Michael Woods began his 2019 campaign in sunny South Australia with the Tour Down Under earlier in January. After the Ottawa-native had an absolutely astounding 2019 season in which he reached the podium of a Monument, the world championships and won a stage of a Grand Tour he began his year with a long trip abroad.
Woods is now at the top of his game. Part of nailing his prep ahead of big goals is dealing with the travel and to that end, he has some valuable tips that can help ease the shock of a long trip be that to a warm training destination, an international mass participation event or a WorldTour race.
Adjusting to a different time zone
“The Australian trip for the Tour Down Under is rough. It’s super long and anytime I do a long haul flight I try to get on the timezone prior to leaving,” Woods, who will be racing the Cadel Evans Road Race on Sunday said.
Travelling often between Canada and Europe, Woods has experience dealing with jetlag and big time adjustments that can interrupt training or pre-race prep.
“The day of flying I start to change my meals up a bit. I also hydrate quite a bit and I limit what I eat. It’s not quite fasting, but coming close to it for most of the flight, it makes a huge difference,” he said about his nutrition before a long trip.
“Then once you land you have your first regular meal at an appropriate meal time and it helps you get on schedule straight away,” Woods suggests. “If you’re on a long haul flight from, say America to the UK, and you’re eating on the plane then you can be eating at 3 a.m. in the morning, which doesn’t make any sense.”
Pro athletes are meticulous with how they eat not just when training and racing, but Woods emphasizes how it can help with easing travel.
“By not eating much on the plane also limits your intake of salty food and so you’re not retaining a ton of water and getting super inflamed,” he said about the perils of airpline food. “I think the diet part is the most important part of flying, and the fasting bit helps with the illness prevention because you’re not consuming quite as many germs.”
Lachlan Morton had simple words on what travel essentials he brings regardless of the destination. “Wherever I go, I always take swim shorts and instant coffee,” he said.
Hugh Carthy was arguably a little more practical prioritizing dry feet when riding away from home. “I always take shoe dryers. They’re heaters that you slide into your shoes. They help dry them out if I’ve been out cycling in the wet. It makes such a difference to put your shoes back on the next day and they’re not wet. I usually have to loan them to my roommate as well,” he said.
Woods’ EF Education First also has suggestions to make long travel days easier. Sleep is essential to having the energy to getting back in the saddle after a long trip. Jet-Lag Rooster is a site where you input your travel plans and it makes a sleep adjustment program for you to follow in the days leading up to the trip.
The team asks their riders to avoid blue light from phones on the flights either using the night mode. To increase the chance of getting some rest on the plane they suggest wearing ear plugs, night masks and comfortable clothing.
The team recommends the riders use probiotics to strengthen their gut before travelling to a destination where food may be different than what they are used to. They also ensure the riders are not relying on airplane food because it doesn’t fulfill your nutrition requirements. Instead, prepare something to bring like healthy snacks.
EF Education First also recommends immediately adjusting to the eating schedule once arrived at your destination. Hydration throughout the trip is key and electrolyte tablets can help. Carrying an empty water bottle to fill up once through security is a good way to have water nearby at all times.
To prevent the riders from picking up germs during their travels, they recommend carrying hand sanitizer and washing their hands regularly. They use nasal sprays to help prevent colds and flu using them before getting on a flight and if the flight is long during the trip in accordance with the dosage.
For the leg muscles, they have the riders wear compression socks. Once arriving at the destination if it’s day time the team recommends the riders go for a light ride or walk to get the body moving and to relax. Sun exposure also helps with adjusting to the time change.