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When to bring food?

Old 12-17-13, 01:25 PM
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bs63366
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When to bring food?

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.
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Old 12-17-13, 01:36 PM
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I usually drink a lot, so I bring a standard size bottle (20 oz i think) for each hour I ride. As for food I don't bother, for me again, until over an hour. So I will sometimes schedule a ride so it is less than an hour. However if it is an early morning ride that MAY last longer than an hour (so about 25-30 miles) I might bring something small. Although I don't always eat it.
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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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Old 12-17-13, 01:50 PM
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I pack food for anything 2 hrs or longer. Two bottles should last me that as well unless its 95* out
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Old 12-17-13, 02:34 PM
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As pointed out by Seth.. the food and hydration bit you have to learn as you go and it will also depend on how hard you are going, heat and humidity.

For me an easy Z2 ride burns ~350 kJ/hr. That requires requires no hydration or food for 2 hrs. After that it's a half a Cliff bar and half bottle of liquid/hr (Camelbak Elixer)
Looking at a ride I did late Nov that was only 46 miles. Covered it in 2 1/2 hrs and only used ~1,700 kJ

If I'm going hard then it's upwards of 900 kJ/hr. At that rate I need a bottle of liquid and a Cliff bar an hour.

It took me about a year to figure out what I needed and what I could eat on the bike. Theory has it you can only digest ~250 calories/hr.

Go forth an experiment.
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Old 12-17-13, 02:57 PM
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Most cyclist don't drink enough but eat too much on their rides, IMO.

I try to have some carbs, like a small serving of oatmeal or peanut and jelly sandwich, about an hour before I ride. I also drink a bottle of water over the hour before I ride.

Even in cold weather, I take a drink every 10-15 minutes. I probably average a water bottle (sports drink or water) an hour during the summer.

On rides over an hour and a half, I start eating something after about an hour. My favorite is a Clif bar cut into 8 bite size pieces so I can easily eat it on the bike. One Clif bar usually will be enough for a 3-4 hour ride, but I usually carry two or a couple of gels in case I decide I want more. For a six hour or century ride, I prefer to eat 2-3 Clif bars and a banana while drinking 6+ bottles of liquid.
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Old 12-17-13, 03:23 PM
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Just depends on the ride. My usual 20 mile loop? No point. Threshold riding for that route means the ride will be over in less than an hour. 2 hours..I'll start to worry about food or gel packs. Generally 40 miles of "quick" riding is my max.
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Old 12-17-13, 04:56 PM
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Ok i think that I will be fine for a while then. I usually go about 2 hours after I eat and then go through about a bottle of water(20 oz.) on the ride and then grab a glass of water when I get back home. I will need to be looking into putting another bottle mount on my bike for the summer to make sure I have enough. Thats a good idea about cutting up the cliff bars for an easy to eat snack. Thank you everyone for the input.
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Old 12-17-13, 07:03 PM
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Always bring food. Just don't eat it unless you feel the need. YOu may not ever need it, but the time you do, and don't have it, you'll regret it.

I have found that when it's warmer, i.e. anything over 65 degrees, I drink enough that as long as I'm drinking a sports drink like Cytomax, I don't really need to eat, up to 3 hours. When it cools off, though, I don't sweat as much and I find I don't want to drink as much, so I eat one energy bar instead.


I had one energy bar that lasted me a couple months, though by the time I actually ate it, it was pretty beat up! That day, I was drinking plenty, but I started feeling tired and 'hollow', so I ate it and felt much better within a few miles.
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Old 12-17-13, 07:21 PM
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Stick a granola bar or oatmeal cookie in your jersey pocket for each hour you are going to ride. I figure about a 24 oz water bottle for the first hour and another 24 oz of dilute sports drink (commercial or homemade, lots of recipes if you search this forum) for each additional hour in average summer conditions. If you are using Gatorade, Powerade or similar sports drink, dilute it 50/50 with water or carry one bottle of sports drink and one bottle of plain water and alternate. If you are on a particularly hard hammerfest, in hot and humid conditions, fighting high winds, etc. you will have to increase the amounts accordingly. There are guidelines but no "right" amounts for everyone. My rule of thumb is to take a a couple of good swigs every 15 minutes if I'm not thirsty and more frequently if I feel thirsty. It is better to drink small amounts frequently than to try to catch up by guzzling at rest stops. I've got nothing against "sports foods" like gels, blocks, beans and bars, but don't find them necessary or particularly tasty. A handful of roasted almonds and dried fruit works well, so does a granola bar, an oatmeal raisin cookie, fruit leather, a few dates or figs, fig newtons, or any other food that provides a blend of simple and complex carbs with a bit of protein and fat as well as some sodium and potassium. I shoot for 200-400 kCal/hr depending on how hard I'm riding. On rides less than 2 hours in length, a 24 oz bottle of water and another of dilute sports drink is plenty, just make sure you are adequately hydrated and have a snack 30 minutes or so before the ride.

While the idea is not to bonk, a great bonk buster is caramel with sea salt. It probably wouldn't be good for general on-bike nutrition and probably doesn't travel well on hot days, but I was about to hit the wall when I stopped at a small C-store that had a basket of it at the counter. Two pieces with a half liter of cool water brought me back from the edge rather quickly and the rest of the ride home went well. Anecdotal evidence for sure, but tasty.
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Old 12-18-13, 10:00 AM
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I almost always bring two bottles. It's better to have too much than too little.

For rides over 3 hours I'll bring something like a Cliff Bar or plan on stopping at a gas station for a snack. I'll also have a sports drink in my water bottles usually diluted about 50%.

For things like a supported century ride, I'll bring a Cliff Bar and/or a GU gel pack plus sports drink in the bottles. Often I don't touch the Cliff Bar/Gu if the rest stops are good, but it's still better to bring too much especially if miss a rest stop.

For something like an unsupported century, I'll have my pockets stuffed with stuff and plan on stopping at a gas station. I even bring a lot of quarters on one such century as there's few places to get food or drink and one of them is a soda machine next to a grain silo.
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Old 12-18-13, 10:15 AM
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I always bring two bottles, since an empty bottle cage looks awful.
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Old 12-18-13, 10:27 AM
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I took my cages off as they ruined the lines of the bike and no matter what color I used it just didn't go with the color ways of my frame.

I just get a Red Bull when I stop for cigarettes anyway.
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Old 12-20-13, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bronze Potato View Post
I took my cages off as they ruined the lines of the bike and no matter what color I used it just didn't go with the color ways of my frame.

I just get a Red Bull when I stop for cigarettes anyway.
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Old 12-20-13, 09:35 AM
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I usually drink a liter just before leaving on a ride, so on short 1-hr weekday rides I usually don't bring anything. On longer weekend rides of up to two hours I'll usually just bring one water bottle; I might drink it all in the warm mid-summer weather (might even bring a second bottle if its really warm). But in the winter it usually doesn't move out of the bottle cage unless its a longer ride. And I only put water into the bottles, maybe a pinch of salt and/or sugar if the water is a little too 'hard' or 'backish' for my taste buds.

Food: on an all-day ride I usually don't bring any, just stop for a quick lunch somewhere. As long as you're eating a balanced diet, maybe a few extra calories the day before a long ride, it shouldn't matter; I used to be heavily into mountain climbing and the axiom we used was you be in good shape to use the 'energy' you consumed the day before. And if you do a little research you'll find it takes quite some time for food to go through your body's digestive processes to where it can be turned into useable fuel for your cells. I don't believe the hype for stuff like gels and sports drinks.
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Old 12-20-13, 10:38 AM
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Community Pot Luck Holiday dinners.
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Old 12-20-13, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Community Pot Luck Holiday dinners.
Then you need to SAG back because you're too bloated to ride

I have been there before.....too much Mexican food and I was a bag of gas.
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Old 12-20-13, 11:34 AM
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I always have 2 bottles, and only have food if I'm doing over 40 miles.
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Old 12-20-13, 11:48 AM
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Drink as much as you need. This will vary with temperature. I carry one bottle if I am on a familiar route with known water stops (often fountains at public parks). I pack a Clif bar on rides between ten and twenty miles on up, depending on what I ate pre ride, and how hard I plan to ride.
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Old 12-20-13, 11:50 AM
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I found this to be a good measure.

When you Stop and don'r have to P, you are not drinking enough.
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Old 12-20-13, 01:08 PM
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On my rides last summer, I learned 2 -24oz bottles filled with straight water lasted me 25 miles. Anything longer than that and I was looking for a place to refill. As for food, I generally didn't carry anything but an emergency granola bar for a rare time I didn't eat enough before riding (never did eat it, still sitting in my handlebar bag where it'll probably be still waiting for me next season). Even on my 50-miler I did in July, I didn't bring any food.. I had my Camelback filled with water, one 24-oz bottle filled with water and the other bottle filled with diluted low-cal Gatorade. I did stop half way for a cheeseburger from a local restaurant though. As long as there's a chance you're riding through commercial areas, I don't see the need to bring any food.
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Old 12-20-13, 02:06 PM
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I never leave the house without two water bottles on the frame and a under saddle bag with two spare tubes, a small tool kit (which has about 10$ in cash) a granola bar or cliff bar and a few packets of mustard and a mini pump hanging on my frame... in short I don't want to call the SAG unless something major happens...
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Old 12-20-13, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by donalson View Post
I never leave the house without two water bottles on the frame and a under saddle bag with two spare tubes, a small tool kit (which has about 10$ in cash) a granola bar or cliff bar and a few packets of mustard and a mini pump hanging on my frame... in short I don't want to call the SAG unless something major happens...

...mustard?
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Old 12-20-13, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by arex View Post
...mustard?
yup http://www.coreperformance.com/daily...or-cramps.html

cheap (free) and light weight... and easier to carry than pickle juice...
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Old 12-20-13, 04:40 PM
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Water, as much as I can carry, which happens only to be one 20 oz. water bottle. I wish I could carry more. I drink a ton of water all day long. I only ride 12 miles (an hour on my bike) after work and I'll guzzle 16 ounces before I leave work, drink my 20 ounce bottle at my 6 mile turnaround point, and guzzle another 16 that I left in the car. If I had a place to put 2 water bottles on my bike, I'd probably drink both of those in my 12 miles. I don't have to, but like I said, I drink a ton of water all day long no matter what I'm doing.

My biggest problem now is my single water bottle mount is on the bottom of the downtube because of it being a full suspension bike. That means I either have to stop specifically to drink or I would lose fingers in the tire trying to get it out of the cage as it is about a quarter inch away from the tire.

Can't wait for spring when I pick up a new "real" bike
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