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The Pre-ride Ritual – 60 Miles Plus…


May 2013

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.

Happy riding.


  1. IowaTriBob says:

    Thanks for sharing and this is very helpful as I try and stretch my rides a little longer. I still haven’t found that pre-ride ritual that works just right for me but I’m getting a little closer every time out.

    • bgddyjim says:

      My pleasure brother. Just to make this clear, I haven’t found a perfect silver bullet that makes me feel “better” on a long ride… Let’s face it, 60 miles is still 60 miles and at least 3 hours on the bike. The trick is, without the ritual I feel worse, faster.

      The point is, at least for me, it was easier to look for things that wouldn’t hurt me as opposed to those that made the “hurt” go away.

  2. Cherry says:

    You’ve had pizza at rest stops before? ride for the royalties!! But I agree, would never go for that during a ride. However, can’t say the same post-ride. This year, it’s my go-to, love my pizza

    • bgddyjim says:

      Yeah, it was my first century so when I saw the pizza I was like, “awesome, pizza…I think I will have some as it is yummy”. Never again, that last 30 sucked!

  3. kruzmeister says:

    It’s always great to see how other people handle their nutrition for rides, thanks for posting yours Jim, very helpful! – Simone

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