By Adam Pulford, CTS Senior Coach
Every day of La Ruta starts with climbing: steep climbing. Stage 3 was no exception, but what was different today was that instead of steep descending after steep climbing, there’s more climbing… yeah, awesome, right? Take a look below:
Recall that orange is the elevation gain; you can see how we start steep and move to more gradual (6-8%) as we climb toward the top of Irazu Volcano. Here’s a few things to pull out of the data:
1. More climbing = more energy expenditure, so you need to consume more
2. More climbing = more descending, hard to consume while descending, especially this descent.
If you look at the SRM Power File again, you’ll see that from the start of the race to the tip top of the climb, it was about 2hrs & 45min, just under 6,500ft of climbing. According to the power meter, I burned through 2200kJ (or calories) in that time alone today, about 800 calories per hour. I knew at that work and being day 3 of gnarly MTB stage race, I was more depleted of glycogen and hydration, so I really stayed on top of my fueling to keep energy high and hydration optimal. I’ve been using the new GU Roctane Electrolyte drink for La Ruta, and have been loving it! 240calories per bottle, it forces more calories in than regular electrolyte drinks, and has some key amino acids with just enough caffeine to keep you focused all day long. It saved my butt today, because without it, the second half of the race wouldn’t have gone as well.
That second half wasn’t any easier, but tested you in a different way. A true “tico descent” from the top of a volcano, we saw every type of terrain you could think of: steep everything, volcanic rock, slick rock, slippery wet grass, stream crossings, plenty of mud, and finally ending with a fast switch-back pavement into the town of Turrialba. We’ve learned that a “tico descent” means you’re pretty much descending, but you’ll still have plenty of climbing… It’s hard to take in food or fluids on a descent like this because you can hardly take a hand off the bars. Here again, the GU Roctane drink came in handy, as one sip gave me more calories than normal. I also noticed more focus and alertness while descending it this year, and did so about 10min faster.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing the Caribbean tomorrow, assuming I don't fall through/off a railroad trestle!