The BEST thing to eat during a track day…

15 Aug

MotoGP, World Superbike and regional superbike riders the world over might be asking this question of themselves: Does what I eat effect my riding? Does how much I eat effect my riding?

Well the simple answer is “yes,” and “yes.”

Motorcycle racing is one of the most energy demanding sports in the world. Studies have shown that the average road racing pilot has a heart rate that floats around or above 85% of their maximum heart rate for the duration of the race. Now there are some anomalies. I remember in the movie “Faster,” the section of the movie was discussing the difference in heart rate of Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi.

Rossi’s heart rate floated around 130 bpm or so while Biaggi was up around 150-160 bpm. Now the higher the bpm, the faster your body burns through energy.

So although your last name isn’t Rossi, I know when you’re on the track, your heart rate is up there and your body is working.

To keep your body doing this type of work during a trackday (much less a race), you have to give it the right type of fuel.

Much like any other athlete, carbohydrates are the fastest energy source in our body. Once carbohydrates enter the body, depending on their complexity, they can be in the blood stream in as little as 10-minutes because carbohydrate breakdown begins in our mouths.

Carlin Dunne Pikes Peak

No matter if you’re racing a track, or hitting Pike’s Peak full bore, nutrition plays a big role in concentration and endurance. (Photo from: http://www.digitaltrends.com)

Now superbike racers aren’t often viewed by the public (or researchers for that matter) as athletes. Thus, the need to evaluate their nutritional demands isn’t deemed important.

But hey, I’m a rider. I do trackdays. I ride hard on the weekends. And I always want to be at the top of my skill level. So nutrition IS important to me.

So what should you eat during a track day? Well, the first step is to look at the demands. Is it hot? Are you in class between sessions? How often are you on the track? Every 20-minutes or every 40-minutes?

More often than not, you’ll want and need a lot of carbohydrates. But these don’t need to be in the form of cookies and cake.

No, you need NUTRITION. Other than sugar, cakes, cookies and soda have nothing to offer. Now fruit, whole wheat bread sandwiches, honey, peanuts, raisins, salad. These are all carbohydrates that have the vitamins and minerals to keep you at the tip of the spear.

When winning is coming down to tenths of a second per lap, you better be able to pour every last drop of effort and energy into your laps.

When the difference between life and death on your favorite canyon road is a tenth of a second in reaction time, you’d better not be delayed. Having not just adequate, but optimal nutrition is imperative!

Hot weather, poor ventilation and poor nutrition will do this to you and me both. This is not a good state to be riding a motorcycle in. Photo credit: http://www.motorcyclenews.com

So foods like oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, chicken, almonds, sunflower seeds, and let’s not forget PLENTY of water is imperative. I know when you’re on a day ride with your buddies, enjoying the food you eat is part of the experience. But first and foremost, food MUST BE NUTRITIOUS.

When you wake up the morning of a trackday, be sure to have a few eggs with some veggies and cheese. Then have yourself a bowl of oats and a big glass of water and some coffee. Bring a snack of chocolate covered almonds, or the po’ boy version: almonds and chocolate chips. Bring plenty of water to the track with you, even if it’s cold outside. You will still sweat while riding.

For lunch, keep in mind you are replenishing and preparing for the afternoon. So lunch should consist of primarily carbohydrates, with protein and fat lower on the priority list. But again, just any carbohydrates won’t do. Sandwiches are obviously very easy to pack and eat. But whole wheat or even better, sprouted grain bread should be the bread you’re having. As for meat on the sandwich, turkey is usually a good source primarily because it is lean. Foods higher in fat such as baloney or roast beef will sit heavy and can cause gastrointestinal distress. Eat slow and be sure to stop eating when 80% full. Food coma is not something you want just prior to heading back into the track.

Turkey Sandwich

Turkey, avocado and veggies makes a great track day lunch! Wash it down with some water and feel free to have some chocolate covered almonds with it!

Bring a Gatorade or Accelerade with you too for later in the afternoon when blood sugar tends to drop even without hustling a bike around the track.

For every session you’re on the track, you need to drink 500-mL of water. If it’s a summer day, bump it to 1000-mL. Trust me. Dehydration of just 2% can lead to decreased reaction times. You don’t want that when you’re relying on a few a 1/4 inch of rubber to keep you right side up!

Intuitively, we know what is healthy and what’s not. You can eat the stuff you want, but nutritious food needs to be a priority when you’re out on the track. You’ll enjoy your day more, you’ll be safer and yep, you’ll probably be faster. – TDF

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