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Due to the short duration of cyclo-cross races it is not actually necessary to fuel during the race. This makes pre and post race nutrition even more important to get right. On the odd occasion when temperatures are extremely high, riders are allowed to take a bottle handed up in the pits, but only on certain laps within the race.
A high carbohydrate pre-race meal is key. Due to the high intensity of cyclo-cross racing our bodies will rely mainly on the quick release energy of our carbohydrates stores. These stores however are limited, so a high carbohydrate meals such as a big bowl of porridge or pasta dish is a good idea. Aim to consume this meal 2-3 hours before the start of your race to allow it time to settle in your stomach. Hydration is going to be another key area to focus on when making sure you are ready to race. As little as 2% dehydration can affect your performance, so have a bottle at hand during the lead up to the race to keep sipping from. OTE Hydro tabs are brilliant for this as they have a high electrolyte content which aids fluid retention and hydration.
For that final energy top up consume and energy gel around 15-20 minutes before the start. Many people take gels on the start line, but by consuming the gel within your warm up this allows for the inevitable blood sugar spike to occur and then stablise, so you don’t get the feeling of sugar highs and lows within the race. Trading your pre race energy gel or a caffeine gel can provide you with an added edge. The brain stimulation linked with caffeine consumption can be particularly useful for cyclo-cross, especially when negotiating obstacles at speed. Again, consuming this 15-20 minutes before the start of the race should ensure the caffeine has kicked in ready for the start.
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