Friday, 15 June 2012

Go hard, then go home.

In which our cyclist asks 'Just how hard is it to make a protein shake properly?'

It's just powder and water, innit?  So why on earth can I not get one in the other in such a way as to make a tasty and smooth post ride recovery drink experience?  I just can't get it right; they either have a consistency approaching Campbells Condensed Soup (apart from the chewy bits - in the shake that is), or pond water.

The key instruction is to James Bond it- a protein shake must be shaken, not stirred.  In desperation at my ongoing failure to satisfactorily make up a protein shake - I hate being rubbish at stuff, particularly stuff where the instructions are as simple as 'Add Water. Drink' -  I made one in a pint glass once and tried to stir the powder in, carefully, a bit at a time, like a reverse risotto (which is not entirely texturally dissimilar to how the fucker ended up).  A fascinating and completely impenetrable rubbery layer formed on the top, capable of supporting a stack of 17 2p coins (further experimentation curtailed by funding cuts), and the whole thing smelled a bit like raw chicken; it was chocolate flavour.  Down the sink it (eventually) went, after a moderate amount of stabbing with a bamboo skewer.

So now, if the cyclist wants a protein shake he generally makes his own.  Quickly, and quietly, with no fuss and remarkably little swearing, because apparently that is possible.


A protein shake is just one part of the post ride schedule - because the ride is not quite over even when you've got off the bike.  There are still things to be done, and an order in which to do them as suits the individual needs of the cyclist.  After a ride or a race a cyclist will need food, fluid and a wash.  And some more food.  On top of that they might need a lie down, a cuddle and a cry.  And some more food.  And they will possibly need a massage, an icepack and a priest.  And some more food.

Back when he first got back on his bike, I would get a phone call from the cyclist when he was approximately t-10mins from home.  This would be my cue to get a bath running, make a sandwich and boil the kettle.  When he got back to the house he would collapse on to one of the garden chairs for as long as it took to eat his sandwich, drink his tea and get his breath back and his heart rate down, before heading into the house, swerving the kids and falling into the bath.  I would check he hadn't drowned, bring him another cup of tea, maybe something else to eat, and about 40 minutes after him coming home I would possibly be able to ask him how his ride had been and get an answer in full sentences.

This state of affairs didn't last long, as his fitness dramatically improved in a very short space of time.  His post-ride ritual still remains pretty much the same (tea, food, bath, preferably all at the same time), but the atmosphere has lightened somewhat, probably because the sense that the cyclist could very well drop dead if the cup of tea and sandwich were not placed in his shaking hand within 30 seconds of him dismounting the bike has diminished rather.

The cyclist much prefers a post ride bath to a shower, being of the firm belief that if you're able to stand up in the shower after a ride you didn't go hard enough.  It must be hot (a temperature somewhere between scalding and McDonalds coffee) and there must be a good supply of bubbles.  If you are freezing, filthy and soaked, sleet, hail and small animals have collected in your regulation cyclist stubble, your extremities have gone purple and all you can do is mutter '... the headwind... the terrible headwind... there... and back...' over and over, it is perfectly acceptable to stagger to the bathroom fall in to the bath in your full kit and turn the tap on.  You might want to take your helmet off, but if you can't don't worry; it probably works as a floatation device until you get enough feeling back in your neck to lift your own head anyway.

Food and drink requirements are down to the particular tastes of the cyclist.  My cyclist, not being of the sweet-toothed variety favours a sandwich, cheese on toast, pasta etc.  Toasted tea cakes are also a winner.  Post ride, quantity is very much favoured over quality (which is just as well given my aforementioned woeful culinary abilities and lack of concentr... Ooooh! A shiny thing!), and the cyclist will pack away pretty much anything put in front of him with no thought for calories, or carbs or fat grams, because, well, he might die.

At some point in all this, the cyclist will have to peel off the lycra.  I've only ever had to do it for him once, after his crash.  I've been told that this is never a pleasant process.  The worst bit is plunging the arm into the cold and sodden garments to turn them the right way pre-wash.

A domestique capable of giving a good massage is worth her weight in gold and jewels (and should be rewarded thusly).  The cyclist would love me to be good at giving massages.  I'm a bit odd and not a huge fan of massages myself.  I suspect I should put it down to what would have to be termed 'Personal Space Issues' (which I never even realised I had until my best friend drunkenly intervened on a night out when a mutual acquaintance tried to hug me, 'Gerroff, she doeshn't like people touching her!'  Gawd bless you, Saz.), but I'll be honest, I have never found it particularly relaxing to be stripped, oiled and rubbed, especially by a stranger (I'm sure loads of people would disagree with me here, but we all have our little peccadilloes).  I do understand that 'Sports Massages' serve a very particular purpose and are absolutely brilliant when your cyclist feels like he has been hit by a truck and dragged along the A57 for a mile and a half.  I have had a go, but I don't think it was a roaring success - I've not been asked recently.

I am lucky, in that my cyclist finds his post-ride ritual of food-drink-bath massively restorative.  He can return from a ride half-dead, but having drunk a bucket of tea, eaten everything not nailed down, soaked the road off and sorted the protein shake he's pretty much back in the game.  Which is great as far as I'm concerned, because for me a post-ride recovery lie down can be somewhat of a contentious issue.  You see, cyclists, if you've been out riding for 6 hours, and have been eating and in the bath (or just eating in the bath as the case may be) for another hour on top of that, you'll have clocked up 7 hours at this point.  In our house that's 7 hours that the domestique has been DS'ing the squabbling junior members of the team, and by now it's probably all gone a little bit Lord of the Flies and requires daddy's firm hand and at least one pair of clean trousers.

Under these circumstances, if you feel you really need a lie down, take 30mins or so, but if you can possibly face it, you need to get some trousers on, get downstairs and make your presence felt.  Your domestique will appreciate it.  Sprawling on the sofa with your legs up and whatever cycling Eurosport is showing or has been patiently awaiting it's turn on the sky+ on the telly is perfectly acceptable, as long as you can now be relied upon to step in and perform a little domestique duty of your own.


  1. Brilliant, I tried a wee sneaky post ride snooze this afternoon, but Mrs M soon reminded me that I had work to be done.....

  2. It's always the post ride snooze that causes the problems!

  3. Garry, I'm so sorry, I was trying to reply to your comment from my phone and accidentally deleted it, because I am mostly a knobber.

    I was going to say that your domestique sounds like an amazing person who should be taken out for a romantic meal and bought something shiny, because a domestique who is only moderately sarky about the post ride nap is indeed a rare and wonderful creature!