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FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007
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Nutrition, sleep and winning
Crit riders looking for racers' edge

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2460

Jittery Joe's cyclist Jeffery Hopkins might be one of the healthier regular customers at Waffle House.

When hungry after a late criterium race, sometimes there are few options available where to chow down. So, Hopkins will see the famous yellow sign, stop off and indulge in a grand feast to try to replenish his body after a race.

"I just have a waffle and some hash browns," Hopkins said. "It's not that great, but it's plenty of calories."

Finding the right kind of food following a race can prove difficult for a cyclist. Criteriums normally race at night so there isn't a lot to choose from.

And with the Anniston race occurring the evening before The Decatur Daily Downtown Criterium — which starts at 4:30 p.m. for the top men's pros — finding the perfect meal nutritionwise will be almost impossible.

The women pros will race at 3:10 p.m. with masters and men's class 2/3 running earlier.

Like all endurance sports, cycling is the type of event where a rider needs to have as many carbohydrates as possible.

Pasta, bananas can be the most popular food of choice.

The day of the race, maybe three hours before the starting gun, a rider will eat some kind of sandwich. Nothing too heavy, but something that has enough calories and carbohydrates to make sure they can stay with the pack for most of the race.

Though it is unclear where Waffle House falls in this category, fast food is out of the question.

Also, according to Hopkins, you can eliminate Mexican food right off the bat.

"Guys put down more calories than the average person. Our guys eat stuff that is not too high in fat, but has substantial amount of protein and carbohydrates," says Micah Rice, team manager for the Jittery Joe's Coffee cycling team based in Athens, Ga.

"Right before we race, we are trying to get carbohydrates in our systems."

With the Anniston and Decatur races being so close in time — Anniston starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday — one of the more important preparation tools for a rider will be getting a good night's rest.

While eating the right kind of food is paramount to success, according to the riders, getting the necessary amount of sleep is almost more important.

Some riders may have a beer or two to help the sleep process.

"Normally you have some time after an evening to sleep so your body can heal the trauma you put into you muscles," said Tom Schuler, manager for the Colavita-Sutter Home team. "You need to recover a cellular level so you are ready for the next day."

The day of the race, the riders may go for a light spin to warm their muscles up and flush out their systems.

When the race starts, riders may still be a little rickety from the previous night.

And then when they feel ready, they will go into attack mode.

When the race is over, the riders will be back to unwinding, recovering and getting ready for the next one.

Downtown Criterium

Here is the schedule of races for The Decatur Daily Downtown Criterium on Sunday. More than 300 professional bicycle riders will be competing in the downtown races.

1 p.m.: Masters 35 years and older. Race laps: 40 minutes plus two laps. Prizes: $500. Places: 10.

2 p.m.: Menís Category 2/3. Race laps: 50 minutes plus three laps. Prizes: $500. Places: 10.

3:10 p.m.: Women Pro 1/2/3. Race laps: 60 minutes, plus 3 laps. Prizes: $5,000. Places: 15.

4:30 p.m.: Men Pro-Am. Race laps: 75 minutes, plus 3 laps. Prizes: $10,000. Places: 30.

For more information visit: www.decaturcycling.com

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