In a number of recent conversations I’ve had with fellow handcyclists, I hear a lot about cramping during longer rides.
It surprises me because I have learned over the course of triathlon camps, clinics and coaching that nutrition is the answer. You have to eat something as you go. If I know that’s the obvious answer, so does everyone else, right? 😉
I used to cramp like mad when coming off the bike and transitioning to the run when I was doing one triathlon a year. In 2015, I decided to get serious about my training and get coached. One of the first things I learned was proper nutrition and hydration during a long ride, training, or race.
The real key is to find what works for you. There’s a variety of gel shots, bars, blocks, waffles and homemade recipes you can find to help you stay hydrated, keep your energy up, your watts cranking, and mind clear.
This is my nutrition plan for tomorrow’s metric century ride. The only thing you don’t see here is the oatmeal and half of a banana I eat when I wake up before the break of dawn.
My coach taught us this way: buy a couple of each brand & flavor. Try one brand per ride and see which agree with you and you can tolerate. Same goes for hydration supplements to add to your water bottle.
Through trial and error, you’ll find your mix.
On a basic ride of 20 miles, I’ll bring at least one gel and eat midway through the ride to keep me from cramping when I’m getting off the bike, which is crazy painful at my injury level.
Tomorrow during a 65-mile ride, I’m bringing enough for one gel every hour or 12-15 miles. That usually sees me through the 4-5 hour journey. If I wait until I’m hungry, it’s too late. I’ll have to work through the mental and physical valley while my body pumps the fuel back through my system.
Oh and post-race! I know that most feel like they’ve earned pizza, bacon cheeseburger, and fries and beer after an event like that. Or maybe I should say that I do. I’ve learned that if I want to keep to my healthy weight and not punish my system, that a balanced selection of carbohydrates and proteins immediately after the finish line is also on optimum window to replenish and rebuild.
If you’re in Central California, join us at the California Classic Weekend!