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You won’t find much diet advice that includes adding a donut to your regime. You also likely don’t often get advice from ProTour professional cyclists, so pull up a chair and listen closely.

For the past 10 years I’ve been defined as a professional cyclist. From the hallowed Spring Classics to the stunning Giro d’Italia to the esteemed world championships and legendary Tour de France, I’ve been part of some of the sport’s biggest moments. In an effort to cram more races into an already busy, global calendar, racing begins earlier and ends later year after year. There’s very little bell curve anymore where previously, the showcase races took place in July. Instead, cutthroat racing rips around the globe 12 months per year with a corresponding perpetually shorter and always more invasive off-season.

Intense is a wonderfully vague, but tremendously accurate way to describe the life of a professional cyclist. The sport isn’t something experienced for a few hours every day, then checked out when the bike is parked in the garage. There’s no fluke in cycling that magically allows recurring success. Rather this lifestyle is acutely lived every moment of every day of every year of one’s career. There’s a incalculable amount of inherent passion involved to truly live professional cycling day in and day out.

The monastic life is permanent, and conveniently, I’m no monk. Having lived the disciplined life of a monkish professional cyclist for a decade, and having achieved everything I could during my decade long career, I reached a point where I wanted to leave the sport of cycling with the same youthful energy with which I entered. I want to still ride for the love of the ride, I want to share that experience with anyone who wants to hop on a bike and ride with me, and I want be able to hop in any group ride and still turn the screws to anyone who starts to creep up and half-wheel*.

No matter the level you ride a bike — weekend warrior to European professional — there’s no sense in doing it if you don’t love it. Slogging through painful workouts and not enjoying yourself? That’s called running. I’ve lived that sharp end of cycling and with the inGamba #FitBySpring campaign, the irony is that this spring, the first one I’ll experience in retirement, is the least fit I’ve ever been.

I still ride my bike all the time and I love the euphoria experienced by making my legs sear on a steep climb. But these days my emotions aren’t directly correlated to my powermeter readings anymore. I’m not suffering through intervals and starving myself for the sake of featherweight performance in an upcoming mountainous race. The amateur side of cycling is nothing if not fun. It’s experiential and meant to be enjoyed.


Enter donuts.

While still waiting for their return phone call on the matter, I assure you that my Fit By Spring endorsement is not sponsored by Johnny Doughnuts to eat a dozen of their delicious donuts every day.**

Rather, this bit of fitness insight was inspired by a recent ride I took, which had me out the door by 6am to meet a pre-work group ride. Nearly three hours later, and still able to report to my desk by 9:30am, I was able to indulge in a scrumptious maple cake donut from Johnny’s to cap off the outing.

There was no measured portion of bland oatmeal before the ride, there were no intervals, there was nothing tedious about the ride. The proverbial carrot as bait lured in front of me was, ironically, a donut. The reality is that I came home at a substantial caloric deficit, having clocked an awesome workout, shared with friends both on the bike and post ride chatter in the coffee shop.

There’s plenty of room in your daily regime for functional discipline with considerable corresponding fitness gains carved from simple changes. Reward yourself for achieving certain challenges. Absolutely indulge in a weekly donut ride or wake up early to make an extra hour once per week or forgo a standard sit-down lunch in order to ride for an hour. Heck, ride to the donut shop — just pedal hard and take the long way to really enjoy the ride and earn that carrot.

I am open to coaching inquiries if you’d like other fitness tidbits that involve donuts. Inquire at

*Don’t ever half-wheel. Not me, not anyone, not anywhere. It’s just rude.

**As a native New Englander, I’m an ardent believer in the correct spelling of donuts without an ugh.


Colin O'Brien

Colin is an author and journalist from Ireland. He first met inGamba's founder João Correia back in 2013. João handed him a bidon full of Chianti Classico and took him to a three-course lunch. They've been friends ever since.