When it comes to cycling and racing, keeping up with nutrition often times gets overlooked or can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I have a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Wyoming. While in Laramie, I was fortunate enough to work in the Human Exercise and Nutrition lab for three years researching vitamin D status in the athletic population. I love the nutrition aspect of bike racing! Being an ultra distance event, the Belgian Waffle Ride took a lot of nutrition planning; not only for the event itself but also for the days leading up as well as proper recovering after.
This can be challenging as a teacher because sometimes I have to go three to four hours before I can go to the bathroom. I try to strategically plan my bathroom breaks and drink water around those times. It sounds silly but if you are a teacher you get it!
In addition to water, I have also been drinking Gu Roctane mix throughout the day. It contains electrolytes so that I can keep everything balanced.
On the morning of the race I will drink my last bottle of water 2 hours before the race and then take small sips so that I do not have to go to the bathroom in the beginning. This is something I have experimented with and it works for me.
Since Thursday I have been eating a lot of carbohydrates! This includes foods such as brown rice (within 24 hours of the race I will switch to white rice), quinoa, pasta, oats, sweet potatoes, etc. I will still include lean proteins and healthy fats. The variety of foods I eat will not change too much, however, the percentage that each meal contains will. There are a lot of different views on carbo loading and even though I won’t go to the extreme, I will still eat a higher percentage than normal.
Another thing to mention is that starting three days before the event I will eat less salads and raw vegetables (aka high fiber foods) to decrease my chances of getting sick or having gut issues. I haven’t decided if I will go for the waffles on race day or eat my usual: oatmeal with almond milk and some goodies.
No matter what there will be coffee from Backporch Coffee Roasters involved!
GU for It!
During the race I will aim for upwards of 90 grams of CHO (carbohydrates) per hour. I will want this to come from multiple transport systems, such as fructose and maltodextrin that are found in Gu products, in order to alleviate possible gut distress. I will use Gu Energy Labs gels, which contain anywhere from 20 to 24g of Carbohydrates, as well as Gu Chews.
My favorite flavors for long rides are Salted Watermelon and Birthday Cake! Because I would need to consume 4 gels in an hour in order to reach 90g, I will instead supplement with Gu Roctane drink mix (Blueberry Pomegranate), which has 17g.
In fact, for the first two hours of the race I will likely only drink my CHO’s because I will be focused on making the selection and getting to the dirt in a good spot. I will carry the individual packets in my jersey so I can replenish my bottles throughout the race. Later in the race I will likely chug a Coke, too. It is the only time I drink soda and I often crave it on long rides! Sorry MMX, the tequila will have to wait until the finish when I partake in the #cincodemayonnaise celebration!
Another important part of fueling for this race is electrolytes. The human body has seven electrolytes that help with regulating nerve and muscle function, hydration, balancing acidity, among other functions. When the body has an imbalance you may experience extreme fatigue, dizziness, and every person’s worst fear: cramping.
Though the weather looks like it will be cooler (OMG, YES!), electrolytes will still be important in order to avoid these unfortunate events. I have never been to a sweat lab but I do know that I am not one of those riders who finishes with salt EVERYWHERE (think Larissa Connors 2017). This means that even though I will focus on electrolytes I will not take in extreme amounts.
I will take two Salt Stick Electrolyte capsules an hour before the race and I will carry two more in my jersey just in case. These Electrolyte tablets contain sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium. Sodium and chloride are the main electrolytes lost via sweat although some research shows that it can be beneficial to replace the others as well, especially in ultra-distance events such as the BWR. In addition to the capsules, I will also have 125mg of sodium in the Gu Roctane gels. It is important to take fluids with electrolyte replacement! Speaking of fluids, I will aim to have 16-20oz of plain water per hour.
Keep it Simple
- 2-3 hours before the race: eat breakfast (high carb, low fat)
- 2 hours before the race: last bottle of water
- 1 hour before the race: electrolyte capsule
- Every hour during the race: 20oz of water, 20oz of Roctane drink mix, 3 gels or some chews, some sort of bar to get some kcals/protein/fat, carry two electrolyte tablets, Coke, maybe some random food
Race Hard, Recover Harder:
Ah, yes, I do also need to think about AFTER the race. While I will be enjoying a beer from Lost Abbey, I will start by drinking a recovery drink. My go-to recovery drink is a team favorite: plant protein milk, 1 scoop of vanilla Gu Recovery mix, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and a touch of maple syrup. Try it, it is delicious! I will have this pre-made and in an ice chest so that I can consume it within the Glycogen Window (30 minutes after finishing). I will also eat as much as I feel like and whatever I feel like. I am guessing there will be pizza in my future for dinner because that is one of my favorite foods ever! For a couple of days after BWR I will consume a lot of protein… and calories in general. Also, I will focus on drinking a lot of water in the days after.