Endurance cycling involves long-distance races that take a day or more to complete, such as the Tour de France. To be successful with this type of cycling, you must have a strategy that starts at the first mile to lower your time and improve your performance. To prepare, look at the specific course, and then develop a personal strategy.
To power through such an event, it is critical that you get all of the nutrients that you need or else there is a chance you may not finish. A typical day for an endurance cyclist who is competing will consist of 6,000 to 7,000 calories and an average of 9 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The majority of the calories consumed will be from carbohydrates so that energy levels can be sustained throughout the day. Since these cyclists are constantly riding, they tend to eat as they ride, so the food choices must be able to be consumed while riding a bike.
Staying hydrated can be a bit tricky for an endurance cyclist and it takes preparation. Approximately one to two hours before a competition, consume 500 milliliters of fluid that contains sodium and carbohydrates, recommended by the American Society for Nutrition. For every hour of competition, you will consume 600 to 1,200 milliliters of the sodium and carbohydrate fluid to replace what is lost throughout the competition. It is critical to maintain proper hydration to reduce fluid loss, lower submaximal heart rate, reduce heat stress and exhaustion, maintain performance and maintain plasma volume.
If your bike does not fit properly, this can hinder your performance throughout the competition. Bike fitting is done to ensure that you are properly positioned for efficient energy transfer as you ride. When you are being fitted for a competition bike, your height, weight, mobility, flexibility and muscle imbalances are all taken into consideration. Because there is a method to a proper fitting, it is a good idea to consult a professional to make sure that it is done right. A professional will ensure that all of your competitive needs are met, that your posture is how it should be and that you are comfortable on your bike.
If you are not properly recovering, you risk experiencing over-training, which if done long-term, may require months to fully recover. During the small rest periods at an event, you must get the proper hydration, nutrition and sleep. Within 30 minutes of going on your “break,” eat a meal that provides 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram of weight and 0.8 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight. To rehydrate, weigh yourself and replace any lost pounds by drinking 2 cups of water per pound lost.
- American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine: Nutritional Practices of Male and Female Endurance Cyclists
- American Society for Nutrition: Fluids and Hydration in Prolonged Endurance Performance
- Human Kinetics: Dehydration and its Effects on Performance
- Core Performance: The Benefits of a Professional Bike Fitting
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Overtraining in Endurance Athletes: A Brief Review
- Core Performance: 5 Recovery Secrets of Endurance Athletes