When taking on a challenge like the Pan Celtic Race many people’s responses are similar. Why? Are you crazy? You’re doing this willingly?
Although a question we ask ourselves at times, slumped, defeated on a petrol station forecourt, gripping a cheese sarnie in one hand and wiping back salty tears with the other.
Everyone has their own endurance story and reason to enter such a challenge, whether it’s pitting yourself against other racers or looking further inwards for answers to deeper questions.
Personally, I ride for the headspace. I find being on my limit in beautiful places under extreme conditions recharges my mind and soul. It makes me a better person for my daughter, Astrid. I started STYRKR with this in mind.
The camaraderie, shared suffering and vulnerability shown alongside strength and resilience, strips us back to our core and at times primal self. Endurance sport breaks down barriers like no other.
At STYRKR’s core is a passion for innovation and a commitment to the everyday athlete, giving them the strength to go further and reach their own endurance goals. We are super stoked to be partnering with the Pan Celtic Race series this year. Alongside my good friend Alex Billson, we will be taking on the 2022 full route as a pair and we are both so excited to explore the ancient coastline of Ireland for the first time.
Alex and I already have shared endurance stories from the searing Spanish heat at Badlands to the countless nights, tucked up together in a damp hedge up on the moors. I couldn’t think of a better partner to go to battle with.
“This time next week we'll already be fighting sleep deprivation and the joys of overnight pedalling. The uncertainty and enormity of the PCR is for sure enough to put the mind and body in a state of unrest.
Any anxiety or nerves need to be channeled into good & productive energy, which I think our training and preparation is giving us the platform to do.
Fitting in training around a working life isn't easy, but I'm feeling well conditioned and happy on the bike. Fitness will improve as we go, it's just keeping the body fuelled and injury free. But, that's why we are here, STYRKR!!”
From the beginning we knew that it wasn’t just about having the right fuel for the job. Having a clear and achievable fuelling strategy is the difference between powering through those dark hours or running out of steam and pulling the plug.
Styrkr Fuelling Plans
Our fuel-tool is the perfect companion for multi-day endurance races. Breaking down your fuelling into manageable, hourly blocks, it takes into account both carb consumption from our products as well as other calorie sources. It also takes into account if the race is supported or unsupported and the complex algorithm will base its results on what the average athlete could carry in both racing situations. Remember this is only a guide and everyone is different so we recommend that you try replacing some of the STYRKR carbohydrates with other carbohydrate rich foods in practice. It can even be printed out and carried with you for peace of mind when your addled brain is failing you.
For the race this year, our head of innovation and development Leon has done an outstanding job in making us a watertight plan around sixteen hour blocks of riding, including macro nutrients such as healthy fats and protein needed for a sustained effort of this length. We worked on a target of 45g per hour using STYRKR products, snacks and real food. Even if we see some swings along the route we know we should be able to sustain 40-50gs per hour for the duration. This is slightly less than I would usually aim for (90g ph) but more realistic for an unsupported event of this length and I get to eat more food which is always a plus.
With any self supported race there is a trade off between carrying everything you need versus the weight penalty involved. Our products have been designed to give you extra when you need it most whilst saving weight and improving efficiency which is especially beneficial when every second, minute and hour are critical.
Our new GEL30’s for example have been specifically designed with a slightly larger overall surface area, allowing for better packing and making sure you can make every inch of your frame pack count. In essence you can carry more in the same cubic space.
For this year's event myself and Alex B wanted to carry a maximum of 4kg of fuel from the start line which will reduce by the hour. So we worked with Leon towards a bespoke fuelling plan which took into consideration the weight we would carry and what real food we would also need to aim for to hit our hourly and daily targets. Our daily Sixteen hour blocks will look something like below:
Taking a realistic approach to what we could carry and will be able to pick up on route made for the perfect plan.
We have dialled in our setups to carry everything we need and nothing that we don’t. Through trial and error we have found that we work best on a big breakfast full of simple, carb rich foods like porridge setting us up with plenty in the tank. Sticking to our strategy and constantly topping up our glycogen stores throughout the day, I find it key to avoid a large lunch and the sluggish feeling that often follows it. A big feed in the evening is ample motivation and a reward for the day's effort, making sure to include some protein to improve our recovery.
Our race setup will be based around the Tailfin, aeropack system and its top-loading pack. The ease of access and extra volume has been amazing and allows us to confidently carry all of our nutrition for the trip. With the additional mounting points, I can carry extra fluid in our PCR and STYRKR adventure bottles in colours to match our Celtic surroundings.
My custom frame bag from Straightcut was originally made for my gravel bike but just so happens to fit my Ritchey logic like a glove. Having beautifully hand-crafted kit that you can rely on is a confidence booster and I am sure this won’t be the last adventure we take on together.
Aero bars with sixty millimetre risers allows for a change of position during the long stretches and hopefully help me slip through any wild Atlantic headwinds like an arrow… (jury’s not yet out on that)
Fellow race partners and all round cycling good guys, Albion, have even knocked us together some branded jackets and jerseys. It’s a pleasure to work alongside passionate British brands, rooted at the heart of cycling in this country and inspired by its many quirks and traditions.
We can’t thank Matt, Toby and the wider Pan Celtic team enough for involving us in this year's race. Their passion and enthusiasm is infectious and both Alex and myself are itching to get going.
Harvey and Alex Catt will be in the camper-van throughout the race, documenting the journey. If you see a camera and a questionable mullet hanging out the passenger window be sure to give them a wave.
Follow the story as it unfolds on our social media, with pictures and footage daily, and get in touch if you have any questions about this race or fuelling another ultra endurance race. Our door is always open.
In the words of the Pan Celtic clan ‘An té a bhíónn siúlach, bíonn scéalach’. Hopefully we will return with a few new stories to tell.
*Please note, the guide below has been specifically designed for STYRKR products only. We recommend that you try replacing some of the STYRKR carbohydrates with other carbohydrates from food. The easiest way to undertake this is to deduct the amount of carbohydrates consumed from food from the overall carbohydrate target for each hour.