As an elite cyclist with a degree in Nutrition and experience working in the Sports Nutrition industry, nailing race nutrition is important to me, and should be for everyone looking to achieve their optimal performance! Here is how I fueled for the Rock Cobbler 10.0 Gravel race earlier this month.
Please remember that how I fueled is what works for me, taking into consideration my size, power output, and gut tolerance. Your optimal fueling plan WILL be different, however the principles will stay the same!
The Rock Cobbler is an 80+ mi gravel ride in the hills of Bakersfield, CA. It is a wild ride from start to finish. The ride climbs over 7000 ft, mainly consisting of steep gravel hills, single track, and muddy cow trails. Also included in this ride was riding through a house, a VERY steep hike-a-bike, a water pit, and optional “shenanigans.” A very fun, yet physically grueling event, would highly recommend if suffering and unexpected testing of your bike skills sounds like a good time! In total, the race took me approx. 5.5 hours, which brought in as the 2nd female women and 19th overall finisher (even though it’s “not a race”;).
In the days leading up to a long event (greater than 2 hours), I typically recommend carb loading 2-3 days prior to the event. For me, I don’t stress about this too much, just make sure to include a carbohydrate source at every meal and make sure not to forget to get carbohydrate and protein snack within 30 minutes post workout. If this seems daunting, think about just making ½ your plate carbohydrate at 3 meals throughout the day, and including at least 1 snack that is primary carbohydrate. Some ideas could be rice, bagels, pasta, or potatoes or my favorite, cereal.
Morning of the ride, I had a bowl of gluten free oatmeal with a scoop of Fluid Spiced Vanilla Protein and some peanut butter on top. I aim for a balanced meal with carbohydrates, fat, and protein for breakfast to give myself fuel for the next few hours while avoiding a blood sugar crash caused by eating carbs alone. I also opt for a breakfast that I normally eat to decrease chances of GI distress.
Throughout the ~5.5 hours of Rock Cobbler, I aimed for >60g/hr of carbohydrate from simple sources only. At the intensity I planned to race this “ride” I knew that I would tolerate simple sugars better than bars or whole food that contain more fiber, fat and protein. In total, I had 6 packs of Bonk Breaker chews, a mix of caffeinated flavors (Cola and Root Beer) and non-caffeinated ones (Rainbow Blast). Pro tip: open all the packs ahead of time and place them into one big bag in a jersey pocket to avoid needing to fumble with packaging mid-race (especially when you’re sliding down muddy single track or riding through technical sections). For hydration, I started with 2 bottles of Fluid Performance and filled one bottle with plain water at 2 aid stations throughout the race. Looking back, I could have done a better job with hydration and rather than refill with plain water, have a sport mix that contained electrolyte or crushed a pack of SaltStick Fast Chews to increase sodium intake without having to stop and mix bottles.
AFTERPost race, I immediately drank water and Fluid Cinnamon Vanilla Recovery to get in carbs and protein within 30 minutes of finishing the race. Since I did not have access to a meal for a few hours after finishing the race, I had a Bonk Breaker High Protein bar once I felt hungry for a balanced snack before dinner later that night. As an athlete with severe dietary restrictions, it can be hard to find food away from home, therefore Bonk Breaker Bars are my go-to snack that are plant-based and gluten free!