Planning a Test Ride for Your Gran Fondo

Posted by Born North America Admin on

Last month we shared Paul Moffat of Velosophy’s nutrition advice for Gran Fondos. Paul went into detail about his suggested nutrition routine, how to calculate the carbohydrate intake you’ll need for an event and his own preferences for how he fuels his rides, races or events similar to Fondos. Paul ended his advice with something we really believe at BORN North America, that you should test your nutrition routine before a big event like a Gran Fondo!

We know from experience, with one of the biggest Fondos in North America leave our homebase of Vancouver we know how many people have an event like the Fondo as their primary riding goal for the season! And we can’t blame them, the RBC Whistler Gran Fondo is an immaculately run event, featuring a beautiful parcours running the entire length of the Howe Sound to Squamish, where the route follows the Squamish River then the Cheakamus to Daisy Lake, then along the Cheakamus again before arriving in the wonderful ski village finale of Whistler Village. The route is sweetened by the prominent winds of the Howe Sound being southerly, often providing a tailwind to cyclists as they tackle the 122km with a combined 1900m of climbing.

Such a wonderful course on offer, with amazing closed roads on the pristine HWY 99 it makes sense to make the most of the opportunity, but one way to sour the day is by running out of the critical fuel you need to enjoy the whole ride, or crucially to chase your time goals. That’s where Paul’s great advice comes into play, planning a test ride before the main event. 


Now a test ride doesn’t mean riding the shoulder of HWY 99 all the way to Whistler. That would either leave you with a very long ride home, or needing a car already up in Whistler to return you to Vancouver. Or if you’re one of the hundreds that flock from across the globe to participate, without a course to practice on! A good way to do a test ride for your nutrition plan is to plan a loop from your home that takes about as much time as you’re planning for your event. 

Remember, you’re looking for a loop that suits your expected time goal. Something to remember is what options you have around you. If you live in an area with mainly flat roads (which sounds like a great reason to make the trip for the Whistler Fondo!) your goal time of 4.5 hours might be quite a few more kilometers than the Whistler route featuring 1900m of elevation gain. So remember your practice ride needs to be for your time goal!

Your loop doesn’t have to be one big loop though. In fact, if you’re in an urban center you may be better served by a combination of several smaller loops. This is partly to take the pressure off finding the ‘perfect loop’ and also if your route is too big you might not have the opportunity for refilling water bottles on your ride. When you’re on course for the Whistler Fondo there’s five rest stops with water and snacks, but on your test ride carrying all the water you’d need for 4.5 hours can be difficult. It also means that if you overestimate your pace, or underestimate your fuel requirements you’re not stuck way out there.

With these guides in mind, load up on the kinds of ride-foods you prefer! As for how much you take with you, review Paul’s article, but the key concept he outlines is 1g of CHO (Carbohydrate) per kg of body mass per hour: (1g CHO x kg) per hour. We have biased opinions on what works great for in-ride nutrition, our ISO PRO mix is great fuel in your bottles, our SUPER LIQUID GELS easy to take and digest. But whatever you think you might want on your Whistler Fondo, now is the time to try it out. 

This is the fun part! Enjoy the ride, take some of your best riding mates and shoot for the same amount of effort you’d like to ride your Fondo at. Remember that you want to eat and drink regularly, if this means small bites of a bar, or more gels more regularly that’s okay! Consuming all your nutrition at once can be taxing on your digestive system and provide inconsistent fuelling. Having mix like ISO PRO in your bottles ensures you’re getting some carbohydrate when ever you take a sip of liquid as well. 

Having fun on your test ride is great, the Fondo is fun too! And it’s a great way to practice regular fuelling while you’re distracted by good times. But during all the fun remember in the last half of your ride to pay attention to how you feel. Most riders have rode through the experience of hunger knock, when your stomach suddenly feels empty, followed quickly by your legs being unmotivated to keep putting out a consistent effort. You might be tired at the end of the ride, but you shouldn’t feel like you can’t go on for lack of fuel. Another thing to keep your eye on is how your stomach deals with certain foods, many riders love to take bananas along on rides to supplement sports nutrition, other riders get indigestion during exercise from bananas and avoid them at all costs! The purpose of the test ride is to see how products or food works for you before the Fondo, ensuring the best ride you can have on September 7th. 

Maybe the best part of your practice ride is the excuse to go out on another great ride. If you’re looking for more excuses to get out riding, planning a second practice ride can confirm your Nutrition approach, or you can make changes reflecting your conclusions from your first ride! Either way, it’s important to make sure that you’re not trying something out of the blue on your ride day, so plan a Nutrition Practice Ride and get out for another day on your bike!

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