When to take energy drinks and food for cycling!

Here’s our guide to what you need to take on a ride, what does what and how often you need to take it.

So you’ve bought your bike, got all the gear, the sun’s out (hopefully) and it’s time to go for ride but what else do you need?

Well the answer to that of course is energy and not just your own, you need food and drink to keep you going.

Dimitri bottle

Solid food

As a general rule you want to be taking out with you 1 item of food per hour of riding. You will of course see pro riders eating every 20 minutes or so but on a gentle Sunday ride that’s a little over the top!

There are several bars available from us. You’ve a rough choice of oaty/flapjack style, chocolate protein bar, nutty or a wafer.

They’re all available individually so it’s as well to mix it up and try a few. You’ll soon settle for a favourite.

Whatever you settle for, give yourself an hour of riding before taking on carbs, this gives your body a chance to use its fat reserves.

beet it

If you want to eat on the go, one tip would be to cut the top off your bars before getting on the bike. This way, you can eat and ride without the faff of biting off the wrapper (and risking a crash).

If you don’t fancy chewing your way through endless energy bars you can mix it up with some energy sweets. Again, it’s a personal choice but many riders like the ease and convenience of just reaching in a pocket and shoving sweets in their mouth.

Our choice of bars can be found here: https://www.merlincycles.com/energy-bars-44337/

Energy gels

A common site now. And not just at races and sportives. You can use gels alongside energy bars and mix up your choice of carb intake. Gels have got better over the years. They’re easier on the stomach than they used to be and often don’t require you take on loads of extra water to deal with them.

Gels are quick energy source. Some contain caffeine for an extra stimulant boost so check out the labelling if that’s what you’re after.

Gels are a handy and easy way to get some energy into you, just rip the top off and squeeze into your mouth.  Some people don’t like the texture – it is a bit odd at first – but the benefits and convenience of gels often win out.

Gels come in many different flavours from lemon and lime to rhubarb and custard, treat yourself to a selection and see which ones you prefer.

Again one of these an hour should see you through a long ride but if you’ve never used them before, take it easy and see how you get on with just a couple for the first test ride.

torq gel

Our gel range can be found here: https://www.merlincycles.com/energy-gels-61316/

Energy drink

Energy drink is not a popular as it once was. Energy gels have kind of taken over. The on-ride drinks you see these days can often be just for re-hydrating – not supplying energy – so make sure you get the drink type you want.

Whatever is in your bottle or hydration pack, it’s a good idea to start drinking from the moment you set off. Don’t wait until you get thirsty.

Again the pros will knock back two 500ml bottles an hour but unless it’s over 30 degrees and you’re really smashing it you should be okay with just one bottle an hour. Less if you’re using gels too or going at a leisurely pace.

When taking a drink try and choose a flat stretch of road when reaching for your bottle and don’t look down, you don’t want your drinking to interfere too much with the ride.

If you are going on a long ride it’s a good idea to take a couple of sachets of drink or energy tablets (in a ziplock bag) with you in your pocket.  That way you can stop for a water refill and easily top up your energy drink.

sis hydro tabs

Some drinks can also contain extra carbohydrates which can count to your food intake.  If your confused just spend time reading the labels or product descriptions, the contents and performance should be clearly marked.

Check out our energy drinks here: https://www.merlincycles.com/energy-drinks-61318/

torq energy drink


  • Christian Moss

    Christian is the Social Media manager at Merlin Cycles. Christian brings an air of levity to the blog, coupled with a generous splash of irreverence. As part of his responsibilities, Christian manages the Facebook and Twitter accounts. Christian is also the resident photographer here at Merlin.

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