Recon missions for competitive cyclists part 2 of 3

In my previous post I covered the topic of prepping for an upcoming event or race. Actually most of the article was specific for a competitive cyclist but don’t be fooled. Many of these tips can be used to master mind your next fastest century. In this article I am going to cover a few more important topics to consider before I circle back to the last article that will be a complete scenario for a Faux Race/Event!

The last article covered your competition and terrain but what about weather and in ride nutrition? Lets dig a bit deeper…

  • Checking up on the weather – Bad weather always looks worse through a window.
  • Are you eating enough – Running on empty?

Just like in the previous article I am asking two very simple questions. When looking at these two deceptively simple questions you will soon discover that there is quite a bit to be understood before comfortably answering these questions. One caveat I am not a nutritionist and the suggestions I give you that have worked for me for me may not work for you. Consult with a Dr. or a Nutritionist before trying.

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.

Prior to heading out for a ride I check just to see what the temp will be to start, finish, rain chances and wind speed. Pretty simple to do just check the zip code of the area you are riding in on your favorite weather channel or web site. But when you are riding in an event or a race you may want to look into your weather a bit deeper.

  • Check the hourly details of the time you are expected to race or ride
    • You may find out that ride will start cool and heat up or start dry and finish wet
    • Don’t forget if you race or are a brevet rider it going to rain on you sooner or later so you need to train in wet conditions too.
  • What is the humidity and dew point
    • Those of us who live in the southern portions of the US know that higher humidity is OK but once the Dew Point climbs above 65% it can get down right nasty hot.
    • When the weather turn hot humid you must consume more fluids than you are accustomed to.
  • What is the wind speed and direction
    • I rarely worry about wind speed and direction from weather stations but I do watch for it on the open road.
    • Look at which way trees, flags, grass or other vegetation is blowing
    • If plants are blowing towards you it’s a head wind – get in the drops
    • If plants are blowing away from you it’s a tail with  – Sit up like a sail
    • If plants are blowing from the left get to the right of the road
    • If plants are blowing from the right get as close that is safe to the center line (Do not risk your safety on open roads)
  • Check the radar map
    • I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have checked the weather and found there were no storms predicted then looked at the live radar map to find Super Cells tracking straight for my ride.
  • You can even check on the UV Index and Air Quality
    • If you find the UV index is high DO NOT FORGET SUNSCREEN!
    • If you are like several cyclists I know and have asthma and air quality is low DO NOT FORGET TO BRING YOUR INHALER!

Running on Empty?

Nutrition is an often overlooked aspect of competitive and event cycling, nutrition timing even more so. I am not a great eater by any stretch of the imagination but I have learned some hard and fast rules that have kept me out of the bonk zone in many a race and event ride.

  • Drink up to 2 Liters of water a day especially three days leading up to the event or race.
  • Eat primarily carbs the 3 days leading up to the event or race. (Or you can follow a carb loading protocol)
  • Eat 3-2.5 hours before you are expected to ride/race (You should start a race/ride a little hungry)
  • Eat only gels on hot or ultra intense rides/races (Easier to digest plus not a choking hazard)
  • Drink only water during races lasting an hour or less unless you didn’t eat enough before the race
  • Drink sports drink mix for races rides lasting an hour or longer
  • Drink before thirsty (The best timing method I have found is to take a sip/small draw off a bike bottle every 5 minutes)
  • Eat before you are hungry (Depending on the heat I may take down a gel every 30-45 minutes or a gel between races)
  • As soon as you are done with your event you need to start your recovery by eating/drinking carb rich fuels (I like chocolate milk once I have cooled down)

I was going to cut this series short and give you the final recon of a Faux Race in this post but I thought I needed to cover the last two key elements of a successful race or event recon. I am excited about writing the last part in this series as this is something I have always wanted to cover in skill camps and discussions with new teammates.

Until then watch for foul weather and drink lots of water.

Part 1, Part 3

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