Food Tips

During my research into surviving long rides (100+ mile rides), I came across this tip more than once: “Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty”. This turned out to be excellent advice that I more or less adhere to and suffer for when I don't. I've found that by the time the body reacts to low levels of fuel or fluid and sends hunger and thirst signals it’s too late. Here are some tips I found at Bicycling:

Maybe not like this...

STAY ON SCHEDULE Make timing your nutrition a priority. Take hits from your water bottle after 30 minutes and every 15 minutes thereafter. For rides longer than 45 minutes, follow the American College of Sports Medicine's guidelines and eat the equivalent of 1 gram of carbohydrate for each additional minute (gels have about 25 grams and bars have 40 to 45).

BUILD BALANCE Holding your handlebar with one hand and eating with the other sounds easy enough. What's not so simple: continuing a perfect line while barreling down a busy road and digging through your back pocket. Practice by riding one-handed along parking-space lines. Then, ride the lines while mimicking a snack break. Keep pulling food from your pocket, bringing it to your handlebar, and returning it. When your support hand is on the brake hoods or the side of the bar, every body motion is exaggerated and transferred to the front wheel. For optimal balance (though reduced braking ability), hold your handlebar next to the stem with your dominant hand.

EAT SAFELY Hyperawareness during refueling will help keep you - and the people riding with you - safe. First, scan the road for traffic in case you swerve. Then, look out for other obstacles. Potholes and debris can sneak up quickly, even when you're rolling along at a leisurely pace.

DIVERSIFY Blowing through an entire case of Strawberry Blast gels can become tedious, and when you grow tired of a specific flavor, you're less likely to eat. Buy a variety of gels, bars and chewy supplements; most energy foods have a six-month or longer shelf life. When you can, carry unprocessed fare such as bananas and sandwiches.

PREP YOUR FOOD Avoid an on-bike fight with your food wrapper - and the resulting smashed snack - by partially opening the packaging before you roll out. Another option: Repack your food into a zip-lock bag, which doubles as a used gel-packet depository.

The last tip is something I intend to test out on my next bike ride.


  1. You can, of course, eat "proper" food on a ride. Dates (stoned), grapes, brioches cut small and heavily buttered (now banned by my physician), cheese cubes (also now banned). Bananas are all right for the early part of a long ride, but they tend to get rather battered after a couple of hours or so. I tend to carry a couple of cans of Red Bull for a late boost, if required - don't usually need them, but I took one on the later stages of my 200 ( the other can broke in my crash).
    Pro riders are known to carry things like cake, and it is part nutritional, and part psychological boost.
    For drinks, I carry water, plus I make my own from kiddies drink with a dab of salt in each bottle. The stuff I use comes in at about 40g carbs per 600ml bottle.
    Of course, don't forget the porridge and eggs/omelletes for breakfast before the ride.
    Pros eat porridge and omelletes, and unless you are a vegan or have an allergy, so should you!

  2. Oh, I suppose I should add that when you are cycling hard ( or performing any physical sport hard!), then you mouth tends to be dryer than usual. The pattern of drink, eat, drink is soon established. I found eating cheese sandwiches while still moving to be unrewarding - the cheese is prone to falling out, and the bread is too dry!