5 Questions with Pro Mountain Biker Todd Wells

Todd Wells has been winning bike races for a very long time. In 1996 he won two Cross Country Mountain Bike Collegiate titles and the success never stopped. Todd has won fourteen National Championship titles across four disciplines. He has racked up wins in both the Leadville 100 and La Ruta de Los Conquistadors. Todd has competed in the Olympic Games not once but three times. He currently races for Team Scott and provides professional coaching services in between podium appearances.

You have won the Leadville 100 three times. How has your approach to nutrition during the race changed over the years?

That’s a great question. The first year I did the race I thought it was going to be like a road race where we would take it easy through the feed zone, and I could eat a sandwich. It took me about four minutes to get down one bite of my nutella sandwich. Since then I’ve dialed in my nutrition where I’m eating mostly Clif Shot blocks and bars in the first half of the race and gels in the second half. The pace is too high and the air to dry to get down much solid food. 

I try to eat every half hour and I try to drink as much as I can comfortably get down. I also don’t consume as much caffeine as in the past. I try to eat more 25 mg caffeine gels then one big 100 mg, which seems to be easier on my stomach. 

How has focusing on gut health improved your performance?

I found Sound Probiotics after a few rounds of antibiotics this fall to get rid of a nasty respiratory bug. I was worried about my gut and after talking to some other endurance athletes I gave Sound Probiotics a try. Since using the product I have had less stomach issues on the bike and have felt much healthier overall. I just got back from a family vacation in Mexico where everyone got the stomach bug except me. I firmly believe the probiotics helped to keep me healthy. As an endurance athlete just staying healthy can be a huge advantage not only when I’m competing but when I’m building up to a race as well. 

What advice would you give to a new competitive cyclist about fueling for races?

My best advice would be to try it in training first. Nutrition is so individual that what works for one person could have a completely different effect on someone else. If you have access to hard group rides that is the best place to test nutrition because it’s the closest you’ll get to a real race. When I find something that works I stick to it and try to replicate it as closely as possible each time. If you’re traveling a lot internationally this isn’t always easy but here in the US it’s pretty simple. 

What part of your training have you found works for you, but might be different or unique from your teammates or other cyclists?

I find I do a much larger volume of training then a lot of my competitors. Because I do so much volume I also do less intensity. I find it easier to grow my engine and drop my weight with big volume. If I’m fresh enough to get that super high intensity I usually give some up in my overall motor size. 

Do you have a favorite cheat meal or bad-for-you food that you indulge in?

I love chocolate. Everything in moderation is fine but sometimes I just can’t stop myself once I get started. I also love Nutella so I’ve incorporated that into my prerace meal. I always look forward to race morning because I know I’m gonna have my fill of Nutella.