What to eat, ride and think about on a long-distance race

Ride an epic distance and you’ll feel epic too. Pro rider Giles Drake from Team Herbalife Leisure Lakes in the UK tells us what to eat, ride and think about on a long-distance ride or race.

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We can all ride 20 to 30 kilometres with relative ease week-in, week-out, but what happens when we want to push that? To a 100km… or more?

You can do this on a regular ride or there are marathon events, such as the Strathpuffer, that specialise in pushing riders to their endurance limits. It won’t be easy but you can give yourself the best chance possible with these simple tips on how to survive a long distance ride:

1. Do your coursework

If you can’t ride it before, research the route online and pick up tips from other riders — look at local segment profiles on Strava. Knowing what’s still to come can be the difference between finishing strongly and finishing on your knees.

2. Take it easy

You can’t ride 100 miles without training, so build up to it over a long period of time and then taper off in the last week by cutting your training intensity to around half. There’s no point riding hard five days before a ride in the hope you’ll build a bit more fitness.

3. Eat smart

Eat food you’re used to as you don’t want to risk an upset stomach. Stick to things that are easy to eat: a jam sandwich cut into small triangles is a good idea. A personal favourite for me is rice pudding — it might sound like an odd thing to eat cold but it’s perfect fuel.

4. Take the kitchen sink

Everyone wants to ride as light as possible but it’s better to have the tools to get round. Tubeless tyres are a good idea, as is a quick link to fix your chain. Make sure your multi-tool has all the relevant Allen keys or Torx keys for all the bolts on your bike.

5. Sartorial success

Get cold and wet and you won’t ride as well — check the weather and dress accordingly. A waterproof jacket, arm warmers, leg warmers and spare gloves can make all the difference. If you’re at an event leave a bag of spare clothes at the rest station if possible.

6. Set up your bike

Lightweight 350g tyres may sound like a great idea, but you could be in for a long walk back to event HQ if you shred one. If it’s wet, don’t be afraid to put a rear mudguard on — it may look daft  but keeping cold water off you will keep you warm.

  • thisismusic

    I would add that planning your water stops is a good tip. Don’t carry more than you need and know where you can top up if required, saves a lot of weight, especially if using a bladder based system that puts weight onto neck and shoulders.

    I would also make sure that you know the escape routes, think about options which allow access to stations etc. Having some way out so that your ride will not leave you with no options makes all the difference psychologically.