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How To Fuel For An Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race

August 1, 2015

Editor's note: this blog post was written by pro cyclist Ally Stacher, creator of the deeeee-licious Ally's Bar. Ally's Bar is great, click that link and order like 15 of them. Ally's also very good at riding bikes. So good that she's preparing for this month's Leadville 100 in Leadville, Colorado. The Leadville 100 is world renown for being a very tough race that takes place above 10,o00 feet in elevation. When racing that distance at altitude, fueling matters. Here's how Ally will build her fueling plan for the LT 100.  How To Fuel For An Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race. Written By Ally Stacher. Finishing a 100 mile mountain bike race or a marathon event is a keystone challenge for many mountain bikers. At that distance, just finishing is a huge accomplishment. The thing is...all the training in the world won’t get you to the finish line without the proper hydration and nutrition. Before you can think about the finish, do your homework. Know the start time, start location, think about the weather forecast, and think about what kind of course conditions you'll see on race day. Pack adequate clothing and bring lights if need be! Lights might seem a little excessive, but believe me...being left out on the trail with no lights sucks and can be a prevented! I love to learn as much as I can about the course, studying the profile and doing my homework on past winners. I also like to review past finishing times at the races I'm targeting. Finishing times can dramatically impact your nutrition, especially if course conditions lead to a wide range of finishing times. You'll need to be prepared for a 12 hour day on a slow course, or a 9 hour day on a fast course. Here's what I focus on when building a fueling plan:
  • Don't get behind on your fueling. If you get behind on your fuel in a long distance mountain bike race, you can forget about the podium and start hoping to finish. It's possible to get away with poor fueling for shorter races, but long distances are another story.
  • A bad stomach will do more damage than you think. Choose food that works for you and doesn't give you stomach trouble.
  • You’re going to need all the calories you can get. I’ve done a 6 hour, 12 hour and 100 mile races and I’ve had success at all of them. I like to say a huge part of it is because the ridiculous amount of Ally’s Bars I ate. I like to eat an Ally’s Bar on the start line and then one full Ally’s bar every 45mins during my race.
  • You never want to finish a race hungry. I always eat a little more than I think I should, or want to. Late in the race, you'll need it.
  • Keep drink mix in both your bottles at all times. During the summer months, you’re going to loose a lot of electrolytes and sodium. I’m a huge fan of Osmo Hydration and find that it works great for me.
  • I like to drink a bottle an hour and carry two bottles on my bike with a Camelbak. If possible, I'll take feeds where I’ve set them up on the race course. Remember - always thank the people who support you out on the course!
Last but not least, maintain have a positive mental outlook and remember everyone else is suffering just like you are. Ultra MTB races are long and arduous, you're going to go through highs and lows! Make sure the lows are short and get yourself back to the highs. One hundred miles of MTB riding is a long time to stay happy and focused, but it'll help!