The physical demands of any multi-day cycling event are extreme, let alone one that takes 9 days and 969 miles to complete. The Deloitte Ride Across Britain is an iconic must-do event for anyone serious about cycling. There’s just something spectacular about saying you made it to the other end of 9 gruelling days of back-to-back physical exertion across some of Britain’s toughest hilly terrain, breath-taking scenery and some of the best and most famous cycling routes in the country. But it won’t be easy.
Here are some tips for conquering the RAB:
1.) Do your prep work
Have you trained long and hard enough to handle the demands of the race? It may sound obvious, but making sure your fitness level is up to par is pretty important. If you feel utterly exhausted after 5 hours in the saddle and thousands of calories down, it is going to be a struggle to get up and going every morning. Make sure you know the demands of the event you’re getting into. The Journey doesn’t start at Lands’ end, but the moment you sign up.
2.) Commit to your nutrition plan and stick to it
Finding out what works for you and what doesn’t is extremely important. Different sports drinks contain varying amounts of carbs and electrolytes, and some can contain protein. If you haven’t trained with these products, it’s not wise to consume them during the event, as you risk causing stomach issues.
HIGH5 Nutrition is a great choice for those with a sensitive stomach, as it uses mostly natural flavours and colours, and has many products within the range that are gluten- and sugar-free as well. HIGH5 undergoes rigorous testing in both the lab and with athletes in the real world, which means it won’t let you down when it matters most. It’s also Vegetarian Society approved.
3.) Eat with the next day in mind
The most critical aspect of stage race nutrition is getting in enough nutrients to maximise your body’s ability to repair and recover from one stage to the next. The RAB is particularly tough since it involves extensive climbing, which requires considerable energy expenditure. Avoiding fatigue means proper pre, during and post-race nutrition.
If you’re used to training for single-day events, not getting in enough nutrition can be a common mistake. If you empty your carbohydrate reserves in one day’s riding, it’s almost impossible to fully re-fuel by the next day and you will start with a part-empty tank. You must make a major effort to focus on fuelling your carbohydrate reserves during and after each day’s riding. This is critical to consistent performance in multi-day events.
4.) Hydration is key
“The best advice to start with would be to ensure that you hydrate as often as possible. Often, you’ve already passed the point of no return in terms of being dehydrated if you wait to drink only when you are thirsty,”
Dehydration will severely affect energy levels. Your muscle cells are almost three-quarters water, so if you’re short on fluids, you’ll feel the strain. Drinking little and often will give you the best chance of hitting your targets.
But what should you be drinking and how much? During endurance exercise, you need to focus on both hydration and energy to keep you going for longer. Carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance the absorption of water to optimise endurance performance. HIGH5 EnergySource is a scientifically formulated carbohydrate and electrolyte sports drink designed for use during exercise to both replace key electrolytes and supply energy to your muscles. HIGH5 Nutrition will be available throughout the course of RAB, so it may be worthwhile getting your body used to it now. They’re also the official on-course nutrition partner for a large number of the European IRONMAN events, should you be considering the next big challenge.
Even with a good hydration strategy, you often finish exercise mildly (or more severely in hot conditions) dehydrated, so it’s important to continue drinking after exercise. You should aim to replace 150% of your fluid lost through exercise within 3 hours of finishing. This means that if you finish exercising with a one litre fluid deficit, you should drink 1.5 litres. A drink that contains carbohydrates and protein, like HIGH5 Protein Recovery, can help to rapidly restore muscle carbohydrate stores and also help with the dreaded onset of soreness.
Thirst is the initial sign of dehydration. Symptoms of intermediate dehydration include: dry mouth and lips, reduced sweat output, muscle cramps and light-headedness.
5.) Don’t faff around
When the riding is done for the day, don’t just stand around in your sweaty kit. The sooner you can get cooled down, clean, fuelled, hydrated and off your feet, the better. Anything else is just delaying valuable recovery time.
A dirty, sweated-in chamois is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria – E. coli, salmonella and C. difficile, to name a few. The pros’ shortcut is to hop in the shower, kit and helmet on. The padding of your helmet accumulates bacteria and sweat just as quickly as your kit, so don’t leave it out. When you’re done, you can just remove your gear and hang it out to dry for the next day.
A post-ride rubdown can also work wonders. Nothing too vigorous or hard, just a light massage to help increase circulation and assist the muscles in clearing lactic acid. RAB will have massage facilities available for riders in need of that extra recovery boost.