by Franz Kelsch
It is very important on what you eat and drink during the long period that you will encounter during an event like a double century, especially if the weather is hot.
It has long been known that you need salt during long periods of exercise. See this article for the research. If you don’t take salt and fluids during extended exercise in hot weather, you will tire earlier and increase your risk for heat stroke, dehydration and cramps.
I have personally found Endurolytes tablets from Hammer Nutrition to be work for me and easy to take, without any noticeable side effects. However it is not sufficient to just take these. You also need to hydrate. It takes time for the body to hydrate so you should not wait until you are very thirsty before you start to drink.
When I was doing the Devil Mountain Double last year the hot weather and limited water stops caused me to try to conserve my water intake. It was a big mistake and I ended up with significant cramping, eventhough I was taken several Endurolytes tables. When I finally reached a rest stop, I had to stay there for a much longer period of time, giving my body time to start to hydrate again.
There were some concerns about over hydrating after the death of some marathon runners who drank too much during the race but the medical experts have now come back around. Read this article on Hyponatremia Should Never Happen to You.
In addition to taking in enough salt and fluids, the next item you need to consider it taking in enough calories. Failure to take in sufficient calories will most likely result in Bonking, or when your body stalls mid-ride.
During the before mentioned Devil Mountain Double, my heart rate monitor said I burned 10,000 calories. A heavier person doing the same ride would have burned even more. Even on a much flatter ride, I burn a significant amount of calories during the ride. If you do not take in enough calories while riding you will bonk. Read these articles on how to prevent bonking during a long ride.
All cyclists have their own solutions for getting in the calories they need. It is can be a combination of liquid supplements added to your water bottle, some form of gel, and solid foods. There are conflicting reports in the scientific community on what is the right approach, especially when it comes to the amount of protein that should be consumed. It is important to develop you own approach during training. Don’t try something new when you are doing your first double century. Use what has worked for you on long distance training rides.
The above is only my opinion and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.