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Women's 100: Professional Advice
Words by Julie Krasniak | Photos by J. Dunn
Julie Krasniak, from the French city of Metz, began riding at 12 years old and by the age of 14 was racing mountain bikes. Between her brother, father, grandfather and great grandfather, the Krasniaks have won over a thousand races. Julie currently resides stateside in Portland OR where she races for Rapha-FOCUS. Here she offers some professional advice for the Women's 100.
For as long as I can remember, riding an Etape du Tour or any 100km plus ride has represented one of the toughest challenges any amateur or accomplished cyclist can face. Cycling non-stop, for three hours or more requires, more than anything, preparation.
“Hit the road with a full stomach.”
If you had to write a list of the must-haves for this challenge, your number one priority will always be nutrition. The meal the night before is vital – a good plate of pasta, quinoa, rice, bulgur wheat, lentils. It’s also worthwhile avoiding alcohol and overly fatty foods in the days running-up to the race to ensure your liver is in top form. A small sacrifice that’s well worth making! And you’ll certainly need to take some solid food with you for the ride itself. Sports nutrition companies offer a wide range of products, but traditional food also has its place – dried mango or papaya or nuts such as almonds are healthy and free of chemical additives. Fruit and almond bars are also stalwarts for snacking in the saddle. I’ve even been known to tuck a croissant in my pocket!
"Take in fluids right from the very start."
You’ll also need to replace the litres of water your body will sweat out. You can use low-glucose energy powders such as maltodextrin to prepare an ideal drink for a long cycle. Too much sugar in your drink will ultimately make you feel thirstier and, more importantly, cause your blood glucose levels to peak, and that will generally mean hypoglycaemia. You need to drink and eat right from the beginning, and by that I mean the very first few kilometres. That’s the first lesson professional cyclists learn. Drink before you start to feel the need, because once you’re actually thirsty, it’s already too late. A coke during the last 15 kilometres will often work if you’re looking for an extra burst of energy and a clear head!
"Check your equipment."
When you’re setting off on a long ride, there’s nothing worse than a bike that’s not working properly with a poorly oiled chain or worn tires. A full, timely check-up of your bike is absolutely vital because the sort of incidents that can occur on a cycle ride can take on dramatic proportions when you’re 50km or more away from home or your destination. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you by booking your bike in for a check-over at your local bike shop beforehand.
If you want all your bases covered, pack a full essentials kit: One or more inner tubes, a pump, some CO2 cartridges (not very green, but effective) and a multi-tool. Plus, if you know how to use it, a pocket chain tool with a quick link takes up hardly any room and could come in very handy.
"Prepare your equipment."
The key to setting off on a nice relaxed ride is in knowing what to expect, and that’s not always easy! If you’re planning a 100km ride, the advice is simple: build up to it with shorter distances beforehand. For the sake of your behind, as well as your back. Strangely enough, the biggest source of pain on a long ride is the friction on your hands, very uncomfortable. Having the right equipment is the key to cycling.
In terms of technique, there is no question that the best way to approach the 100km is by building up to it with three or four 60-70 km rides first.
"The right equipment."
The basic must-have kit all cyclists need to invest in is some proper cycling shorts and a good pair of gloves. Just before you set off, go out and assess the temperature, even if you’ve already checked the weather forecast for the day. This is the best way to ascertain humidity levels and whether the day is likely to warm up. The basic cycling accessories for a cycle ride over three hours are: a neck tube, a small cap, shoe covers, a sleeveless top or waterproof gilet. These things will fold up small enough to fit into the pockets of your jersey. There’s no point in wearing too many clothes, but it’s not worth running the risk of getting caught out if the temperature drops because of a rain shower or after descending a hill.
"Know where you’re going!"
Good knowledge of the route is a major asset if you want to manage your energy levels. The uphill segments are the most intense, and you’ll struggle to drink or eat during these, which is where knowing your route comes in handy. If you know when there’s a descent or flat stretch, you can use it to eat and hydrate. For an endurance 100km route you need to know how to manage your energy effectively, never letting your levels fall into the danger zone. For example, if you push too hard at the start of a 40 km ride, during an ascent of even just 5 or 6 minutes, your body may just give up because you’ve asked too much of it. You need to learn to stay within your limits, come what may. The safest way to do this is to jot down a breakdown of the route and set it on your handlebars - then you’ll be able to check your progress using an ordinary speedometer.
"Cycle in a group."
If you can cycle in a group, which is a significant advantage the first time you set your sights on the 100km, it’s best to choose cyclists of a similar level. The idea is to steer clear of the wheels of the other members of the group as efficiently as possible, and to take turns making the pace, without pushing yourself too hard. After 80 km, if you’re still feeling in good shape, now’s the time to steam ahead, drawing on those last energy reserves.
"Devise a plan."
Everyone needs a plan when they are training. Below is just an example but breaking it up across the months is an effective way to do it, but you should always make it flexible to suit you and your lifestyle: If you work during the week, take it easy on Saturday and go harder on Sunday. Don’t do the full ride if the weather is bad. Take the best of the weather, if it’s bad on Sunday or sunshine on Saturday, just switch, do a little bit longer on Saturday. If you miss a ride, it’s cool, don't worry. Don’t ride if you are sick and cut the ride if you are too tired…
If you follow this plan, which might take 3 to 5 hours per week, you will have ridden 1500km by July 7th.
6 : 30km/1h30
7 : 45km/2h15
13 : 35km/1h45
14 : 50km/2h15
20 : 50km/2h
21 : 50km/2h
27 : 45km/1H45
28 : 55km/ 2H30
4 : 45km/1h30
5 : 55km/ 2h10
11 : 40km/ 1h30
12 : 60km/ 2h30
18 : 30km/ 1h
19 : 70km/ 2h45
2 : 45 km / 1h30
26 : 55 km / 2h00
1st : 35km/ 1h10
2nd : 80 km / 3h
8 : 55km / 2h00
9 : 70km / 2h45
15 : 40km / 1h20
16 : 85 km / 3h10
22 : 55km / 1h45
23 : 75km / 3h00
29 : 40 km/ 1h30
30 : 90km/ 3h30
6 : 25km / 1h
7 : 100km
Go ride with friends, relax, enjoy the landscape and have fun AND Good luck!
- Calm and confident on the snow - Katerina Nash is off to an early lead. http://t.co/8TynNP7Nho
- They reopened the ice covered fly-over here in Bend. http://t.co/6xOs5BSd0W