I work ~15 miles from home and have made the decision to make the commute via bike. This is for a couple reasons. First of which being I don't actually have my license yet, second being that taking the bus actually takes longer, and third, that I'm getting my exercise AND commuting done at the same time.
I was initially doing this on a 45lb+ mountain bike with large tires and no pedal clips, but I recently bought a nice $700 road bike and have cut half an hour off the trip so that it only takes about an hour each way.
I don't so much mind the time it takes, even though it leaves me with little when I get back, as much as I do how tired I get afterwards. At work isn't too bad because I'm sitting most of the time anyway, but after I get home I've spent 8 hours at work, and two hours riding 30 miles on my bike, and I don't have much energy left to enjoy what remains of my time.
Diet is, of course, what I'm asking about here. I'm earning a modest pay and trying to put every penny towards college, so I'm not looking to reinvent how I eat, just make some switches or additions here and there. I've tried eating large amounts of pasta the day before, but still didn't see much improvement (I get the feeling I've misunderstood something about carb loading). I would drink more gatorade or other electrolyte-replenishing drinks, but I'm not sure where or how to buy them cheap and in bulk so the cost doesn't add up too much. The other thing I'm concerned about is protein. I'm probably not getting as much of it as I should be, but don't really know what to do about it. I've heard that people who weight train use whey protein - is that something bikers should do as well? If so, how would I go about taking it?
I'm relatively new to biking, so even the simplest advice would be appreciated.