Eat more carbs, watch the power meter less: Pros give advice to their younger selves

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Have you ever wanted to go back and give yourself some cycling advice?

What would be?

Learning takes time, and even pros have things they wish they knew when they were younger, from eating right to focusing on the right things during training. Sometimes it’s not a tangible thing, but instead creates more time to appreciate what you do or what you have.

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Velo asked several WorldTour pros what they would like to tell their younger selves if they could.

Matej Mohori (Bahrain-Winner)

Everything I know about training and nutrition has been done very wrong, like low carb diets and all that stuff out the window. And we basically did everything wrong. I can’t even love, if I have to think about what we did back then. I’ve probably limped in every race I’ve done. For example, if I had 58 days, then I probably screwed up 58 times, because we ate we were told that we should eat up to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. And now in classic I go up to 140 grams per hour.

That’s twice as much fuel. I still vividly remember one really good one. When I turned pro my first year, a bottle of maltodextrin would be 30 grams of carbs and I got it in my mind that it was like super energy dense stuff, you know, you’d only drink two or three per race if you really needed it. And now we have a bottle with 90 grams of carbohydrates and on a typical day of the Tour de France, I take five, six or seven. So things have changed a lot.

Jay Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Never take it too seriously, and just enjoy it. Just enjoy the moment and be in the present as much as possible.

Anemiek van Vleuten (Movistar)

Annemiek van Vleuten spent too much time looking at her power meter (Photo: Vincent Jannink/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Look less at the power meter. I was too focused, and a bit of a perfectionist, on power data and especially endurance riding. I still wanted to pedal downhill and keep the power effort up so in four hours I came home with an effort I was happy with. I never check my strength. For me, I was too much of a control freak. Sometimes, I think in women’s cycling some really look for control in power or other things and that’s not the way you can have a sustainable and long career.

I was happy to find a coach who got me out of that control freak and perfectionism a bit and Annemiek told me it wouldn’t make a difference if you came home with 200 watts or 210 watts. He was right and that’s why I’m still here with a lot of happiness because of the bike. Those people who don’t want to touch a bike after retirement are usually the people who are really focused on the details and raise the bar so high, always. I also accept that I’m not a perfect athlete and that I’m a perfect athlete 95 percent of the time, but I still race the 5 percent of the time that I’m not perfect because it makes me happier and more viable for a longer career with more fun.

I would also say, don’t strive for perfection and perfectionism in your career and always do things perfectly. Younger girls think that to become a world champion or an Olympic champion you have to be super focused and super perfect and it shouldn’t be nice to ride a bike anymore because if it’s nice then that’s not the way to become an Olympic champion or a world champion. I completely changed that way of thinking. That’s also one of the messages I’d like to give to younger athletes to make it easy on themselves because it’s not sustainable.

Mateo Jorgenson (Movistar)

I do not regret. Of the things I’ve done, I’m really glad I went the way I did and learned the hard way through Europe. It’s made me a lot stronger mentally now and I have, I guess, more perspective on what I’m doing than maybe some other drivers. I don’t know what I would tell my younger self, just go ahead and try to enjoy yourself. Enjoy the hard work and training because, at the end of the day, that’s what separates you. Getting better depends on how hard you can work and how much hard work you can mentally handle.

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