Thank you to Mike Gaddas of Colconquerors for writing this great guide for us.
So you've got one of the precious places on the 2019 Ride London, well first off - Congratulations! It really is a race like no other with breathtaking views and even a couple of breath taking hills to boot. Aside from just relaxing and enjoying the experience there are a few things that you can do to increase your performance and how much you get out of the day.
The correct pacing strategy is a massively important aspect of cycling. Regardless of this, it is an often overlooked factor even though the performance gains that can be achieved are huge. Cycling a 100 miles can either be a joyous or torturous experience. The correct pacing will go a long way to ensuring the former. Ensure you know the route very well and always ride for what is to come not just what is in front of you. During the first hour of the ride, always have in the back of your mind that you still have Leith Hill and Box Hill to come.
The ‘start easy finish strong’ ethos is crucial for a long day in the saddle. Go off too hard early on and a potentially miserable day lies ahead of you. The first half of the ride should be ridden at a ‘conversational pace’, meaning you should be able to chat without gasping for oxygen. There are many benefits of riding at lower intensities early in the day including reducing the amount of muscular fatigue. It will also spare muscle glycogen, because your body burns a greater proportion of fat as fuel. You will also produce less heat, meaning you sweat less. At a lower intensity eating and drinking on the bike is also easier because your breathing is under control. If you can finish the first 50 miles properly hydrated and with glycogen levels maintained you are in a strong position to press on with your day.
Nutrition and Hydration
Proper hydration and nutrition should start in the days leading up to your event. During this period it is key to keep properly hydrated and well fuelled with healthy, natural & nutrient dense food. The night before your event you should eat a normal sized meal and avoid the temptation to ‘carb load’. Fruit and vegetables should be high on your agenda.
During the Ride London 100 it is important to start eating and drinking early. Muscle glycogen stores only last around 90-120 minutes even for finely tuned elite athletes so keeping them topped up is essential. You should aim to consume between 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour through high quality sports nutrition. Solid foods (such as our Flapjacks) may result in less stomach problems during longer events but you must never use a new product on race day. A tip is to set an alarm on your Garmin every 20 minutes to remind you to eat. This will ensure consistent fuelling throughout your event.
Fluid intake is dependent on a number of factors including the ambient temperature, effort level, duration of the ride and sweat rate. It is important to start drinking early in the ride and before you feel thirsty, especially if the weather on the day is anything like the rest of summer. A rough guide of between 500 - 1000 ml per hour is recommended as is the inclusion of electrolytes to help maintain your body’s natural balance. These electrolytes replace the salts your body loses when it sweats and can hydrate you more effectively than water whilst also ensuring that your muscles continue to work effectively. Do not be tempted to limit fluid intake by not wanting to stop at feed stations or because of the weight of having full bottles. Dehydration can quickly lead to huge declines in performance and can be extremely dangerous.
With the correct pacing, nutrition and hydration strategy you can be confident that all of the hard training undertaken will lead to the best time possible in the Ride London 100.
Guide & Sports Scientist Mike Gaddas - Colconquerors