Sean Sako: The life of an ultra-cyclist

Riding in circles

My job and what I do, if someone asks, I am a Keto lifestyle Coach, in short I don’t tell people what and how to eat however all of this can be found online. I assist them in making a successful transition, helping them polish up their food choices and helping them to understand the change and sensation of their energy expenditure. People want a quick fix, I basically calm them down and help the to allow the process to happen.

This happens twice a week when I sit behind my iPad and reply to my clients.


The other 4 - 5 times per week, I am fulfilling my weekly demands of riding a minimum of 500km per week. I hit this goal almost all the time however sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s more.

I don’t have a support system, a team of doctors, message therapists. Someone to clean my kit. I am loner, I’m on my own. I wash all my kit by hand, I take extra care of my helmets and shades post all my rides. I make all my meals.

I don’t have anyone close saying to me well done or giving moral encouragement, I get my motivation when I hear someone reach out to me via social media saying they have changed their eating habits, they are happier and healthier. This inspires me. Nobody knows when I am heading out to ride the same old route over and over again. Everything I do is self supported, my support and motivation comes from within, I ride with purpose.


I have mentioned that I ride in circles. I do this for several reasons.

1.) Weather, I prefer to ride in the easiest conditions possible. We have strong winds on Cape Town, so I generally ride where the wind and of course traffic is less.

I have several loops and stretches of road I ride. I have a 4km, 8km and 9km loop. I will sometimes ride these loops until I hit 200km or even 220km. I have a 7km stretch of road and a 5km stretch of road. These are essentially gradual climbs. Just for the record I do ride around the peninsula on the odd occasion, also I ride alone. If a mate or a partner should ride with me, they ride behind in my slipstream.

2.) Cape Town is small place. I like to be spotted. A lot of naysayers discount my rides and the more I can be seen the better for my credibility.

3.) Consistency, if I am doing the same routes all of the time, at the same time, the same road conditions, hopefully the same wind. That lends itself to better science.

This way I know if I am improving or fatigued and the odd electrolyte I am testing or some form of nutrition I know it will work or not. Up until now I am not riding long enough to refuel.

4.) Motivation, this is the ultimate proof of energy which is mental motivation. If I can continuously ride the same route over and over again and a substantial amount of power, I believe that it is the ultimate testimony to my energy.

5.) Knowing the route, I do not have to worry about obstructions, detours, or any other possible unforeseen problems occurring. I can simply focus on the task at hand.


So what actually goes through my mind, what are the equipment that I pay reverence to I order for me to embark and prove the efficacy of my macronutrients choices and energy production.

Firstly, I must make this clear, my goal is not about being fast but to prove that my body can cope with the demand for producing energy, and prove that I am making consistent energy and to gather the data of constant power and ultimately energy expenditure. This coupled with how I am feeling, or perceived level of excursion shows me that I am on the right path.


It is without a doubt, my contact points are the most imperative in order to ensure I am as comfortable as possible.

If I am comfortable and without physical pain that can lead to injury I can then focus all my energy on the task at hand.

This equipment is my bar tape, gloves, of course saddle, shoes and pedals.

The saddle without a doubt is key here. It is also something that is very personal. A number of manufacturers will offer saddle guides on how to choose your saddle from everything from type of cyclist, your flexibility, the width of your ischial tuberosity / sit bones etc.

From my history of 30 plus years of cycling I have used a myriad of saddles ranging from narrow to wide, flat to curved, cut aways and so on. Yes I found comfort with most of them and some better than others. However, when it comes to one saddle that is top of the pops, king of the castle when it comes to comfort it is the SCRATCH M5. Now don’t get me wrong they make others saddles that I have tried which just don’t work for me. But when it comes to one saddle that rules them all. It is the SCRATCH M5.

I’m going to touch on a few points why the SCRATCH M5 is so incredible for me.


I use every part of the saddle. I have 3 primary positions on the bike.

1.) On the hoods

2.) In the drops

3.) On the top of the bar

On the hood is what I tend to ride the most in. I am now sitting pretty much in the centre of the saddle. I do have quite an aggressive position, (I think this is owing to my flexibility as I was a ballet dancer prior to taking up cycling) for an endurance cyclist but this is what works for me. In this position I can engage my hamstrings and quads naturally.


In the drops I tend to pull myself right over onto the front end of the saddle, this is what’s known as “on the rivet” I like to use this position because I am using primarily my quads in this position. In this position I am the most aerodynamic and I use all position to extract every last km.

On the top bar, I am now pushing myself onto the the back of the saddle where I am now engaging my glutes. This I often do when I’m climbing or riding a road that demands a lot of power and the road is tilting up slightly.

When you take all three positions which are mentioned above you can see how imperative it is to have a saddle that works for you. The SCRATCH M5 is able to over me the best platform owing to its shape and design in the various areas on which I sent mentioned above

What goes on inside my mind

Can you imagine riding the same roads over and over again, and do it almost every single day, well almost every day?

You see cycling is something I enjoy doing, and don’t get me wrong I wish I could have the finances to go on a long adventures up one road for 1000 or 2000km see different places and so on, different counties and so on.

But that is not my job, my job is to spread a message to say, there is another way, and another way to fuel your rides another way to eat. Look at what I can do and please consider my way.

When you see a young girl become a beautiful butterfly when she has always seen herself as a moth. Wouldn’t that affect you ?

How many people have problems with food. Over 50% of the USA is obese. I cannot sit idle and do nothing, and be quiet, when I know the truth and have the solution. So I’m motivated. I motivated to show the world what is possible to silence my naysayers and to have a purpose in life. To have a meaning, to stand up for what I know.


Gino Bartali didn’t plan to save Jews from being murdered by the Nazis in the 2nd world war. He did what was righteous and was compelled to do so. He knew the truth. In many ways, for me there is similarities.

So I keep on reminding myself why I am here, my purpose.

Another piece of equipment which is invaluable to me is my heart rate monitor for calories and my power meter for kilojoules and of course my head unit to show me the real time data.

Just bare in mind that I’m not soft pedalling on my rides my goal is to try hit at least an IF between 0.75 to 0.80 over the length of my ride. Which generally is upwards of 5 hours.

To see that there is no dip in power and the pressure to my pedals is sustained.

Yes, I have hit the wall once or twice over the past 10 years but it wasn’t because of nutrition but from fatigue when your body sabotages itself from producing energy. The only cure for that is a few days off the bike. I get this because unbeknown to many I suffer from Fibromyalgia. I got my first bout of OTS in 1998, followed with OTS 2008 with  Epstein Barr Virus while I was eating carbs. I manage it very well NOW owing to my high fat little to no carb lifestyle.

I also listen to music, using just the left ear phone. So sometimes I just switch off and find a zone and focus on what’s in front of me and ensuring I hit those numbers.

How I prepare, and how should you

It’s got to a point in my life and cycling career that preparation is very simplified. I have a sachet of pure macadamia nut butter I take as a precautionary form of nutrition should things go pear shaped. I now always take electrolytes in the form of homemade Himalayan Rock Salt capsules. I do use other products that are purely electrolytes, but seldom.

I take always a rear light, especially in winter. I have a wonderful mini hand pump. My headphone charging pod. In my saddle bag are two butyl tubes, tire levers, tool kit, a spare battery for my power meter.

The nutrition I have doesn’t vary from day to day, maybe in caloric intake. I do try to replace the calories I have burnt the day before.

But to be quite frank the longest ride I have done on the road is 250+km and it was unplanned.

I do stop for water along the way and the occasional double espresso and of course the call of nature.

Regarding conveying my advice for people wanting to embark on long endurance rides. If you are someone who burns carbs for energy, hypoglycemia or bonking is debilitating and not a nice place to be in. So I cannot stress enough to ensure you have adequate fuel with you, be it in the form of whole foods or powdered drinks and gels.

For those who are ketogenic your demand for electrolytes is greater than a carb burner. So ensure you have sufficient electrolytes with you. Ensure that if it is a powder that there is non-caloric, non-glycemic, non-insulinemic

If you stimulate your insulin this will possibly deactivate your fat burning. Your food should be ketogenic, tree nuts, an approved ketogenic energy bar that has ingredients that are keto approved always check ingredients. Dried meat. MCT oils.

Apparel, if you are planning a long ride it is always advisable to take garments that are insulated. You could be stuck on the side of the road owing a mechanical, an accident or something else. Losing body heat and getting cold is something you want to avoid. A light wind proof jacket is easy, small and convenient to pack.

LIGHTS !!! Back and front.

I shouldn’t have to mention tool kit, puncture repair items if you are running tubeless of tubes.

And on that note, thanks for reading, enjoy the ride and ride safe !

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  • Thanks for the write up Sean

    Tony Konvalin on
  • Thanks for the write up Sean

    Tony Konvalin on

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