By Nick Kleban, Cyclist and XACT athlete
Since I was 15 years old, when I competed in my first cross country mountain bike race, I’ve been hooked on all things around the sport. However, after joining the McGill cycling team in 2017 as a way to cross train for mountain biking, I grew to love the world of road cycling. The 2020 season marks my full-time switch into the discipline. With the opportunity to compete in some of the biggest races in the continent and after a winter spent training in my basement in Montreal, Quebec, I couldn’t have been more excited to pin the numbers on at an early season test at the Valley of Sun Stage race in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.
After the near 12 hour journey from Montreal to Phoenix (you got to love layovers), the event kicked off with Stage 1: The Landis Cyclery, Trek Time Trial. The race was roughly a 22.5 km, pan-flat, “out-and-back” style course with the best times being just under the 30 minute mark. The short, intense nature of racing meant proper fueling in the hours and minutes leading up to the race would be critical, as no food was going to be taken on board during the race itself. My choice was to be sipping on the electro2 lightly lemon hydration tablets during my warmup, as well as a Fruit3 blackcurrant bar 30 minutes prior, and finally a Fruit2 bar right before the start to keep the energy levels high during the effort. The race itself was hot, fast, and furious! After arriving only the night before, and riding a new bike I was pleased with how my race went in my first ever time trial, trying my best to catch my “minute man” in front of me. I was also happy with my pre-race nutrition plan, as I felt energized throughout the entire effort. After its conclusion, it was time to recover and refuel with a ProKrunch bar as all eyes turned to the weekend’s main event: the Valley of the Sun road race..
The road race featured a 160 km course with a shallow but critical climb leading up to the finish, thus, coming up with an effective and sufficient nutrition plan would be paramount to anyone wanting to have enough kick at the end of the race. I choose to have a FRUIT3 bar before the race for the long lasting effects that the 50 mg of caffeine would have. After about 45 or so minutes of racing, I began to feel the effects of the caffeine set in, as I was feeling more alert and decisive in the pack. Additionally, I chose to front-load my effort with the slower burning energy kronobars (and some homemade rice cakes) early on and save the quick-sugar of the FRUIT2 bars for the end of the race once things started to get serious.
My nutrition plan worked amazing! I was feeling really fresh on each lap’s climb up to the finish but, unfortunately, my race ended prematurely on the side of the road with two flat tires. It was a tough break, but nevertheless I took the lessons learned from my first pro race with my head held high and turned my attention towards a week of training two hours away in the cycling hot spot of Tucson, Arizona.
The training in Tucson was lots of fun but at the same time very demanding - some of the days on the bike extended up to seven hours on our longest rides. Luckily, the mix of kronobar enduranceand energy bars, both great for enjoying a snack on the go, kept my energy and morale high during the week. It goes without saying that capping of the rides with a delicious pro krunch bar afterwards always made the long days and hard work all worth it.
All and all, though the race didn’t go the way I may have hoped, the trip was an incredible time and I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Nick Kleban is a third year Physiology student at McGill university and a cyclist for the Ride with Rendall elite cycling team.