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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 10-14-12, 06:01 PM   #1
krobinson103
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Long distance = massive amounts of food?

Last Saturday I challenged myself to ride 80km commuting to a 160km ride with 1500m of climbing for a total of 240km for the day. All of which I managed to do - the hills were slooowww but I managed and the descents were glorious. But along the way I also consumed a massive amount of food. More than I ever thought possible. I had 1500 calories worth of energy bars, 8 sandwiches, 5 liters of water. On top of that I ended up buying a bottle of energy drink, 2 bottles of coke, 2 chocolate bars, and an icecream. When I got home I was still so hungry that I had 3 hotdogs before I even felt close to be 'normal'.

Is it normal to go through so much food? I know that I must have used a lot of energy. Endomondo says I used 8800 calories, but I think its probably closer to 6000 for the ride.
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Old 10-14-12, 06:42 PM   #2
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Last Saturday I challenged myself to ride 80km commuting to a 160km ride with 1500m of climbing for a total of 240km for the day. All of which I managed to do - the hills were slooowww but I managed and the descents were glorious. But along the way I also consumed a massive amount of food. More than I ever thought possible. I had 1500 calories worth of energy bars, 8 sandwiches, 5 liters of water. On top of that I ended up buying a bottle of energy drink, 2 bottles of coke, 2 chocolate bars, and an icecream. When I got home I was still so hungry that I had 3 hotdogs before I even felt close to be 'normal'.

Is it normal to go through so much food? I know that I must have used a lot of energy. Endomondo says I used 8800 calories, but I think its probably closer to 6000 for the ride.
Most LD riders consume between 250 and 400 calories per hour. Overconsume and you could be headed for pukesville. Underconsume and you could hit the wall. The harder you ride, the more tenuous one's eating becomes. The easier your effort, the less precise / careful you need to be about your intake.
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Old 10-14-12, 07:36 PM   #3
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I would say that's far too much food. Sandwiches really don't do much for me. I have definitely cut back on the amount of real food that I eat. Yesterday, I rode a 200k on 6 reese's cups, some chocolate milk, a coke, and a muffin along with 3 pieces of Perpetuum solid. Lots of calories, no doubt. I usually eat one sandwich on rides longer than 200k, depends on how I feel.
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Old 10-14-12, 07:48 PM   #4
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I'll throw a wrinkle in your idea, as this would be the way I'd approach it. While calories may be important, I'd say they are secondary to 1) are you in good shape so you can use the extra calories you're consuming? and 2) are you keeping well hydrated (sufficient water comsumption, not necessarily energy drinks)? If you are not in good shape, it doesn't matter how many calories you consume, you're going to crash. And if not keeping hydrated, you'll also crash pretty quickly as your body gets 'dried out.' And eating while exerting yourself might not give you enough calories anyway. It takes a while for food to digest and become useful to your body's cells, so you're probable better off consuming some extra calories the day before a big ride.

Also depends on how fast you were going (240km/150 miles in 10 hours, so maybe 24 km/15 mph?).
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Old 10-14-12, 09:07 PM   #5
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Riding time would have been about 10 1/2 hours. Took 12 all up. Going up 1.5km really slowed me. I usually ride 160km in 6 hours. It also didn't help that I was on my mtb on small block tires. Average for the day wad a tad under 24knh. KI rixe 400-500km a week and commute by bike only. Trimmed 30kg off my weight and can average 28kmh on a flat centufy riding an mtb with small block tires. Those hills really hurt though.
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Old 10-15-12, 02:41 AM   #6
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So 10.5 * 250 calories per hour = 2625 calories. If you consumed only 1500 calories in that time, chances are you didn't consume enough. But add in breakfast and your post-ride dinner, and you might be right on target.


One thing I've found riding longer distances (i.e. 600Ks and up is that I really get sick of eating. You've got to keep eating, and eating and eating ... and nothing tastes good, and you really don't want food anymore ...

The only liquid energy product I've found that has been any good is Ensure, and when I reach a point where I just don't want to eat anymore, and my stomach is rebelling the idea of eating, I switch to Ensure.

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Old 10-15-12, 02:54 AM   #7
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That was only 3000 calories? I really didn't want to eat more. Its a real challenge to eat non stop for 10 hours plus.
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Old 10-15-12, 11:51 AM   #8
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That was only 3000 calories? I really didn't want to eat more. Its a real challenge to eat non stop for 10 hours plus.
All you needed to consume was about 3000 calories.

You would have burned approx. 5000-6000 calories. You don't need to replace everything you burn, especially on rides under 12 hours. You should have approx. 2000 calories in storage if you are eating well in the week before the ride, and your breakfast will add some calories to the mix.
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Old 10-15-12, 12:13 PM   #9
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your body can only process so many calories while you are exercising. I have eaten too much on more than one occasion, and that's far worse than not eating enough. When I've ridden a long way, my body lets me know when I have eaten enough. The times I have over-eaten, it has been after only 100 miles or so. Now I know I have to watch for that.
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Old 10-16-12, 12:25 AM   #10
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your body can only process so many calories while you are exercising. I have eaten too much on more than one occasion, and that's far worse than not eating enough. When I've ridden a long way, my body lets me know when I have eaten enough. The times I have over-eaten, it has been after only 100 miles or so. Now I know I have to watch for that.
Are you talking about simply overstuffing available the space your stomach? Overworking your whole digestive system? Since bonk is the main indication of underfueling, is there some body-wide indication of overfueling, or just a seriously upset stomach from asking it to do more than what`s really necessary?
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Old 10-16-12, 12:30 AM   #11
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Indigestion would be a killer on a bike ride. I don't see myself being greatly focussed on the ride if my stomach is in great pain. Also I'd imagine exertion on top of indigestion might lead to unpleasent side effects such as vomiting etc.
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Old 10-16-12, 08:02 AM   #12
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Indigestion from overeating can be a big issue on the bike. Try to experiment with a liquid diet for LD riding. For example, rather than having a regular breakfast/lunch, I am now replacing with 3 glasses of a natural fruit smoothie (i.e., banana, beet juice, berries, pineapple, a scoop of protein + vitamins containing important electrolytes.) It is working really well for me. It bypasses the stomach and vitamins/minerals/aminoacids reach the bloodstream more efficiently. I also make enough to bring a bottle full of this concoction along with some other snacks and vitamins that my body can process more easily. If someone is waiting for you at the control points (highly recommended), they can bring replenishments. I am having pasta and other "heavy" dishes the night before the ride, but you can experiment with smaller amounts (that your body can easily digest) during the ride or before going to bed if you're doing a multiday brevet. Remember the trick is to get your body used to any special diet for cycling purposes. If you just decide to do this the day of your brevet, it might not be fun.
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Old 10-16-12, 08:32 AM   #13
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Are you talking about simply overstuffing available the space your stomach? Overworking your whole digestive system? Since bonk is the main indication of underfueling, is there some body-wide indication of overfueling, or just a seriously upset stomach from asking it to do more than what`s really necessary?
When I have had problems, it was from over-eating, generally from eating too fast. And then it can take many hours for the body to clear that up if it is also being asked to exercise. I was in a hurry at the first controle on PBP, ate too much, and was suffering for the next 5 hours or so. It was hard to eat from nausea for that entire time, and yet I needed to eat. It really sucks being full and also getting bonky. Generally, my approach has been to eat too little until my body kicks into survival mode, at which point my stomach cuts me off if I try to eat too much.
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Old 10-16-12, 09:17 AM   #14
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I figure 250 cal./hr for elapsed time, not riding time. That's because that figure is supposed to be about what you can pass across the stomach wall, not what you need. When you're stopped you can process a little better than when you're moving. With training, some people to about 400 cal./hr., but I find the 250 to be about right for me. As unterhausen says, it's important to keep it coming in small quantities and never to eat too much at one time. Even so, if one pushes a bit too hard the digestive system can shut down, which can lead to a bonk, even if your stomach is full. The cure for this is to stop eating. Start pushing plain water and taking Endurolytes, at least one every 1/2 hr. This procedure has fixed the problem for me and everyone I've used it on.

I also find it easier to have about 1/2 my calories from liquid food on a ride of over 300k. On shorter rides, I get an even higher percentage from liquid food as effort will be higher, thus digestion worse. A friend of mine took a suitcase full of Ensure to PBP, since it doesn't seem to be available in France. He used drop bags to distribute it over the course.
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Old 10-16-12, 08:22 PM   #15
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I love fig newtons. About a 100 calories each, 2-3-4 an hour and I'm good to go.
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Old 10-16-12, 09:50 PM   #16
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I love fig newtons. About a 100 calories each, 2-3-4 an hour and I'm good to go.
They're 45 calories per cookie according to their label.
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Old 10-17-12, 09:19 PM   #17
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They're 45 calories per cookie according to their label.
Opps... i meant per serving size. The ones in my cabinet show 110 per serving size which is 2 cookies! I still eat 2-4 an hour between controls.

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Old 10-18-12, 07:44 AM   #18
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240K = approx 150 miles, so a century and a half. Without knowing more about the OP and the difficulty of the ride, I'd say that you ate plenty but probably not way over what would be expected.

I'm a big guy at 230 lbs with a 30 lb touring bike and on most of my centuries I eat a good breakfast (oat granola in Greek yogurt with berries has become my traditional pre-ride meal). At the stops (usually either three or four not counting the finish) I'll eat around 350 calories give or take 100 or so. I usually drink about a liter or so of sports drink and carry a few granola bars with me. I also go through 2+ liters of water depending on conditions.

The day before yesterday, we had excellent weather and my "quick" ride turned into 60 miles through the countryside with nothing but a granola bar and a 24oz water bottle. First half of the ride was great as I had a regular lunch about an hour before leaving, but that granola bar was nowhere near enough to fuel the second half of the ride. My speed was down and I was feeling pretty shakey when I got home.

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