With my local group, Team WR I am completing a 240 mile ride at the end of the month from our hometown of Biggleswade to Paris (you can see me sporting our amazing custom jersey in the photo!). Today was the last big training ride so my final chance get things right for the big day, and this was my best ever 100 mile ride so far!
The difference? My fuelling strategy. I’ve never really had one before, just headed out, ate as much as I could, and hoped for the best. This normally involved me eating either too much, or having a complete crash at the end. So while it’s still fresh in my mind I thought I’d share my plan with you. It goes without saying that everyone is different when it comes to nutrition. This strategy has taken a number of years to find out what does and doesn’t work for my body, so I would suggest taking the key principles and to introduce them uniquely to find out what works for you.
The Days Beforehand
I started thinking about the ride a couple of days in advance to make sure I was ready. The key points were:
- Keeping really well hydrated, especially the night before. Keeping a bottle of water with me at all times.
- Started to focus more on carbs to build up my stores. It doesn’t have to all be pasta, I had lots of fresh fruit and veg such as broccoli which is fairly high in carbs. Don’t eat too much! Your body can only tolerate a certain amount. Focus on changing what’s on your plate over the days leading up to the ride, not just chucking more on it.
My pre-ride plan was fairly simple:
- A bowl of porridge made of milk with a tablespoon of honey
- A banana
- A cup of black coffee
- A couple of glasses of water
On The Bike Strategy
This was the real game changer. Everything in the first two stages I’d tried before, but having a proper laid out strategy for on the bike was the difference for me.
The plan started with setting my Garmin to alarm every twenty minutes (you can see how to do that here). This would remind me to consistently eat right the way through the ride. The advice is to eat somewhere between 50g-60g of carbs an hour on a ride, but given how much I’d eaten beforehand and the plan to stop for lunch I decided on slightly less than that.
I had four different energy sources with me, and on the twenty minute mark I mixed them up dependant on what I fancied. Apart from skipping the first alarms as I started and again after lunch (they seemed too soon) I managed to do this. It was a good reminder to keep my body well fuelled and this is where I feel I’ve failed in the past.
My energy sources were:
These products gave me more than enough choice and fuel to get me through the ride.When the alarm went off I either had a couple of the shot bloks, half an energy bar or a gel. I saved the caffeine bloks for the time when I needed a big boost, either when I knew I had some serious hills coming up, or when I was really starting to tire.
The great thing is with a mix like this is that I never got bored and my stomach handled it well. By cutting the tops off of the bars and bloks it made them easy to grab out of my back pocket. I had tried just gels in the past, but the advantage of having the bars and bloks was that I could take in a little at a time. Whilst these don’t get into your system as quickly as a gel, I never really found this to be a problem.
As I was getting my carbs from food, I decided to focus my hydration on replacing the electrolytes that I would lose due to the heat. I took with me:
- 500ml bidon made up with SIS Electrolyte powder
- 750ml bidon containing water
I topped this up at lunch time using the small bidon for coconut water, and the large one for water. In future I will take some more powder out with me so I can stay consistent, though the coconut water does a similar job.
I’ve made the mistake in the past of packing in a load of food at lunch time, but was confident this time round I didn’t need to. I also ensured I didn’t have anything fatty as it’s not really beneficial to the ride. For lunch I had:
- 1 banana
- 2 granola bars
- Coconut water
Really simple, but enough carbs there to get me going. I also decided not to have a coffee as didn’t really feel like I needed the extra kick.
Easily forgotten when you roll through the door. The sofa’s beckoning, the ride needs uploading but getting some food in your system to start restoring your muscles is crucial. My main focus when I get back is protein and hydration. The first thing I do is make myself up a protein shake using High 5 Protein Recovery Powder and milk. This is a really tasty treat after a long ride. I also focus on having enough water throughout the afternoon.