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Old 12-17-13, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bs63366 View Post
I finally got a ride in that was over 20 miles and was wondering at what point I should start bringing along something like a gel or bar or something to eat during the ride? Also how much water should I be drinking on a 20 miler? Thanks for the help.
You'll have to figure out for yourself and your body what these limits are. For me, weighing 270 lbs at 6'2.5" and riding around 140-190 miles per week, I can do my moderate-to-high intensity 32 mile ride with no food or energy drink during the ride, but if I push the speed up toward the end to flame off the rest of my energy, I'm feeling the tank approaching empty the last couple of miles. I cannot do my 54 mile ride at a moderate-to-high intensity without some sort of additional energy intake during the ride. This usually takes the form of a double dose of gatorade powder added to one of my water bottles, but I'll usually throw in some gel or chews or whatever into my little bike pouch as a backup in case I really need it.

Also, for most of my rides I'll have eaten something containing at least some carbs within an hour or two prior to the ride, so I'm starting out with some energy trickling in from that source as well.

If you read up on bonking and glycogen usage and whatnot, the rule of thumb they give is that for high intensity activities most athletes have enough glycogen for around 90 minutes. At a high enough intensity that is fairly accurate for me. My 32.5 mile route is currently taking me about an hour and 45 minutes, and that's getting me near the point where I would not have enough energy to sustain the effort. If I drop my heart rate 15 or 20 bpm from this level, however, I can go on for a very long time, because the intensity is low enough that my body can break down my fat stores fast enough.

As far as water intake goes, in our current daytime conditions of 50s to high 60s in AZ, I can and sometimes do my whole 32 mile ride without drinking anything unless I'm stopped at a red light and drink something just as a precaution. During the 100+ degree summer days I'd go through a minimum of two 24 oz water bottles in that same time, and for a long enough ride I might even have to stop at a gas station and refill.

So how hot is where you're riding? How far and how fast are you wanting to go? I'd say your best bet is to start bringing something with you as you range out to longer and longer distances just in case, listen to your body, and learn what you and your riding intensity require. I've had to bonk several times over the last couple years to get this all figured out, and that really sucks. Don't get sucked into the idea that to be a true hard-ass, you need to gut it out on an empty stomach. Also don't get sucked in to the idea that to lose weight you have to do all your rides on an empty stomach. Sure, for shorter or less intense rides this will probably maximize your fat burning, but for longer, more intense rides it's a recipe for disaster. If you're riding hard and long enough to require external energy sources during the ride, trust me you're probably also burning plenty of fat too. And building your body's cardiovascular efficiency, and stoking your metabolism, etc.
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