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Fueling for a Gran Fondo
For many Gran Fondo National Series riders, their event of choice represents the year's major goal. Riders are lining up to pedal farther, climb higher or go faster than their typical outing. When discussing performance at an event which will take even the best riders over four hours, nutrition becomes vital. Luckily, we’re here to help you perform on the big day with our Gran Fondo nutrition guide.
Pre-Ride: The Night Before
Try to eat lightly, and focus on low fiber choices. Skip the Spaghetti Alfredo and opt for high carb foods like rice, potatoes and bread, avoiding fatty sauces and condiments. A little protein is great as well, but stick with something you know works.
Here the old motto “Try Everything Several Times In Training” (TESTIT) applies. By race-day, you should have breakfast dialed. Again, you’ll want mostly easily digestible carbs with a little fat or protein to keep hunger at bay. Try to be done eating two hours before the start gun goes off.
You’ll probably be traveling to your Gran Fondo, so experiment with motel friendly breakfasts before your big training rides. Oatmeal with a few nuts and some dried fruit, a bagel with some butter and a boiled egg. A PB&J or rice and eggs are all easy to assemble or pack in a cooler.
Grab a coffee as well, caffeine is a legal performance enhancer.
Once you get going, hydration becomes critical. Let thirst determine your drinking regime but generally try for a 20oz bottle an hour, more if it’s hot.
You’ll also need to fuel, consuming 200-400 calories an hour. The exact amount is something to determine in training. At the start of the ride, intensity might be high, so snack on a couple of energy Chews with caffeine right before the flag drops. After, use the easy moments to get solid nutrition in such as a Premium Performance bar. You can split the bar in half to avoid feeling too full, combing each half with a bottle of drink mix to get ample calories. Pro tip: open bar package before starting ride for ease on bike.
During high intensity, or near the end of the ride or if it’s hot, easily digested carbs are best, such as Bonk Breaker Strawberry Chews. They contain a little caffeine to perk you up as the miles grow long and fatigue sets in.
At rest stops be sure to refill pockets with more Bonk Breaker Premium Performance Bars and Chews but also enjoy snacks on offer, letting cravings be your guide. Pretzels or chips look good? Maybe you need the salt. Try to avoid heavy or greasy snacks—nothing looks better than a slice of pizza after 75 miles but nothing feels worse on that climb at mile 80. Whenever you stop, make sure to top off bottles to take care of hydration.
Don’t Forget Post-Ride Recovery
Grab a beer! Recovery is about rebuilding damaged muscles and that takes protein. Pack a Premium Protein bar in your bag and snack on that as you wipe down and change clothes. Grab your finish medal and check out the expo! Make an effort to rehydrate before you go straight to the beer tent or you might find yourself taking an unscheduled nap or not feeling so great in a few hours.
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