How far are you going when you get a bad head following a ride? In fact. more to the point, how long do the rides take?
They're not particularly long rides, only about 2 and a half hours, which isn't much longer than my usual rides, I just ride harder as well as for a bit longer. I probably ride about 35-40 miles during these rides. My usual rides, which do not result in migraines, are about 1.5 to 2 hours and 25-30 miles.
OK. That's a decent length ride especially if you are putting in some effort rather than simply cruising along. I suspect it's down to nutrition / hydration.
Firstly it's worth noting that on average a human body can hold enough energy for around 90 minutes continuous exercise. You are clearly riding for a good bit longer that this. Therefore you need to fuel up as you go. Eating a lot before you ride does not make much of a difference. I tend to eat a lot of carbohydrate rich foods all week because it keeps my energy levels up but if I have a ride which is going to take 2.5 hours or more I will try to load up on carbs for 3 days prior. Simply eating a ton of pasta the night before will not be enough.
Peanut Butter on Brown Toast is excellent, dried fruit is also really good. Pasta, spuds etc. You can find lots of choice without a problem I am sure.
Eating little and often is generally also a lot better for storing up carbs because if you eat too much in one go a lot of it simply won't be taken up by the body and will exit a few hours after you ate it if you know what I mean?!!!!!
I also drink lots (but not too much) in the couple of days leading up to a long ride.
However, no matter how good my preparation is, I can not sustain any kind of decent average speed after a couple of hours of hard cycling unless I take things during the ride.
There is one thing I never do without which is the High5 4-1 energy drink. The 4-1 ration is 4 parts carbs to 1 part protein. These can be bought off the internet for a very reasonable price. As you only need to add water, if you by it in the 1.6kg tubs it works out much much cheaper than all those dodgy lucozade sports drinks and other similar drinks they sell in petrol stations.
I try to drink a standard bike bottles worth (600ml) every 60 - 90 minutes depending on how hot the weather is and how hard I am riding. However you need to drink it long before you ever feel thirsty. Once you are feeling really thirsty it's probably too late to recover during the ride. You need to keep thirst away rather than try to deal with it once it has appeared.
Due to the fact that I can't actually carry enough drink for all my long rides it also use the High5 4-1 nutrition bar. Again, it's good value for money and contains the same amount of protein and carbs as a drink but of course can be eaten in one go.
This along with bananas and jaffa cakes generally get me through most rides.
I do tend to carry a spare helping of the drink (in it's powder form) in my saddle bag so that I can always call in at a shop or cafe if things get desperate and make up another bottles worth of it.
Finally, when I get back home I then drink at least a pint of milk. It hydrates being mostly water of course, but also contains lots of protein which you need post excercise to repair te damage to the muscles plus you also get some carbs from milk to help re-energise you post ride.
Then normally some more toast and peanut butter or nutella.
Now I know the above seems like rather a lot of hassle but if you break it down to the individual bits and remove all the guff I have written it's actually quite straight forward. The drinks take minutes to make up just before the ride, I buy jaffa cakes (I wrap a few in tin foil and put them in my back pocket of my cycling top) and bananas in bulk, and bread and peanut butter is hardly difficult to get hold of in most places.
At the end of the day, I know that if I don't fuel up enough both prior to and during a ride I will suffer later and will get headaces myself sometimes.
A small amount of effort buying in the correct things for your ride and getting a little routine together to make sure you are prepared for each ride is more than worth it.
Oh, and if I am only going to go out for 60-90 minutes riding I either just take normal squash to drink with jaffa cakes and a banana, or if it's very hot I will still make up a High5 drink just to be on the safe side.
It's very easy to think that if you exercise a lot then your body is fitter and therefore you can push more. It's not as simple as that. No matter how fit you get, your body still has limits to how much energy it can store so you must ensure you keep fuelled up at all times. Some time ago I was lazy in this department and paid a heavy price by hitting the wall. It's the most horrible feeling and if you are out in the middle of nowhere you could be completely stuck. Luckily I was only a couple of miles from home and managed to ride back at about 5 miles an hour and then collapsed on the bed and slept for about 4 hours straight!!!!!!! Not to be repeated.
N.B. I am in no way asssociated with High5, Jaffa Cakes or Banana's!!!!!!!!! It just works for me......
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. [Lord Acton]
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