The weekend is here. Yes. For most of us this means cyclo-cross racing. A great little escape from the day-to-day of Monday to Friday. We load up our cars with bikes, gear, and hit the road to join the crowd heading to a ‘cross race. What a way to spend a weekend. Kind of like a mini-vacation. Different people, different location, never really know what is going to happen, and smile all around.

This weekend, I’m not traveling. Staying local here in Ottawa and I’ll be racing in the madison at Brittania Beach on Sunday. The madison is a classic race in the Ottawa Bicycle Club cyclo-cross series. In fact I think my very first race way back in 1994 on my Specialized Rockhopper might have been the madison. I find the madison one of the hardest races. It is a pure interval work-out. It is also one of the most fun races – on the “off” lap you have a chance to hang out and cheer on the other racers. Pretty smooth. So if you’re in town, why not come out and race the madison. All skill levels welcome and encouraged to come out.

I came across this article on Velonews the other day. Monique Ryan discusses nutrition requirements for cyclo-cross. Worth a read. Nutrition for bike racing is always a struggle. Every rider has different requirements. I know for me for cyclo-cross, I need to have my last meal 2.5 hours before the race. Typically this last meal is three english muffins with natural peanut butter and banana and I also eat one bowl of Ezekiel cereal. About an hour before the race I drink one bottle of eLoad. Then if I remember, 15 minutes before the race I have a gel. During my warm-up, I’m constantly sipping water. This works for me. If I eat any closer to the race start, I get a very upset stomach before the race. You’ll notice that my pre-race meal is combination of carbs and protein. I’ve found I need a lot of protein in my diet – not only to keep me full but also to help me keep my weight down. I rarely eat “bread” products such as english muffins – only on race days. The night before a cyclo-cross race, I’ll probably eat some “extra” carbs as well. Especially on a double weekend.

After the race I drink a recovery drink mixed with glutamine and powdered calcium. Then I do a little cool-down ride. If it is the first day of a double-weekend, I try to eat pretty much right after the cool-down. Last weekend this was a whole-wheat tortilla with turkey, spinach, cheese and hummus and then I ate an apple.

This is just an example of how I handle my nutrition needs for cyclo-cross racing. Of course the key to effective nutrition is flexibility. You never know what will be available at the grocery store, what will happen after the race, etc.

As for riding today. Just a little 90 minute recovery ride. Smooth. Yesterday I did the ‘cross ride in the morning and then a 2.5 hour ride in the evening with a 45 minute temp block. Wow – it is cold outside! Will be a chilly one today. Okay – gotta ride. Have a good one. Have fun racing.

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