5 Pro Tips You Need For Your First Cycle Race
Gearing up for your first cycle race is not just about time on the road. It also depends on what you consume before, during and after the race. Here, Wayne Allen from Juniva.com, shares his five top tips to get you across the finish line…
Stick To What You Know
“When you’re on the road between three and five hours, you need a tried and tested nutrition plan – to get you to the race, through it and recover from it. This includes a combination of solids, powders and gels,” says Allen. Get race-ready by finding out what you perform on best well before race day. Then stick with it during your training. “Trying anything new within three weeks of race day could end badly,” he says. The same goes for your kit!
What To Take When?
First, have a rough idea of how long you’ll be on the road for. Then, plan accordingly. “If you’re aiming for a 4:10 finish for instance, keep a water bottle, two bottles of energy drink such as GU, Power Bar, Hammer or energy gels handy,” says Allen. But don’t take them all at once! Rather start sipping once the adrenalin has worn off and you’ve found your groove. A handy trick is to use a permanent pen to mark how much you need to have drunk every 15-minute interval. You can also add solids like a bar or energy chews after three to four hours. This retains focus and strength. “As do slower release products like Hammer’s Perpetuem – they provide consistent energy without the surges and slumps.”
A first-time rider typically has approximately one hours’ worth of glycogen stored in their muscles (compared to a pro who has 90 minutes or more) come race day. Given that the average person burns around 2000 kilojoules per hour of racing, and that your body cannot absorb more than 1600 calories per hour, you need to fill your tank well in advance to not hit the wall later on. “Throwing back a couple of energy drinks the morning of the race sadly won’t suffice.” Start by having a good meal the night before. “This doesn’t mean a pasta party! While it’s a good source of carbohydrates, don’t overdo it, especially with all the rich sauces and cheese that goes hand-in-hand with Italian. Rice or potatoes are also good options. And choose white meat instead of red – it’s easier to digest and won’t leave you feeling sluggish the next day,” Allen says.
Follow up with two breakfasts: “A few hours before the race have a hearty bowl of low GI cereal like oats. This provides sustained energy to keep you on the saddle for longer. Then add fast-fuel one hour to go: a muffin or pancake will do the trick.” Fifteen minutes before the gun fires, take a gel to keep energy levels topped up too. You can also sip on an energy drink for the hour leading up to the start.
Last Minute Cram?
If you’ve not trained as much as you’d hoped to and are tempted to squeeze in a few kilometres the week before race day, you’re better off using the energy to get your kit ready. “You gain no more fitness within a week of the race. That last week is for short punchy sessions that consolidate all the kilometres that you have put in over the past few months. Take Friday off and on Saturday go for a very easy warm-up ride of no more than 30 minutes, and include a few short one-minute sprints. This helps activate your muscles, without putting any strain on your body.”
Keep It Up In Down Time
Post-race keep your game plan. “It’s tempting to start celebrating once you’ve got your medal,” says Allen. Instead, hold off on the beer and reward yourself with a great tasting recovery drink like Powerbar Regenerate within 30–45 minutes of completing the race. “This replenishes energy, starts replacing electrolytes and repairs muscle breakdown.” You can take another recovery shake or energy bar two hours after finishing, especially if you finish between four and five hours. If you don’t replenish during this period you will delay your recovery and find yourself wanting to eat anything you can lay your hands on later on.