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Cyclists use potatoes as energy in century ride

Local cyclists are preparing for a 100 mile bike race this weekend. Some will be skipping the normal food stops in favor of something a little different. They are being sponsored by a local farmer who is looking to fuel both the cyclists and the potato industry.

Potatoes are one of Idaho’s top exports, but the industry has declined in the last decade, according to local farmer Bruce Hansen.

“As the potato industry shrinks, everybody loses, it’s a major industry,” he said.

Hansen believes the loss is due to perceived nutrition issues, and he wants to boost the crop by boosting athletes.

“One idea I had to do this was to have some athletes compete in a hundred mile bike rice having potatoes and water only,” Hansen said.

Along with Potanden Produce, Hansen will sponsor four cyclists in the “HeART of Idaho” ride this weekend.

Potatoes have easily digestible carbohydrates and are loaded with potassium, making them a great option for energy.

“That’s what made me kind of click inside, when he said hey, try this, potatoes for the whole ride, because it’s a fuel cyclists and athletes already use,” said Sarah Rogers, a cyclist and fitness trainer.

Riders can expect to eat about two potatoes an hour, which means over their race, they could eat an entire bag.

“This type of event and running at the speeds they are going to be running puts a tremendous strain and stress on the human body, and endurance athletes take their nutritional intake very seriously,” said Hansen.

Manuel Sanchez, another cyclist, said “I want to prove that potatoes can do good things for riders.”

Riders can prepare their potatoes any way they like. Rogers will boil hers, and she looks forward to cutting race time by not having to stop for food.

“I am going to make sure they are nice and cold when I start the day. Your body generates a lot of heat, anything that goes in these backpacks on your jersey or anywhere is going to get warm from your body heat and from the sun, so by the end of the day I will probably eat mashed potatoes instead of boiled potatoes,” said Rogers.

“Potatoes just really perform, they really give you a boost, I kind of call them superman pills,” said Hansen.

The riders will eat normally up until the race, but will avoid energy drinks and processed foods. The ride is sponsored by The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho. It will leave from Snake River Landing at 7 am Saturday.

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