The legs feel heavy, the mouth is dry and your lips are feeling in desperate need of some lip balm. You might even have the start of a headache and the prospect of some hot chips or even a burger are the ONLY thing on your mind. It definitely isn’t feeling like a great day on the bike. Yep, you’ve bonked!
Ever had those feelings on a ride? We all have bad days on the bike but when you have failed to prepare adequately for a big ride, it’s time to think about your planning.
Taking on a big ride such as the Rapha 100 (Sunday July 17, 2016)) isn’t just about putting km’s in the legs prior to the big day, but in the the week before ride day you also need to really think about all you need for the big day.
You need to have put in the hard yards prior to the day. If you’re riding as part of a group and you haven’t disciplined yourself for much training, then you can guarantee that will be the start of your tough day.
Taking on a 100km distance means that you should have been riding at least several times each week, with one of those rides being over 60km. …preferably 70km. And that doesn’t mean that you start that regime 2 weeks out – preparing for 100km takes many months of training rides to build your body up to handle the distance. It’s true, you don’t need to ride 100km in training to take on a 100km ride! But the longer the distances you can put in prior to the day, the easier you will find it ON the day!
The rides don’t need to be intense, just consistent – you need to be able to maintain your speed as a constant pace across the full distance. No point starting a ride sitting happily on 25kmphr if all you can manage is 15kmphr as you reach the 70km mark. You need to pace yourself…don’t go out too hard, maintain a steady pace you can manage across the full distance.
Think of it this way…averaging a speed of 20kmphr means you will have at least a 5 hour day in the saddle. Add some stops to that and you’ll be otu for around 6 hours. But as soon as that speed drops to 15kmphr you are talking about close to 7hrs in the saddle without stops…that’s not fair on you and it’s not fair on your ride buddies if they are travelling faster. You NEED to prepare.
If you can maintain consistency on all your training rides you’ll be in great shape for the big day!
Hydration is probably the biggest factor in succeeding on a big ride. Without fluids, you’ll be off that ride faster than you can unclip your cleats! But what many fail to realize is that the hydration process starts at least the day before the ride – drink today for what you need tomorrow!
Yes, that’s right…the ride is on Sunday, so on Saturday you need to be drinking consistently throughout Saturday. Just water, giving your body plenty of chance to hydrate and store what it needs. You may find you’ll spend a bit of time n the bathroom…but that’s okay! Think of it as relaxation time.
Steer clear of drinking sugary drinks or diuretics such as tea and coffee (anything with caffeine). These will only act to dehydrate you – it’s okay to have your usual coffee in the morning, but drinking it all day thinking you’ll fuel up for the following day’s ride just won’t work. Water is perfect – all day.
From left to right clockwise: Honey Shotz are great for a bit of sugar, Snakes – of course!, Skrtach Labs hydration powder is a great low sugar option, dried fruit stays dry, nuts add a bit of protein and if they are salted help replace salts, a banana for potassium and muesli bars fill the empty tummy.
HYDRATION ON THE RIDE
You’ll need two water bottles. Some like both filled with water, while some prefer to have one bottle filled with a sports hydration drink . Personally I like to have both with water and carry a sachet of hydration powder to add to my bottle if I think I need it. If you are prone to cramps or even low blood sugar, a sports hydration drink can be a savior. But make sure it is a low sugar one that has plenty of magnesium and potassium to aid in providing the muscles with the firing power they need.
Top up the bottles whenever you can – but make sure you choose a clean source! You’ll need to keep drinking throughout the ride…even if it is freezing outside!! Yes, sometimes when it is cold we forget to drink, so little sips, all the time are super important.
Well the chips and burger might be nice, but probably not ideal food until post ride! Choosing the right foods while on the ride is so important and there are plenty of great options.
The most important things to remember:
• you’ll need fuel on the day, so a good meal of carbs and protein the day before will help top up the energy supplies
• steer clear of fatty foods – these just take longer to digest and break down, so best to eat something nutritious
• start packing your ride food the day before so you know exactly what you have, and what you might need to shop for!
EATING ON THE RIDE
There are some really simple guidelines…
• Don’t eat anything you wouldn’t normally eat – just because it is a big ride doesn’t mean you suddenly need to start using energy bars and gels. If you haven’t used them before – be careful! Sometimes they can upset your stomach and bowels, so best to stick to what you know.
• Food choices – some like sports specific bars but often a good muesli bar or energy bar is fine, or maybe even a bag of nuts or trail mix. Just find something that isn’t high in sugar, has some protein and will fill that little hole in the tummy.
• Snacking often is a good thing – by eating small amounts you won’t be drawing too much energy to your intestines, but still providing fuel for your muscles to keep working efficiently. A rule of thumb is around 30-60grams of food per hour of exercise. A typical energy bar is around 50gms, but sometimes it can be too much….eat what feels right!
RIDE READY FOOD
• Make sure your food is ride – that means that if you’re eating while riding, prepare everything so it’s easy to open and easy to access. Stopping just to open a bar wrapper will drive your friends crazy and breaks that precious rhythm!
• If you prefer a bag of nuts, make sure you have them in a little bag that won’t spill everywhere. If you like a banana mid ride, prepare the top of the peel so it’s ready to go.
POST RIDE RECOVERY
Post ride, it’s super important to eat something in the first 15 minutes after stopping. If you can’t manage that, at least have something in that first hour – this is the glycogen window where energy is restored to the body and the body goes into recovery mode. Makes sure you include some protein and carbs…all the things you will have used up on a ride.
A great little tip is to think about having a sports hydration drink the evening after the ride. As long as it isn’t one full of sugar, it will help provide some extra nutrients you will have used up and also provide some much needed potassium and magnesium the muscles need to recover.
Left to right clockwise: the Wheel Women ‘stringer’ makes light work of all the goodies you might want to carry (available on our website), how about some shoe covers if it’s looking like a wet ride, the Rapha Women’s 100 2016 cap, Rapha Essentials purse with a little bit of cash and a Myki card, my gorgeous Specialized Prevail helmet!
WHAT TO WEAR
The sun is shining, the wind is quiet and the short bibs are on…did you check the radar? You need to take into account that on a longer ride there is plenty of time for weather changes.
Make sure you have checked what’s in store for the day…
• if it looks like there could be rain, make sure you have that rain jacket packed
• it might be warm in the sun, but a wind vest will work wonders if the breeze picks up and the sun decides to take a break
• dress in layers – often we make the mistake of too much gear. It’s better to start out a little cold and then warm up…layer, layer, layer. That’s the key.
• we can lose a lot of heat from our heads…think about a head band or cycling cap under the helmet if it is really cold or wet
• if you need to carry a bag, a great option is one of our Wheel Women ‘stringer’ backpacks…they feel as though they aren’t on but they carry everything you need! Keep your valuables in a plastic zip-lock bag inside the pack.
•if you aren’t carrying a bag, think about where the items in your pockets are…most needed items in the right hand pocket (for right handers) and least used items and valuables in the left or zip pocket.
• try to keep stiff items out of the centre pocket – in case you have a fall, you don’t want anything hard lining up with your spine, keep those items to the side pockets.
It goes without saying you need to have all the right gear for a long ride. Without it you’ll be relying on others to get you through.
• LIGHTS – no excuses! On the bike already, but makes sure they are charged!
• Tubes – on 100km ride, best to have 2 tubes ready for a change, as well as a patch sticker or two. Tyre levers are a good idea too.
• Pump – probably somebody else will have one, but if we all used that theory we’d all end up without one. Carry your own!
• Myki card and Rider ID – we don’t want the ID because of some silly laws, but because in the event of an accident, we want to know if you have any conditions we need to know about, who to call and maybe even what blood group you are. Carrying a Rider ID is a great idea, as is a way to get home should you get more flats than you have tubes!
Left to right clockwise: don’t forget some trye levers, water bottles full, a small pump, RiderID, lights, spare tubes x 2, a multi tool and the sunnies…because we know it will be sunny right!
Don’t decide on the morning you need a breakfast you’ve never tried before, simply because a great ride book said so…eat what you would normally have for breakfast. Stick to familiar foods.
At the first chance after the ride starts, have a small bite to eat – if someone needs a nature break, think of it as a chance to have a bite of that muesli bar. When someone needs to take a jacket off, then take the top off that banana…don’t wait for the Ride Leaders to tell you to eat. Use your head and just keep topping up a little bit at a time.
Your 100km ride should be a FUN event, and if you’re doing it tough, there is no point doing more damage to your body (and your head) by persisting when you are really doing it tough. There will be other opportunities, and sometimes we fail to see that and drive ourselves into the ground, at the risk of further damage. Chin up…you can try it again when you have better circumstances.
With just a few days to go, be easy on yourself…no big rides this week. Just get out and roll the legs over a few times, conserve your energy and no big short hit-outs either. Your legs will thank you for being kind.
So…a week out, now is the time to start preparing that kit for the day – Bon Courage!
NOTE: Thank you to Rapha Australia for supporting our Wheel Women Rapha Women’s 100 ride and to Specialized Australia and Cyclic Bicycles for always making sure our bikes run well and our gear feels and looks awesome!
ANOTHER NOTE: Wheel Women are not qualified nutritionists or dieticians – we are qualified cycling coaches. The above information provides suggestions only and always seek information on dietary requirements from a professional practitioner or your doctor.