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Hydration and Nutrition at the EC (mostly elementary stuff for those folks who are not used to riding 6-8-10 hours, but will be doing exactly that at the EC)

Water is heavy.  So is food.  And you can’t eat and climb well at the same time.  So what do you do?  How much are you going to carry, how much are you going to drink, and how much food do you need to finish the EC?

The best simple answer might be that there is no simple answer.


Most casual riders overeat.  Most racers undereat.  200-280 calories/hour is one standard answer.  It can be a fine line between the two extremes, but most folks spend the last 30-90 minutes – or more – at the EC digesting muscle for energy from what I have seen.  That hurts.  A lot.  Think about pouring acid on your muscles.  And when it comes to recovering for the next day’s monster effort?  Yeah.  Have a plan, think about how much you are going to need, and make sure you get some calories in the last hours of the ride instead of just toughing it out.

Water is another question.  How much?  20-28 ounces per hour is one standard answer.  600-850mL.  Most folks are pretty dehydrated at the end of each training ride.  If your race is longer (check), harder (check), and in a drier place (two checks for most of you) than where you train, then you will probably be really low on water a long way from the Finish.

Most casual riders overdrink.  Most racers underdrink.  You have probably heard of hyponaetremia, the opposite of dehydration.  Mostly comes from trying to quench the feeling of thirst, more than treat the dehydration itself.  It is more than just “too much water”, it is an electrolyte imbalance.  If you eat some electrolytes every hour or two, it does two good things:  First, it makes you feel thirsty, so you are less likely to dehydrate.  Second, it keeps you from diluting the electrolytes in your system as much, so you reduce the chance of hyponaetremia.

The basic Hammer Nutrition philosophy is this:  You cannot replace what you lose in water, calories, or electrolytes.  Your body just cannot process that much while you are riding.  But you can replace some of it.  They say about a third.  If you want to keep going, you MUST do *some* replacing.

The real bottom line is that you have to figure out what works for you, and know that even that will not be the same every day.  You have to have a solid, tested PLAN, but also be FLEXIBLE for times when that plan is not working.

Check out their website for more on the topics of refueling and hydration.

More tomorrow on gear and gearing!