A century ride debut can last upward of six or seven hours, or even longer. And with all the energy you spend pedaling 100 miles through various terrain, your body needs fuel along the way—a lot of it.
So what is the best way to approach food and drink on the bike? Active.com talked to Steve Matson, a Category 3 road racer who runs Matson Cycle Coaching. Matson has a Level II coaching license from USA Cycling and spends a significant part of his coaching duties teaching nutrition strategies to cyclists training for a number of different events.
Here are some nutrition tips he teaches to those preparing for a century ride:
Lose Weight Early
The closer to your ideal weight that you are, the better you will perform during your century ride. Power-to-weight ratio is widely accepted as a huge indicator of cycling success. One way to improve your ratio is to shed your excess weight.
However, the week or two leading up the 100-mile trek is not the time to go on an aggressive weight-loss diet. Quite the opposite.
"No more than one pound per week, and do this earlier in your training," Matson said. "Later in the process, you will need carbs to keep the higher-end training going."
Matson recommends losing weight 3-4 months before your event, and arriving within two pounds of your ideal race weight two months before the ride.
Practice Makes Perfect
Your long rides leading up to your century will reach 70 miles or even more. It's imperative that you practice good nutrition during your training, so your body is counting on those good habits come race day.
Matson recommends drinking a large bottle every hour during a century ride, and eating every hour starting at the second hour. So practice that strategy during your long training rides, too.
"Train the way you expect to perform," Matson said. "You're not stopping and doing an hour-and-a-half coffee stop halfway through your (century ride)."