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  1. #1
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    Running out of gas

    I find that I start to run out of gas at around 55 minutes to an hour. My energy level goes down. If I stop for 5 minutes and have a half of a nuit bar and some more water i am fine. It this normal or will it get better as I get more miles under my belt?

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    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    It's normal, and it will get better as your conditioning improves.

    I try to eat something after about 25-30 miles. Depending on the temperature, I start drinking at around 10-15 miles, and just a large sip each time. (I'm always afraid of running out of water, even though I carry two 25-ounce bottles on each ride.)
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  3. #3
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    Agreed, you will get better.

    Hydration is the bigger key. You should be sipping water often. Depending on where you ride, you can use your local c-store/gas stations to keep your water bottle full. Just go to the fountain machine and fill your bottle with ice.

    I carry two bottles and refill with ice when they are about half empty.

    Try orange juice in one of your bottles. Half juice, half ice. The OJ has carbs to keep you going and LOTS of potassium to help your muscles. Plus this will absorb into your system quicker than a nutrition bar will.

    I will also make my own gel shots instead of buying the squeeze packs.

    Find a small (3 ounce) squeeze bottle. Found mine at the Container Store. Use either honey or real maple syrup and mix with lemon/lime juice at a 5 to 1 ratio, honey to juice. Good carbs and the lime or lemon juice adds vitamin C.

    I am a stocky guy, 200 lbs. at 5'10", fairly solid. I can burn 500 calories or more per hour riding moderately hard. This is another area to look at for yourself, figuring how many calories you are burning on your rides, and balancing your calorie intake/usage ratio versus your fitness goals.
    Current Rides, Look 566 & d' Arienzo-Basso Daily Rides. Cannondale 800 Optimo, utility bike.

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    Have beans for breakfast, you will have gas for several hours.

  5. #5
    tsl
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    Expanding on what Volosong said, eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty.

    You need to replenish before your energy level goes down.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by volosong View Post
    It's normal, and it will get better as your conditioning improves.

    I try to eat something after about 25-30 miles. Depending on the temperature, I start drinking at around 10-15 miles, and just a large sip each time. (I'm always afraid of running out of water, even though I carry two 25-ounce bottles on each ride.)
    Or not. The strategy of eating to ride will indeed forestall the energy collapse in the short run, but I suspect your problem is that you are running on only one cylinder. If you maintain a diet rich in carbs and rarely if ever work out under low blood sugar, then you body assumes it's feast time and locks down your ability to metabolize fats. That's fine if you don't want to burn those babies, but you might consider the benefits of being able to break them down such as much longer times to bonk and weight reduction.

    All nice sounding, of course, but the pathway there is a but front-loaded with discomfort. Yes, it means not eating before riding and minimizing eating during rides (if you're getting light-headed and it will affect safety, all bets are off: rest, drink and eat). Expect to ride through a world of pain for a few weeks before things open up. Of course you also have to keep the carbs low in your overall diet, which can be difficult for some people. It's a free country. Choose your pleasure (or pain, as the case may be).

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    I agree with B.Carfree. Unless you're time-trialling at maximum intensity, it's virtually impossible to deplete your glycogen resrves in an hour, so the issue is more likely that your system is not used to resorting directly to fat stores for fuel. I'd suggest riding in a fasted state, at a moderate pace, and starting to consume something - energy bars, flapjacks, dried fruit, whatever - only after about an hour as a minimum. If you keep that up for a few weeks you'll find that your ability to ride for longer, without feeling that your energy levels crash, will improve.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  8. #8
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Expanding on what Volosong said, eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty.

    You need to replenish before your energy level goes down.
    +1

    I drink every few minutes while riding. No need to stop. Just reach down for the water bottle on the down tube while you're pedaling.
    I stop for a GU gel or Hammer bar about every 20-25 miles.

    Lack of water and electrolytes is the best way to get cramps.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale SuperSix EVO carbon

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    Eat every 45 mins,drink every 15 mins.This plan works well for me.Sometimes after work I ride and don't eat come home and say I just didn't have it today on the bike.Then I think back and realize I didn't eat in 5 hours.Just a little snack makes a big difference

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    in all likelyhood it is a matter of conditioning. If you do the miles you should be getting stronger with more endurance. Perhaps you are riding too hard and dipping into anaerobic sources too much. That will have an impact on your running out of gas condition. The condition of running out of gas at 55 minutes should not be a permanent condition. You definately will get better if you train right. I suggest that you "being alright" after a rest and a snack probably has more to do with the rest than the snack, at least at 55 minutes.

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    Senior Member Cyril's Avatar
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    I put in an hour and a half to two hours most mornings before breakfast.
    When I started doing this about two years ago, I could only manage half an hour before I limped home faint with hunger.
    It got better.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    No need to torture yourself with denial when you're just starting to log some miles. Practice eating and drinking on the bike while you ride. You'll get a feel for how much how often as you log more miles and do longer rides. Don't worry about it. Carfree is correct about the fat burning thing, however that will happen all by itself just from doing long rides while you eat and drink along the way. When I started doing longer rides, I had to eat every 1/2 hour right from the start to keep going. Now I can easily ride 50 miles without eating if I care to. Ride fueling is a three legged stool: what you eat, the fat you burn, and glycogen. The three sources have to add up to your hourly calorie burn and each of them is limited in some way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cobolman View Post
    I find that I start to run out of gas at around 55 minutes to an hour. My energy level goes down. If I stop for 5 minutes and have a half of a nuit bar and some more water i am fine. It this normal or will it get better as I get more miles under my belt?
    First, you need to start with a full tank. Next, you need to eat as you ride. I ride with Clif bars. I unwrap one, put it in a pocket and take a bite every few minutes. Just like drinking, if you wait until you are hungry or low on energy, it takes awhile to get going again. You'll have to find what foods work for you. At one time I used GELS but stopped. They give you a boost of energy that quickly fades.

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    Sometimes, this old guy starts out early before breakfast, maybe grab an apple (maybe not) and go for a couple (or three) hours of riding, a swim in the middle of the ride somewhere, an apple along the way if I have one, a sip of water now and then - never a full bottle - and meet my wife for early lunch.

    IOW, I violate all the rules, which just goes to show one how different we all are.

    So, one experiments around and find what works for them. Lots of great advice here, but much would not work well for me.

  15. #15
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    Back in the day when I worked in IT, we used to say that if you assigned a simple report program to five different programmers you would get five different approaches to creating that report.
    It sounds like biking and eating is the same thing. What works for one does not work for another. I will have to find out what works for me
    What seems to be the common solution is for me to keep getting on the bike. In time running out of gas will occur at 75 and then 90 minutes and then much later.
    Thanks to all for their input

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    Quote Originally Posted by cobolman View Post
    Back in the day when I worked in IT, we used to say that if you assigned a simple report program to five different programmers you would get five different approaches to creating that report.
    It sounds like biking and eating is the same thing. What works for one does not work for another. I will have to find out what works for me
    What seems to be the common solution is for me to keep getting on the bike. In time running out of gas will occur at 75 and then 90 minutes and then much later.
    Thanks to all for their input
    Exactly!!!!!

    I used to be able to go out and ride for 40/50 miles with nothing to eat before leaving then a banana while pedaling along plus the water, age 30's.

    Now at 64, I have something before heading out then hydrate/fuel on the move. Just can't do the distances without something first, even if it is only an e-gel or two.

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    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobolman View Post
    I find that I start to run out of gas at around 55 minutes to an hour. My energy level goes down. If I stop for 5 minutes and have a half of a nuit bar and some more water i am fine. It this normal or will it get better as I get more miles under my belt?
    If by "having" a nuit bar.... you mean melting in into a needle and injecting it in your leg muscle.... I can't believe that is a big help in only 5 minutes. Of course.... I guess you could be diabetic or something. So maybe a check-up wouldn't hurt.

    90 minutes to 2 1/2 hours is my typical ride.... and I wouldn't/don't even think about eating. I used to eat when out on my rides.... when I was really overweight. But I am sure that was more in-my-mind.... than a real need for food. I do stay hydrated, drinking about one big swallow every 4 miles.

    Next time you feel like your "out of gas".... maybe just taking a break and drinking a little water might be enough. Or... wear a heart monitor to get a little better idea of what's going on.

    Don't assume that cycling will burn-up all those extra candy bar [health bar] calories. It is plenty easy enough to eat more than cycling burns!

  18. #18
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    One of the things you accomplish in the process of getting in shape is to store more fuel (sugars) in your muscles.

  19. #19
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    If you're reasonably hydrated and ate sometime recently before riding, eating and drinking before an hour of exercise doesn't make a difference. Unless it's very warn, you should be able to go much longer and not need anything. Most likely you just need more conditioning and perhaps going out too hard.

    But that doesn't mean eating and drinking aren't important. That helps for the second and third hour.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    Most likely you just need more conditioning and perhaps going out too hard.

    .
    This morning I had cereal an hour or so before going out on a 11 3/4 miles ride. 75 minutes total with no stopping except for traffic lights. I took it a little easier and did not run out of gas at 55 minutes like before. There are two small hills on the route. last week for the first time I finally was able to get over them but had to stand part way in order to get to the top. This time i did both hills sitting. That felt like an accomplishment. i felt much better when I arrived home. One 20 mile ride a week is probably better for now.

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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  23. #23
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    Handlebar bags are perfect for carrying snacks , to nibble as you ride.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    sounds about right. I read somewhere that when exercising intensely, after 45 minutes, there's a significant dip in one's blood sugar and energy level so you might be better off refueling before an hour is up.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  25. #25
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    Eating 1 hr before riding plus new road bike and getting more miles under my belt have all helped.

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