Okay so I know many people have a very set idea of what and how much and how often food should be eaten on a bike ride but I eat real food when I feel hungry and try not to overdo it when I am getting back on the bike. I'll eat just about any kind of food but I do love fresh fruit...I have also had Chinese food for lunch during a 110 mile day!
This being said I am NOT a racer, I am most definitely a tourist. However I rode Coast to Coast (San Francisco to New Hampshire) in 2000 and now ride every other day on that same ride every summer. I don't like power bars, gels etc and bananas and pbj get boring when I am riding everyday for almost 52 days straight. I do carry a granola bar and sports beans in case there is no where to get food but very rarely need to use them. Never had any digestive issues but I suppose I am lucky that I have a cast iron stomach.
I do drink plenty but only pure water or water mixed with a bit of fruit juice...can't stand "energy drinks".
I guess each one of us needs to find the way that is best for us.
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+1 to the answer that said it depends and there are a lot of variables to consider, but that said, when do you typically ride?
I would say, for me, the majority of my rides are in the 1PM-3PM range, I start out in the morning with a large breakfast, lots of protein. Lunch is slightly lighter and taken maybe say, 30 minutes before the ride (for example a sandwich and maybe 3 servings of veg), carry 1 bottle water, 1 bottle Gatorade, will start with the water, then on to the Gatorade probably around 1-1 1/2 hours into the ride, if I hit 2 1/2 hours out, I'll hit a Clif bar.
Do you fuel during? If I need substantial solid food, Spam musubi, sandwich rolls, etc. work for me. Hell, Spam musubi feeds my power plant when I ride, easy to pack, replenishes sodium, doesn't taste like cardboard..
Before a long ride I eat a bowl of cream of wheat with a little butter and maple syrup, 2 cups of coffee and lots of water. I used to get pretty headachy after my long rides and I realized it was because I wasn't drinking my normal amount of coffee in the morning thinking it would give me a stomach ache on the ride. As long as I have it about 45 minutes before the ride all is fine. I usually bring a small banana, half a PB&J, and some fruit leather. Even with this, I'll usually be hungry by mile 50, but thankfully, my local cycling team always squeezes in a coffee break somewhere in the ride!
I'm a newby really but I was told to eat every 30-40mins. It might just be handful of almonds, a banana, a bar but I just keep snacking and drinking as I cycle and I find I'm still pretty good even after 5 hours of mad cycling. Good luck! I hope you find what works for you!
I like oatmeal or cereal before a ride. I carry snack size Payday bars or peanut butter crackers and eat one every 30 miles or so (I can't stand GU or gels). I only drink water unless we are on an organized ride with rest stops. Then I will drink Gatorade or Powerade and eat fruit at the stops.
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Now this is coming from a guy who on a previous post states he is much stronger and faster the day after riding hard and long the previous day?;-)
Aahhh yes gels is still the way to go along with bananas, power bars, pop tarts, energy drinks, bagels, fig newton cookies, soda, nuts,pb&j sandwiches etc etc .
My point I am trying to make here is that each and everyone of us can tell you what to eat however, what works for us is not necessarily going to work for you.
There are a lot of factors that come in to play on performance: your rest, flexibility, diet, stress level etc. even what you ate 6 months ago factors in.
You need to experiment different foods and find out what works for you. Go out and ride and record the results. Introduce 1 item at a time and then start combining. But record your results. Also, time of day, temp, sunny/cloudy have a factor as well.
Wongerchi has a formula of the number of calories that need to be taken in for every pound of weight. It is not exact but it pretty much nails it on the head for a starting point.
You will have to figure out what foods cause you gastro-intensinal distress and stay away from them.
On average, you should be able to go 1-1.5 hrs without thinking about re-fueling (other than an energy drink or electrolyte drink). If you know your ride is going to be an endurance ride of 2-4 hrs or so do not wait until you feel lithless to re-fuel. start topping the gas tank off at 20 -30 mins. intervals or so. Again, your timing may be different.
If you're doing a shorter ride, depending on the weather...let's say 40 miles or less, you may not need much more than perhaps a bowl of oatmeal and an apple or banana before you set sail. If you still find yourself bonking I sometimes on longer and / or hotter rides allow myself a sugar cola soda...coke/pepsi and I'm good to go. I've heard good things about chocolate milk as well. Goes against all of our ORDINARY eating habits and sometimes this has awoken my inner carbie tiger...so it can be tricky putting a lid on it afterwards. Sometimes I take some peanuts along for snacking during breaks...salted ones if it's hot out.
I like keeping it simple though, no newfangled gels or other hyped sports-related snacks for me.
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Okay, Guys and Gals, I'm at an impasse. I find that I am riding worse and worse the more I ride - I thought I was supposed to improve with practice.
In essence, I think it basically has to do with not eating the right thing(s) before a ride. I try to eat light (low\no fat, high calorie, low\no sugar, etc.) before a ride and maybe, MAYBE, for the first loop (about 12.5 miles), I'm okay. But then I start to peter out and, before long, I'm dropping like a rock. I can watch a 16-17 mph average speed, held for 1-2 hours, suddenly start falling to mid-low 15 mph. Needless to say, that very quickly becomes psychologically defeating, too. As I just feel my strength quickly ebbing away, my resolve to cycle around the world very quickly acquiesces to merely making it back to the 4Runner.
So, what do you guys eat to really keep you fueled, not just before the ride but DURING the ride? And please, don't tell me gel packs. I'm 6' 5'' and 215 lbs. I burn those things off like they're a single saltine cracker.
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