Everyone has their own favourite snacks or approaches to eating on the bike. Here we share some more tips on getting the on bike fueling right.
When to eat during a long bike ride?
You may read elsewhere that you can delay to eat for the first hour on the bike, because the body has a good supply for about an hour and a half/two hours before depleting. This is true in some cases; you can go out training and decide to start eating on the hour with no adverse affects to your training.
However, in a long sportive you need to eat sooner than the hour point. This is because it’s not just the distance that is going to take it out of you.
Realise that you will have the sportive elements to deal with: wind, rain, hills, nervous energy, your pace, your cycling pedalling style and as we’ve mentioned – how well you are trained for endurance. All of this will have a draw on your energies.
The earlier you eat, the better you can preserve your carb tank from getting anywhere near depleted. Even a ‘low’ energy tank can see a decrease in overall performance – you don’t necessarily have to ‘run out of energy’ to have a performance drop…..so eat early and keep topped up!
How often to top up food?
As a general rule of thumb, you should eat every 20 minutes on a long sportive.
Obviously, though this rule is just guidance as it depends on WHAT you ingest. Some suggestions include;
• A cereal bar and/or pieces of fruit cake – probably the best form of food for a long sportive because I find the amount of energy lasts for a good 25 minutes before having to top up again. I will delve in again and eat an energy bar at the 20 minute point throughout my sportive. PowerBar are the Energy Partners to the SKODA Celtic Series with a large range of products.
• ‘Pate des fruits’ or energy gels – never worked well because they don’t give enough energy – even though it’s stated they are high energy, people continually find they have to top up with them every 10-15 minutes to get the same energy boost as a simple cereal bar or fruit cake. Great for the last 10km of a 2.5 hour triathlon, hopeless for long sportives + 3 hours!
• Sandwiches – the most fantastic energy boost eaten in combination with cereal bars AFTER about the 3 hour 30 point. Experts believe there is a tipping point in a long bike ride where you NEED something substantial to boost your carb tank. A good sandwich with honey or jam can lift your whole ride.
• Energy carb drinks like PowerBar: you can just get away with using only a carb drink for up to three hour bike rides. Carb drinks are great for short races where you won’t have time to ‘eat food’ as such, but for longer ‘sportives’ or races you need ‘food’ regularly
As a rule of thumb, drink a full 750ml every hour
Key Points for Fuelling Your Sportive Spin
• You have a fat tank and carbohydrate tank. (In reality both are phased into each other, they don’t actually switch off and on).
• You access each depending on the speed you cycle: slowly you access more fat, go faster and you access more carbs.
• Your carb tank has limited supplies and needs topped up regularly.
• Train your fat tank and you delay using up your carb stores. To do this, continue to do your long bike rides.
• Fast bike rides around your long bike ride, can rev your metabolism, causing you to burn fat at rest.
• For long bike rides look to eat carbs to keep carb stores fully tanked up. Never eat sugar laden mars bars because it can cause you to run out of energy quickly.
• Cereal bars are probably your best compromise versus energy supplied and ease of eating.
• Eat early and drink early on your long sportives because the event as a whole will be draining.
• Eat every 20 minutes on a bike ride. Eat a sandwich if post 3hours 30 and then every hour to boost energies, combined with cereal bars.
• Hydrate using an isotonic concentration of fluid with electrolytes. Stay away from hypertonic energy solutions post 3 hour rides.
• Hydrate regularly throughout your ride to the end.
• Test and find what works for you is the bottom line