By Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, Glenn Cardwell
The ride has varying distances from 12km to 125km. The longer the distance, the more important is good nutrition and wise hydration to complete the ride comfortably. Foods naturally high in carbohydrates are crucial for topping up the muscle fuel, known as glycogen. When a muscle contracts and works hard during a ride, especially during hill climbing or sprint work, it burns the glucose that has been released from the glycogen stored in muscles.
Tips for long distance riders
- Eat something before the ride. It may be as simple as a yoghurt or a banana for the shorter distances, but you need a little more for the longer distances, such as beans on toast, breakfast cereal and milk, with a banana, or a banana smoothie. These are examples of carbohydrate-based foods necessary to fuel your muscles. Try and have breakfast 90-120 minutes before the start of your event, so it has left your stomach, making for a more comfortable ride.
- Drink water to replace your sweat losses. If it is warm, then drink early in the ride. It takes about 20 minutes for each cup of water to get from the stomach to the small intestine where it is absorbed and replaces water lost as sweat. It is smarter to drink early in the ride and drink small amounts frequently to minimise your risk of a stitch. Allow for one 600-750 mL drink bottle per hour, more if it is warm. Over the 70-125km distances have at least two water bottles on your bike.
- You will only need a sports drink if you are cycling for more than 90 minutes. You can take sports drinks just before, during and in the recovery period after the event. The glucose in the drink will help replace glucose burned by the muscles and the sodium in the drink will help replace sodium lost in sweat. In the shorter distances (<40km), water is the only fluid you are likely to need.
- Snacking during the ride. We don’t have to tell you that the banana is the bike riders’ favourite snack. Published research shows that a banana is excellent during cycling events of 50km or longer. Eating two bananas an hour (washed down with water) on the bike helps maintain energy levels just as well as a sports drink. It is those beautiful carbohydrates in the banana that are fuelling the muscles so they can keep cranking out the pedal power.
- Make every effort to hydrate soon after a training ride and the event. Tea and coffee can be part of your re-hydration program, as it is not true they are dehydrating. You do need to pee out the metabolites of caffeine but that is only around 50ML of pee per 250 ML cup of tea or coffee. That means that the other 200 MLS in the average cuppa is part of your fluid intake.
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Australian Bananas are supplying bananas to the Fleurieu Fondo event on Sunday 4 November 2018. Find out more here