Fuelling your Women’s 100 ride

From what to eat the night before to nutritious roadside snacks and the best post-ride recovery food, here’s how to dial in your diet for the Women’s 100.

You’ve trained hard, your legs are feeling fresh and you’ve got your ride-day game plan sorted, but neglect your nutrition and your Women’s 100 could easily be cut short. We asked professional riders, chefs and nutritionists what to eat before, during and after a 100km ride.

Before

The meal you eat the night before the Women’s 100 is a vital ingredient that will help ensure you perform at your best. Contrary to what we used to believe, the evening before a long ride you don’t need to ‘carb load’ and stuff yourself full of pasta or rice. You should eat a balanced meal, not too late, that contains all the food groups - protein, carbohydrate and fat - alongside vegetables, or salad. Hydration is also hugely important in the 24 hours before a big ride, and “to ensure your liver is in top form, avoid alcohol and overly fatty foods”, suggests ex-professional rider Julie Krasniak.

Sweet potato with quinoa blend and dal

This flavour sensation, devised by CANYON//SRAM’s Tiffany Cromwell, will prepare you for the day ahead, and is even better shared with friends.

Ingredients
Serves four

The Dal

  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp. organic turmeric (use fresh turmeric, grated if possible)
  • 2 tsp organic cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp organic chilli flakes
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 2/3 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups (900 ml) water
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, cut in boats
  • 70g spinach or baby spinach

Quinoa Mix

  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked as per packet instructions)
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • ½ cup dates, deseeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves
  • ½ cup fresh mint, shredded
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • handful of pumpkin seed

Topping

  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml Greek yoghurt or crumbled Feta cheese.
  • fresh coriander

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/ 390F/ gas mark 6
  2. Give each sweet potato a small slit at the top and place them on a baking pan. Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the flesh is soft. (Prepare the dal and quinoa while the potatoes are in the oven.)
  3. Place a large pot on a medium heat. Add the coconut oil, onion, garlic, apricots, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and chilli flakes. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and the kitchen has a lovely scent from all the spices. You can add a splash of water if the onions start to burn.
  4. Add carrots and lentils and let cook for two more minutes, then add water and salt and give it a good stir. Decrease the heat when it starts to boil, put the lid on and let simmer for 15-25 minutes (depending on the lentils). Stir occasionally to make sure the lentils aren’t getting burnt. Add more water if needed.
  5. Remove from the heat when the lentils almost have dissolved, add tomatoes and spinach. Taste and add more salt or spices if needed.
  6. Cook quinoa as per instructions on the packet. Once cooked, remove from heat and add the pomegranate seeds, dates, zucchini, coriander, mint, lemon zest, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and mix well.
  7. Place each sweet potato on a plate. Make a cut at the top and take out some of the flesh whilst fluffing the remainder with a fork to give space for the fillings. Add a spoonful or two of the quinoa mix and the lentil stew into the potato (it doesn’t matter if it overflows out of the sweet potato and onto the plate.)
  8. Top with natural Greek yoghurt, or crumbled Feta cheese and some fresh coriander leaves and ground black pepper.
  9. Enjoy!

During

Eating on the bike, or during your ride, is essential for any cyclist attempting a long-distance event. “The food in your jersey pockets should be a small, delicious reward for the work you’re doing on the bike,” says chef, cyclist and Rapha Ambassador Lentine Alexis.

But not only should your jersey pocket-size snacks taste good, they need to contain the right balance of nutrients. Your glycogen stores need to be replenished early on in a ride and pros do this by eating small and frequent amounts of carbohydrates. Half an hour into a ride might seem very early to be consuming your first calories, but you’re not eating for now, you’re eating to feel fresh in 40 kilometres time. Over the course of 100km, a good rule of thumb is to eat every 30 minutes.

Spiced apple and date bars

Lentine’s tasty and nutritious snacks will keep your legs spinning. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (210g) Medjool dates, pitted and sliced in half
  • Half cup (77g) dried apples
  • Quarter cup (30g) dried currants
  • Half cup (70g) walnuts and pecans
  • 3 tbsp. (42g) organic maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. (14g) finely ground flax seed
  • 1 or 2 tsp. spices (Any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and Chinese 5-spice or pumpkin pie spice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  2. Toss the pecans and walnuts in 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup and add a pinch of the spices. Spread over the prepared baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes until the nuts are just toasted. Remove from oven, turn off heat, and set aside.
  3. Next, line an 8×8″ pan with parchment or wax paper. Dust with ground flax seed, then set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the dates, currants, apples, toasted nuts, maple syrup and a few dashes (about ½ tsp) of the spices. Pulse just until the mixture is chunky. Taste the mixture at this point – add spice to taste.
  5. Once you approve of the amount of spice, remove ½ of the mixture and reserve (this chunky portion will add texture to your bars!) Pulse the remaining mixture until it comes together and is smooth. A few remaining chunks are ok.
  6. Return the reserved chunky portion to the food processor, remove the blade and – with a plastic spatula or your hands – mix the chunky portion into the smooth paste.
  7. With the plastic spatula, scrape the mixture out onto the flax-sprinkled pan. Press the mixture out in the pan until it’s the same thickness all over, about half an inch. You won’t fill the entire surface of the pan – what is important is that it’s this shape that you’ll soon need to cut and wrap. I like to make my bars thick, so they’re easier to slice.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining ground flax seed over the bars. Then, cover the shaped bars with plastic wrap and allow to chill for three hours or overnight until firm. Remove from refrigerator, slice into bars or squares and wrap with parchment paper. You can store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Keep the bars in the refrigerator if you prefer a firmer texture, or store at room temperature if you want a softer bite.

After

“Refuelling your body with nutritionally poor food is like refuelling a finely-tuned sports car with cheap petrol. You just wouldn’t do it, unless you wanted your hard-earned investment to perform badly,” says CANYON//SRAM’s Tiffany Cromwell.

Tiff recommends starting to refuel your body within the first 30 minutes of completing a ride. “I do this with 15-25g of high quality protein such as chicken, yoghurt or cheese, alongside 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per kg of body mass. For example, if you weigh 60kg you’d eat between 60-72g of carbohydrate – that’s around one and half bagels, or a 200g sweet potato,” she adds.

Chicken and mushroom sweet miso udon noodles

Refuel on this Japanese-inspired noodle dish that uses fresh flavours from the land of the rising sun.

Ingredients
Serves 4

  • 1 packet (250g) udon noodles
  • 2 chicken breast fillets, chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup (235ml) water or broth from udon noodles (as needed)
  • 1 cup mushrooms of your choice, chopped (I like to use shiitake mushrooms but you can use a mix of various Japanese mushrooms or also keep it simple with brown mushrooms)
  • handful of lightly toasted cashews, roughly chopped.
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped (use whites and greens and have them separated)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Sweet miso sauce

  • 4 tbsp. white miso paste
  • 4 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp. mirin

Method

  1. Prep all your ingredients by chopping the chicken breast, herbs and spices.
  2. Cook the udon noodles according to package directions in a pot of boiling water.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine miso paste, maple syrup and mirin. Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking continuously. The mixture should bubble slightly, but don’t let it burn. Set aside.
  4. In a medium pot or saucepan, heat coconut or olive oil on a medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, chilli, whites of the spring onions, chicken and sauté for a few minutes.
  5. Then add in mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and sauté until mushrooms are cooked down and the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Add cooked noodles (if you can time this well, add them right from the boiling water so the excess water helps to create the sauce).
  7. Add the sweet miso mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, and taste as you go. You might not use all of it depending on how light or sweet/rich you prefer your meal.
  8. If necessary, add water or broth from noodles to thin the sauce to your desired consistency (I like to keep my sauce on the thicker side).
  9. Turn heat off and stir in half the spring onion greens, toasted cashews, and sesame seeds. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sauce if necessary.
  10. Serve into bowls and top with the remaining scallion greens, and sesame seeds.
  11. Enjoy!

Quick Fix

When you finish a ride hungry it’s easy to reach for the nearest sugary snack, but “having quick, healthy treats to hand is the best way to avoid the temptation to overeat post ride”, says chef, culinary director and Rapha Ambassador Chloe Lasseron. “Your body needs food to recover, rebuild muscle and to replenish your energy stores, but it’s easy to eat the wrong things,” says Chloe. Here’s a treat with a healthy twist, so you’ll feel less guilty about indulging after all that effort.

Sweet potato cinnamon buns

The added sweet potatoes in these buns contain complex, slow-release carbohydrates, so you won’t get a sudden blood sugar spike.

Ingredients
Serves 3-5

Dough:

  • 1/2 (113g) sweet potato puree *see note at the bottom
  • 2 heaped cups (160g) all-purpose flour/ plain
  • 1 packet (7g) of active yeast
  • ½ cup (130ml) almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. (25g) brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. (15g) coconut oil
  • Filling:
  • ⅓ cup (80g) sweet potato puree
  • 2 tbsp. (25g) brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. (15g) coconut oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Optional:
  • Maple syrup or honey to glaze

Method

  1. Warm the almond milk and scatter the yeast over the top. Allow to activate for about 10 minutes, or until frothy (you may need to help the yeast a bit by gently pushing it into the milk, but don’t stir the mixture quite yet).
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the brown sugar and flour in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the sweet potato puree and coconut oil. Add in the almond milk and yeast mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix together. You can use your hands to properly mix the contents until a thick dough forms.
  5. The dough should be pretty sticky. Dump out onto a floured countertop and knead a few times until it forms a ball.
  6. Place the ball of dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel and place in a warm spot to rise. It should take an hour or so for it to double in size. Make sure you wait until it has completely doubled. Now is a great time for a short ride.
  7. Punch down the dough and on a lightly floured surface then roll out in a rectangle about the size of a piece of printer paper (A4).
  8. In a small bowl mix the filling. Combine the sweet potato puree, brown sugar, coconut oil and cinnamon. Spread evenly over the entire rectangle.
  9. Carefully and tightly roll up the dough, making sure the filling doesn’t come out at the sides. Cut the dough with a sharp knife into 3cm slices.
  10. Set the rolls in a lightly greased baking dish and once again cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 200C/395F. Once the rolls have risen, bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
  12. Carefully remove from the oven and top with maple syrup or honey.

*Note: For the sweet potato puree poke holes all over the sweet potato using a fork or knife. Wrap it in foil and bake for 45-60 minutes at 180C/370F, depending on the size of the sweet potato. Leave to cool, peel the skin, and mash until smooth.

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