largely composed of green buzz-words and is frighteningly uninformative. Maybe an extra-terrestrial would find it interesting to know that 'eggs are the ova ofcertain species of birds and animals. usually contained in a shell shaped like an elongated sphere‘. but I can't see it being of much use to the average inhabitant of this threatened planet.
And are trendy foods such as tofu. carob and kumquats. aduki beans and bulgar wheat produced in a more environmentally friendly way. or is their inclusion an excuse for the recipes attached? Ifyou really want to discover that buying brazil nuts helps preserve rainforest. or that using the milkman and his washable bottles is best. see instead The Green Consumer Guide (Elkington & Hailes. Gollancz). (Catherine Fellows)
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The List 28 June ~ I 1 July 1991 83