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  1. #1
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    Food for long distance

    What do you eat when the power bars turn your stomach?

    On my last brevet, I took a variety of Cliff Bars along for solid food to supplement my energy drink. They weren't bad for the first hundred miles, but then it became an effort even to think of taking another bite. Some nacho-cheese snack crackers at the controles helped to satisfy the craving for solid food, but I began wondering what others eat. One rider told me she survived on brie and bread on the 2003 PBP.

    The power bars I've tried are too sweet after a while, and I begin craving spicy, salty anything but sweet. Any recipes for the gourmet randonneur?

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    Food fatigue is a real issue for me when I get beyond the 3 hour mark. I think there are two things going on.

    The first is just that I'm tired of the sweet stuff. The second is that I'm down on sodium.

    For me, a good whole-wheat bagel half really hits the spot, and I also generally have some beef jerky, for times when I really want the sodium.

    One thing to check is whether you're perhaps eating too much, which can make the issue worse. Most people advocate 250-300 cal/hour while on the bike, and that's really not much food.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    I find that it helps to mix it up. Better to have a little of a lot of things, than to eat nothing but the same bars and drinks the whole way.

    I like Gatorade at certain points in a long ride, then Perpetuem at other points, and sometimes just plain water (especially if I'm eating something salty, like pretzels, plain water and pretzels go together).

    I like a Clif bar every once in awhile. I like dried Apricots, pretzels, Ensure, bagels, banannas, to name a few. All those foods digest very well for me, and quickly. Like throwing napkins into a bonfire.

    I don't buy into the whole "eating too much" theory on long rides. You should be riding well below your anerobic threshold, so you should be able to digest solid food without much trouble.

    Endurolytes have a good reputation also. If you are craving salts, you might experiment with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
    I find that it helps to mix it up. Better to have a little of a lot of things, than to eat nothing but the same bars and drinks the whole way.
    I'd agree with this.

    During last year's series, I tended to go between Gu, clif shots, bananas, fig newtons, peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips and fruit (particularly when riding through rural Vermont and New Hampshire; where one can just pillage one farmstand after another for watermelon, cantaloupe and apples)

    I'd frequently have half of an italian coldcut sub for lunch and munch on the other half around mid afternoon/early evening. I tended to default to chili or pasta for dinner on a 400 or 600k. That's all on top of consuming liquids that started off with Hammer products but then shifted to more water later in the ride; as my mouth got tired of the synthetic stuff.

    A bottle of V8 is also a handy convenience store pull for electrolytes and sodium.

    Of course, YMMV. Lots of other folks swear by a pure liquid diet, but I find that idea to be vaguely depressing.

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for your suggestions: food for thought.

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    My issue tends to be chewing and swallowing especially as the ride gets longer and my throat is dry despite being well hydrated- more due to evaporation caused by riding with my mouth open for several hours.

    to avoid that I do the following:


    applesauce (available in easily carried disposable containers)

    rice pudding- (one of my favorites)

    small yogurt smoothies

    soy shakes also work for me.

    And believe it or not I suggest taking a good look at the Gerber baby food selection when you're next in the supermarket. Goes down easy, designed to be digestable, cheap, lots of variety from protein to carbs and doesn't taste bad.

    the above items can be kept chilled with a small ice pack in a front bag if necessary.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have quit eating most energy bars ... have rarely touched the things in about 2 years. I tried many, many different brands ... and eventually disliked most of them. So, a few comments on food during long rides:

    1) There are more energy bars out there than just PowerBars and Clif bars. In fact, there are about 10 completely different types of PowerBars. Not just 10 different flavors ... 10 different types ... flat and toffee-like, granola-like, and everything in between. Some are better than others. Clif bars just have different flavors and I can't think of any I like. But if you head to the "diet" section of your local grocery store, you'll see that PowerBars and Clif bars make up a very small portion of the section of bars. You've got about 20 different choices in protein bars, which you might like, especially if you're into chalk. You've got about 15 different choices in meal replacement bars, which vary from being really horrible to not bad. And you've got about 25 different choices in energy bars. I tested just about all of them, and as I said, I hardly use any of them anymore.

    2) Instead, I prefer other options. Take a walk through your grocery store and explore. I prefer things like:

    -- cereal bars
    -- breakfast bars
    -- granola bars
    -- dried fruit bars
    -- cookies of all sorts
    -- salted almonds
    -- salted cashews
    -- dried apricots
    -- bananas


    And then I stop at convenience stores and restaurants along the way and pick up things like:

    -- pastries
    -- more cookies
    -- potato chips
    -- cheezies
    -- more nuts


    And meal items like:

    -- French toast
    -- Mashed potatoes
    -- French fries
    -- Hamburgers
    -- Perogies
    -- Pizza
    -- Garlic Bread
    -- Cinnamon Buns
    -- Pizza Pops
    -- Cheese sticks
    -- Chicken sandwiches
    -- Subs
    -- Bacon and eggs
    -- Pancakes
    -- Toast and jam

    And when all else fails ....... Ensure.

    Oh, and I drink HEED now instead of Gatorade or any other sports drinks.

  8. #8
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    Thank you for the suggestions. I had Accelerade in my bottles on my last brevet. Carried the powder and mixed with water from convenience stores. I found it was more tolerable than Gatorade.

    Last year, the first that I rode brevets, I started with cereal bars, preferring Nature Valley sweet and salty nut bars. During a long ride, cookies seemed unappealing. A mixed fruit salad perked my taste buds. I will have a look at protein bars: perhaps I will find roast beef and Yorkshire pudding flavored, or ham and eggs.
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  9. #9
    The guy in the 50+ jersey PAlt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Oh, and I drink HEED now instead of Gatorade or any other sports drinks.
    Any comment on which flavor of HEED? Have you tried Hammer Gel, and if so which flavor there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PAlt
    Any comment on which flavor of HEED? Have you tried Hammer Gel, and if so which flavor there?
    I've been fond of Hammer Gel Chocolate diluted with water. Comes off tasting like tea to me.

    I tried Accelerade a couple of years ago and found that it didn't too much for me, and taste-wise, I could not get past the ... chunkiness.

    Also, regarding Machka's point of energy bars. I used to rely relatively heavily on Clif Bars at first, but now I might eat, at most, two at any event. I'll usually have one at the beginning of the event and another at a control as a midday meal. I don't like eating them while on the bike and prefer stuff that's a little easier to digest and chew; but they do seem to suit me well as a calorie source for the first ~30 miles of a ride.

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    Try this site for some additional insight; (also this site has other excellent ideas about touring): http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/cooking.htm

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    Like other topics of confusion between "what is LDC / endurance cycling" vs. "what is touring", I think that there might be some crossed ideas about what's being asked in this thread. However, I think we can draw the distinction at saying that endurance cyclists typically don't have the time to cook their own food and tourists have the flexibility to indulge in a diet that's more flavorful than your typical Hammer Nutrition product
    Last edited by spokenword; 04-16-07 at 08:38 PM.

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    In my opinion the best thing you can do if possible is to take a good endurance energy drink and a keep a few energy nut bars for emergencies with you but stop periodically and eat real food. One thing that works good is to buy a foot long sub and eat half and take the second half and eat it in a few hours.

    On long rides I get extremely hungry after about three or four hours of constant riding and need solid food. But you sometimes have to stop and cool down for 15-20 minutes before you can eat it.

    Some endurance riders have a problem with holding down solid food until several hours after being off the bike. IF you are this type I would suggest mixing your own energy drink out of the correct proportions of watered down hydration powder and quality soy protein with vitamins and minerals.

    Or you could get something like the Hammer endurance drink.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAlt
    Any comment on which flavor of HEED? Have you tried Hammer Gel, and if so which flavor there?
    HEED = Mandarin

    HammerGel = chocolate or vanilla. I often mix the two. Are there other flavors?

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hezz
    Some endurance riders have a problem with holding down solid food until several hours after being off the bike. IF you are this type I would suggest mixing your own energy drink out of the correct proportions of watered down hydration powder and quality soy protein with vitamins and minerals.

    Or you could get something like the Hammer endurance drink.
    Some endurance cyclists have trouble holding down solid food after about 300 kms on the bicycle. We use Ensure instead!

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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    In my corner of the world, Texas, finding Ensure in a convenience store is just about impossible. The best you can do is either Slim Fast, chocolate milk. Both these contain lactose, which cause digestive stress for some. YooHoo is often available though and is high carbohydrate with no milk products. It's chocolate flavor is somewhat similar to chocolate milk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    HammerGel = chocolate or vanilla. I often mix the two. Are there other flavors?
    The shop nearest to my apartment stocks Orange Hammer Gel but I believe that that it should be scoured from the face of the earth.

    (the gel flavor, not the shop, should be scoured ... though the shop's service department isn't in my good books, either)

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    Ensure or similar alternatives is a good idea if you can stop at larger grocery stores. They are hard to find at small convienience stores.

    One thing is that your nutrition needs are different while on the bike doing exercise and when off and cooled down and resting for a while.

    I believe that you need a different ratio of carbs, protein and water while riding since the gut cannot absorbe as much while exercising. From my studies you need about a 7:1 ratio of complex carbs to protein while riding.

    One thing you could do if out in the wilds and few stores are available is to mix two plastic containers of dry power that mixes with water. One would be for on the bike and would have less protein preferably soy and would have electrolytes and minerals. Or something like Heed mixed with a little soy protein. Or you could use one bottle filled with Heed and another filled with Endurance formula while on the bike and then drink the Whey protein weight gainer at rest stops. I'm assuming most riders will rest for a couple of hours in every 24 hour period.

    Another mix for when stopped and resting would use whey protein in a higher concentration and be more like a body building weight gainer mix. Fewer electrolytes, more vitamins and minerals and higher overall calorie content. This should be about a 4:3 ratio of carbs to protein.

    I would suggest going to the Hammer nutritian web site to get more expensive information.
    Last edited by Hezz; 04-17-07 at 11:27 AM.

  19. #19
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    HammerGel = chocolate or vanilla. I often mix the two. Are there other flavors?
    Raspberry is the standard in my group. I once bought a flask of espresso thinking it would be denatured. Wrong! That's the stuff if you like to buzz. Yeee Haww.

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    Some endurance riders have a problem with holding down solid food until several hours after being off the bike.
    Is that related to the level of exertion? I suspect that someone who rides a brevet at 30+ kph will have more problems than someone, myself for example, who is quite content at maintaining a little over 20 kph. (Should I have posted this on the 50+ forum?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by rafael
    Is that related to the level of exertion? I suspect that someone who rides a brevet at 30+ kph will have more problems than someone, myself for example, who is quite content at maintaining a little over 20 kph. (Should I have posted this on the 50+ forum?)
    Yes, and it is specific to the individual and to the level of intensity. But also any prolonged exercise over two hours can effect the body in interesting ways. Some people just can't hold down solid food after sustained exercise until they have rested for several hours and they will have to get most all of thier nutrition from liquid sources.

    For others solid food is not a problem except while riding and they can eat solid food after a few minutes of cool down. Others can eat solid food anytime. However, the stomach is not very effective at digesting during exercise.

    Everyone has to experiment with this. However, since the powdered mixes are easy to carry because of being light they are good to take to cover your essential needs.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    In my corner of the world, Texas, finding Ensure in a convenience store is just about impossible. The best you can do is either Slim Fast, chocolate milk. Both these contain lactose, which cause digestive stress for some. YooHoo is often available though and is high carbohydrate with no milk products. It's chocolate flavor is somewhat similar to chocolate milk.
    I don't find them in convenience stores ... I carry them with me! If I'm lucky and there's a bag drop, I'll put 2-3 cans or bottles in each bag drop.


    Ensure in the US sells cans of powder too. When I went to France to the PBP in 2003, a friend sent me a can of it, and I took that with me to the PBP.

    But I'll just add something here. After travelling to Randonneuring events in Canada, Europe, Australia, and the US, I've noticed that the US riders depend heavily on powdered stuff. Their main randonneuring diet consists of supplements of some sort. That's OK, I guess .... but the problem comes if you're going to go to other countries. Here in Canada most of the eCaps products are banned. Sustained Energy and Perpetuem, for example, both have banned ingredients in them. You might be able to get them across the border .... or you might not, and buying them here is next to impossible. Spiz is another popular supplement which is also banned in Canada.

    I'm not sure if those products are also banned in Europe and Australia, but I visited several stores on the lookout for something along those lines and couldn't find anything like that. And the one powdered energy drink I did buy while on the PBP was the most horrible thing I've tasted ... it tainted my plastic waterbottle so badly with that absolutely disgusting flavor that I couldn't use that bottle for the rest of the ride (600 kms of the 1200K).

    In countries other than the US, randonneurs tend to go more for real food.

    So ...... that's just something to keep in mind. If you are planning to travel with your randonneuring, don't become too dependent on the supplements.

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rafael
    Is that related to the level of exertion? I suspect that someone who rides a brevet at 30+ kph will have more problems than someone, myself for example, who is quite content at maintaining a little over 20 kph. (Should I have posted this on the 50+ forum?)
    Possibly ..... or just your personal digestive system. I am NOT a fast rider ... not even close ... but I've struggled with digestive issues right from my first 200K brevet back in 2001. Some rides are better than others. I've figured out a few things that work, and many things that don't. And just when I've had a couple really good rides where I didn't need to touch my Ensure and didn't have a hint of nausea ... my next ride, I'm throwing up all over the place.

    BTW - the average age of riders on the PBP in 2003 was 49 years old. MOST randonneurs are over 50.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    BTW - the average age of riders on the PBP in 2003 was 49 years old. MOST randonneurs are over 50.
    Thank you Machka! I began randonneuring last year after turning 60, and have been feeling pressured at having a very narrow window of opportunity. After reading your post, I looked on the PBP website and found a lovely bell-shaped curve centered on 50. Looks like the horizon is further away than I feared.

    By the way, I enjoy and have learned from your website.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    HEED = Mandarin

    HammerGel = chocolate or vanilla. I often mix the two. Are there other flavors?
    I find most of the HammerGel flavors to be too strong, so I buy the big bottles and then decant into the smaller 5 oz flasks, which makes it easy to mix 50/50 between the "Plain" flavor and whatever other flavors I'm taking. I'll take about one flask per 100K of riding. Espresso is nice for first thing in the morning or for drinking at 3 am on all-night rides. Didn't like tropical flavor. Used to like apple cinammon until drinking unpasteurized apple cider led to several hours of stomach upset, after which even the smell of apple cinammon gel makes me feel like ...

    Some of the flavors mix pretty well -- chocolate+raspberry; chocolate+vanilla; orange+raspberry; chocolate+banana. Several of these mixtures are quite palatable even though I'm not wild about the flavors by themselves.

    Nick

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