Here are our top 10 tips for getting your nutrition right on your rides.
A good breakfast lays the nutritional foundations for a long ride. You can’t go far wrong with a bowl of porridge but try to allow at least 2 hours before riding.
2) Length of ride
For rides up to about 90 minutes in length you shouldn’t need to take on additional fuel as you have sufficient carbohydrate stores in your body.
For rides over 90 minutes, you should be eating right from the start of the rides. Not leaving it until you feel hungry.
Eat something every 20-30 minutes, even if you don’t feel hungry. You’re not eating for that moment but 15-20 kilometres down the road.
Eat small snacks such as half an energy bar, a few bites of a panini, a couple of fig rolls or a small handful of nuts and raisins.
Pacing and nutrition are intrinsically linked. If you’re riding too hard, you want be able to digest and use the fuel you are providing. If using heart rate, pushing into Zones 3/4 too much will compromise digestion. As a general rule though, if you can talk, you will be able to eat.
7) Save the gels
Use gels when you really need them towards the end of a hard ride or if you need an energy boost when working hard, such as on a long climb. Real food tends to be easier on the stomach and provide a more sustained energy release.
You don’t need to drink excessively but aim to have a sip from your bottle, ideally containing sports drink if riding for more than 90 minutes, every 10-15 minutes. Look to consume about 500 ml per hour but that will vary depending on the weather, sweat rate and riding intensity.
9) Post ride
After a ride of less than 90 minutes, don’t worry too much about refuelling, just eat normally. After a longer ride, a protein drink consumed straight after the ride can help kickstart recovery, especially if your next meal is more than an hour away.
Practice your fuelling in training and find what works for you. Don’t try anything new on event day and, if there are feed-stations, find out what they are supplying and try it in advance.