As athletes we strive to be the bet we can be. For some of us that is just the social Saturday ripper and for others it is the podium conquering champion; but no matter what heights you plan on reaching as a mountain biker, you need to fuel the beast within……
Nutrition is hands-down one of the key areas that mountain bikers let slide and can drastically affect our performance. After all, we have all hit that wall, bonked and struggled to make it back to our car. The last thing we want to be doing is getting stuck 15 km from our car on a trail ride and out of fuel for our body, out of stamina and up against it. If you are racing Gravity Enduro, it is even more important to maintain high levels of fuel intake and keep your performance peaking for the entire races, not just the first stage.
There’s many ways to maintain hydration on the trail from carrying bottles, backpacks, camelbaks and hip bags. Choose the one that works best for you, the important thing to remember is what comes out should go back in. That is to say, if you sweat a litre you should drink a litre, the hotter it is the more you should drink.
Hydration is not just about water though and it’s important that we replace the electrolytes we lose aswell. Salts, magnesium and other electrolytes are critical to replace; or you may find yourself in the spot many riders have in the past, cramping up and unable to carry on. There’s a number of ways to supplement your electrolytes, from electrolyte tablets, gels and sports drinks. Whichever you prefer, make sure you are topping up your electrolytes to maximise your performance on the trail.
Fuel to burn – The Carbohydrate Question
Once we have our fluid intake and electrolytes sorted it’s time to look at the fuel we jam into our body to keep the fire burning on the trail. That is the amount of carbohydrates we need to optimise performance and ensure we are hitting our goals and maximizing our time on the trail.
There’s a few different ways to go here and the options are pretty clear:
1. Solid Foods
Some riders prefer to eat solid foods on the trail like energy bars, bananas and even sandwiches. For those that carry a pack this may be en easy option, but it also means stopping on the trail periodically to eat. This can minimise the time the tyres are hitting the dirt and the wheels are spinning on the trail, but is definitely an option for some riders.
2. Energy Gels
Energy gels are a great way to boost your carbohydrate intake and keep you rolling on the trail. They are easy to carry, reasonably light, packed full of glucose and carbs (sometimes caffeine too!) and are widely known as a good oral intake method. The only issue with gels is that they can be hard to remember to keep eating the appropriate amount, which is generally 2 per hour.
3. Carbohydrate drinks
Carbohydrate drinks are exactly what they say they are, drinks that contain carbohydrates. These are sold as a one stop shop for all your carbohydrate needs whilst riding, some even include electrolytes to ensure your hydration, electrolyte and fuel requirements are all taken care of. There’s a number of different brands on offer and plenty of different flavours to choose from, but some of you out there may have difficulties stomaching the drinks whilst riding.
Whatever your carbohydrate loading method, ensure that you aim for 60-90g of carbohydrates per hour. This will maximise your performance and ensure you are breaking land speed records whilst on the bike….. or at least have the nutrition on board to try!
Nutrition is one of the biggest areas that many mountain bikers take for granted, letting their performance drop and finding that all too familiar ‘bonk’. So find the right mix for you and remember everyone is different. Make sure you put the fluid in that you sweat out, add some electrolytes and top it up with carbs to fuel the fire within…