When it comes to pre-ride preparedness I know what works. Of course, this doesn’t keep me from stupidly trying to mess with it either.
I start the morning off with coffee at least two hours before my ride – 2 cups, max. If I drink more, I’ll be stopping every ten miles. Food? Big dinner night before, light breakfast day of and a banana or two. I don’t really mess with carbohydrate loading, at least not intentionally. Generally I just go with what ‘sounds’ good, but I never chance the pre-ride dinner to something that isn’t tried and tested to sit well in my stomach.
Pre-ride, Gatorade Prime, 15 minutes before (the stuff is amazing – gummies or fluid), Gu electrolyte tabs in the H2O.
On board food is pretty simple, Jelly Belly Energy Beans and Clif Bars. The Energy Beans have become a necessity for anything over 40 miles, I absolutely love them.
For a sportive I like to show up an hour early so I have plenty of time to get ready at a leisurely pace. The longer I’ve got to get ready, the slimmer my chances of forgetting something important. I also like to use the restroom a lot so I’m emptied out when I start. Once I’m fully prepared I usually have about ten or fifteen minutes to think my ride through and start a little visualization process to get prepared – this is a fantastic time to remember little things I may have left in the car. With five minutes to go I make my way to the starting line and wait for the gun.
This ritual, while not perfectly executed on Sunday, had a lot to do with why I had such a great ride in some truly difficult conditions.
There was only one time that I truly departed in a noticeable way from this formula. I had a planned solo 108 mile ride last fall. I skipped the coffee and only had one Gu Roctane and one bag of energy beans for onboard fuel. I ended up suffering through an epic bonk at around 75 miles and wasn’t able to get to food until around the 90 mile mark. After I finally had something to eat, it only brought me back partially. I was truly hit. I was a little bit cocky to tell the truth. First, the out and back had the wind in my face on the ride home – not wise for a solo. Second, I’d already done a bunch of 100 milers and a solo 200k so I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I was sorely mistaken. That was the only time I’ve ever called to get picked up from a ride.
At rest stops on the sportives I also have some do’s and don’ts… First: Pizza, as much as I love it, is definitely a “don’t” as is anything really heavy. Bananas, oranges, peanut butter and jelly sammiches, those are all good. Also, if available, I always hit the pretzels hard for the salt. They have to be washed down of course, the worst thing in the world is trying to fire down a pretzel with a dry mouth.
That’s pretty much it for how I roll. It took me a couple of tries to get this right and I’ve bonked hard on one ride where I didn’t follow the plan strictly. The point is, once you find out what works, don’t mess with it.