Within such a chaotic schedule, Scheirlynck’s efforts to educate riders were pivotal. Communicating during a pandemic is difficult, but with their own knowledge and the help of the color-coded system, riders were better able to manage their own nutrition.
That, ultimately, is Scheirlynck’s goal: To create a system that any rider can follow with just a bit of guidance. Even more importantly, it’s a system that riders want to follow. By giving riders so much freedom, Scheirlynck also gives them an opportunity to learn by trial and error. Through that process, they learn just how well the system works.
“Sometimes they text me and they say, ‘OK Stephanie, now I know what you mean because I did a training session for six hours and I only had this and this and this, and oh my god I was so empty,’” Scheirlynck says. “Then I try to explain, ‘OK, now you see why you also need to drink this and eat this in training? Because you do this during races, and isn’t your training as important?’”
Scheirlynck is happy when she sees riders taking the initiative with their nutrition. The importance of diet to athletic success hasn’t been properly appreciated across sports until relatively recently. Now, nutrition strategy is as refined as training practices, and athletes are making beneficial decisions on their own.
“What we would like to see when they come back from the offseason, and that’s just for me but also the coach, is that they are really happy to restart and they miss their bikes,” Scheirlynck says. “That they even miss eating healthy.
“Sometimes they really say, ‘OK, I’ve eaten everything now, so I’ve got it all. I’m good for a couple of weeks or months, so let me eat healthy again.’”