Don’t Bonk on your Bike
By Abby Langer, RD and CLIF Bar Nutrition Ambassador
The annual Ride to Conquer Cancer is just around the corner- a two-day, 200+ kilometre cycling fundraiser for cancer research that brings together thousands of riders, cancer survivors and their supporters for one common goal: to conquer cancer in their lifetime.
Ahead of this great event, I wanted to share four nutrition tips to ensure you have a successful ride and avoid the “bike bonk” that is, hitting a wall during a long ride when you’ve worked so hard preparing for the big day. The bonk is soul crushing, but the good news is that it can be completely avoidable if you’re properly fueled up for the ride.
You’re already supporting an important cause, now you need to make sure that nutrition and hydration take center stage before and during your ride.
Here’s how you can do it:
1. Fuel Up With Good Nutrition in the Months Before: For the weeks leading up to the ride, don’t eat anything different. Keep your diet clean, with lots of fresh, whole, unprocessed foods. Always train with the nutrition products you plan on using the day of your race, so you know that you can tolerate them and how much you’re going to need. For a long ride such as this one, you’ll need easy-to-grab, easy-to-eat options such as gels or chews to keep yourself going.
2. The Night Before: Don’t be afraid to eat carbohydrates they provide the energy needed to power you through the ride. That being said, the days of carbo-loading are pretty much over if you’ve been eating a balanced diet for the past few weeks, your muscles are already loaded with glycogen. Your pre-race dinner should be carbohydrate-based, but don’t go overboard. As we say, just as cramming for a test doesn’t work, cramming yourself full of carbohydrate the night before a race isn’t an effective plan, either. Stay away from new foods just in case they don’t agree with you, and try to make your own food so you know exactly what’s in it. A bland, easy-to-digest meal is your best bet.
3. Race Day: On race day, try to eat as soon after waking as you can. Food that is easy to digest and low in fiber, with plenty of carbohydrates. A CLIF Bar and a banana with some nut butter is a perfect breakfast that will provide everything you need to get you off to a good start! A caffeine-containing beverage 60 minutes before race time may help your performance as well, but make sure you consume any drinks by 1-2 hours before the event so you’re not running to the porta potty while everyone else is at the starting line.
Make sure you have your nutrition products all set you never know what the race course will have, and they may not be the products you’re familiar with.
4. During the Race: You’ll want to keep hydrated drinking up to one liter of either water or electrolyte drink every hour. To fuel yourself, choose easy portable nutrition, such as CLIF SHOT BLOKS or CLIF SHOT Gels, which are tasty and pure glucose with electrolytes to ensure you don’t run out of gas. A bonus is that they are 90% organic!
You’ll need about 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour of riding, and each of the Clif products have between 22-24g of carbohydrate which should fuel you for about 30-45 minutes.
One thing I need to emphasize do not wait to take a booster until you feel tired. You should have a schedule one CLIF SHOT Gel or one pack of CLIF SHOT BLOKS every 30-45 minutes. If you prefer solid foods, I like baby potatoes with a bit of salt (replenish those electrolytes!), fig newtons, or even a CLIF Bar.