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The Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, is undoubtedly a daunting event to undertake but by keeping a few things in mind you can complete the 121km route from Chandelier Game and Ostrich Show Farm, through the Attakwaskloof, to Pine Creek Resort, in Groot Brakrivier.
There is a plethora of advice online, with experts on social media and Bike Hub offering all manner of tips for conquering the Attakwas. But these are a few tried and tested strategies which will ease your passage through the Hell of the South.
You need to have a proven nutrition plan for the Attakwas Extreme, regardless of if you plan to ride it in 5 hours or 10 hours and 59 minutes.
- Eat, and to a lesser extent drink, only products which your digestive system is accustomed to during exercise.
- Eat a bit every 45 minutes.
- If your heart rate is high eat easily digestible carbs.
- If your heart rate is lower (around 140bpm) you’ll be able to digest more complex carbs and proteins.
- Remember your digestive system requires blood for digestion, and when cycling most of your blood is being routed to your legs not your abdomen. So slacking off the intensity will help you shift blood from your legs to your abdomen and make digestion easier.
- For more in-depth advice read this article from Science2Sport on “Race Day Nutrition.”
Studies differ on whether you should drink early to avoid thirst or if you should drink to thirst. So we suggest following your usual hydration plan.
- But make sure you leave every water point with at least two full water bottles so you have enough fluid on hand to keep dehydration at bay.
- If your urine is dark yellow or you stop needing to urinate you are becoming dehydrated or are already dehydrated. Know and trust your own body and be aware of the warning signs.
- It will be hot and you will need more fluid than usual.
- If your stomach becomes upset and you are struggling to eat drink more and ensure that you are consuming an energy drink with carbs and not just electrolytes to keep powering your muscles.
If you need advice on Nutrition you can read Warren Williams’ advice here.
Dryland’s Water Points
The Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, water points are famously well stocked. You can expect the following at the water points:
- Biogen Perform-X Products
- Enduro Energy gels,
- Energy Oats bars,
- Carbogen drink
- Cramp Care tablets
- Water & Coke
- Home-baked Banana Bread
- Peanut butter & marmite sandwiches on white bread
- Baby Potatoes
- Spur Burgers at WP3
To Eat the Spur Burger or Not?
Opinion is split. Some swear by the Spur Burger at Water Point 3 (68km into the race) while others swear off it. Here’s what we know:
- It smells amazing!
- After eating lots of sweet energy foods the meaty and salty Spur Burger will off-set give your palate something different to off-set boredom.
- But beware it can be difficult to digest and make you feel heavy and bloated.
- If your heart rate is high when you reach WP3 and if you don’t plan on easing through the next 10km rather avoid it (this is probably the case for anyone looking to finish in 7 hours or less).
- If your heart rate is low (140bpm) and you’re planning on spinning easily through the next 10km or if you plan on taking a 20-30minute break at WP3 then eat the burger.
- If you’re an 8 hour plus rider the Spur Burger might just get you through those last 53km.
The key to finishing the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, is effective pacing.
- Take it as easy as possible throughout the race.
- Try to expend as little energy as possible before WP3
- This means:
- Keep your heart rate as low as possible.
- Walk the steep and rocky climbs.
- Don’t be caught up trying to stay with a fast group in the first half of the race.
- Avoid cramps by soft pedaling the downhills.
Join a Group
The final 53km of the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, are brutal on tired legs. There are 4 tough climbs in the second half of the race and being in a group for the district roads between the climbs will ease the workload.
- From WP3 to WP4 the roads are poor quality district gravel road
- From WP4 to the finish the road surfaces improve as you get closer to the finish.
- Being in a group as you tire is therefore an increasingly big advantage.
- If you’re riding the Attakwas solo join a group or encourage riders at WP3 to stick together.
- If you’re riding as a group already this is where you’ll need to really look after each other. And be sure other riders will latch onto your group.
Prepare to Suffer but Have Fun doing it
The Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, is likely to be one of the toughest days on the bike you’ll experience all year, so prepare mentally to suffer. But embrace it and have fun out there. The Attakwaskloof is remote and beautiful so soak it all in. Conquering the Attakwas is no mean feat, every finisher should be immensely proud of their achievement, if you can survive the Attakwas there’s no MTB event in South Africa that’s beyond you (with the right amount of training…).
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