my general strategy in the races I've done is to go hard the first lap, and maybe half the second. Like real hard, gasping, searing pain kind of hard. Which is fine, I'm happy to push myself, but the thing that gets me down is the nausea. I feel like I'm bumping up against a sort of 'line' in my effort level, above which I really feel like I'm going to vomit.
Is there anything I can do to alleviate this? Better warm up? Different pre-race snack? I try to warm up just by trying to get some laps in during the pre-ride, and my snacks are generally apples and this trail-mix/granola bar thing my girlfriend makes for me. It's great, and I think it's healthy, but maybe it's to much? It has lots of chocolate and nuts and dried fruit and whatnot.
I mean I can deal with the pain and suffering, but I really don't want to vomit onto the course, and I think if I didn't have to deal with that I could explore my limits a little more freely.
First, I question your strategy. Yes, it's good to get a good start to avoid traffic. But there's no reason to keep pushing beyond your realistic pace for the first lap and a half. You're just burning matches that you should save for later in the race.
Second, you shouldn't eat anything within 3 to 4 hours of the race, with the exception of 100cal or so of really easily digested carbs (i.e. gel, bloks, etc) within 15 minutes of your race. You literally should feel hungry at the line. You are eating too much, and too much fiber. Even your pre-race meal 3 to 4 hours before the race should avoid too much fiber, fat, or protein, focus on carbs. The time between meal and race allows you to digest the food, top off glycogen stores, and get insulin/sugar response back to normal.
Third, your warm-up should include some genuinely hard efforts. One way is to tackle some tricky sections of the course at race pace, another way is to do some sprints on pavement, or on the trainer. But the point is to open up your legs, get a bit of a sweat on, but not tire yourself out.
Well I did as suggested and it went great! I ate a good carby breakfast almost four hours before the event, and took in 100 calories or so and some caffeine about 45 minutes before the race.
No nausea! I could go as hard as I wanted and only my legs would protest. I did learn that caffeine affects me negatively however - I had trouble focusing my mind on the task at hand, leading to a hard time picking my way through the more technical bits. I will go without from now on.
This is the first time I've felt like I really had the engine to do what I wanted, and it was instead my riding skills holding me back. Just getting around the corners efficiently.