Eating for an evening cycle race

Eating for an evening cycle race

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Knowledge Level: Intermediate

Whether it is your local club 10-mile time trial or an evening circuit racing league, fuelling and hydrating for 20-60 minutes of hard racing can be difficult. You don’t want to eat too much too close to the race and risk feeling bloated or nauseous but equally, you don’t want to underperform because you have consumed too little.


  • With your race only lasting for 20-60 minutes and 10-12 hours away, there’s no need for a huge carbohydrate heavy breakfast. An omelette would be a good choice.


  • For lunch, avoid heavy proteins such as red meat, which will sit on your stomach and the same applies to fatty foods.
  • High fibre or highly spiced foods should also be avoided to minimise the risk of gastric distress.
  • If you are watching your racing waistline, excessive carbohydrates are unnecessary.
  • An ideal lunch would be a chicken or tuna salad followed by a pot of natural yoghurt and then make sure you are constantly sipping water to stay hydrated throughout the day.


  • A mid-afternoon snack is vital to avoid a late afternoon energy crash that could leave you weak for your race or cause you to eat unhealthy sugary or fatty snacks.
  • Make sure you have some healthy snacks to hand such as nuts, seeds, orchard fruit, a bowl of cereal, a yoghurt or an energy bar.


  • For a 1900 start, this is your latest window for solid food.
  • An energy bar or a bowl of cereal are good choices and keep sipping on a water bottle.


  • Arriving at the Race HQ, sign on, pick up your race number, find out your start time and, working back from you start time, begin your warm-up so that you finish it 5-10 minutes before your slot.
  • Midway through your warm-up you might want to take a caffeinated gel.


  • Fifteen minutes before your race start, you should be coming to the end of your warm-up

  • This should leave you with 5-10 minutes before the start, plenty of time for a final loo stop and then to make your way to the line.


  • There should be no need to take on any additional fuel during a 10-mile TT or a circuit race.

  • If it is hot, you might want a bottle during a 45-60 minute race but you might struggle to find opportunities to drink from it.

Post Race

  • If you are not going to be able to have your dinner with 60-90 minutes of finishing your race, a protein drink giving 20 g of protein is a good idea to start the recovery process.
  • If you are able to to get back for dinner in reasonable time, you can skip the recovery drink, there’s no need to double up.
  • It’s important to remember that, although you have ridden hard, you haven’t ridden long and won’t have burned a large number of calories. Especially if you have already had a recovery drink, so there is no need for a large evening meal.
  • Eat sensibly, include some quality protein and vegetables and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an evening race gives you a nutritional free rein.
  • You are likely to be eating later than usual, so a lighter meal will also help you to sleep better.

Check out our recipes for on and off the bike for some ideas.

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