Don't overload on carbohydrates before race

The final of a four-part weekly series to help readers prepare for the upcoming OCBC Cycle 2015

You must have sufficient sleep and maintain a consistent diet in the run-up to race day.

This is the message which Adrian Ng, an endurance trainer for the Singapore Cycling Federation, has for riders who are preparing for the mass-participation OCBC Cycle come Aug 30.

He urged the participants to prepare in advance and not to load up on carbohydrates on the day before the race.

Ng said: "I believe in eating in moderation, based on the food pyramid. (But) as long as you train, your body will be able to take in more carbohydrates.

"You should not be deliberately eating more on a single day to prepare for a race."

Ng, 34, who has coached the likes of SEA Games cyclist Serene Lee and Youth Olympic Games triathlete Denise Chia, said: "Food with more than 4g in fibre should not be consumed before the race.

"Fibre causes the stomach to bloat so the optimum decision for me is to not consume food that contains more than 2g of fibre before my rides."

For those looking for snacks to bring along, Ng said: "Participants can bring many kinds of digestible food that are widely available.

"They can come in the form of fruit or energy bars, muffins, biscuits or even candies.

"The whole idea is to bring food that you like and you will enjoy the race with."

"You should choose foods based on their glycemic index (GI).

"Foods that are high in GI will be readily digested and absorbed by your body and are best taken one to two hours before a race," Ng said. Hence, his recommendation is for participants to go for foods that are low in fibre and high in GI prior to a race.

"They can be bagels, muffin, white bread or sweet potato but they must also know which food does and does not work for them."

Sleep early before the race but only after you have prepared and packed your food as well as given the equipment another check.

"Performance and energy gels are designed to be absorbed by the body quickly so they are definitely good to bring along.

"There should be enough nutrition and hydration to last the entire race."

Ng said it is crucial for participants to have their bicycles serviced and equipment checked prior to race day.

He said: "You should always pump your tyres a day before, to about 100 pound-force per square inch (psi) or 70-80 per cent of the maximum tyre pressure.

"On rainy days, you can pump them to about 65-70 per cent."

Ng also urged for etiquette to be observed during the race to make it enjoyable for everyone.

"You should always keep at least one bike length away from the cyclist in front so that you have ample time to brake.

"Always take note of the cyclist behind and be aware of your surroundings. Always overtake on the right and let the cyclist in front know beforehand."

It pays to play safe too.

"Brake early before turning into corners," said Ng.

"At least 50 metres would be good for you to avoid crashes.

"And always watch for obstacles on the road and point them out for other cyclists."

And while everyone wants to do well, cyclists must not forget to monitor their own condition during the race.

"Listen to your body at all times and you will enjoy your ride so much better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Don't overload on carbohydrates before race'. Print Edition | Subscribe