With less than 4 days to go before my next century, I’ll be putting in a few easy rides and going through my mental checklist to make sure everything is in order for a successful ride. Unlike my first couple of centuries, I’m no longer anxious about the ride, but that is not to say that I’m not taking it seriously.
I’ve got plenty of miles racked up, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem, nor is the mental issue, as I am very well aware of what is required during so many hours in the saddle.
Gear wise, my bike is in good shape and will be ready to go after a good cleaning and greasing later this week. I was a little surprised to see that my rear tire has noticeably squared off and worn down to the underlying cords in some spots after only 2,400 miles. I’ll have to switch it out for a new one, as there is no way it will survive a 100 mile pounding.
I’ll also have to go and get my on bike nutrition for the ride. Although the ride will be fully SAG supported offering all kinds of food and drink, it’s always a good idea to carry a few “pick me ups” to use between those stops. Nutrition and hydration are two key factors to successfully completing a century ride. Your performance is completely dependent on fueling properly.
You’ll be in the saddle exerting yourself for 3-7 hours requiring a significant amount of energy. This fuel will come from the two principle energy stores of your body, fat and carbohydrates.
The majority of the energy you use will come from fats. Good thing too as our bodies have enough energy stored in body fat to run for days. On the other hand our bodies only store enough carbohydrates for around 90 minutes of high intensity effort. While a century ride is much more of an endurance event versus a high intensity event, there will still be times that we tap into this limited storage, such as climbing hills, riding against a headwind, or simply fighting to stay up with a fast moving pace line.
Even when we are burning fats as our primary fuel source, stored carbohydrates are still being consumed since they serve as the metabolic primer for fat metabolism. Certain products from the breakdown of carbohydrates must be available to facilitate the metabolism of fat, hence the phrase “fats burn in a carbohydrate flame.” In other words, carbohydrates are always being utilized as fuel making them our limiting factor.
So, our nutritional goal to success is replenishing our dwindling glycogen (stored carbohydrates) stores to avoid running out of energy, hitting the wall, or in cycling parlance, bonking.
Our bodies can metabolize approximately 60g of carbs per hour. Since each carb has 4 calories, that puts our utilization at 240 carbs per hour. In other words, to maintain properly fueled during the ride, we should be consuming a minimum of 240 carb calories per hour.
So with that in mind, what foods are high in carbohydrates and what should we eat during the ride?
1. Sports drinks. Most have at least 100 calories per 20 oz bottle. So drink at least 1 bottle per hour. I tend to dilute mine down a bit to avoid getting overwhelmed by their sweetness.
2. Fruits. Most SAG stops have bananas, grapes, oranges and other fruits. These are a great source of natural carbohydrates. I always make a beeline for the bannas on every stop.
3. Energy bars. Most bars are high in carbohydrates. Be sure to choose one that’s low in protein, as they are not easily digested. Bars rich in peanut butter and nuts are my personal favorites. Salty snacks such as pretzels and trail mix offer a nice change from the sweet foods you’ll be eating and provide you with some much needed sodium as well.
4. Gels and chews. An easy source of quick energy, typically containing about 100 calories. They are easy to digest and easy to eat while on the bike. GU are my go to gels as well as Honey Stinger chews.
Now it’s important to stress not to overeat. Remember we can only metabolize roughly 240 calories per hour, so gorging yourself at a SAG stop will not provide you with more energy, and may in fact lead to digestive distress…not a good thing when you are going to be on a bike for many hours.
Remember, to pace yourself, drink at least a bottle (20-24 oz) of sports drink per hour, eat about 250 calories per hour, and most of all, have fun!
Route: Coconut-40 with the Caloosa Riders
Ride Time: 2:01:58
Stopped Time: 40:23
Distance: 38.48 miles
Average: 18.93 mph
Fastest Speed: 27.09 mph
Ascent: 633 feet
Descent: 729 feet