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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 09-06-11, 12:08 AM   #1
Oil_LOL
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Pre-race breakfast/ritual?

This Saturday, I will be competing in my first cyclocross race. I will be staying at a hotel with a continental breakfast the night before, and I was wondering a few things. Mainly: what should I eat the day/night before, and what should I have at breakfast? Also, the morning before the race, how should I prepare myself for the race, and how early should I arrive to the course relevant to my start time?
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Old 09-06-11, 09:33 AM   #2
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Here is my routine:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with ground flaxseed, honey and blueberries - no less than 3 hours prior to race start, seriously! Get to the race 2 hours before your race. Reg first, pin number and then go walk the course. Then a slow lap on the bike then a fast lap. Spend 15 min on the trainer to warm up before the race and take a gel at the line.

If you get hungry before the race (usually pre-race jitters more than anything) munch on a portion of a clif bar or something like that.
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Old 09-06-11, 12:43 PM   #3
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If you're at a hotel and didn't bring your own food, shame on you. You should not take the chance with unknown food prior to a race. If you're still learning then:

3 hours prior to the start time (even if you have to wake up to eat. another reason to bring your own food) consume 400 calories (low fat, low fiber). Do what Cynikal said about prep but extend your warm up time to 30 minutes and ride the course as many times as possible so you'll know where to go fast or slow and you have plenty of time to practice off camber turns and such. Practice your mounts and dismounts. They're critical to CX success. If you're riding a 40 minute race, a HoneyStinger at the line 15 minutes prior for the immediate burst of energy you'll need at the beginning of the race. If you're racing beyond 40 minutes, a regular gel right before the start so it enters your system at around 20 minutes into the race.

Drink a little make sure stuff is washed down. Unless given permission by course officials, you may not be able to feed during the race. Besides, you shouldn't have bottle cages on your CX racer anyway.

Good luck and make sure you have a whey protein source ready for consumption in the first 15 minutes after the race. Even though you're finished and it's time to drink beer, you HAVE to start thinking about recovery nutrition right away.
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Old 09-06-11, 02:11 PM   #4
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The worst race experience I've had to date (not counting mechanicals and injuries) came on a day when I made the mistake of eating a big plate of eggs and bacon just half an hour before a race. I mean you generally end up feeling like you're going to hurl in any race, but it really hurt not to in this one. I ended up pulling out after two laps because I just couldn't do it.

I agree with the above advice about oatmeal. I do that when I get up the morning of a race. Then I try to get to the course in time to do a little pre-riding before the first race of the day. It really sucks to be in a race heading down a singletrack descent into the woods when you don't know what's coming. If you're in the first race of the day, be sure to spend some time going at a hard enough pace to get your legs warmed up. My group races third, so after pre-riding I usually toss the bike on the rack and watch the first race. I try to get to any spots that looked tricky to see how other people are riding them and what problems they're having. About an hour before my race, I head back to my car, put the bike on the trainer and warm up for 30-45 minutes. At my age, this is as much about avoiding injury as improving performance, but it does both. I go easy for around 15 minutes then get off and stretch all my leg muscles, then get back on and try to work my way into threshhold HR. I try to drink around 20 ounces of energy drink while doing this to stay hydrated. If you don't feel like lugging a trainer around, you can usually achieve similar results riding around the roads near the course.
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Old 09-06-11, 04:00 PM   #5
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STP is taking himself way too seriously.

Bottom line is that becuase CX is intense but relatively short, there is greater danger in having too much in your stomach than there is in having too little. If you are up early enough to eat at least 3 hours before start time, above advice is solid - eat a relatively full meal, but stick to foods you are familiar with and are reasonably easy to digest. I am a meathead, but not before a race - it stays in the stomach too long. If your start is too early for that, a bagel or something similar will probably do the trick. Either way, energy drink while warming up will make sure you have the short term energy you need.

As for warming up, most everyone agrees more of it is better. I warm up more for 'cross than for any other type of racing I've done (bike, running, whatever). You need to be primed to go from the start. I like to show up about 1:15 hours before the gun - get registered, get changed, get the bike ready, and then start rolling. I'd probably leave a little more for my first race, though.

Mostly, it's your first race - get there eary enough to relax, check out the scene, spend some time on the course (if allowed), and have a good time.

Good luck!
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Old 09-06-11, 07:30 PM   #6
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I don't think he's taking it too serious he's right on a lot of levels, it also provides proper habits as you race more. I keep it real damn simple with toast/bagel, natural peanut butter, and honey. 4 hours prior is a good thing but it doesn't always work that way so at least 2 hours is fine.

DO NOT eat anything different then you normally do you'll probably end up on ze crapper.
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Old 09-07-11, 09:27 AM   #7
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Why do you have to put "shame on" (STP, above) someone for asking what to eat before a race? Jesus. That's a pretty roadie attitude for the CX forum.

I agree about oatmeal, and gels prior to the start and right at the start. I like the caffeinated ones, but that's just me. You definitely don't want to overdo it on the caffeine without trying it out first.
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Old 09-07-11, 11:44 AM   #8
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I don't think he's taking it too serious .
He's saying "shame on" someone showing up to his first cross race for not bringing his own food to the hotel. That's just ridiculous. Even if hotel bagel's are somehow more dangerous than ones bought at the store back home, that doesn't mean someone who's doing something for recreation is wrong to decide it's not worth the extra hassle and "risk" the hotel bagel. And for what it's worth, I've had plenty of hotel bagels (and English muffins, toast, granola, all the pre-races usuals), and none has ever caused me any problem.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:36 PM   #9
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Relax. The point is: Don't try anything new before a race; food or equipment.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:00 PM   #10
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I agree with STP: Be self-sufficient on food and drink. You never know what (or when) you get with the hotel continental breakfast, especially on a Sunday morning.

Instant cream of wheat with honey is my standard breakfast for an early-morning race, maybe a banana if I'm feeling fancy.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:22 PM   #11
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"with a continental breakfast the night before"

Don't eat your continental breakfast the night before the race. Wait until the morning.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:15 PM   #12
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You don't need that much in the tank to race CX. It's too short and intense to have a big heavy meal sitting in there. Make sure you are hydrated starting 3 days before the event.

I usually eat a couple mini wheat bagels with Nutella around 2-3 hours before go time. Drink some water. Maybe a gel like others have suggested.

I'd warm up for at least 30 minutes, with some hard efforts in there too. If you are worried about getting worn out during the warmup, then you aren't in good enough shape to race. And the shorter the race, the longer the warmup.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:41 PM   #13
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"with a continental breakfast the night before"

Don't eat your continental breakfast the night before the race. Wait until the morning.

Just my 2 cents.


I've only got a couple races under my belt so far, but here's been my plan...

My first race was in the early afternoon and I ate breakfast (bagel, peanut butter, apple) about 4 hours prior, then just snacked light (banana, handful of some weird Japanese rice ******* snacks) before the race.

Monday I was in the 9am start and I got there at 7:30am. It was a 45 minute drive, so working backwards, I left my place at 6:45am. My usual morning routine is an hour, so that puts me awake at 5:45 if it was a normal day. I wanted to double check everything so I woke up at 5:15am.
Walked the dog, ate some breakfast, killed my computer, got mad at my computer, loaded my gear into the Jeep, took care of my business, headed out the door.
Once on site I got my registration crap out of the way and took a practice lap after running into a training partner. He went back and forth about which bike to ride, I took a second practice lap, hit the can and by then we had 20 minutes left to the start so I made my lazy way to the start lineup.
It was a bazillion degrees (for Seattle) so I was more concerned with having water and NUUN in me than any extra food, especially with my first big-deal race on the line. It worked out well for me, and I plan to do the same for future starts (all seem to be 9:30am).
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Old 09-07-11, 03:52 PM   #14
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My favorite breakfast, before a race or regardless, is 3 pieces of 12 grain toast( Ezekiel sprouted grain flourless is my favorite), with nutella and banana or peanut butter and banana. And if i do Peanut butter then i usually put honey on top of the bananas. Hmmmm sooo good. Plus these are all things that are easy to bring with you, and hotels usually have bananas so its the best pre race meal.

Here is Todd Wells pre race ritual:

http://vimeo.com/9585811
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Old 09-07-11, 08:59 PM   #15
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Make sure you are hydrated starting 3 days before the event.
This is nonsense.
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Old 09-09-11, 09:06 PM   #16
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This is your first race? Here's what you do: poop before you leave the house, get to the race at least an hour and a half beforehand, register, ride the course a couple times and pick a line through the mud pits, pee at least twice before you race, and HAVE FUN. Bottom line, it's going to be hard, it's going to be exhausting, but you're going to enjoy yourself. Don't worry about the ritual, just go out there and do it.
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Old 09-10-11, 12:06 PM   #17
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Here's what you do: poop before you leave the house,
Best advice ever.
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