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  1. #1
    Senior Member ChargerDawg's Avatar
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    Riding Distance and food intake

    Ok, so I am beginning to venture into new areas in terms of distance, and have a couple of questions regarding long rides...

    For me a long ride is classified as anything over 30 miles. I am beginning to find out (the hard way) that beyond this distance, I have to be careful with eating before the ride and having something along the way, otherwise I "crash" in terms of having a difficult ride beyond 30 miles.

    Right now I have a cliff bar every 10 miles, but do better if I have a breakfast before a long ride.

    Liquid intake seems to be pretty consistent. So far as I can figure out it is about 12 oz every 10 miles, temperatures here are ususally in the 60 to 70 range. So the obvious questions are....

    Is this experience consistent?
    What do you eat before a long ride?
    What do you eat during a long ride?

    FWIW, I am 50, 6'0" and 235... and heading south...

  2. #2
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    For a 30-40 mile ride I usually take a pack of those fig newtons (2 in a pack) and lots of water. If I was trying a 50 mile ride, then I would try a PB&J sandwich and more water. Last year I trained on all the liquid gels etc but hated them by the end of a 200 mile weekend I signed up for. Not to mention they are expensive. Take a sandwich or buy one on your route - works for me. Less that 30 - water only.

    For breakfast before I go, I usually have egg on toast or similar...

    P.S. Im 47 yrs and 289'ish lbs

  3. #3
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    49,6',228 lbs here....80-90's usually...at this point...@20 miles, somekind of power/fruit bar with carbs...water intake is usually a little less than 48 oz's during 20 miles...so 24 oz refill to finish 30 miles...

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    The guys in the Road forum say usually about 250 cals and hour as a base. For most of us that requirement might be more. I usually have some sort of liquid calorie in the form of a sports drink in one bottle along side something palatable like a Clif bar. I find that it I don't like what I'm carrying I won't eat it which is why I don't carry gels all that often.
    Litespeed M1 | Masi Vincere | Panasonic Sport-500 | Raleigh Technium

  5. #5
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Under 30 miles, water only and maybe a little gatorade or something along those lines. I also like Fig Newtons for snacking on after the second hour of riding. I bag my own in sandwich ziplocs. Cheap & easy.

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I've been eating Fiber One Original Cereal @ the 1 hour mark. Has really made a big difference. Liquid 24OZ/hour. 70-80 degrees. No sugar for me.

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    A cliff bar every 10 miles is way too many calories IMO. I'd guess you'd eat more than you burn at that consumption. I usually have some food every 40 kn or so. A piece of fruit or a energy bar world fine. On a longer trip I'll take or buy a quick sandwich

  8. #8
    Senior Member kstephens's Avatar
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    For a ride around 30-40 miles, I usually have a decent breakfast an hour or so before I leave (an egg and oatmeal w/fruit). I will take two bottles; one with gatorade (I mix mine with a little less of the powder than recommended so it won't upset my stomach), and one with water. I alternate drinking, and usually finish both on the ride, or right after I finish. I like a gu pack or a clif gel pack around the 20 mile mark. If I plan on taking a break or rest - I will bring along something to eat - PB&J or a clif bar. Solid foods will take up to 30 minutes to get any energy from and longer for max energy (up to 90 minutes), as well as suck more water up for the digestion process.

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    6'0 - 210 lbs. depending on how hot it is and how intense the workout is, i usually just have a few bottles of water up to about 35 miles. then maybe a clif bar. over 60 miles, i will probably stop and have lunch.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    63, 223 lbs., 5'11". I consider a long ride anything lasting more than 2 hours or 40 miles -- generally, my weekend ride with the club, which is 45 miles with 2,000 feet of climbing.

    I have to watch my sugar levels, so my breakfast has slightly more carbs than usual -- maybe oatmeal, or a couple of multigrain pancakes, and some fruit. On the ride, I have one 20 ox. bottle with non-carb electrolyte replacement, and the 2nd with Accelerade or Perpetuum [both have some protein mixed in, but some people gag on the taste of Accelerade]. After about 35 miles, we all stop at a coffee shop, where I have an Extend bar and perhaps a banana. I'll fill up a 3rd bottle with the electrolyte replacement.

    At the end of the ride, as soon as possible, I make a smoothy, filling up the blender with:
    1 1/2 C ice
    1 1/2 C frozen fruit (pears, strawberries, blueberries, papaya, etc.]
    1 big scoop high quality whey protein
    1 T vanilla
    dash of salt
    1 C milk
    fill the rest of the way with fruit juice
    blend for about 3 min.

    This makes a great recovery drink that keeps me from cramping.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Following is based on my experience, and may/may not be applicable to anyone else...

    I don't like to eat before riding. My experience has shown that, for whatever reason, if I do, I'm more susceptible to bonking.

    I can ride up to 2-3 hours (50 miles-ish) without eating anything (YMMV). But I will look for food immediately after.

    If I anticipate the ride being longer than 2-3 hours, I won't eat during the first hour or so. But at the 1-hour mark, I will start eating, ingesting some food every 20-30 mins after that. If I'm smart, I'll eat the equivalent of 1 to 1-1/2 PowerBars every hour (250kcals each).

    I find that eating little bits consistently is better than one large meal/item sparingly. (One reason you rarely see big lunches on century rides.)

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  12. #12
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    6' 5" 250; down from 295

    I ride 50 every morning. I eat a single pack of istant oatmeal before and one after.
    Other that that, water.

    Same thing at night 40-50 miles, normally a orange and banna before and water durring.

    On Sundays I ride 150-200, I start the same way oatmeal, and I pack some fig newtons, a banana or two, maybe a honey and peanut butter sandwich.
    I like real food during the rides. Always water, plenty of that!
    We also stop and have a small lite lunch on Sundays.

    The idea is to lose weight, not put more weight on. A cliff bar every 10 miles? Not for me!
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

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    gbg
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    Since I like riding to lose weight, anything under 50 miles = 0 food.

    Also just water, no hi carb energy drinks. And I sweat like crazy, When rollerblading I will see a drop come off my hat brim
    every second or 2, and that is only from my eyebrows to the top of my head.
    The wisdom is you don't need those hi carb drinks till 2.5hrs and above, until then plain old H20 is the best. It's funny when you
    see people down 20 ozs of gatorade after 20 minutes of sweat, and stop exercising after 30 mins.

    Of course if you are racing you would need more frequent feeding,
    but just vigorous exercise I think less is more.

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    6'0" 221; down from 281. On long rides 50 - 75 miles I will have two servings of instant oatmeal for breakfast. I carry two bottles of water, one with Hammer Fizz and 2 liter Camelback of water. Midway on the ride I would have a 190 calorie Stinger bar. After the ride I would blend a recovery drink consisting of 1 scoop whey protein isolate, 11oz of Zico coconut water (560 grams of potassium a bit more then a banana) and a cup of organic frozen strawberries.

  15. #15
    Senior Member FeelTRush's Avatar
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    I'm a newbie, working up from 15 up to 20 miles. I carry water, but generously mixed with lemon or lime concentrate. I like tart drinks, and this one really quenches thirst for me. The citrus also helps prevent kidney stones. [If you've been hospitalized over them, you can appreciate that.]

  16. #16
    Senior Member ChargerDawg's Avatar
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    Ok, thanks for the replies. It does not seem that I am too far off.

    I will make sure that I have a decent breakfast an hour before the ride, and maybe skip the third clif bar.

    Clif bars are about 240 cal.

    Water (or propel in my case) seems about right.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    During heavy exercise you body can only absorb between 250-350 cal/hr. That's where the 250 calories number comes from. You can (of course) eat more than that but your body will only absorb so much. The rest is waste. That is why many people get sick on long rides when they eat too much. The food doesn't get digested and just sits there.

    Gels are not meant to be food. They are supposed to be used as a quick boost. I'm not sure a cliff bar is going to work for you on consistent longer efforts. It depends on what is in there. If you are only going 60-70 miles you're probably fine with the clif bar and a good pre-ride meal. If you start doing longer distances you're going to want to look into some different fueling ideas.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  18. #18
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    From noting differences between me and my wife, I find that there is considerable variation in how well people function without food. So to some extent, you have to depend on your own experience.

    Personally- 30 miles, don't eat anything, 40 miles, maybe stop at 7-11 and grab a banana, maybe not.
    Liquid intake- varies hugely, in the wintertime, not hardly anything, in the hot summertime, I can go through about 120 oz in 30 miles. And I've noticed that varies a lot from person to person, too. Also, humidity plays a big part at 70 degrees.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  19. #19
    pbd
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbg View Post
    Since I like riding to lose weight, anything under 50 miles = 0 food.

    Also just water, no hi carb energy drinks. And I sweat like crazy, When rollerblading I will see a drop come off my hat brim
    every second or 2, and that is only from my eyebrows to the top of my head.
    The wisdom is you don't need those hi carb drinks till 2.5hrs and above, until then plain old H20 is the best. It's funny when you
    see people down 20 ozs of gatorade after 20 minutes of sweat, and stop exercising after 30 mins.

    Of course if you are racing you would need more frequent feeding,
    but just vigorous exercise I think less is more.
    I'm with you to a point, that if you eat too much you're not losing as much weight. But for many rides I do, eating during the ride helps me lose weight, because it keeps hunger away after the ride is over.

    If I go hard for more than about 1.5 hours or so and eat nothing along the way, I end up starving at the end and tend to over eat. However, if I eat a tiny bit spread over the entire ride, I end up not hungry at all at the end of the ride, so I'm not tempted to over-eat and cancel out all my gains for the day. Fig Newtons go well for me, maybe 3 or 4 per hour, one little bite at a time is perfect at keeping hunger away, both during and after a ride.


    OP: Honestly though, experiment to find out what works for you. I can't eat clif bars on a ride, too heavy on my stomach. Fig newtons treat me well on the bike, as does pb&j (not as easy to eat in the saddle though). For drink, I have 1 bottle water and 1 bottle that is powdered gatorade mixed at about half strength (any stronger bothers my stomach) for rides longer than ~1.5 hours. So try things to see what works, and make notes on what you try. You'll settle on what you like. The 200 to 250 calories per hour after the first hour is a good starting place for rides longer than an hour.

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    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    I rode a century yesterday (currently ~210) and stopped and every 25 miles or so but somehow missed the mile 50 stopped and only had a couple of breaks and ate an orange and a banana so I was too hungry when I stopped around 75 miles in and I ate like a pig... but I did get a major sunburn so I managed to limp home without puking or anything but I think the ride would have gone much smoother if I had taken time and eaten a sandwich along with my fruit at mile 50 and then just something similar around 75 and it would have been a much more pleasant ride... I was trying to for 200km actually but the sunburn killed me...

  21. #21
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Anything less than 40-50 miles, I don't eat anything; nor do I eat anything extra beforehand. Water? Depends on the air temperature. Anything in the 60's, just a couple sips here and there. Over 90, can't carry too much water.

    Doing an organized century this coming Saturday, (Los Angeles River Run). Pretty flat, so don't expect to burn too many calories. Going to carry four Clif bars and take advantage of bananas at the aid stations.

    Currently, I'm 6'3", 205 lbs., Type-2 diabetic.

  22. #22
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    This is something I'm working on; I find I run out of steam after 2.5 hours, and I'm not sure if that is a conditioning thing or a nutrition thing.

    Over 50 miles, I'll have two water bottles, the 2nd bottle being diluted gatorade.

    I'll eat a banana (after 25 miles) and about 3/4 of a clif bar at around 40 miles.

    Someone's suggestion of not eating beforehand is interesting.

    Clif bars are seven (7) weight watcher points, by the way.

  23. #23
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChargerDawg View Post
    Ok, so I am beginning to venture into new areas in terms of distance, and have a couple of questions regarding long rides...

    For me a long ride is classified as anything over 30 miles. I am beginning to find out (the hard way) that beyond this distance, I have to be careful with eating before the ride and having something along the way, otherwise I "crash" in terms of having a difficult ride beyond 30 miles.

    Right now I have a cliff bar every 10 miles, but do better if I have a breakfast before a long ride.

    Liquid intake seems to be pretty consistent. So far as I can figure out it is about 12 oz every 10 miles, temperatures here are ususally in the 60 to 70 range. So the obvious questions are....

    Is this experience consistent?
    What do you eat before a long ride?
    What do you eat during a long ride?

    FWIW, I am 50, 6'0" and 235... and heading south...
    If I'm planning to go any distance (sometimes I just head out on the bike and see where I end up) I'll make sure I've had a good breakfast, and leave at least 30 mins between eating and riding.

    I usually carry chocolate and banana cereal bars with me and eat one if I feel the need for one. If I'm doing a really long ride I'll either take more food with me or plan to stop somewhere to eat. I recently did 260-odd miles in four days (a 150-mile trip over two days, one day off, then 110 miles back) with a group of friends. Between us we had cereal bars, jelly babies, squidgy malt loaves (I don't know if you get Soreen loaves in the US) etc. I had two water bottles on the bike, which I refilled whenever the opportunity arose. We stopped a pubs for lunch, and naturally took the chance to have a drink and refill the water bottles.

    If I'm expecting the ride to be short (10 miles or less) then in the cooler months I may not even carry one water bottle. For rides that are likely to be 10+ miles or in warmer weather I'll carry one or two bottles. If I'm expecting to really put some effort into a ride I'll put water in one and an isotonic drink in the other.

    I'll stop for water as and when the desire takes me, which usually includes the tops of any large hills I encounter.

    I'm about 6'4 and ~260lbs.

  24. #24
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Since the subject of WW points came up, I thought I'd mention that it's not a good idea to try to eat all your WW cycling activity points - they're waaay too generous with them. They gave me 20-some points for a two+ hour ride at 13.5 average MPH yesterday - basically a third of my daily intake. If I did that ride every day of the week, and ate those points each day, and otherwise stayed within my points budget, I guarantee you I'd have gained weight by the end of the week.
    Craig in Indy

  25. #25
    Getting a clue engstrom's Avatar
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    As a Type 1 Diabetic food intake on my ride is my #1 priority. As it stands now I end up drinking 44 oz of Gatorade and eating two Lara Bars on my 40 mile Saturday group ride. That turns out to be 675 calories over 2 1/2 hours of riding with two 15 minute breaks thrown in. I'd love to cut down on the calories but maintaining good blood sugar is job number 1. And yes, I do have an insulin pump and yes, I have my basals turned down as far as they will go (-90%). I've considered turning off basals completely until the first rest-stop but at 1 hour into the ride the first rest-stop is just a little too long to go without any basal. Still, I might try it...or I might try turning off basals for 45 minutes about an hour and a half before the ride then see if I can get away with just water until the first rest-stop.

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