Some people have asked for my advice on fuelling big rides. In October we will attend the 110km / 2,800m Oktoberfest.
“Bananas or Power Bars?”
That’s not important!
Your fuelling strategy will be a key factor in whether your Oktoberfest or other big ride is successful or not.
Here are my eleven rules of fuelling
1. 「the night before the night before」
The day before an event or a big ride can be stressful. Travel to the event? Where to eat dinner? Nervous? Can’t sleep well?
Two days before is when you can control things. When you can make a difference. A big dinner. Carbs. A bit more salt too. Go to bed early. And a big sleep.
2. 「the usual breakfast」
Trying to eat a big breakfast, to fuel a big ride, can be a big mistake. Give your body what it is used to. And top up regularly during the event or ride.
3. 「the timing of your breakfast」
For an intensive race “3 hours before” is the golden rule. But for a super early start, this is not possible. And for an endurance event or ride, it is also not as important.
But breakfast should be your priority. Wake up. Eat first. Get ready to race next.
4. 「nothing new on race day」
This is a golden rule for bike equipment. But it applies to fuel too.
Only eat and drink what you always eat and drink. Don’t try any new gels or drinks on race day.
5.「ABC, always be consuming」
The most important rule. You need to eat little and often.
How much? One item. Be that a bar, a gel or a banana.
How often? For an intensive race, every 20 minutes. For an endurance event or big ride, every 30?
So if your big ride is 10 hours, you need 20 items. It’s not rocket science.
Whether you carry these from the start? Or use convenience stores or checkpoints? You need to plan this meticulously.
Always carry more than you think you will need.
6. 「when to eat?」
The basic rule is every 30 minutes. But you need to look at the course profile. Eating on climbs and descents can be difficult.
If a big climb is coming up, you want to eat before it.
Over the top of a climb, before the descent, is also a good time to eat.
7. 「when to drink?」
Like food, little and often is important. Within reason, you can never drink too much.
Try to empty your bottles before the planned refill points in your race strategy or long ride plan.
8. 「you can’t ride on water alone」
Replacing electrolytes lost in sweat is important. Sports drinks are readily available. Carrying powders to mix with water is also a good idea.
9. 「avoid cramps」
Cramps can ruin long endurance events. The cause of cramps is complicated. But salt candy tablets can reduce the risk. These are now readily available in shops in Japan.
Fill your pockets! 10 is a good number!
10. 「organize your pockets」
Use your 3 pockets wisely. Know where everything is.
For me, I have my phone and salt candy in the right pocket. Food in the middle and left pocket. Working from my left pocket, I eat the contents and the left pocket gradually becomes a waste bin. Good cyclists don’t litter!
11. 「never come home empty」
If you reach the goal, or your planned fuelling spots, with one or two items in your pockets, your fuelling plan is perfect.
Thinking you don’t need to eat or drink in the closing kilometres can ruin your event or ride…
So there you are. My eleven rules of fuelling. These are just based on my experience. You may have more ideas. Or other ideas. But I hope these ideas are food for thought. And fuel for your ride!
See you at Oktoberfest!