How To: Top tips from Sho-Air/Cannondale XC racers

Pro riders talk skill building, on-the-bike fueling and favorite workouts

How To
Evelyn Dong in action.

Evelyn Dong in action. (click to enlarge)

Mtbr: How do you fuel on the bike?
Marco Fontana: When I go for long distance, I eat a lot—sandwiches with cheese, honey, ham, or jam. And I drink a lot. Afterwards, I like Red Bull because it really gives me a little spark.

Max Plaxton: I don’t tend to eat much riding and I rarely ride over four hours. I do use drink mix in my bottles with proper electrolytes and bit of sugar. If I eat, it’s usually something simple like a fruit and nut bar, and maybe a protein bar.

The Sho-Air/Cannondale Professional mountain bike racing team.

The Sho-Air/Cannondale Professional mountain bike racing team.

Keegan Swenson: If it’s a longer ride, then I fuel with GU hydration tabs in my bottles and a mix of regular food (like peanut butter and jelly and rice cakes) and some Honey Stinger waffles. If it is a shorter more intense ride I use GU hydration mix in my bottles and GU energy chews for food, because they are easy on the stomach and they are also quite tasty.

Stephen Ettinger: When I am training, I try to stick to real food and focus on hydration in my bottle. The Honey Stinger bars are my favorite right now; but it’s really about what I am craving. Sometimes that means fruit, cookies, or even boiled potatoes with sea salt and olive oil. Eating frequently, in small bites works best for me. I use a pretty similar strategy for racing, but I keep the food lighter, typically getting down a GU energy chew every 10 minutes and hydrating well.

Evelyn Dong: For long intervals, I take down a few GU energy chews. For endurance rides, I bring lemon Honey Stinger waffles or make “panwiches” (leftover pancakes with honey drizzled in the middle). Really long rides usually involve a stop at a gas station for some coke or a pop tart.


Check out part two, where Mtbr asks about winter training, riding in muddy conditions, and advice on doing your first race.


About the author: Kristen Gross

Kristen Gross loves bikes, all sorts, and above all, XC mountain bikes. She races in the pro category and gets a lot of joy from teaching others the way of the trail as a mountain bike skills instructor—especially women who are just discovering cycling. She is a USAC-certified coach, and she runs her own freelance writing business based in Carlsbad, Calif. You’ll find her either writing or riding, bringing over 10 years experience to both. Why does she ride? To offset her addiction to Coca Cola and Lay’s Potato Chips.


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