One of the great things about this time of year as Spring takes hold, is the great cycling events coming upon us.  For many of us, we have big goals being realized in the Summer.  Maybe it is the Death Ride or the Davis Double Century.  You might have plans for your first century or metric century. Whatever your goal may be, it is likely to involve a big ride with lots of miles.

2016 – Dutch Flat

Just over a week ago, many Cycle Folsom riders joined in the Train for the Tours (TftT) ride – TftT #5, Not Flat to Dutch Flat (a perfect ride description if there ever was one).  In the TftT series, I think this is where the rides go from difficult to hard (and then insane).  In this transition in difficulty, it is important to make sure you are prepared to with a good hydration and nutrition plan.  In the last post, we gave you a good rundown on hydration – Hydration 101.  This time, Aaron Terrazas gives us a great rundown on nutrition.

Fuel For The Ride

There are two ways to eat, fuel for your body(breakfast, second breakfast if you are a Hobbit, lunch and dinner), and fuel for your ride. Let’s talk about fuel for the ride.

Pre-Ride fuel (breakfast and the day before) is also important and what you eat depends on the type of ride (long vs short, hard vs easy). For the sake of discussion, let’s stick to the long endurance ride fuel. Depending on what you like to eat, you can go with carb loading with pasta, veggies, etc the day before (loading for a long ride starts the day before, not just the night before). For breakfast, everybody is a bit different, I personally like a Coffee Late, oatmeal with fruit, or a PB&J. I stay away from proteins like eggs, bacon, and foods that are doing to take longer to digest, and offer little in terms of carbs. For a longer ride or race, I may shoot for 120g+ of carbs.

When, what and how much you eat, is a little different for everybody, so it’s important to know what your body needs for different types of rides. I find it best to eat small, not big, and spread out your fuel intake over the entire ride. This allows your body to digest food easily, rather than having a brick in your stomach while riding. My goal on long rides is to eat around 60g-100g of carbs per hours. This various by the intensity of the ride, such as a race. Smaller rides might look at 60g-80g of carbs per hour.

It is very important not to wait until you are hungry or feeling fatigued by staying ahead of your body and eat every 30-40 minutes. If your are pushing the pedals hard, you may find it beneficial to eat every 30 minutes. On the opposite spectrum, if you are on an easy recovery ride, you may only need to eat once an hour. Your ride intensity and ride duration will determine what and when you need to eat and how much fuel your body will need on a ride, so have your ride fuel plan and food ready the night before.

On longer rides, don’t not to wait for the rest stops, eat on the bike. This is where planning ahead with a ride fuel plan and having your food organized in your pockets comes in handy. You will find it much easier to eat while on the bike by having your food open and ready to eat (just don’t do this with gels or it will go bad really quickly – just saying).

Choose ride fuel foods that are natural, easy to eat, and offer fuel that your body can process quickly during a ride. Fuel for the ride is the key here because it’s about fuel your body can use during the ride. This is why it is better to stay away from anything heavy like sandwiches and hamburgers because our bodies tend not to process the sandwich or hamburger during the ride quickly enough to be used during the ride.

Here are a few things I eat on the bike and why I eat them.

On a long ride I will typically drink 1 Beta Fuel fuel mix over 2 hours, along with 1 Beta Fuel Gel per hour, and 1 normal gel or bar every hour.

On a long ride 100+ miles (more than 5 or 6 hours), I often opt a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Tips Help You on Your Next Long Endurance Ride

TIP: Always take more than you will eat, you never know when your body will just need more fuel.

TIP: Plan ahead; know what you will eat and when you will eat it.

TIP: Don’t wait to eat until you are hungry or your energy to drop out.

TIP: Listen to your body, learn how it responds to different foods on a ride, we all are a little different, so find what is right for you.

TIP: Eat every 30-40 minutes throughout the ride, and shoot for 80g-100g+ an hour, even when the ride is almost over.

TIP: Eat real food that is easy to digest and avoid processed foods and junk foods with corn syrups (HFCS).

Written by Aaron Terrazas