HYDRATION, Nutrition & Training

This section describes where Bruce is in terms of his hydration, nutrition and training. It is based on research he has done, and on the recommendations of nationally-ranked competitors. This section is a "work in progress" and changes as he develops more knowledge on the subject.


He uses two drink mix formulations depending on how he is riding. For normal riding, he use a half-strength version of powdered Gatorade to cut the sugar content down. This formula came to him from another DORBA rider several years ago while riding at RCP.

He uses a canister of powdered Gatorade that makes 9 gallons from Sam's Club, and mixes it a gallon or two at a time using empty gallon milk jugs. First, clean the jugs with dish-washing soap, rinse them with some bleach and water, and then rinse them well with clean water.

When he mixes the Gatorade, he only uses half the amount of Gatorade the directions call for per gallon (two scoops). He then adds 1/3 tsp of table salt (NaCl) and 1/4 tsp of Lite salt (KCl) per gallon to bring the electrolytes back up. This gets the NaCl to 98% of the original concentration of the Gatorade mix, and the KCl to 176%. The sugar is at 50%, which is his goal. He keeps the gallon jugs in the refrigerator so it is ready to go.

The canister costs about $9 and normally makes 9 gallons. Mixing it half-strength and adding salt stretches it to 18 gallons, so you end up paying $0.50/gallon for electrolyte mix. That is a lot cheaper than most other alternatives and he finds it completely adequate for his typical 1-2 hour rides.

For hot days, he adds frozen drink mix to the CamelBak. He keeps a few small (skinny) water bottles filled with mix in the freezer. He cuts off the plastic bottle and slips the frozen drink mix into the CamelBak. He usually adds one bottle of chilled liquid mix for every frozen one.

This keeps the mix cold and eliminates the "dilution effect" of using ice. It also keeps his back cool since there is a chunk of ice in the CamelBak.

For racing and intense riding lasting over an hour, he goes the "high dollar" route with Hammer Nutrition's Heed drink mix augmented with Endurolyte powder. He has not noticed much difference between the Gatorade mix and Heed for a hard one-hour ride, but has seen a noticeable improvement in endurance during the second hour of intense riding when using Heed. For rides of 5 hours or more, he uses Hammer Perpetuem. See the section below on Endurance Riding for the details.

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Bruce started cycling as a way to do exercise he could enjoy. As he transitioned into off-road cycling, he found that he could really burn the calories. He also found that in the process, he would develop quite an appetite that could last days after riding. The lesson learned is that you still must control what you eat regardless of how much you ride if you want to maintain a healthy body weight. You must lay off the beer, burgers, fries, chips, ice cream and other "fat foods" to stay trim. As a result, he continues a healthy low-fat diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat.

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Having done well in his first go at the local club races, Bruce got really excited about racing. He figured that since his bike was in race shape, it was time to get himself there too.

His initial thoughts were to use bike commuting and regular rides to build endurance. Then he found Dr. Mirkin's sports medicine web site and started reading about fitness, specifically, his discussions of the "hard-easy" regimen, and about nutrition. The most important thing he learned was that it is not how long you train, but how hard you train. The following is where his research has led him.

Three days a week, he rides as hard as he can and gets to the point of "burn." He maintains that level of effort for one to two hours. After he is done riding, he has a chocolate milkshake within 30 minutes of finishing the ride. This is good source of carbohydrates and helps the muscles recover faster. He does hard rides on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Dr. Mirkin recommends at least 48 hours for recovery. He lays off riding hard for at least two days in between to recover, so riding Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays gives him at least 48 hours to recover and rebuild muscle.

On the "in between" days, he stretches, and does upper body and core exercises while he gives the legs a break to recover. The stretches include: the modified hurdler, sitting head to toe, butterflies, groin, swimmer's and triceps. The exercises include: push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, crunches, leg-lifts and neck rotations. He will occasionally ride on the "in between" days, but at an easy pace so the legs can continue to recover.

For local races, he likes to pre-ride the race course several times in the weeks before the race. This way he is familiar with the course and knows what to expect around every corner. He can then get the the proper position, speed and gear selection get through it quickly.

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Endurance Riding

Bruce had worked his way into endurance riding while working in Las Vegas in 2010 and 2011. Learning how to ride for long distances and long periods of time came with the territory out west due to the terrain and length of the trails. The typical ride was 3 to 4 hours and usually had 3,000 to 4,000 feet of cumulative ascent. Some rides lasted over 6 hours and had nearly 5,000 feet of ascent.

For riding in the south-central part of the United States, and for most half-day rides out west, Hammer Heed and Cliff Bars were sufficient. However, he found himself running out of power on the longer rides. Zoe Nance of Zoe Fitness provided some tips on maintaining power levels on the longer endurance rides. Bruce put these suggestions to work in Nevada, Utah and Oregon, and then to the real test for the RCP XC Century in Garland, Texas on November 16, 2013.

The RCP Century used a multi-lap course in the Rowlett Creek Nature Preserve. The combination of loops he rode added up to 10.1 miles. Training consisted of riding the 10-mile course several times to determine what kind of pace he could sustain for hours at a time. He did several 50-mile "training runs" and kept a log for each lap. He then used the data to determine his optimal speed and validate his hydration and nutrition techniques. With this knowledge, he developed a race plan for the Century race.

His race plan was to make a short "pit stop" every lap to get a fresh bottle of Hammer Perpetuem with a NUUN electrolyte tablet added, and consume a "mini" Crunchy Peanut Butter Cliff Bar. He tried to consume the Perpetuem and NUUN at regular intervals during the ride. At the 60 mile pit stop, he started adding a Citrus Cliff Shot with caffeine to the plan. At 81 miles into the ride he had to stop due to an evening event he was committed to attend. Even after riding 81 miles, he still felt fairly strong and feels he could have finished the whole 100 miles.

While riding out west, Bruce had also learned to use a recovery program after the long rides. He downed a bottle of Hammer Recoverite as soon as he finished the final lap, and then followed that with a bottle of Hammer Whey. Even after doing over 81 miles on Saturday, he recovered so well that he felt like riding the next afternoon and went back out on the course for a "recovery lap."

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Version 0.6, December 20, 2016