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22-10-2021 | Eveline van der Hek

How do I prepare for Mallorca 312? PART 2

At the moment I'm in Mallorca for Mallorca 312, a tough gran fondo with 312 km and 5000m+. In the run-up to the event next Sunday, I have all sorts of questions, which I have put to three experts by experience. Today part 2 of my quest. You can find part 1 here.

I will be on the bike for a long day so I need to eat and drink enough. Will you eat and drink differently to a shorter gran fondo?

Martin: "If you look at what you need to eat and drink per hour, the duration of the race doesn't matter. Just aim for 80-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour and start eating early. I drink a sports nutrition bottle empty before the start. Take food that is high in carbohydrates, that you like and that you can digest well while cycling. You can also take some tablets to mix with water at the feed station. These tablets fit easily in your back pockets. At the checkpoints, make sure you don't choose too much food that is filling but doesn't provide enough energy. For example, four bananas equal one bag of Maurten. But after two bananas you'll be full and still lack half the energy."

Herman: "I eat the same thing every gran fondo and try to eat every 45 to 60 minutes. It's a good idea to start on time and keep eating, also to avoid a hunger knock. Without eating well, you won't make it. I take about half of what I need with me and the other half I get at the feed station. I like to eat cookies to have something other than bars and gels.

Frank: "In my experience, a 12- or 14-hour gran fondo is not that different from a 6- or 8-hour one. The principles are the same, you just ride longer. I think the supply on this particular event is very good and I personally would not take so much with me. I would, however, find out where the supplies are and what they offer. A course sticker on the top tube (you usually get this in the goodie bag) is useful. I prefer to use the space saved for, for example, extra clothing, especially if the weather is uncertain. It will cool down in the evening, so a windbreaker/windstopper/rain jacket is a no brainer. There are also riders who do take a lot of food because it saves time, or because they just want to keep everything in their own hands. That remains personal. Either way, bring some emergency gel packs and keep them with you for the whole day.

Wouter: "I still have a lot to do with food. For really long rides, I take two big bottles of Maurten 320 or SIS Beta Fuel, which has twice as many carbohydrates as isotonic drinks. I always fill my pockets with my own food, lots of soft bakes for the first few hours and gels that you don't have to rinse with water for when I have trouble eating solid food. Keep eating from the start, they once told me, and that is what I do. I don't eat differently on longer trips than on shorter ones (as long as they last more than 2-3 hours). I must add that my stomach often has a hard time accepting what is coming in. I do not dare to eat everything that is lying around at a stop of the organization. Bananas and especially salty snacks are what I get there and of course I refill my water bottles. For the 250 km of the Amstel Gold Race I took a sachet with me so that I could make the food in my bottle with water again."

Speaking of energy, my bike computer(Garmin Edge 1030) also needs power and I would hate it forever if I can't add my complete ride to my records. How do I make sure it will last for maybe fourteen hours?

Martin: "Make sure it is in battery saving mode. In addition, you can put the screen on black. Personally, I would turn the screen on during the descent so you can see how the turns go."

Herman: "You already have a bike computer with a fairly long battery life. If it does run out, switch to your phone before recording your ride. Later, you can link the two parts on the computer."

Frank: "You can take a small power bank with you or attach it to your handlebars with tie-wraps. Another option would be to put your phone on airplane at start (or off). Once your computer is empty, take your phone out of flight mode and record the activity with the Strava app on the phone. And then when you get home, paste the two FIT files together. You do need a laptop for this. Disadvantage: the elevation will be not correct anymore, because phones do not register this properly. But that can be changed later if necessary."

Wouter: "I have an external battery for my Garmin which I can click under the mount so it connects to the computer. It gives me 20 hours of extra battery life... To be honest, I wonder if I ever really needed the external battery, but it works. When I didn't have the external battery and my current bike computer I used to put an external charger in my little top tube bag, take the cord out and connect it directly to my phone on the handlebars. Worked great too. That little bag didn't bother me or make a world of difference."

Those were my questions, but I'm sure I'm forgetting some more. What question did I not ask that I should have?

Martin: "It's going to be a long day and there may come a time when it's no longer fun. So how do you keep yourself motivated? Keep in mind that you are riding a unique ride and that you almost never ride alone. With that in mind, try to keep enjoying it. What can help me is to put in an earpiece and some music. That can give it an extra boost.

Herman: "Make sure your bike is in good condition, check your brakes etc. Also, ride in a group and have fun!

Wouter: "It's a bit late for that now, but you should have asked me if I wanted to join you when you made your plan. ;) One thing that always helps me, especially on long rides, is setting goals for both the desired result and the way I want to ride. As a result, I strive for example to achieve gold, if not I am satisfied with silver and if it really does not go well then I want to finish it in any case. As for how I want to ride, goals include not taking too many risks on the descents, keeping my heart rate around a certain average and eating every 20 minutes."

Frank: "I have some advice. Start slowly, because it's going to be a long day. And don't worry too much about the distance, as your preparation was superb and cycling 300 km is not that different to cycling 200 km (only longer). Good luck!"

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