Mountain Bike Race Day Nutrition 101

Your nutrition strategy could be the difference between the podium and finishing mid-pack.  Here's how to dial it in like a Pro

by Shane Johnson, Cat 1 MTB racer, Trinity Bicycle Team

Nutrition is key for good performance and when race day arrives, it becomes even more crucial to make sure your day ends in glory and not a bonkfest!

In the last few years, through trial and error that included some bad bonks, I've been able to dial in a plan (that I'll share with you) that has eliminated nutrition from being a weak link in my quest for success!

For a morning start cross country mountain bike race, I'll do the following:

  • At 2-­3 hours before the race start, I'll eat a good sized breakfast to get myself full of calories, making sure I take in some quality protein. Example: Glass of OJ, waffles, eggs & bacon.
  • At barely over 1 hour to go, right before I start my warmup, I'll eat a cup of oatmeal and drink a half bottle of water. I really like Straw Propeller Oatmeal cups because they're easy to prep (hot water), quick to eat and digest!
  • When 1 hour before race time hits, I'll hop on my bike to begin my warmup. This is where I switch from stocking up calories, to topping off my body's fluid and electrolytes stores, so I'm ready for the upcoming exertion. Honeymaxx comes into play here, offering a complete, tasty electrolyte profile. Since I've been eating plenty of calories up to this point, I'll mix my warmup bottle with one scoop of Honeymaxx.

Long awaited race time has arrived! At this time, I'll finish off my warmup bottle and switch to Honeymaxx mixed with two scoops, providing a good amount of calories that are super easy to drink during the hard efforts of the race.

During the race, I'll aim to take in a bottle of Honeymaxx each hour. Most of my MTB races are 3.5 hours or shorter, but if the race is over two hours in length, I'll supplement extra calories in the form of gels or chews (about 1­2 per hour) as I've found I burn through the calories pretty quickly!

Post race, while hopefully basking in glory, I'll make sure to quickly get a recovery drink into my system within a half hour of finishing the race. I'll do this with either chocolate milk or a specific recovery drink like FortiGain. Anything with some quick carbs and protein to refuel my empty muscles!

There you have it! A nice, starter plan for your fueling success. Try these steps out and then experiment and tweak your nutrition so you too can maximize your racing performance!

Shane Johnson is a Cat 1 Mountain Bike racer and a Cat 4 racer on the road. He also runs the Trinity Bikes Cycling Team out of Redmond Oregon and is one of the original HoneyMaxx ambassadors.