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Food on The Fred

I did the Fred Whitton Challenge in 2012. For those of you who are not familiar with it check out It’s a cycling challenge that includes Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes and a 112 miles of amazing Lake District county side.

I’m happy to use the word ‘gruelling’, I could even stretch to ‘excruciating’ if you pushed me (and I wish you had when I got to Hardknott), but there’s one thing that got me through it – Graham Obree’s jam sandwiches.

Graham wasn’t happy, but what the ‘eck.

Just to be clear, it wasn’t just jam sandwiches that got me through it, I did actually sit on my bike a few times and do a bit of training for it. The jam sandwiches came into effect on the day of the challenge.

This isn’t a gradient profile of The Fred, it’s my heart rate just thinking about doing it again.

I was worried about the eating because quite often I would finish a 2 or 3 hour ride, if I hadn’t eaten properly, with the power of a lethargic blancmange. As far as I know, a lethargic blancmange has never completed The Fred. According to my Garmin, when taking it easy, I burn about 500 calories per hour, so I thought (cleverly) that in order to keep going all day I would need to eat about 500 calories per hour.

I didn’t mess around with purely carbohydrate intake because that would have been too complicated for my calculator, so I just decided shoving in the calories would be a good idea and my body could do what it wanted with the carbs, fats and proteins.

I’d just watched a documentary about Graham Obree eating jam sandwiches before training and I’m easily influenced so jam sandwiches were in.

There was also the issue of fluids? Research online says that most endurance athletes drink between 400ml to 1000ml per hour. I chose 500ml because I’ve never drank two bottles of water in an hour in my life, no other scientific thought behind that.

We broke the day into two and got our support team (wives) to meet us at Braithwaite with a repeat of the supplies.

This is what I carried with me from Coniston.

500ml Co-op Orange juice (Calories 220)
500ml SIS Go Drink (Calories 192)
Co-op Mini Flapjacks 4 pieces (Calories 210)
2 Jam Sandwiches (Calories 600)
Nut Mix 25g (Calories 150)
2 bananas (Calories 190)
4 pieces of kendal mint cake (Calories 220)

Every hour I ate (or drank) this:

500ml of juice/drink (Calories 192)
1 Coop Mini Flapjacks (Calories 52.5)
½ a Jam Sandwich (Calories 150)
A mouthful of mix nuts (Calories 37.5)
½ a banana (Calories 42.5)
1 bit of Kendal mint cake (Calories 32)

Total calories per hour = 506.5

For those of you with an eye for the details, you’ll notice I would have run out of carb drink, but I’m one step ahead of you. I took some SIS powder with me and topped up the water bottles at Keswick. Once we met the support team (they didn’t like being called the support team) at Braithwaite I got exactly the same food and more drinks. At Calderbridge we topped up on carb drink again.

I started eating about 5 miles out of Coniston and never stopped eating for the rest of the day. By the time I’d got back to Conistion (9ish hours later) I’d probably put on weight but I never felt a drop in energy throughout the day, which I was amazed by.

I haven’t eaten flapjack or jam sandwiches since.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

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