So, you’ve entered the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Now what? To make sure your experience is a great one, it’s important that you prepare well: mentally, physically and nutritionally.
We’ll be with you every step of the way, starting with how to prepare your body and mind for race day.
Time on the bike
Time on the bike before the big day is critical – not only for cardiovascular fitness but also to ensure that your “rear end” is accustomed to sitting for multiple hours on the saddle.
Just as important as time on the bike, is nutrition – ensuring that your body is equipped with sufficient energy, vitamins and mineral to support your efforts on the bike.
The main fuel for your muscles is carbohydrate and your body is able to store carbohydrate in both muscles and the liver until it’s needed. It’s important that you fill these reserve tanks prior to the day to ensure an optimal performance on race day.
For the Banters, remember that it takes a few weeks for your muscles to adapt to burning fat rather than carbohydrate as a primary fuel and if you’re someone who is going for time, it might hinder your efforts if you eliminate carbs altogether. It’s the fast-twitch muscle fibres that are responsible for fast explosive movements like sprinting up a hill, and they seem to prefer carbs over fat as an energy fuel.
Training before the event
While training for the event, remember to ensure that your muscles receive all the necessary nutrients to assist with recovery. Ideally, eat a meal within 30-45 minutes of your training session and ensure that there is sufficient carbohydrate and protein present. Some good examples include a fruit smoothie/milkshake, made with yoghurt or low-fat milk; a cheese/lean meat sandwich; egg and/or baked beans on toast; chicken pasta meal (tomato based, rather than cream based); tuna/salmon and quinoa salad; nuts and raisins etcetera.
In between training sessions, focus on getting in the healthy carbs like whole-grains, fruit and starchy vegetables. Save the refined carbohydrates/added sugar for carbo-loading before the event and on the bike (when requirements are high and it’s not always possible to meet these requirements without including some concentrated forms of carbohydrate like energy drinks, fruit juice, energy bars, gu’s etcetera).
Carbo-loading 2-3 days before the event is advisable in order to ensure that your muscle’s reserves are optimal. Aim to take in between 8 and 10 grams of carbohydrates per kg body weight per day when carbo-loading. Check out the 50g carbohydrate list below for some ideas.
Dairy and Fruits
- 2 ½ cups of fruit salad OR 3 large fruits e.g. 2 banana’s + 1 apple
- 1 cup (250ml) of LF fruit yoghurt (with fruit bits)
- 340ml LF drinking yoghurt
- 1 cup of fruit salad + 1 small tub (175ml) LF yoghurt + 1 heaped tsp of honey/syrup
- 3 heaped tablespoons raisins (or dried fruit snippets)
- 500mL fruit juice
- 4 cups LF or FF milk
- 1 ½ cups Corn-Flakes/low-fibre cereal
- 2 cups cooked porridge or high fibre bran
- ¾ cup pronutro or LF muesli
- 3 slices bread
- 10 LF crackers
- 6 rice cakes/12 corn-thins
- 5 cups of cooked pasta
- 5 cups of cooked rice/barley/samp/cous-cous/quinoa
- 3 medium potatoes or 1 ½ cups mashed potato/ 1 cup sweet potato
- 500ml soft drinks (colas)
- 700-800 ml sports drinks
- 1 cup liquid meal replacement (made with LF or FF milk)
Sugars / Gels
- 3 heaped tbsp’s sugar or syrup or honey
- 2 corn-syrup sachets (if it provides 25g carbohydrate per sachet)
- 75g pack of wine gums or Ener-jelly babies or jelly tots
- 8-10 marshmallows (approx. 100g)
It is important to ingest sufficient carbohydrate during the event, as your muscle’s stores start to run low after just 60-90 minutes of continuous exercise. Some practical snack options include: energy bars, gu’s and sports drinks. Sports drinks are often a good option, as they meet your carbohydrate, electrolyte and fluid needs all in one go.
Aim to eat breakfast 2-3 hours before your start-time. Some good examples include cereal and low-fat milk/yoghurt; fruit and low-fat yoghurt, toast with jam and cheese or scrambled egg. For some people, too much fibre combined with nerves on the day, can lead to unwanted pit-stops during the race – if you’re one of these people, try opting for a low-fibre cereal and/or toast. Whichever way you decide, remember not to experiment with anything new on the day. Stick to what’s tried and tested.
Once on the bike, aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every hour (check out the 50g carbohydrate list for some ideas) – ideally, ingest something every 15-20 minutes e.g. ½ sachet corn-syrup OR 125ml sports drink /soft drink. Experiment with the different drinks and energy bars/corn-syrup products beforehand.
Aim to drink 400-800ml of fluid an hour – this may vary depending on how hot it is on the day, how much you sweat, your race pace and your overall size. Split the amount up into small quantities every 15-20 minutes (e.g. 100-200ml every 15 minutes).
Preparing your mind for the Cape Town Cycle Tour
Why would one need to prepare mentally for this race? Mental preparation can aid in the following:
- To feel prepared and ready to race. By feeling prepared your confidence increase and you will feel ready to compete
- To feel confident in one’s ability to complete the race. This is the number one objective, believing in yourself that you will have a great race and be able to complete the race.
- To focus on your execution. What you focus on before the race is critical. This will guide you in directing your focus to what is important when you get distracted by external elements
- To be able to cope with adversity (e.g. weather)
- To finalise your race plan or strategy
- To commit and enter the role of a cyclist on the day. This will help you make the transition between life and sports
So how does one prepare mentally?
- Set up your race plan
It is critical to have a plan on how you want to ride the race. Previous experience of the race can guide you in setting up your race strategy. This should be based on your strengths and weaknesses as a rider. E.g. when your weakness is hills, plan to catch up on your time during the straights and downhills. Set simple objectives e.g. Performance goals – at a certain km mark you need to be within a specific time or keeping and specific average and mental goals – keeping your focus or trust you race plan.
- Get psyched
Create your own pre-race routine and pre-race check-list. Have your bike packed and ready to go. This can include taking out your riding kit, filling up your water bottles, making sure you have all your “on route” snacks. On race day focus on your goal, make use of trigger words like “let’s go” or listen to upbeat music.
- Putting your mind into gear
Get ready. Familiarise yourself with the route and profile. You can either look at the map or take a drive with your car. By familiarising yourself with the route, you will prepare your mind and body on what to expect on race day.
- Attitude check list
Get into the role of a cyclist. Nothing else matter now except you, your bike and the road. A good attitude can help you stay motivated, increase your self-belief and keep you focused on your race plan. Check-in, if you don’t like your attitude… change it.