|Emptying my pockets after the Big Dog race.|
1 oat bar, 4 energy bars, 1 gel, 1 caffeine gel, 12 energy blocks, 2 bananas, 5.5 litres of electrolyte water and 1 litre of water.
The list above was all digested by me during 6 hours of racing at Brighton Big Dog. Written down it seems like a lot, but during the race I was craving my next hit and would definitely have eaten even more if I could have crammed it into my jersey pockets.
If you want to avoid hitting the dreaded wall, and ward off cramp during a longer event it is essential that you refuel as you ride. I started a habit a long time ago of making myself eat every 30 minutes during a race, regardless of the situation. It pays off in the long run even if you have to surrender a position while munching through a banana.
Energy gels and bars are pretty sickly affairs and can start to get unpalatable when you've already eaten half a dozen that morning. So I have always mixed in bananas, fig rolls and oat bars to keep things appetizing. Actually the Big Dog was the first race for a long time where I haven't taken fig rolls. I'm a recent convert to Clif Bloks energy chews. There are 6 of the little bite sized cubes in the tube which you can squeeze out one at a time. I started with strawberry flavour, dabbled with the caffeine Black Current chews, but my personal favourite is the salty Margarita with added sodium.
Clif bars are great, and more oat bar than energy bar - so less sickly. Peanut Butter is my current fave, but I could be tempted by any. Otherwise I mix and match an assortment of the SIS bars and gels to keep it fresh and interesting.
Despite all the millions invested in the development of these energy foods I still find that the good old banana gives me the best mid race boost. The potassium also wards off cramps, the only negative being that they are slightly difficult to transport. (In the end you get used to eating mushy banana. It's easier to chew anyway!)
I always add SIS electrolyte tablets to my bottles. Again it gives you more energy than standard water, although I'll often keep a plain water bottle in the pit area at hotter events, which can be gulped or poured over
the head when stopping to pick up supplies.
Different riders will swear by all sorts of mid race snacks. The important thing is to find what works for you and what will seem appetizing and digestible 5 hours into an event. Practice eating on social rides before your big event so your body is used to digesting food on the go.