If you’re like us, chances are you don’t eat properly during a ride. It just feels like just another hassle that you’ve got to sort out. another delay to you getting on your bike.
The fact is unfortunately that you can ride for longer, easier and more enjoyably if you take a bit of time to grab some fuel for your body.
If you’re going to be riding for more than an hour, you’ll benefit from having something to nibble about your person.
And you need to be eating little and often. And from the very first 30 minutes into your ride. Frequent fuelling works. Nibble something every half hour. Having one massive fuel stop (at a pub or café no doubt!) is not going to work.
Now then, carbohydrates can get a bit of a slating in the non-cycling press. And indeed they probably aren’t a great thing to eat a lot of if you’re not exercising. But things are different if you doing prolonged exercise such as cycling. Carbohydrates are your friend
Basically (very basically), muscles like to be fed glucose. Carbohydrate can be broken down quickly and efficiently by your body into glucose and fed to your muscles.
Glucose can also come from fats and proteins but it takes much longer and isn’t very efficient. It’s pointless eating fats and protein during a normal bike ride.
Obviously it’s not particularly convenient to carry around a bowl of pasta or rice on a bike ride. So what sort of handy and portable things can you take along a ride?
One tip to avoid having to pause your ride all the time to have a nibble is to prepare a plastic freezer bag beforehand that’s full of un-wrapped, bitesize bits to eat (chopping up an energy bar into convenient pieces is a good tip). Stuff this un-closed bag in a rear jersey pocket and head out on your ride.
There are natural things like raisins and dates. Bagels and low-fat cookies are also a viable option. There are plenty of DIY options out there.
There are also lots and lots of specifically designed energy products that you can buy.
An exceptionally good form of carbohydrates. Some can be really dense and dry. Whichever you go for make sure you drink lots of water with them or else the stomach won’t be able to deal with the mix.
Powerful but some people don’t like the gloopy feel. They’re also not nice on your stomach if you have lots of them. Well worth keeping as an emergency or for fuelling the last hour of a ride.
Energy drink tablets
Big tubs of energy powder can appear be more economical but the beauty of tablets/sachets is their portability. You can make a fresh bottle of energy drink mid-way through a ride by simply finding a water tap (cafe, pub, toilet), filling your bottle or hydration pack bladder and dropping the tablet/powder in.
Energy blocks and beans
These offer the small-dose quick-hit similar to energy gels but they come in a much more palatable formats. Squidgy cubes of jelly-like stuff – Clif Shot Bloks are ace – or confectionery-like jelly beans. They often aren’t very cheap but for some riders they’re the preferred fuel.
There are new types of energy stuff coming out all the time. Usually they offer something a bit less full-on and sporty-sporty then the usual stuff. A good example is Beet It. As the name suggests, they make stuff derived from the mighty beetroot.
The golden rule
Keep it to stuff that you’ll actually eat. If you don’t like gels or bars, don’t pack them – you won’t eat them. In our experience, a bit of variety is the key. Mix up your “feed bag” with some DIY bits and some different types of energy food.