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Avoiding the bonk(3 posts)

Avoiding the bonkChris_UK
Jul 31, 2002 6:38 AM
Sorry it's a bit of a basic request but I'm training to ride my first (very hilly) race next month, which I hope to complete in about 4hrs.

The question is: when, what and how much to eat/drink during the race.

(I've got a powdered carbo-drink but I'm told you have to combine this with solids as well. Do I start eating right from the off?)

Thanks in advance,
here's what I'd doColnagoFE
Jul 31, 2002 9:03 AM
make sure you eat a decent breakfast (assuming this is a morning race) though nothing too heavy. also make sure you ate something pretty carb-rich the night before to start with a full tank of glycogen. for the last 3-4 days you've also been drinking TONS of water to get hydrated well (also drink plenty that morning). about 45m to 1/2 hour before the race eat a GU or similar gel. repear every 30-45 minutes and you should have no problems. i also use cytomax instead of water for races.
Jul 31, 2002 12:58 PM
I assume from your handle that you'll be racing in the U.K (that wouldn't be the Milk Race, would it?). So barring unusual weather you probably *won't* be racing in especially high heat, right?

I would second all of the above opinions, with the added caution that you should run probably about 50/50 ratio of sports drink to plain water. Pack extra bottles in your jersey pockets if you need - the hydration benefits will vastly outweigh (sorry) the added bulk. There are many reasons to do this, one of which is that you'll get "yuckmouth" if you pack only sports drink, and not being able to cut your drink with plain water can sometimes lead to gastric distress in long events as well.

I've also seen (and experienced for myself) that taking straight energy drink without plain water seems to somehow actually *inhibit* electrolyte absorption (Wayne is a better source for real reasoning on this...) - and this can lead to nasty cramps. We saw this happen to a Pro/1/2 at the Boulder Roubaix this spring, then again to one of the Cat IIIs up on Mt. Evans last weekend. Both guys had been drinking straight Gatorade or Revenge for over 2 hours of hard effort. Crashing in the ditch and/or having to be physically hauled off your bike because your legs have completely locked up in cramp mode is NOT a fun way to exit a race.

Not enough energy drink and too much plain water on a hot/humid day can also cause cramp however -- so it's a balancing act. The danger of drinking too much water / not enough electrolyte is that "bloated" feeling where you'll literally feel water sloshing around in your stomach, but you're still thirsty with "cottonmouth" - your stomach lining just can't absorb plain water fast enough on a hot day to do you good when you're at full throttle.

Energy gels are good lightweight packable carb reload source. Tape some to your stem if you think you won't be able to get to your pockets successfully. If the race is long enough that the field won't be full guns the entire time, you may be able to get away with solid food like fig bars, energy bars or similar, but keep it bland, bite-sized, and easy to handle.

My teammate and I discovered a fantastic solution to the energy bar wrapper struggle and subsequent mess of half-eaten energy bar leavings plastered to the insides of jersey pockets. We simply cut 2 Clif (or similar) bars into bite-sized pieces and toss the chunks into one of those Ziploc plastic bags, the kind that have a slider on them. The bag is easy to retrieve from a rear pocket and very easy to open and close, even one-handed at speed. Maybe it's just a timid female thing, but I'm not super confident riding no-hands while struggling with feeds.

As I've mentioned quite a few times, I'm also not afraid of the "fred factor" of wearing a hydration pack full of plain water in a long road race. This frees up my bottle cages for the energy drink and means I don't have to depend on finding someone to hand up for me in the feed zones (as my SO is often racing the same events). I typically wear a base layer (mesh undershirt), so the Camelbak goes *over* my undershirt and bib aprons, and *under* my jersey, meaning I then have my jersey free to pin my number on, get into my pockets, et cetera.