Coryn Rivera is one of the most powerful road racers in the U.S. right now. At 27 years old, the Sunweb racer has 72 (yes, you read that right) national champion titles to her name on the road, track, and cyclocross course, including the most recent, an elite win in 2018’s National Championship Road Race.
Since shifting her focus solely to the road, Rivera has continued to rack up wins around the world, including her historic Tour of Flanders win, becoming the first American to top that prestigious podium.
To fuel her championship-winning racing and training, Rivera makes sure she’s eating enough to fuel the work she’s doing, and that she’s eating foods that make her feel happy and satisfied.
“I’m not on any particular food bandwagon. I’m on the eating bandwagon,” Rivera said. “I like food ... a lot.”
She’s even planning a big bikepacking trip (that will double as a bachelorette party) in California this summer that’s entirely based around restaurants.
“We’re planning to stay in AirBNBs and just hit restaurants for takeout,” she said. “I have a friend in San Francisco who has a Michelin-rated restaurant, so since I’m a bit of a foodie, that’s on the list. Michelin-star restaurants are amazing—it’s not about the quantity of food, it’s about the quality, which I really enjoy. After that, whatever is around. I’m guessing a lot of burritos.”
Below, Rivera shares the secrets on how she fuels for long days on the bike, makes a delicious savory oatmeal, and sears the perfect steak.
Savory Oatmeal in the Morning
The odd thing about me is that I actually don’t like fruit or sweets very much—I just want savory, hearty foods, so I normally start with oats in the morning. I keep it super simple. My favorite topping, especially when I’m in Europe, is this Norwegian brown cheese called Brunost. It’s kind of hard to get when you’re not in Norway, but luckily, I have a Norwegian teammate, and she’ll bring me blocks of it. It’s a byproduct of goat cheese made from boiling down whey, and it’s savory with a hint of sweetness. I put a bit of that in my oatmeal, and it’s perfect. If I don’t have that, I’ll add some nutritional yeast for the same kind of taste. Sometimes, I’ll put a fried egg on top.
Steak Night for Dinner
Steak night has really our become our thing lately. When we were going grocery shopping for two weeks, we get two or three steaks and freeze a couple of them. Normally, we look for a ribeye or a New York Strip—that part of the meat has more flavor and enough fat. We try to get steaks that are about an inch thick, maybe a bit thicker. We normally like to do it medium rare. And if you want to salt it the day before, that lets the salt really sink in.
We’re pretty simple with side dishes: We’ll make a nice salad or just quickly sautéed kale with some garlic or some roasted carrots or whatever we picked up that was on sale or in season. And of course, we add a carb, such as some roasted sweet potatoes or roasted fingerling potatoes with some rosemary.
Cooking During Quarantine
Someone asked what my fiancé and I were doing for fun during lockdown, and we realized we’ve been cooking a lot more. I think we find a lot of creativity and fun in that. We try to figure out a way to be creative with what ingredients we have on hand. Especially at the beginning of the lockdown, we would go to the grocery store and shop for the next two weeks. And then we would plan it out a little bit, thinking about the first week being a lot of the fresh vegetables, and then when you get into the second week, shifting to more frozen stuff. Sure, frozen doesn’t taste as good, but it works really well with things like fried rice.
Carbs and Electrolytes on the Bike
All of my sweets are on the bike—when I’m off the bike, I rarely will have sweet stuff. But when I’m on the bike, I’m always eating and drinking. On a harder day, I’ll do a drink mix from NamedSport. Their sport drinks actually have a fair amount of carbohydrates without tasting too sweet or overpowering.
I also eat bars, though I try to find flavors that aren’t super sweet. I like NamedSport’s pistachio bars because they’re really soft and easy to digest. Those are around 22 grams of carb per bar. On rides, I’m always aiming for at least 90 grams of carbs every hour.
On warmer and harder days, I’ll also add an electrolyte tablet from Precision Hydration, which has a really high salt content—I lose a lot of salt when I'm sweating. Even on a normal hard training day, it’s pretty visible that my shorts and jersey are super salty. And I tend to cramp sometimes on warmer days. Their products are great because they contain different levels of salt—low, medium, and high. I use the high version and add it to my bottles during and after a ride.
The First and Last Hours of a Ride Are Important
Especially on long days, it’s really important to fuel. Some of my better days on the bike are when I eat a lot. The first and last hour of fueling makes a huge difference in your overall performance. Problems start when you have that mindset of “I’m almost home, I’ll just wait to eat.” But then you get home and end up overeating, or worse, your ride takes longer than you expected, and you’re not fueled for it.
[Back in March, I was in Mallorca] and I had a really long ride planned for around six hours. And then we ran into a roadblock with just 45 minutes until the end of the ride. We had to backtrack, and I ended up ended up doing 200 kilometers with a bunch of climbing. It ended up taking an hour and a half. When we hit that roadblock, I knew right away that I had to eat everything I had if I was gong to make it. Putting all those bars down was key, and if it had taken longer, I would have stopped at a gas station and picked up some Haribo gummy bears to finish the day. Seriously, more is better, especially when you’re training a lot.
[Want to fly up hills? Climb! gives you the workouts and mental strategies to conquer your nearest peak.]
A Soft Spot for International Cuisine
I have a little soft spot for every kind of cuisine. I love Spain, so I definitely love a really nice cured ham. In Italy, the pizza and pasta are awesome—the way they do their gnocchi is just the best. In France, there are baguettes and cheeses. And I actually do love the Dutch cuisine as well—it’s kind of like a twist on really hearty Midwest food. An old-school, traditional Dutch meal is sausage and mashed potato mixed in with some other vegetables like kale—a very “steak and potatoes” kind of vibe. Really, I just love trying the local cuisine wherever we’re racing.
Listen to Your Body to Learn What Works Well
It feels like people are always trying to pull you into whatever way of eating they do and join their club or clique. People try to pull you into plant-based or keto or paleo or whatever. But I don’t think everyone needs a label for their diet. The thing is, everyone’s body responds differently to certain foods. For example, I know, some people who are on a gluten-free diet because they don’t feel good after eating pasta. And that’s totally fine, but if I feel fine after eating pasta, I don’t need to not eat pasta.
I think finding the right way to eat is more about knowing yourself. We don’t have to be on any kind of bandwagon. Don’t try to fit into a diet that doesn’t work for you, don’t deprive your body of food, listen to your body, and learn what works well for you and what makes you feel great.
You Might Also Like