Before the end of 2020, we were lucky enough to welcome Commonwealth Games athlete and future Olympian, Ellesse Andrews to our Racers Edge family. As a Wanaka local herself, Ellesse was exposed to the local mountain bike tracks from a very young age which kick started her passion for cycling. Since then, Ellesse has developed her skill set from mountain biking, to track cyclist, and finally settling on sprinting for her Olympic Games debut.
We caught up with Ellesse to ask about her journey in cycling and her nutrition tips for keeping strong when competing. Here she is in her own words:
Cycling career thus far
“My journey has been far from ‘typical’, winning junior world titles in both sprint and endurance events on the track. The base training which helped me become such a well-rounded cyclist began on the Wanaka roads and mountain bike tracks, where my focus was building power, speed, strength, and just the right amount of endurance.
Since then, I’ve represented New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the women’s endurance team, before making the switch to sprinting at the beginning of 2019. More recently I was selected to represent New Zealand as a sprinter at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. I’m so grateful for the Cycling New Zealand staff and my team for supporting me through my discipline switch, and toward my goal of becoming an Olympic Gold medallist.”
Nutrition and fuelling needs for each discipline
“As an endurance rider, one of my main focuses was fuelling enough. I had to make sure that I was eating enough carbohydrates, in relation to all the energy I was expending to ensure good performance.
When switching from endurance to sprinting I found that I was experiencing different fuelling and nutrition needs. The amount of muscle damage I now experience as a power athlete is higher than I’ve experienced before. Due to this, my nutrition focus has had to change from high carb, and sufficient protein intake, to lower carb (with the decrease in aerobic activity) and higher protein to aid in muscle rebuilding and recovery. Protein is crucial in this process! One of my favourite protein dense foods to eat is eggs. They’re super easy and quick to cook between sessions while not being too heavy either. I also really like adding protein plus milk into my smoothies during the day, to make it a bit more protein dense without having to use a powder.
As a sprinter, the majority of my training is on the track or in the gym. During both of these sessions, I often won’t eat at all – however I do always have a stash of bars and lollies in case I need to refuel! Our road rides are mainly used for recovery, with longer endurance rides only being prescribed in the right training phases throughout the year. When I’m out on the road for a shorter/recovery ride, I will usually take a muesli bar in case I need a quick boost of energy. If the ride is longer, I will plan this out a bit better and like to bring more bars and something like a banana too. On the road, track or in the gym I do like to use electrolyte tablets to make sure I am keeping on top of my hydration – especially in the summer!”
Keep an eye out for Ellesse, who will be representing New Zealand this July in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic games cycling track.