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Hydration techniques, gels, fruit juice, what to drink?

davomrmacdavomrmac Posts: 83
edited November 2008 in MTB beginners
OK, so I am starting to train for a sponsored ride next year and I am very concerned about what to put in my body.

Even when not cycling, I eat well, have the odd cereal bar, drink plenty.

When going out on longer rides, I obviously intend to take a good drink and a bar to eat.

My question is, when I do this long 60/80 mile ride, should I be taking gels?

My concern is that I don't like just drinking anything, so what is inthese gels? are they OK or have any modified stuff in them? is there a better alternative, like fruit juice?

Any advice on this subject is really appreciated.


  • Sponsored rides usually have some support where you can pick up something to eat, or you could just carry regular food with you if you are worried about what you eat. I don't mean a Sunday roast! But sandwiches, cereal bars, fruit can be carried in a back/hydration pack.
    No-one wanted to eat Patagonia Toothfish so they renamed it Chilean Sea Bass and now it's in danger of over fishing!
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Plain water if carrying a lot of food (bananas and fig rolls are good), if less food an isotonic drink is a good option.
  • .blitz.blitz Posts: 6,197
    Personally I don't buy energy bars/gels/drinks, I think they are massively over-rated. If you look at the ingredients many of them are low in fat but contain calories as refined sugar which gives an instant energy boost but no endurance.

    I find bananas and pick'n'mix dried fruit are great for longer rides and I only drink water. If it's an all-dayer I'll load up with pasta or porridge beforehand. Leave the cakes until after the ride.
  • pbt150pbt150 Posts: 314
    Anything less than around an hour/90 minutes you should be OK with just water, maybe take a cereal bar/gel with you to get you on the last leg home. All commonly available gels don't have any funny stuff in them (WADA controlled substances). However, they are high in maltodextrin (glucose polymer) and most of them are hypertonic which means water passes from your body into your gut in order to absorb them. I THINK Science in Sport Go gels are isotonic so don't technically need to be taken with water...but on a long ride you'll need some fluids as well as energy.

    If you want to make your own drinks up for keeping hydrated on a long ride, you can mix fruit juice (but not apple juice) with water - 250 ml juice/750 ml water, and add a pinch of table salt (for sodium) and lo-salt (for potassium) to get some electrolytes at the same time. For commercially available drinks, I like High5 SuperCarbs (gives you lots of energy and good hydration), but others are available too, such as SiS Go (low carb electrolyte drink), and SiS PSP 22 (like the High5). These are all quite good because they come in powders in sachets so you can put 2/3 spares in a pocket or pouch and take them with you. And cereal bars are still quite a good idea.
  • Wow, thanks everyone for the superquick replies.

    This ride is just me and one other, riding to raise funds for a local charity group.

    Sounds like 4 hours will need a couple of water bottles, cereal bar, banana and a sandwich, something like that should see me through.

    If I mix my own drink, is something like Robinsons OK, or is that a lame question?
  • 60/80 mile ride on road or off road? I did London to Paris in 2 days last year (180 miles) and Cork to Galway in 2 days this year (200 miles). Both on-road, L2P on my MTB with slicks, C2G on a city bike (racing bike wheels, MTB geometry). I'm not very fit, am overweight, and both were achievable - only upped the training a few months before and could do half the daily distance (50 miles) comfortably on road by the time the big rides came around.

    As for hydration, lots of water. I supplemented my calorie intake with stuff from Torq which isn't full of rubbish. Some of their carb powder in one water bottle and plain water in the other/camelbak. Some of there yummy cereal bars to munch as you go (good tip, unwrap them and put them in a mobile phone holder on a camelbak or a tri-bag on your frame means you can munch as you go). Then about an hour from the end of each day one of their awesome gels with guarana.

    I think the trick is to, during training, experiment and get to learn when your body starts to need more. If you wait till your body is screaming it's too late.

  • This will be Eastbourne or Hastings through to Folkestone, mainly road (90%), with a few trails to cut through. The 60/80 miles is dependent on how the training goes, it might well be the lesser distance. I was thinking 4/5 hours for this which may be an underestimate.

    Thanks again for the advice.

    On a sidenote, is there a section on this forum for posting about sponsored rides, for nearer the time. If not, where can I suggest such a section?
  • pbt150pbt150 Posts: 314
    Robinsons works fine too, use the stuff WITH sugar, and just do 150/850 per litre.

    Good luck!
  • pbt150 wrote:
    Robinsons works fine too, use the stuff WITH sugar, and just do 150/850 per litre.

    Good luck!

  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I use the Barley one!
  • DV1DV1 Posts: 22
    Water , Water and more Water , thats all you need :wink:
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    Fresh orange juice could be a good option as well. Though I'm no dietician....

    I use gels, but just because they're indestructible and so easy to pack. Bananas are my preferred option but they're bulky, and disasterous when they go wrong :lol: Those Bananaguards really work but they're gigantic, not ideal (on the plus side, they do get a lot of laughs, quite versatile objects...).

    But with a long ride, you don't really want high sugar, since that can be counterproductive (a big sugar hit will cause a corresponding insulin release, which can mean that shortly after your boost, you're knackered again. No good for sustained effort.) Better to eat lower GI stuff earlier and constantly.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • stumpyjonstumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    The gels and bars do work if you use them correctly (although to read the SIS leaflet a dgree in sports nutrition is helpfull :shock: ). For a decent length ride you do need more than just water and a bit of food. It's also better to continually feed rather than get hungry, stop and load up again. One of the energy drinks in a camelback is good for this.

    I'm still fairly new to taking specific energy drinks etc but I can give two examples where I'm convinced they helped. In 2007 I did the Mary Townley Loop challenge for the first time 47 miles off road with just under 7000 ft of climbing. I drank over four litres of water on the way around and ate chocolate, ceareal bars and fruit at the way stations. I had the worlds worse hangover the following day. Did the same event this year but instead mixed up the SIS energy drink according to instructions and took some gels and bars. First half shot past no problems, came close to bonking about 3/4 of the way around (I'd finished the energy drink), had a gel and a bar and was right again within 15 mins. Beat last years time and the conditions were horrendous (mud). My own experiences have convinced me that these things do work. I don't take them on every ride, but for the bigger rides I wouldn't be without them now.
    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

    I've bought a new bike....ouch - result
    Can I buy a new bike?...No - no result
  • I tend to drink a couple of pints of water before a ride, pee before i start the ride and take ribena with me about half a litre. the rides i go on tend to be a mix of cross country and road, i buy drinks at shops when going past i also use pubs but after 2 or 3 pints of the local ale i dont want to cycle much further so tend to use these at end of ride
    A mouthfull of mud, i guess ive crashed

    Giant xtc se
    Trek 1.2compact
  • Gels are great if you're doing endurance events. I used them loads when I used to do long-distance runs. I especially like the double caffine powergel ones, they really give you a boost when you start to flag.

    Gels/sports drinks provide carbohydrates (an minerals) in different forms - sugar, glucose, dextrose, etc. Refined sugars are the hardest for your body to metabolise which is why most gels are glucose/dextrose based, however to be honest unless you are an elite athlete I'm not convinced that you can tell much difference.

    A banaa before an endurance event which is easily digestable plus gels during is my choice.

    Just make sure that you try it before the day. Plenty of people can't take any sort of food during exercise and you don't want to risk it on the day.
    Neil Pryde Bura SL
    Cannondale CAAD8
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