Water is a vital component to cell health in the body. Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water and we need to be hydrated during the day. This is particularly important when doing physical activity. As mentioned above, cycling burns a lot of calories which means you will be sweating and losing using the food and hydration stocks in your body at that time. The more you sweat the more water you need to consume in order to avoid dehydration. Similarly to ‘carbo-loading’ it is good practice to keep yourself hydrated throughout the week leading up to the event.
Usually more water means more trips to the toilet, which is good for detoxifying your body until you are excreting nutrients. If you find you are constantly needing to go to the toilet because of the amount of water you are consuming, you may not be absorbing as many nutrients as you should be. In this case you can make a homemade electrolyte drink for the bike or to sip on throughout the day:
This is a perfect drink to have on the bike, avoiding lots of pit stops and feeling fresh on the spin. Or if you have a packet of the effervescent electrolyte tablets or Berocca they do the same job. Eating water dense vegetables such as cucumber, courgette, radishes and celery are a brilliant way of hydrating your body. You can even juice those vegetables into a healthy drink. The bottom line it to keep track of how much you’re drinking on the bike and know what works for you!
Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy to the body and they are vital to pre-event preparations. ‘Carbo-loading’ became a very popular term in the 90s and has some merit to it, but basically it involves the storage of glycogen (broken down starchy carbohydrates) in the liver and muscles. It is important to be fully stocked up on glycogen a few days leading up to a challenge like the Wicklow 200. It allows for more energy to be used throughout the day and will significantly impact on your overall performance. Foods such as brown rice and pasta, quinoa and potatoes are great to have for dinner, lunch within the few days leading up to the event.
It is equally important to constantly eat throughout the day whilst on the bike. Every rider at one point or another has experienced ‘bonking’, which is the feeling of hitting a wall, the pedals slow right down, everything hurts and you’re starving. It is a horrible feeling, but one that can easily be stopped if you plan your food correctly for the bike. Cycling burns a huge amount of calories, this is a great form of losing weight although during an event you need be replenishing those stocks. Bear in mind how long it might take you to complete the event and plan your food accordingly. Every rider will have their go-to snacks and it is always good to know what works for you. Some cyclists prefer gels or bar, where as other prefer more natural products such as bananas, raisins or jellies. Eating enough leading up to and during the challenge is taking care of your muscles and will improve your enjoyment of the day.