Golden Two-four Fuelling Tips
Fuelling for Golden Two-four
If you are going to take on a challenging 24 hour mountain bike race, like the Golden Two-four, then you will need to come into the race with a solid plan for your in-race nutrition. To help you out, I’ve laid out a few keys to a successful fueling strategy as well as some mistakes to avoid.
How much to eat?
- Eat a minimum 100-200 calories of simple carbs every hour to perform your best (XACT ENERGY Fruit bars are exactly 100 calories AND tasty)
However, when fuelling for ultra distances, look to ingest 250-350 calories per hour. This is approximately the maximum amount of calories you can comfortably digest when your body is under stress and will bring you close to the amount of calories expended during the race. Try to get this amount primarily from carbohydrates but don’t be afraid of incorporating some fats or solid foods either to get more calories.
What to eat?
Fueling is personal, so my first recommendation would be to primarily eat foods you are accustomed to while riding and don’t mix anything up to dramatically from your training on race day. Outside of that here are some quick tips:
Choose a base fuel to use 50-70% of the time. This will be your main source of energy for the day and account for the bulk of your calories, so make sure it’s something you like! Many ultra racers like to use some sort of “ultra endurance mix” (essentially a carbohydrate sports drink packed full of extra calories) since it is easier to carry than loads of food in your pockets.
For the other 50-30% of the food, try to have some variety so you don’t get flavour fatigue. Remember, if eating solid food - eat small amounts at one time to avoid GI distress.
Calories are good, but generally avoid foods which are hard to digest or high in saturated fats.
I would also limit large quantities of simple sugars since they may cause your blood sugar to spike and then rapidly drop. Likewise for caffeine, as if you consume caffeine for all 24hrs, that will cause some undesirable side effects like an elevated heart rate or dehydration. Therefore, if eating simple sugars and caffeine, I would reserve those for the end of the race when you may need a “pick-me-up”.
Proper hydration is as key as nutrition for success at an ultra race. Many variables—body weight, level of fitness, weather conditions, biological predisposition etc—come into play to determine how much water you’ll need, but I would say generally 500-750 ml / hr would be sufficient for most. In addition, adding electrolytes to your water will help with retention and replenish lost electrolytes in your sweat. 1-2 XACT ELECTROLYTES tablets every hour will do the trick for most people.
And .... Recovery
Make your recovery a tasty affair with an XACT PROTEIN Chocolate wafer. They contain 15 grams of protein as well as vitamins and minerals important to recovery - avaulable in milk chocolate as well as dairy free dark choclaote flavours.
Putting It All Together
- Aim to eat a minimum of 200 calories per hour. More is better
- Combine simple carbs with other food types to best respond to your body's high energy demand but avoid sugar fatigue and constant hunger
- Train with the foods you will be using on race day so you have the habit of eating regularly and can learn what works (and what doesn't)
With all this in mind, my final step would be to take out some pen and paper (or an excel sheet) and plot what you will eat every hour and calculate how many bottles of water and fuel of choice you will need to satisfy the mentioned requirements. Once determined, lay out all of your food and water and double check it’s all there before packing up for the big race!
Hopefully, this helps guide your nutrition choices for Golden 24. Don’t be afraid to experiment in training and get creative to find out what works best for you. Good luck!
By Nick Kleban, BSc (Physiology)
XACT Athlete, Pro Rider Team Skyline
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Want to learn more about fueling for your next TRANSROCKIES event. Read our race-specific fuelling guides ...