Riding a 100 miles is a phenomenal achievement in itself, especially when those 100 miles also see you climb 1,754m, as the Velo Birmingham does. There are however a few little race day tweaks that you can do to increase both your performance and enjoyment on the day.
Lets be honest pacing isn't the funnest or most glamorous part of cycling but the correct pacing strategy is a massively important aspect of any ride and chronically overlooked. As many a rider knows, cycling a 100 miles can either be a joyous or torturous experience and sticking to the correct pacing will go a long way to avoiding the latter and ensuring the former.
The first thing to is to make sure you have researched the route, so that you always ride for what is to come not just what's right in front of you. As you are climbing the hills round Quinton, always have in the back of your mind that you still have tough climbs at Six Ashes and Dayhouse Bank 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 long and 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 Velo Birmingham 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. 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 Velo Birmingham.