Guide to fuelling your body for a gruelling road race

Achieving the goals you’ve put out for your training before a road race is a key to having a  successful race. The condition of your bike is just as important. If you don’t have much confidence in your bike, visit Chris Willemse Cycles to browse through our road bikes for sale and choose your own new set of wheels to prepare for race day. 

Another important factor that you cannot neglect as a cyclist is nutrition. What you eat and drink pre-race, during the race and post-race play a huge role in how you perform and recover after a gruelling road race. 

Whether you’re cycling on the road for a long-distance cycling race or short-distance, fueling your body is always important. Combining training and nutrition will help you achieve the desired health benefits of cycling, such as becoming fitter, stronger and faster. Ultimately, you stand a chance to become a better and well-rounded cyclist. 

To get yourself race-ready, you’ll need to have a nutrition guide, which you will strictly follow on the day of the race to help you achieve your goal. Below, we’ve put together a nutrition plan to follow on race day, starting with the benefits of fueling up and which nutrition store in Cape Town to buy your nutrition from.

Why it’s important to fuel up 

When you do any form of exercise, your body uses carbohydrates and fats as fuel. Naturally, your body stores these to use later and when your system runs out of carbohydrates and fats, you lose energy. 

Losing energy takes away your ability to do any form of exercise, including cycling. Low energy simply translates to poor performance. Fueling up on bike nutrition helps you increase your energy levels and ultimately, your performance levels. This is why it’s important to understand and follow the right nutrition for cyclists to increase your chances of getting your desired results on race day.

What to fuel on for a road race 

Road race lengths can differ; you may be cycling a short-race, which is about an hour. Perhaps you’re going on a medium road race, which is between one to three hours. On the other hand, a long road race will be for about three hours and anything more than that. 

No matter the length of your race, what matters is that during your race journey, you’ll need to fuel up your body at each interval. This is to ensure that you are consuming enough nutrients, which your body will need to continue to function and keep your energy levels high. 

Overall, you need to top up on your carbohydrate intake through real food, snacks and gels. You also need to have water and sports drinks to help you hydrate as you race. How much hydration you will need is dependent on the weather; if it’s extremely hot, chances are you will need to hydrate more than on a cold day.

What to eat on the ride 

If you’re doing a short road race, it’s better to choose a light carbohydrate-filled meal before your race. This can be oatmeal with yoghurt and fruit, which gives you a good amount of carbohydrates and protein. Alternatively, you can get a Carbofuel to pack on your carbohydrate needs. Going into the longer rides, both medium races and long races require that you have endurance. On the day of the race, you’ll need to properly fuel up before the race begins, starting with a carbohydrate-loaded breakfast, such as granola breakfast or oatmeal. 

No matter the length of the race, you’ll always need to keep handy an energy bar or bars that you can chew on at your interval or during the race, should you need it. You can also keep energy gel with you in case you need it. Alternatively, you can carry a banana with you if it’s easier to carry on your ride.

What to drink on the ride 

As you exercise, you will naturally lose fluids, and when you lose fluids, you also lose electrolytes. These are minerals that conduct electricity, which our bodies need for the function of our cells and organs.  So, when you do a road race, it’s recommended that you increase your electrolytes. The result of electrolyte loss is dehydration, and when you’re dehydrated, your performance will drop. If your goal is to finish the race, you’ll need to drink up water infused with electrolytes or a sports drink that has electrolytes. 

The more you fuel up, the better you perform 

Better performance on the road race mostly depends on how you prepare for it. Nutrition is a big part of that preparation process. Endurance during prolonged exercise is important. You can’t create endurance if your nutrition is lacking. So, eat right and hydrate enough to succeed. Visit Chris Willemse Cycles to purchase any cycling food you’ll need for your road race.