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Brest, the turning point of your season
Succeeding at the PARIS-BREST-PARIS (PBP) or an ultra distance event relies, first of all, on a solid training program. Nevertheless, adding up miles during your sessions is far from being enough to achieve your performance goals. Your physical preparation is vital but other little details, for instance dehydration or an inappropriate diet, can rapidly lead to failure!
Most cyclists believe that fluids are only thirst quenching. They therefore try to restrict their liquid consumption during training and competition so as to master the thirst sensation. However, during cycling, the body can lose litres of water through sweating and breathing thus causing dehydration which has a direct impact on efficiency. In less than 3 hours, a decrease of 50% of one’s abilities can be observed (which can roughly be compared to cycling an event with a 20kg luggage on the bicycle!).
When dehydration is at an advanced stage (in the core of your cells) it can have disastrous effects: slow-down of your muscular blood flow, decrease in cell oxygenation, insufficient renewal of your glycogen stores, accumulation of toxins leading to cramps, tendonitis,…
Moreover, drinking loads of fluid all at once when dehydration is settled is not only useless but has serious consequences on a proper assimilation of fluids.
Dehydration can not be offset
on a short-time basis
Even before starting an event or a qualifying brevet, a lack of or an inappropriate hydration can cost you. Too many competitors pay no attention to the accumulation of fatigue symptoms during training and qualifying brevets thus starting off in terrible conditions on the D-day. Besides, you can fear the worst if the last brevet (375 miles/ 600km) is obtained with much difficulty.
Do not omit to consider that during physical exertion, your body temperature rises (even in cold weather conditions) but is controlled through sweating … when the body’s water level allows it! In hot weather conditions, a risk of hyperthermia exists which can lead to emergency treatments. Inadequate hydration or quality energy fluids are serious obstacles to muscle efficiency and recovery.
To succeed at a PBP it is thus essential not to neglect an effective hydration and energy intake from the first to the last mile may it be at your training sessions, qualifying brevets or finals.
Indeed, your energy intake for a PBP or a simple Sunday track has direct effects on your performance but can also spare you from a prolonged recovery. Further more, it is relatively often on long-distance events like PBP that serious dehydration, states of intense fatigue or tendonitis and arthritis problems appear.
Rather than having to end your cycle passion because of the problems linked to dehydration or poor energy intake you might simply want to choose to improve your dietary habits!
Energy needs for a PBP is around 35,000kcal! It is nearly impossible to ingest this amount of energy by relying only on 3 or 4 meals a day making the intake of an energy fluid during the event essential. But of course, it would be pure fantasy to think that a perfect nutrition can lead an untrained amateur to success!