The countdown to Raiders Gravel is on, and you’ve probably started thinking about your preparation for the event. If not, no worries there’s still plenty of time, but let’s just have a quick run down of what you’ll be up against at the end of August.
Raiders Gravel consists of three stages over three days. In each stage you’ll tackle between 65-85km, taking on more than 1000m of ascent each day. The weather can be a mixed bag in the UK at the best of times, but the end of August & September can serve up just about everything.
From this there’s a few nutritional areas that we’ve picked out that will be beneficial to work on over the summer months. They are:
• Fuelling the distance
• Eating under pressure
• Hydration in the heat
• Back-to-back day recovery
Let’s break these down and give you some practical advice that you can start working on now.
Fuelling the distance
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for whenever we start to exercise at an intensity above walking pace. It’s important to remember that our body can only store a certain amount of carbohydrates, which is usually enough for 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. Once this is used up, our body naturally slows down and we run the risk of ‘blowing up’, ‘hitting the wall’, ‘bonking’ or whatever you want to call it.
This is why to ‘go the distance’, you need to keep topping up those carbohydrate stores. So, when heading out to clock up the miles on the gravel this summer, think about how long you roughly intend to ride for, and take enough fuel to avoid draining your energy stores dry.
We advise packing 60-80g of carbohydrates to consume per hour. Start that fuelling from hour one, don’t wait until you start to feel your energy levels dropping.
Some ideas of how to achieve 60-80g of carbohydrate:
• One 500ml bottle of OTE Super Carbs = 80g of carbs
• One OTE Duo Bar + One OTE Super Gel = 80g of carbs
• One OTE Anytime Bar + One OTE Standard Energy Gel = 60g of carbs
• One Banana + One 500ml bottle of Standard Energy Drink = 60g
• One Small Jam Sandwich + One Banana = 80g
Eating under pressure
Now we’ve worked out how much we need to eat and drink for gravel riding, it’s time to start working on how to actually consume it. The nature of gravel riding can often make it quite difficult to reach for a bottle or get your hands on a bar; but as they say, practise makes perfect.
Your summer training is a great time to work how you intend to carry your nutrition for Raiders. Are you using frame bags or your back pockets for food? Will you be reaching for a bottle or opting for hydration pack on your back? Everyone has different preferences, and you have to work out what is best for you.
Whatever you decide, make sure you practise this set up in training before you get to the event. An important thing to check is can you actually access your food, especially when riding off road.
Once you’ve check you can actually get your hands on your food, then next is practising eating it. Or picking the best time to do so. It’s not always as easy as you think it’s going to be. If you’re prepared to stop, that’s absolutely cool with us, but if you’re looking more at racing Raiders event, learning to eat whilst not backing off the pace, is a great skill to have. Reading the terrain is a big part of this. Gravel riding can be unpredictable, loose, lung-busting and somewhat distracting (in the best way). Taking your hands off the bars is not always advised especially on tricky terrain.
Pick your moments to eat or when drink:
• When the track is at its least technical
• When your heart rate is at it’s lowest (not when slogging up a big climb)
• When you hit a transition section between a descent and a climb.
Take all these opportunities to fuel and be confident that knocking off the pace slightly to do this, will have huge time benefits in the long run.
Hydration in the heat
During your summer gravel training it’s really important to consider hydration, especially on those hotter days. Did you know as little as 2% loss of body weight due to dehydration can negatively affect your performance? It can also reduce your concentration too, which is not ideal for negotiating the tricker off road terrain.
Making sure you’ve got plenty of fluid onboard before setting out for the day is important. We’d advise consuming 500ml of fluid per hour and upping this if you’re battling really hot conditions. However, we do realise the amount of fluid you’re able to carry is limited. Thankfully at Raiders you’ll have the luxury of a feed station on each stage to replenish your fluids; but this is less likely during your summer training. Try plan in bottle top-up points when planning your route, and set yourself the challenge of finishing all your bottle before you get there. Remember sipping little and often is best.
You can really help your hydration status whilst riding by starting fully hydrated. We’d always advise getting yourself a tube of OTE Hydro Tabs, adding one to water and sipping these in the lead up to any big ride. The electrolyte content means this actually aids rehydration better than consuming water alone and can also help combat cramp if that’s something you suffer with.
Back-to-back riding recovery
In preparation for three days of riding at Raiders it’s probably a good idea to tackle a few back-to-back days of riding during the summer. When doing this, it’s worth giving a thought to your nutrition for recovery.
Let’s set the scene. You’ve just finished a long day in the saddle, your legs hurt, you’re starving and you’re seriously sweaty. It’s at this exact point that you could help kick start the recovery process, to help you feel ready to roll again the next day. When it comes to recovery, there are three areas you need to try and tick off:
• A hit of Protein – This is what will help your muscles repair.
• Carbohydrate top-up – Your energy stores will be totally depleted and need topping up again to go again the next day.
• Rehydrate – You’ll have lost a fair amount of fluid, so once again this needs topping back up again for the next day.
You can tick these off in any way you prefer, but a recovery drink is the most convenient way to do so; especially when you’re tired. Also one final element to consider when thinking nutrition for recovery; the sooner you give your body what it needs to recover, the sooner it can get to work. So try prioritise a recovery drink or snack within 30 minutes of finishing, and then rejoin your normal meal pattern as soon as you’ve got yourself cleaned up and sorted.
Hopefully we’ve highlighted so key areas that you can be working on over the next month, and for more nutrition advice head to www.otesports.co.uk.