5 Round Taupo FAQs

The thought of cycling 160km around New Zealand's biggest lake seems to spark some interest in sports nutrition! Below are a few of the commonest questions I get asked.

What should I eat during the ride?

On event day you must eat what you tolerate, and what you have trialled in training. As I talked about in a previous post, carbohydrates are a key fuel that you burn, but are not stored in large quantities in the body, so they must be consumed. Clif bars are sponsoring the Round Taupo event in 2016, so be sure to trial there bars before race day. There are many brands of products that provide carbohydrates in different forms, so figure out if you like bars, gels, or real food. 

A conservative aim should be to consume 60g of carbohydrates per hour, so plan this in advance so you have enough!

What should I drink during the ride?

When choosing your drink, consider these questions:

  • How much carbohydrates do I want my drink to provide?
  • How much water do I need for the ride?
  • How will I carry the fluid?

Nuun is the sponsored product and will be on course. Nuun comes in tablets that you mix with water, but crucially contain electrolytes but NOT carbohydrates. If you think that you will need to get extra carbs from your fluid, then consider this when choosing your drink.

You should know about how much you need to drink per hour as a result of your training. You can measure your sweat rate to give an accurate idea of your fluid losses, or you can drink to thirst during training, note how much you drink, and then make a plan for race day based on this. The minimum amount that you should look to consume is about 500ml/hr. If you are having less than this, dehydration might be hindering your performance.

Of course you must know how you will carry all this fluid. 500ml/hr for 5hrs is 2.5l of fluid. That is at least 3 drink bottles. Do you have room on your bike for that? Or will getting a camelpack or some other more technical drink bottle systems be necessary. Nuun will be on course, but consider whether you will want to stop and refill, losing your rhythm and the bunch.

What about electrolytes?

Great question. Electrolytes are said to play a role in cramp, but that is not so clear and I have written about that here. Electrolytes may help the fluid you drink be consumed better during exercise, and they do add a nice taste to your drink. Overall, electrolytes certainly do not do harm in the recommended amounts, but they are not a magic cure for cramp or dehydration. If you get cramp frequently, don't just expect that by adding electrolytes to your drink the problem will be solved, so make sure you trial other methods mentioned in the cramp article.

Do I need to worry about electrolytes for every single ride?

No. In fact it is a good idea not to! Consuming carbohydrates and fluid is important to ensure that you get the most out of your training, but doing some training sessions fasted and without carbs (always take fluid) can help you get better at burning fat. Also, on rides under an hour, carbohydrates have not been shown to aid performance, so it might be that you are just adding in extra calories for no benefit.

I recommend that you do the majority of your longer rides very well fuelled, but do some of them on lower carb intake. On your medium rides (and hill sessions) mix it up, do what is practical for you, but make sure about 50% of them are well fuelled. For your shorter rides, just relax and enjoy the experience without worrying about fluid and fuel.