Keys to a Successful Cycling Race: Think Smart, Eat Smart

April 21, 2016

Cycling nutrition_eatingThere are so many things to pay attention to in order to prepare for a race. As a competitive cyclist, you have to be savvy in a number of different key areas such as cycling nutrition, bike maintenance, repairing or replacing bike parts, and knowing how to use various cycling accessories such as power meters and heart rate monitors to maximize performance.

If you also have a full-time job, it’s a lot to think about! In this article, we’re going to help take the load off your mind by focusing on a very specific aspect of race prep – eating before, during and after a race. Hopeful you can glean some useful information for you upcoming competition.

Keep in mind that eating changes depending on the distance and intensity of your race/workout. Not all suggestions may apply.

Before:

We typically find lots of articles that talk about what you should eat after a race, but not as many about what you should eat before. The key is, if you are already eating healthy and balanced meals, you probably don’t have to change much before a race.

One thing you want to make sure you are including in your pre-race diet the night before a race are carbohydrates. Carbs store glycogen in your muscles, which will be burned during the race the next day. Foods like pasta, breads, and rice are carb-heavy that could be on your dinner plate. Try to keep protein dense foods at a minimum.

If you have a long or particularly intense race the next day, you can do what’s called “carb-loading.” Cycling Tips explains that carb-loading typically takes place 2 days before your race. Male athletes can typically store about 1,500 to 1,900 calories of carbs in the blood, liver and muscles combined. And after two hours of exercise, glycogen levels will be depleted. Cycling Tips recommends eating 10 grams of carbs per kg of body weight daily in the two days before the race.

During:

There is no formula that stipulates how much you should eat during a race because different body types and habits cause athletes to have different eating patterns. Some of the variables that determine how much athletes should eat include: lean body mass, metabolic efficiency, intensity, race distance, and environmental conditions.

CoachLevi.com offers some valuable insights into what cyclists might eat during rides at varying distances and intensity.

If you feel that you should be eating differently, here are some questions from Training Peaks that guide your eating habits:

Do you find that you have enough energy for your workouts and races?

    • You should finish strong but spent, not crawling home or hitching a ride!
    • Eat more often if you bonk!

Do you ever get “grumpy” during a long session?

    • If so, you likely aren’t consuming enough carbohydrates.

Do you experiencing GI distress?

    • You might be consuming too much or need to combine different sources of carbohydrate (i.e., glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltodextrin).
    • You can try fewer calories or read labels to find products made with multiple carbohydrate sources and try different brands of products.
    • You might also work on metabolic efficiency to see if you can reduce the number of calories you need.

Do you seem to be able to eat whatever you want, even when the intensity is high?

    • No reason to back off if it is working for you!

After:

Right after a race you want to digest simple carbohydrates such as bananas, a bagel, or maybe even a slice of pizza. These things are often offered at the end of a race. Eating caloric-dense foods will restore your glycogen levels in your liver and muscles and getting some protein will help your muscles recover.

Stay away from the really fatty foods and foods high in protein. We know that some of you may be craving potato chips and whole pizzas, but its not the best thing for you.

See the article, “Maximize Your Post Race Recovery“ from Training Peaks for more information.

For more information, don’t hesitate to visit our website or stop into our store – Peak Cycles in Golden, Colorado. We have tons of advice, as well as bikesbike partscycling accessories, and cycling apparel.

Advertisements

Don’t Compromise Your Spring Training Recovery Rides! Here’s How…

April 7, 2016
Joshua Murdock climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

Joshua Murdock (Peak Cycles/bikeparts.com team cyclist) climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

When spring comes around every year, the temptation for many cyclists is to jump into race training with all the intensity, determination, and vigor they can muster. While these are positive mentalities to have, its important that competitive bicyclists not let their excitement for spring training cause them to overwork themselves. One of the key stages of training where this takes places is cycling recovery.

While it may not always seem like it, a recovery ride is just as important to a cyclist’s race training as a workout. Together, recovery and workouts are the ‘yin and yang’ that balances a riders preparation and optimizes performance. Three key areas of recovery to pay attention to include post-workout recovery, post-race recovery, and balanced nutrition.

Post-Workout Recovery

One of the easiest ways to undermine training is to ride too hard during a recovery ride. The article, “7 Ways to Nail Your Recovery Rides” from Bicycling Magazine explains this well –

When you train hard you do damage—that’s part of the plan. Your workout breaks down your muscle, empties out your fuel stores, and generally taxes your metabolism above and beyond its status quo. When you recover, your body repairs the damage so you can come back stronger and ready for more. If you skip the recovery part, you’re cheating yourself out of the maximum return on your hard work.

Even though it seems counter intuitive, recovery rides should feel easy! Here are some ways to ensure that you are getting a proper recovery:

  • Ride by yourself. You won’t be tempted to keep up with anyone else.
  • Pull out the beater bike. If you have an older bike, you can spin easy and not be tempted to go faster.
  • Get casual. Wear cloths that will make you feel like you’re just out for a cycling stroll
  • Use a bike computer. Let your gadgets tell you if you are going too fast

Post-Race Recovery

Races are often the hardest workout cyclists will do. They redline for longer periods of time than their training workouts and expend more energy. As a result, the mind sends signals to the body  that aren’t always what the body needs – such as exclusively eating junk food and sitting on the sofa for the rest of the day. The article, “Maximize Your Post Race Recovery from Training Peaks offers some ways that you can recover more quickly from a race:

  • Right after the race, eat simple carbohydrates. Go for that orange slice, banana, and slice of pizza offered at the race.
  • Supplement your post-race pizza and beer with other nutritional and caloric dense foods. Getting some protein will help your muscles recover (high protein intake is not good post-race, however) and caloric-dense foods restore glycogen levels in your liver and muscles.
  • Stay away from really fatty foods and foods that are high in protein.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Get your feet up after the race. Yes, we’re giving you permission to chill and get off of your feet. This is best if done right after you are off the bike.
  • Take a walk later that day. Getting up on your feet and moving around a while after the race helps speed the recovery process.

There are lots of resources online for you to learn about recovery best-practices and get the fuel and equipment you need for adequate recovery. bikeparts.com has lots of different types of nutritional supplements all in one place as well as bikesbike partscycling accessories, and cycling apparel that can help you with your recovery training. And if you just want to talk to an expert, stop into Peak Cycles in Golden, CO to talk to one of our competitive cyclists. Have fun with your Spring Training!


On Bike Nutrition: It’s Different for Girls 

March 26, 2015
Osmo Nutrition for Women Cyclist at BikeParts.com

Osmo Nutrition for Women Cyclist at BikeParts.com

Over recent years, the number of women taking up cycling has dramatically increased and brands have recognized the need for women specific bicycle geometry by responding with female specific bikes that work with a woman’s body to provide the optimum platform for speed, and/or comfort depending upon the riders’ needs. But what about bike nutrition for women.  Is that different too?  

As a female cyclist, have you wondered about your on-bike nutritional needs? Are you getting the right stuff for you? Does it even matter?  It’s a rhetorical question because we all know that nutrition matters.  Our post, Solving the Bike Nutrition Mystery walks you through off-bike nutritional needs.  However, consuming the right amount of calories combined with the appropriate nutritional mix for your body while training is critical for performance.

Until recently, most of the data regarding nutrition and training was collected about men. That’s great for the guys, but women have a distinct physiology with its own set of needs. In other words, what’s good for a man isn’t necessarily good for a woman. One difference is that women’s menstrual cycle can heavily influence athletic performance and fluctuate hormone levels.  Detailed information on women’s cycles and how that pertains to training, performance and fueling for the female athlete can be found in the post Women Are Not Small Men: Factors to Consider For Performance and Nutrition for the Female Cyclist

With all that being said, what are the best on-bike nutrition options available?  Following are our favorites at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop:

Osmo nutrition – This product is specific to women offering three options:

  • active hydration
  • acute recovery
  • preload hydration

What we like about this product is that it is nutrition “based on peer-reviewed science. The science is simple. Hydration, which refers to the maintenance of water in your blood, is critical to maximizing power, endurance and reducing fatigue. When you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost two percent of your body water—and 11 percent of your power.”  Stop by the shop in Golden, Colorado to learn more.

Another option is Skratch Labs.  Again there are several options to sleet including:

  • All day – daily electrolyte mix
  • Single workout – exercise hydration mix
  • Hyper nutrition – hyper hydration mix
  • Rescue hydration – for dehydration

Finally, an all time favorite!  Honey Stinger products – tasty edibles on the ride.  

  • waffles
  • gels
  • energy bars
  • organic chews

The bottom line? The post, Male Versus Female Athletes, Part 1: Nutrition,  points out that the off bike needs of men and women are surprisingly similar and it boils down to a solid nutrition plan that includes real whole foods.  However, on bike / training nutritional needs may be quite different.  Visit us online at BikeParts.com for your nutrition needs or stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to learn more.