“Full stick until the line” – Facing the Heat in Castelo Branco
By Kyle Murphy
Rally Cycling’s talented all-rounder, Kyle Murphy, has been quietly putting together another impressive year with strong showings throughout the season. He finally clawed his way to the top step on stages two of the Volta a Portugal.
Calling that race “hot” is an understatement, so we asked him about his approach to hydration and fueling, as well as his general impressions of how the day went. His initial response was, simply, “Tough race!” However, he did elaborate on fueling, hydration, tactics, and the importance of keeping a cool head when the race is figuratively (and, in this case, literally) heating up.
We’ll let Kyle take it from here.
On the Breakaway’s Dynamics
The break went surprisingly easy, and it was just the three of us. I honestly initially regretted being in the move. I didn’t think we stood a chance and it was going to be a lot of energy to stay out there in the heat.
But the yellow jersey’s team wasn’t concerned with us, we had lost time the day before, and they knew they were going to have a really tough day the following day defending in the hills. So they gave us 9 minutes, and by the time the sprinter’s teams got organized, and with the assistance from a ripping tailwind in the last few kilometers, we could just barely stay away.
On Hydration & Fueling
Drank countless bottles, honestly can’t remember. More than the average rider would probably imagine. Probably 50/50 split between mix and water, and then also dumping bottles of water over the head on a few of the climbs. At this race we have a variety of flavors including orange and sour watermelon, which is awesome for a long stage race to mix up.
In Portugal we have been experimenting with lowering the concentration of mix in the bottles slightly because it has been so hot and sometimes you are not able to get a bottle of water in between mix bottles.
Dr. Bucci’s Comments
Diluting the mix and not interspersing with bottles of water is one of the alternate ways to use EFS during long-term exercise. By drinking two bottles of lowered concentration EFS (no less than half the normal amount per serving in each bottle), the same results should be apparent. This also means taking two bottles of EFS per hour, as a reduced EFS concentration once an hour would not be enough water in a hot climate.
A way to customize this approach would be to drink-to-thirst with the reduced concentration of EFS – meaning drink as much as you feel like. But if the roadblock is the available number of bottles per hour of any kind, then half concentration or more is the same end result as the directions. The biggest difference is taste – it’s not as good at half strength, which might discourage drinking enough liquid.
Near the end of a race/event, it might be wise to increase the EFS concentration for each bottle to ensure adequate water and electrolyte intakes – or just carry a Liquid Shot or two, as Kyle did at the US national championships.
On Tactics in the Finale
I knew I had to nuke the last roller
Our little breakaway worked really well together all day, but once it was under a minute, I knew I was going to have to go full gas to the line to stick it. An effort like that is easier when you don’t have to worry about someone sitting on your wheel. I went pretty much as soon as we turned into the tailwind, and just gave it full stick until the line. I had street-viewed the last few k, so I knew I had to nuke the last roller, and then it was just a matter of staying upright through the city.
On Knowing His Own Needs
As long as you are working on those bottles, it’s harder to really get too behind on your fueling
The other two guys in the break were definitely not putting away as many fluids as I was, and I think the added electrolytes are part of what made the difference in the end. One of the riders was complaining of cramps, but even without much heat acclimation, that wasn’t a problem for me. Felt pretty good during the race, but I definitely felt the effort the next day.
Luckily, the finale was a tailwind, I had fueled properly, and I had the energy to attack. I think part of the advantage of having such a potent drink mix is that even when it is full gas, or you maybe forget to eat, or you didn’t get enough salt the day before or something, that as long as you are working on those bottles, it’s harder to really get too behind on your fueling. For me, I know I need more fuel than the average rider, so that is super helpful, especially on these bigger days.