IF YOU GO
What: Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships
Where: Volkswagen plant, 8001 Volkswagen Drive, Chattanooga
• 8:30 a.m. -- ITT Handcycling
• 10 a.m. -- Professional Warmup
• 11 a.m. -- ITT Female Pro, 31 km
• 2 p.m. ITT Male Pro. 31 km
Where: Start/finish on Market Street between M.L. King Boulevard and 12th Street
• 9 a.m. -- Road Race Female Pro 102 km
• 12:30 p.m. -- Handcycling Criterium National Championship
• 1:15 p.m. -- Road Race Male Pro 165 mm
Beans: Black or pintos, kidney or lentils, beans are a good plant-based source of protein.
Complex carbohydrates: Grains, whole-grain foods, fruits, vegetables and legumes all have many micronutrients and fiber, and they increase a rider's feeling of fullness.
Fish: Rich in Omega 3, fish boosts the immune system, is a good source of protein and helps with post-race recovery.
Porridge: Combining whole grains, fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients such as B vitamins, porridge is a top breakfast choice before long and intense training.
Source: Judith Haudum, nutritionist
When Brent Bookwalter and the BMC Racing Team compete in the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships, the race will be one of 275 events they'll ride by the end of October.
It's up to Judith Haudum, BMC racing team nutritionist, to see that the team is eating right and drinking smart to keep them at peak performance to meet the demands of such a grueling schedule.
Haudum says she develops food plans based on the caloric and nutrient needs of athletes and their training volume and intensity, not a blanket statement such as a recommended daily calorie count.
"In cycling, like in every other endurance sport, carbs are the main fuel for the athlete. In the days before an event you try to fill up your glycogen stores, which means you eat more carbs than you usually do on a training day," she explains.
Here's her gameplan for race weekend nutrition.
• Dinner the night before: "The important thing is that you include carbs and protein in your dinner. It's hard to say how many carbs for dinner because it depends on the weight and shape of the rider.
• Race morning: Eat about three hours before the race, and no later than two hours before. Breakfast should be rich in carbs in combination with some lean protein, also some fruit and fluids. Meals before a race should be easily digestible and low in fat."
Her picks: A bowl of cereal, oatmeal with raisins or chopped nuts, low-fat yogurt, piece of fruit or fruit juice, one or two slices of bread with jam or honey.
"Fluid is important because you don't want to start a race dehydrated. You should have a glass of fluid with breakfast, more water in the hours before ... maybe 250 ml (a little over 1 cup) in the last hour to half-hour before the start."
• Eating on the go: "Every rider has his/her own preferences during the race. Some fuel with fluids only, others prefer to have a gel or energy bar and drink water. The problem with water alone is that you replace lost fluid, but you don't get any energy. Either you choose a sports drink and get sugar through that, or you have a gel or bars to get energy into the system."
David Carpenter, a member of the VW team, is a Category 1 cyclist, which doesn't qualify him to ride in the championships. However, the 22-year-old Nashville resident is out at least three weekends a month riding with the elite racing team from mid-February to mid-September.
Carpenter says his tradition is to start race weekends with pasta.
"Personally, I eat mac and cheese the night before I race because it's something I like, but it's also a superstitious thing," he laughs.
Race morning he fuels up with oatmeal, one or two bananas and two big glasses of water. He adds that he might follow up more water on his way to the race.
For Carpenter, recovery nutrition after the race carries almost as much importance as pre-race intake.
"The goal for recovery is you want to get a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 carbs/protein ratio. Chocolate milk is one of the easiest things to find, and it's pre-made, ready to go and inexpensive."
He advises downing the drink within 30 minutes of a race's conclusion.
"You want to get off the bike and get it as soon as possible. It allows your body to rebuild muscles, so the next day -- whether it be another race or a hard day of training -- you can go out and not be as sore or feeling depleted."
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...