Forum home Road cycling forum Training, fitness and health

mid-ride fuelling

Rob13Rob13 Posts: 430
Just looking for advice on which is the best way to go with keeping topped up during a long ride.

I currently ride with just a couple of bottles, with a couple of high5 electrolyte tablets in each and i'll neck a clif bar every hour. For anything around or above a Fondo, i'm finding myself tailing off quite fast towards the end and feels like a bonk.

I've been advised that:
I should be taking carbs on board within my bottles as they'll absorb quicker and this is the cause of the bonk
The bars are pointless as the energy won't get into my body before the ride is complete.
I should buy some powders and mix my own bottles instead of bothering with tablets.

I dont like Gels as I tend to get stomach groans if I eat too many. I'm interested in those who regularly do long distance rides and what they use to keep themselves going and where I'm going wrong.
«1

Posts

  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    How far are you riding ? You don't really need electrolyte unless it's very hot and long. I'd go with energy drinks instead.
  • Rob13Rob13 Posts: 430
    Anything more than say 3 hours I'm finding myself dipping. I do sweat buckets (even in the coldest of weather on the turbo) hence using the electrolyte.
  • sam_anonsam_anon Posts: 165
    Bananas? I've heard they take about half an hour to do their thing.
  • Thigh_burnThigh_burn Posts: 489
    Are you eating a whole bar every 30mins? That sounds like an awful lot to me, and I wonder if you're bonking because you're overloading with sugar?

    Personally, I use tabs in my drinks, then take a combination of Clif Bars and Clif Blocs. I cut the bars up into fingers and put in a sandwich bag with the blocks. I then eat one finger or one block every 30mins. For a >70 mile ride, I'll then have a sandwich - something like marmite, which is salty.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    If I'm out all day I'll start the day with a massive bowl of sweetened porridge. On the bike I'll just have squash in the bottles, but back pockets full of fig rolls and jelly babies, and try to eat something every 30 minutes or so. I can keep going all day doing that.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Rob13 wrote:
    and i'll neck a clif bar every hour. For anything around or above a Fondo, i'm finding myself tailing off quite fast towards the end and feels like a bonk.

    Unsurprising - ironically, you are probably over-eating, rather than not eating enough. A Cliff Bar every hour is just daft - not to mention ridiculously expensive. Dates, papaya chunks or a couple of breakfast bars (like the Belvita soft bakes) will do just as well and cost a lot less.

    Muscle fatigue is inevitable on a long ride though - regardless of how much you eat. You can't expect to just keep tanking along indefinitely - that's not how it works.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    A lack of energy drink is unlikely to be the issue. And, if you know you are a sweater, I'd stick to separation of hydration and fuelling (Skratch labs have some good articles on this).

    IMO a cliff bar every hour for a 3 hour ride should be more than enough to keep you going, unless you are putting out huge amounts of power, have a deficient diet or are doing back to back hard 3 hour rides.

    What do you eat before the ride?

    How often do you do 3 hour rides? i.e. is it likely to actually be fitness related, are you just overstretching yourself?
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I sweat like a pig dog and I never have issues.

    It could be just that you're over stretching yourself. As has been noted that's a lot of food. More than me and my riding buddies have but we've been riding for decades.

    When I do an Ironman I set the alarm to beep every 20 mins and I'll have something to eat or drink. It adds up to a lot less than you're taking on and I've a swim done and having to set myself up for a Marathon at the end.

    If you're not used to the distance then no amount of fuel will fix it. We aren't like cars.
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,476
    "A couple of High5 electrolyte tabs in each" bottle is too much electrolyte (salts). One in each bottle is the correct dose, and actually one bottle electrolyte, one bottle clean water is a better idea (neat water with food goes better in my experience). Too many salts in your fluids is going to draw water out of your system into your gut before any food can be digested.
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,644
    Unless you know otherwise, I'd go with the general rule that the average person can process, or oxidize, only about 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute, no matter how much is consumed = 60g per hour.
    That's not eating a 60g energy bar though - look at how many carbs are in the bar - and also, some carbs are quicker / easier to absorb.
    I don't like gels - so use on or more of the following if I'm out for a long ride: energy drink, clif bloks, fig rolls and energy bars.
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    Thigh_burn wrote:
    bonking because you're overloading with sugar?

    Bonking being the lack of sugar (or specifically a depletion of glycogen) cannot therefore be induced by eating sugar. An excess of sugar is not good for you but healthy non-diabetic person can cope with eating a lot more sugar than what's in a clif bar without problem.
    Imposter wrote:
    A Cliff Bar every hour is just daft - not to mention ridiculously expensive.

    A Clif bar has about 250 calories and roughly 37g of carbs - depending which flavour. Most evidence I have seen says the body can digest 60-90g of carbs per hour. So apart from the cost there is nothing really daft about it.

    If you are putting in a lot of effort you have to eat accordingly.

    One thing to note is that beyond a level of exertion your body will struggle to digest food and it will just sit around there whilst you get more and more fatigued so you may find you cannot digest it quick enough depending on how fast you are doing and what your stomach is like.

    My suggestion would be to experiment with different types of food. Personally speaking I cannot digest solid food like a Clif bar at my normal riding pace. I stick to gels and energy mix, my personal favourite being High-5 - it's really not like a normal gel, more like fruit juice.

    On a long + fast ride I will have 2-3 gels per hour (40-60g of carb) along with sipping from my energy drink. I also keep a caffeine gel for when I start feeling weary - it's like a turbo charger and gets me going again. That way I can pretty much go for 4 hours and still feel relatively strong.

    All of this is speaking from a perspective of trying to maximise your performance. If you aren't trying to go as fast as possible you can just eat less accordingly.
  • Rob13Rob13 Posts: 430
    I'm eating one bar per hour, that is on rides over 3 hours, so for a 4 hour ride, it'll be 2 bars as i'll be eating something once i'm back in. If i'm out for an hour, its just a bottle. If its 2 hours, I might take a handful of jelly babies with me. I'm doing a 3+ hours around once a week, shifts permitting and between 5 and 7 hours a week on the bike. I wouldn't consider a couple of Clif bars ridiculously expensive, its less than a pint of beer!

    If I remember, Clif bars have just under 60g of Carbs in them. Also, high5 suggests one or 2 tablets per bottle, and i'm using 750ml bottles. I'll generally go out in the morning on a bowl of muesli or porridge, a coffee and a banana.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 2,697
    You shouldn’t need anything for a two hour ride other than fluids. You would struggle to deplete your carbohydrate stores in that time.
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    webboo wrote:
    You shouldn’t need anything for a two hour ride other than fluids. You would struggle to deplete your carbohydrate stores in that time.

    Depends how fast you are riding.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 2,697
    Given you have about 2,500 cals stored. I think you would be sort of superhuman to burn that in 2 hours or untrained.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    webboo wrote:
    Given you have about 2,500 cals stored. I think you would be sort of superhuman to burn that in 2 hours or untrained.


    The aim of training isnt to step through the door with no glycogen left in your muscles. Eating on the going can help recovery and the mental side of riding. Besides, since you are going to have to replace the calories you burnt on the 2 hour ride the best possible time to do it is while riding or immediately afterward. Just consider eating during a 2 hour ride as starting the recovery process early.
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    webboo wrote:
    Given you have about 2,500 cals stored. I think you would be sort of superhuman to burn that in 2 hours or untrained.

    That's the total across the entirety of your body though. The glycogen in your arms for example will be of no use if your legs are getting depleted. So it's definitely possible that if you haven't eaten after 90 minutes of intense riding that you may need a top up.

    Everyone is different of course so all of this depends on the individual and what they want to achieve. If you do want to maximise performance over multiple hours and you are putting out decent power then you need to eat more.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,362
    On a really long ride (say 100 miles plus) I’ll just stop half way for a fish supper, pint of water and pint of orange juice. Not an option if it’s a competitive event obviously, but otherwise why wouldn’t you? Personally I have no issues with digestion as long as I need the energy.
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,676
    Rob13 wrote:
    I'm eating one bar per hour, that is on rides over 3 hours, so for a 4 hour ride, it'll be 2 bars as i'll be eating something once i'm back in. If i'm out for an hour, its just a bottle. If its 2 hours, I might take a handful of jelly babies with me. I'm doing a 3+ hours around once a week, shifts permitting and between 5 and 7 hours a week on the bike. I wouldn't consider a couple of Clif bars ridiculously expensive, its less than a pint of beer!
    1 bar per hour sounds OK unless you're really pushing it for the whole ride. On longer rides I've found solid food at intervals - banana, flapjack, dried fruit bar etc - works better than maltodextrin dissolved in a bottle (which also rots your teeth, my dentist is always advising me not to use it). Electrolytes aren't really necessary unless it's particularly hot.

    The bonk is not really a tailing off, more dying on the bike, possibly becoming mentally vague and disorientated. Also, a quick sugar fix (Mars bar, Coke etc) should perk you up after a bonk whereas if you're just knackered it won't have quite the same effect. You could just be fatigued.

    Are you getting enough sleep? How's your nutrition the rest of the time? Are you pacing the rides suitably for the distance? It's easy to go off a bit hard early on when you're fresh.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I think it's unlikely that you can deplete glycogen in 90 mins. I can run a half marathon in about that time and I don't need any gels. Cycling is more efficient than running.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    On Monday I rode 360km. I don't bother with electrolytes. I had a bottle of water. I stopped after an hour and drank 500ml of coke and ate some m&m's. Breakfast was fairly light you see (bacon and eggs). I stopped again to top up the water bottle with water. In Hull I had a KFC with some Pepsi Max. I wanted the sugar version but that's the problem with bashing sugar, cyclists want sugar. I stopped somewhere in North lincs again for a big bag of m&ms and more coke. In Lincoln I had more coke and a milk curd pie. That kept me going till I got to long Sutton services on the a17 where I ate a mcd's meal and a coffee. That kept me going till I got home. I drank less than 1 litre of water, a bit under 2l of coke and a large coffee. Somehow I was not even close to being dehydrated.

    Your fuel needs will depend on the effort you are making. Eating regularly is the key if your maintaing a high pace. If your riding at a lower intensity you can binge eat a bit more but easily digested food.

    There is only so much glucose and fructose you can absorb per hour. Which is why I had a constant supply of m&m's in my back pocket (peanut for the win) drank sugary coke but for long rides you need real food too.

    Part of the problem might be the volume of riding you do. With lots of riding and regular long rides you build your bodies ability to burn fats. I know I used to tail of and die at 80 miles. I remember many a club run a few years ago where I was groveling the last 20 miles home. What fixed that was not food but just riding more regularly and more long rides.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Rob13Rob13 Posts: 430
    interesting stuff


    Thanks for the insight into the super randonneur world! None of this fancy stuff, just lots of sugar and calories!

    I'm probably going off at the gun too high, sustaining a tempo pace for quite a bit of the ride and then just fatiguing at the end.

    To answer the other questions, I get a decent amount of sleep but work shifts so my body clock gets flipped weekly.

    I think my nutrition off the bike could be improved too, simple veg and chicken etc rather than too many carbs through bread and pasta. I'm not one to jump into microwave meals or fast food but I do have a bit of a sweet tooth!

    I have no aspirations for racing, so should just forget about trying to go fast everywhere, slow down enjoy the ride and the scenery!
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I don't think it's energy related. The bonk is when you've depleted all your glycogen and you just want to get to the nearest shop or cafe and eat the entire stock. You'll know it when you get it. I think you can get by with a lot less food than you're having currently.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    with a true bonk you cant carry on. that happened in belgium this year. rode hard for 120 miles in the ardennes and had to lie down. LBL over. its not a case of eat and ease off.

    what the OP is suffering from is a classic case of riding to hard and getting fatigued. You need to pace your self. On monday I kept a pace of 27.5 kph average. I was at that pace all day because I know how to pace myself. If you want to ride faster for longer that requires specific training.

    Forget this healthy eating lark. my diet is simple carbs from pasta, bread, cale, biscuits, crips, some fruit and veg, eggs and meat. I am 84kg and 6ft1 my weight is fairly stable. so if you ride alot just eat. Eating chicken and veg is low kcal and will leave you feeling flat. Its fine to loose weight but if you are riding and need fuel you wont find it in grilled chicken. Last night meal was a lovely turkish delight that involved a plate of meat, lovely grilled meat and some bread. I felt slow this morning. Tonight I will eat carbs lots of carbs and I hope my legs will help me shift in the morning.

    The modern fad for less carbohydrates is fine for the inactive but if you are transfering 3500+kcal a day from food then you need carbs full stop.

    On long rides you cant actually replace all the kcal you use up with what you eat. you have to burn fats and that gets released at a much slower rate so you have to lots of long rides on minimal/no food to improve your fat burning to raise you sustainable pace.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,687
    No racing?
    Cafe stops and whatever takes your fancy.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,362
    Rob13 wrote:
    I'm probably going off at the gun too high, sustaining a tempo pace for quite a bit of the ride and then just fatiguing at the end.
    Rob13 wrote:
    I have no aspirations for racing, so should just forget about trying to go fast everywhere, slow down enjoy the ride and the scenery!
    As thecycleclinic says, yes, basically, it's probably just a matter of pacing on those longer rides.

    But that doesn't mean you should be slowing down on the shorter rides - hammer 2 hour rides as fast as you can, just don't try to maintain the same pace for 5 hours.. :-)

    I'm always surprised when I do longer rides at the right pace how average speed is not hugely less - the physical effort required to maintain 18.5 mph is much less than for 20mph (correct for your own fitness / terrain etc). After a while it becomes automatic, when you set out your brain knows you've a long way to go and what feels like the right effort in the legs is different.
  • The OP is riding 5-7 hours a week........not a day
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • OrkneyladOrkneylad Posts: 104
    On long rides you cant actually replace all the kcal you use up with what you eat. you have to burn fats and that gets released at a much slower rate so you have to lots of long rides on minimal/no food to improve your fat burning to raise you sustainable pace.

    Yeah that makes sense to me. My rule is no food on rides under 3hrs, just water in the bidons.
    For every hour expected, I eat one banana before I go. If you overdo the snacks your body is getting tired just processing the food, never mind pedaling.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    neeb wrote:
    I'm always surprised when I do longer rides at the right pace how average speed is not hugely less - the physical effort required to maintain 18.5 mph is much less than for 20mph (correct for your own fitness / terrain etc). After a while it becomes automatic, when you set out your brain knows you've a long way to go and what feels like the right effort in the legs is different.

    I noticed that last week. My average is usually 13-14 mph. Stop sniggering at the back. To reach 20mph I need a tailwind and a downhill stretch...

    Anyway, on friday me and the lad went for a gentle ride with my sister who's no cyclist and was on a heavy hybrid. Making allowances for her we averaged 11 and a bit mph over 13 miles, but it seemed completely effortless to me (she looked knackered)

    Yesterday I went out on one of my local 20 mile loops and as usual I couldn't help pushing myself a bit; end result - 14 mph :D

    Lot of extra effort for 2 and a bit extra mph.
  • rdtrdt Posts: 869
    On-bike nutrition is another one of those areas where cyclists can often get sucked into buying and using manufactured products they don't really need due to well targeted marketing.

    Depending on how well adapted you are to prolonged exercise (and the intensity level), rides up to a couple of hours probably don't need any external fuel, just water.

    Beyond that, I'd consider carrying just real food, and drink just water. The 'real food' will be down to personal preference and what's in your cupboards or fridge. Sarnies cut up small, bits of fruit cake, savoury rice cakes, or my favourite of boiled new potatoes rolled in salt (superb easy to eat, moist, on-bike food & very more-ish), each wrapped up in individual bits of foil for eating on the move. Plus bananas of course.

    And take a read of this:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Feed-Zone-Port ... 1937715000
    ----
Sign In or Register to comment.