You’ve heard us say it before:
Eat before you’re hungry. Drink before you’re thirsty.
We can’t emphasize this enough. In the same way it takes 20 minutes before the stomach triggers the brain that it is full, by the time hunger and thirst signals reach the brain, your body is already in a deficit. It’s hard to get out of a hole. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your nutrition and hydration, particularly when doing a long-distance event like a century ride.
Proper nutrition and hydration for a long ride begin before the morning of the ride. You should show up to the starting line already hydrated and with energy stores, “in the bank.” You can prepare for this a couple of days before the event. For those riders tackling the Wrigley Field Road Tour, that means your plan for proper nutrition begins before the morning of the event on August 19th.
Preparing before the event doesn’t necessarily require carb-loading. In fact, a well-balanced diet will provide you with the energy stores needed to make the ride a great day. In this case, a well-balanced diet includes the proper balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins.
One reason athletes often choose a pasta dinner the night before an event is to avoid any event-day GI distress. It is a simple meal and the carbohydrates won’t hurt, especially when balanced with healthy fats and proteins. For this same reason, an easily digestible breakfast is recommended. Something high in carbohydrates, low in fiber and familiar is best. Oatmeal and bananas are staples for breakfast the day of a big ride.
Start event morning off right by drinking lots of water before you start. Hydration needs vary based on an individual’s sweat rate – which can be calculated by weighing in pre- and post-activity. A general guideline is to aim for six to twelve ounces of water every fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise. A ride longer than three hours also requires electrolyte replacement, particularly sodium and potassium replacement. Sports drinks can help with fluid and electrolyte loss. Electrolytes can also be found in food options.
While out on the bike, you want to stick with easily digestible foods with energy that is released quickly into the body. For nutrition while out on the bike, Higher Gear recommends Clif. Clif uses only the highest quality organic ingredients in its products. They do not use artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or GMO’s.
Clif Shot Bloks are a cyclist’s favorite, packing in needed calories and electrolytes in a sleek and portable fastpack® that fits easily in a cycling jersey. (It also happens to the perfect length to fit in a bento box.)
WFRT riders have the benefit of a delicious professionally catered lunch and post-race feast. For those on long training rides who are looking for more filling food options, Clif offers a variety of bars. Some will satisfy your sweet tooth; others, like their Mojo Bars, offer the perfect mix of salty and sweet. For especially long rides and post-ride, Clif offers products with more protein, like their Builders Bars and Shot Roks.
Stop in Higher Gear to see our selection of Clif products. We have Clif Bars, Mini Bars (Clif and Luna), Mojo Bars, Shot Roks and Builders Bars.
Want more information on cycling nutrition?
- Check out Higher Gear’s recommendations on how to properly fuel for your ride.
- Here’s more from Higher Gear on how to fuel for your ride.
- Get hydration tips from Skratch Labs.
- Learn how Skratch Labs hydration mix is different.
- Check out more on nutrition from Higher Gear.
- Here’s more on how and when to hydrate.
- Learn fueling strategies from Team Garmin-Sharp.
- Here’s how to calculate your sweat rate.
- Here’s the link again for how to calculate your caloric expenditure for a given event.