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Cyclist's Fav Pre Race Meals

Cyclist's Fav Pre Race Meals

What do they eat?!  

What fuels those quick climbing legs, epic pulls, and powerful sprints to the finish line?

Our Nutrition Editor Lori Nedescu, MS RD CSSD @CadenceKitchen is checking in with some of cycling's top women to see just what they consume before starting a big race. 

Name: Skylar Schneider @Skylar_Schneider_

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Racing: 2018 is my first season with Boels Dolmans Cycling Team.  The majority of my races this year will be part of the Women's World Tour and UCI calendars- both ranging from 1-day events to multi-day stage races. 

Location: Holland, Europe 

Typical Pre-Race Meal: As most the races start in the early afternoon, a late breakfast tends to be my pre-race meal. I'll typical put together a bowl with yogurt, museli or granola, fruits, and peanut butter. I'll also make a sandwich and put some eggs on it. Of course, a few cups of coffee too! If I'm still hungry I'll eat more fruits or bread.

Reason: This is a bigger breakfast than I would consume on a normal training day, mainly because the races are 120km or more so I like to make sure I'm properly fueled. Also, as we're mostly staying in hotels that have breakfast buffets, I've always been able to make this pre-race meal and since it's my go-to now, it's easy to make without having to think too hard in the mornings! 

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Name: Helle Bachofen von Echt @thegirlwhocyclesinthedesert

Racing: I am predominantly a road cyclist which is pretty new to the Middle East, but we have seen women’s amateur racing teams starting to form in the last few years. Because of the hot conditions, we generally start racing very early in the morning like 6-7am; except from our Championships during the holy month of Ramadan, where our races start as late as 10:30pm and we race in the dark.

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Typical pre race meal: A small portion of overnight oats w/ cinnamon, dates and honey, soaked in coconut milk. I usually take my coffee on the way to the race destination, because it’s so early.

Reason for choosing this meal: The slow and fast release carbohydrate works well for energy. And my body is accustomed to it, so it feels good in the stomach.

Name: Alison Tetrick @Amtetrick

Location: California, USA

Racing: After being introduced to bike racing by her grandfather (who is still an avid competitive cyclist and winning national championships at 84 years old), Alison took up the sport and has been racing as a professional for the past 9 years. In 2014 she place 3rd at the World Championships in the Team Time Trial and won stages at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina and the BeNe Tour in Belgium. In 2017 she won and set the record for the Dirty Kanza 200, and won Gravel Worlds.  Alison is dedicated to investing in the sport of cycling and serves on the Board of Directors of USA Cycling and the Board of Advisers for the Women’s Cycling Association. 

Typical Pre-Race Meal: I opt for steel cut oats and eggs.

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Reason for Choosing this Meal: I would love to say that I am a fancy breakfast eater, but I save that for brunch post rides.  Before a race, I like to keep things simple and long burning.   I think [oats/eggs] offers a great balance of complex carbohydrates and protein.  You want to feel satiated and also not over the top. I usually aim between 350-450 calories. I always need to have a cup of Peet's coffee before and with breakfast, of course!  I have been known to do races on an apple fritter, because what can go wrong there?  But usually, to play it safe, and clean, I think oatmeal with a dollop of Greek yogurt and two eggs is a good complete meal to keep your energy up and consistent throughout your event.  I have found it best to consume my meal 2.5-3 hours before competition.  No one want to regurgitate breakfast, of course unless it's an apple fritter, that that's ok.  Now, post race is a whole other ball game. Bring on the nachos and bourbon! 

Name: Allie Dragoo @Allieoop365

Location:  Alabama, USA

Racing: I race for SHO-AIR TWENTY20 . This will be my 5th year racing professionally. I like to time trial and stage race. Before the road scene I raced BMX, played golf and hockey. 

Typical Pre-Race Meal: I typically stick to oatmeal with a banana, pb2, an over-easy egg and honey OR a sweet potato with pb2, an over easy egg and bacon! Black coffee included.

Reason for choosing this meal: I keep it simple and food that is easy to digest and doesn't leave me feeling heavy.

Name: Juilet Elliot @JuiletElliot

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Location: Devon, UK

Racing: I’m a multi-discipline racer with a particular love of fixed gear crits such as Red Hook Crit.

Typical Pre-Race Meal: My usual pre-race meal depends on the kind of accommodation we are staying in. If I have access to a cook it’s usually pasta. If not I take peanut butter and banana sandwiches (I always travel with peanut butter!)

Reason for choosing this meal:  I always make food to take with me to races and eat three hours before my race. I find these relatively plain meals (pasta/sandwiches) are easy on the stomach, ensure my carb stores are topped up and make sure I don’t feel hungry too. At Red Hook Crit we race twice, in the qualifications and then in the evening’s main race so sometimes it can be hard to get the timing of meals exactly right. I snack on Tribe bars and usually I try and eat when I’ve cooled down from the qualification - more pasta or sandwiches - so I have time to digest before the evening race.


Name: Lori Nedescu, MS RD CSSD  @CadenceKitchen

Location: Minnesota, USA

Racing:  Current CAT1 Domestic Elite cyclist for Welland Racing & sports performance nutritionist. I love a stage race with long mountain climbs! 

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Typical pre race meal: Rice Pudding w/ sliced Banana. I prefer to make my own (RECIPE) but am not above grabbing Kozyshack from the grocery if on the road! 

Reason for choosing this meal: Its gluten free, delicious & digests very easily. The white rice & banana provide enough simple carbs to seriously fuel my body. Also, it is easy to eat, meaning I can have a large portion before my race start (allowing me to start with enough calories) without feeling overly stuffed. I typically aim for 600 calories before a long road race, especially one that is part of a stage race. 

Name: Laurel Rathbun   @Laurelridesbikes

Location: Wisconsin, USA

Racing:  Race Road, CX & Track. I have been racing bikes since I was 7, grew up in Colorado Springs, CO and currently am in my senior year of college at Marian University in Indianapolis, IN. I have raced for Team USA in Europe for Road, CX, and Track. I just finished up my CX season and am currently still in my off season after U23 Cyclo-cross worlds in Valkenburg, Netherlands.

Typical Pre Race Meal: My favorite pre-race meal is oatmeal. I love it. I haven't gotten sick of it yet. It's such a great carb to eat about 3-3 1/2 hours before a race. I love using gluten free steel cut oats and putting some peanut butter in there for some protein or an egg.

Reason for choosing this meal: I try to keep it really simple on race day which I why I always opt for gluten free options (bread, pasta, oatmeal) on race day because it is easier on the body to digest and doesn't cause any stomach cramps. Most cross races happen around 3pm, so my daily race day routine is to get up drink coffee and eat oatmeal around 9am then go for a short 30-45 minute easy spin, come back and relax and eat again around noon before heading to the course. My second meal at noon is usually rice and eggs or pasta and eggs. Again, gluten free and super simple. I keep a race diary of all my races and always make a note of everything I eat, always trying to figure out if there is something better I can do. So far, this has worked the best for me!

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Name: Olivia Ray @OliviaRay_

Location: Auckland, New Zealand.

Racing:  I’ve been racing for 4 years on the road and 2 on the Track. I currently am the US 2018 national collegiate champ in two tracks events.

Typical pre race meal: 6 Grain toast with chocolate nut butter and Banana.

Reason for choosing this meal: Toast is low GI for that sustainable energy release, Chocolate but butter for sugar and fat. Banana for potassium and sodium for electrolytes.


As you can see, each of these serious cyclists has a slightly different fueling strategy when it comes to what to eat before a race. Each athlete has gone through a process of determining what would be be best for their individual needs. While the ingredients or combinations might be different, the reasons are all pretty much the same; provides enough energy, easy to digest, and fits into a hectic pre-race schedule. 

Have questions about wether you should be adopting these meals as your own pre-race meal? Contact our Nutrition Editor Lori Nedescu, MS RD CSSD @CadenceKitchen to work on your performance nutrition needs! 

Cycling Family: Stacey Wilhelm

Cycling Family: Stacey Wilhelm

Basics: Fueling Your Workout

Basics: Fueling Your Workout