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How to fuel while riding?

Old 11-20-22, 03:34 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
For me, it depends on the type of ride. If it's pretty casual, I enjoy stopping. If it's at a harder pace, I really dislike stopping - I get café legs and always feel worse off after a stop of 30+ min.
I've heard about that ever since I started doing group rides. I guess it bothers some people more than others. I get a bit of it but usually can get back going in a few minutes after a break. I know if I am struggling to hang on I feel a lot better if we stop and I have a snack.

I have stomach issues sometimes and I have to be careful with the space food. I can tolerate one Clif bar, maybe one gel. Can't eat sugar based candy while riding but I can eat a Payday. I'm fine with Perpetuem or Heed but iffy on Cytomax.

I do best with regular food. Bananas, sandwiches, muffins, granola bars, etc. Last Saturday we did 70+ miles with 5900 feet of climbs. We stopped in the middle and I had a chicken kabob with pita bread and hummus. It was delicious and my stomach was fine for the climbs after that.

We used to do long climbing rides and stop with 25ish miles left and get a bowl of chili. On a cold day it was great. Too bad that cafe burned down.
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Old 11-20-22, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Sorry - I sometimes forget that we're not all serious cyclists here.

But yes, that's what "café legs" are - sore, stiff, ungrateful bastards after a stop to smell the roses sip the flat white.
In these parts, some of us call them lunch legs.
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Old 11-20-22, 04:50 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
I have stomach issues sometimes and I have to be careful with the space food. I can tolerate one Clif bar, maybe one gel. Can't eat sugar based candy while riding but I can eat a Payday. I'm fine with Perpetuem or Heed but iffy on Cytomax.

I do best with regular food. Bananas, sandwiches, muffins, granola bars, etc. Last Saturday we did 70+ miles with 5900 feet of climbs. We stopped in the middle and I had a chicken kabob with pita bread and hummus. It was delicious and my stomach was fine for the climbs after that.

We used to do long climbing rides and stop with 25ish miles left and get a bowl of chili. On a cold day it was great. Too bad that cafe burned down.
Yeah, I'll do some gels chews once in a blue moon, but I prefer regular food, too. I just don't see the value - monetarily or in terms of performance - in sport-specific snacks (drinking some kind of electrolytes is a different story, though). That said, I usually snack - I rarely have the desire to consume anything approaching a meal-sized quantity of food mid-ride, unless it's a pretty casual ride.

Last edited by WhyFi; 11-21-22 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 11-20-22, 05:59 PM
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I used to avoid long rest breaks because my legs got heavy and stiff. When I couldn't keep up with the no-drop A group rides anymore, I quit riding those because they had to wait a minute or longer for us slowpokes to catch up. But they wanted to take off immediately, while we old dudes were still huffing and puffing with burning legs from that climb at the halfway mark. Can't say I blame them, so it was simpler to adjust my expectations rather than expect them to change to suit one or two old dudes. I know of some A level riders who split off and formed their own groups, rather than expecting a formerly fast group of aging riders to change. Perfectly understandable. A fast paceline emulating our favorite pro riders is fun, if you can do it. If not, move on and find your own niche.

Now when I ride B group or more casual rides with friends, rest breaks are the standard. Some include entire meal breaks. We still do spirited riding on popular Strava segments, but our overall average is around 16 mph, not 20 mph or faster. Dinner and pub crawls are the best thing about the group rides I do nowadays.

Most of my solo cycling and running training is some variation of fartlek or run/walk training. Occasionally I'll tackle a tempo ride or walk without slowing or rest breaks, but it only serves to prove to myself that I'm older and will never be fast again over distance. I can still fake it for shorter segments up to a mile or so.

But I can't even approach my best time, set in 2017, on a favorite 5 or 6 mile time trial segment. At that time I had a second place on Strava, but the KOM was at least two minutes faster. With that much discrepancy I knew my place in the top ten would be gone within a few years. Sure enough, a paceline of several younger, faster guys blew the rest of us out of contention a few years ago. As it should be. If any Strava segment has a 60-something y/o guy with the KOM or a top ten, it means only grandmas on comfort hybrids and kids on Big Wheels are riding that segment. Even a steady diet of medically supervised PEDs wouldn't get me back to where I was years ago.
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Old 11-20-22, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Why do some people hate stopping? I've never understood this, always enjoyed stopping to eat something on a longer ride.
To each his own.

I don't much care for gels; they are primarily meant for quick energy and too much sugar on my stomach doesn't sit well on a long ride. For the same reason, I don't use Gatorade unless I'm diluting it way down; just too much sugar at one time.

I recommend energy bars like Lara or Clif that have some protein along with the carbs. They are slower to metabolize so they'll keep you going longer.

And it's always better to carry too much food and water rather than not enough. On really hot days, I've carried a third water bottle in my center jersey pocket.

And I have no problem stopping at a gas station to get a sandwich or sausage biscuit or even a bowl of stew on a long ride or on a cold day. I'm not 'droping the Hamer' or 'dialing it up to 400 watts'; I'm just out enjoying nature and having fun.
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Old 11-20-22, 09:46 PM
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An update: I went on said ride, and I only consumed four energy gels. Instead of timing my pre-ride meal correctly, I ate a somewhat smaller high-carb meal a little too early, and then more a little too late. I just felt like I'd be force-feeding myself for the first 90 minutes or so, and after that, I was eating without feeling any particular need for more energy. I'm buying into the "if you feel hungry, it's already too late" argument here. The hip belt pockets on my backpack (with the water reservoir) turned out to be very functional for energy gels, partly due to location, and partly due to the zipper pull being easy to grab with gloves. Jersey pockets were basically inaccessible due to the jacket and backpack.

[Edit to add:] Apart from the rough start, this seems to have been a nutritionally successful ride. I ran down toward the end, but I have the sense that it was for other reasons than lack of energy.

Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Has the OP disclosed how far a 3.5 hr. ride is?
It ended up being 47.65 miles.

Originally Posted by big john View Post
Why do some people hate stopping? I've never understood this, always enjoyed stopping to eat something on a longer ride.
If I stop for long, it ends up being some degree of excruciating to get going again. Subsequent comments about "café legs" or "lunch legs" are what I'm talking about. I guess if it was a ride where I wasn't really pushing myself hard ...

Originally Posted by t2p View Post
have you tried some / more protein ... more balanced approach ?
I have, and it hasn't worked well for me. Because protein and fat slow down metabolic rate, I end up not being able to take advantage of the energy fast enough. Even oat/granola bars do this to me. Energy gels and stroopwaffles are the only things I've found so far that seem to hit my system right away.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
At this time, we don't know the terrain, distance, or intensity of the OP's rides, so pretty much impossible to give good advice on calories ingested.
Essentially flat, paved MUP, 47.65 miles, 686 feet of ascent. This basically represents a paced but otherwise high intensity for me, a recovering desk potato. No power meter, but Strava estimates 77w, 919 kJ for this ride. 77w is low for me, but most of my rides are in the 25-35 mile range.

Last edited by UnCruel; 11-20-22 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 11-20-22, 10:01 PM
  #57  
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I would say maybe try some stretching especially at stops before riding again that is always helpful when you have to stop or want to stop and at the beginning and really end of a ride (though I am bad at it sometimes)

Going back to the original topic I would try the SIS Isotonic gels as you don't need water to get those down. I typically on a road ride will keep them in my jersey and if I am not reusing that jersey before able to wash it I will just put the old pack back in sometimes with a little folding or rolling. Or you can take a newspaper bag (or some small bag and just throw them in there when finished. They are generally pretty doable one handed or use the sort of race position holding your hands where you might have tri bars if they weren't banned in UCI road races, for a short bit to open it and then take it down.

For other storage a top tube bag would work well or use one of the feedbags that a lot of adventure/gravel/bikepacking/yadayda cyclists are using.

I might also try a good smoothie before going out. Banana, frozen strawberries, kale (frozen is fine), some nuts (cashews or almonds are my favorites but you do you) and water is a good place to start you can add some vanilla and maybe a pinch of salt or if you really need it some sugar or agave or something. That can help if you need something easier to go down sometimes solid food in the morning can be tough.
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Old 11-20-22, 10:52 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by UnCruel View Post
An update: I went on said ride, and I only consumed four energy gels. Instead of timing my pre-ride meal correctly, I ate a somewhat smaller high-carb meal a little too early, and then more a little too late. I just felt like I'd be force-feeding myself for the first 90 minutes or so, and after that, I was eating without feeling any particular need for more energy. I'm buying into the "if you feel hungry, it's already too late" argument here. The hip belt pockets on my backpack (with the water reservoir) turned out to be very functional for energy gels, partly due to location, and partly due to the zipper pull being easy to grab with gloves. Jersey pockets were basically inaccessible due to the jacket and backpack.

[Edit to add:] Apart from the rough start, this seems to have been a nutritionally successful ride. I ran down toward the end, but I have the sense that it was for other reasons than lack of energy.



It ended up being 47.65 miles.



If I stop for long, it ends up being some degree of excruciating to get going again. Subsequent comments about "café legs" or "lunch legs" are what I'm talking about. I guess if it was a ride where I wasn't really pushing myself hard ...



I have, and it hasn't worked well for me. Because protein and fat slow down metabolic rate, I end up not being able to take advantage of the energy fast enough. Even oat/granola bars do this to me. Energy gels and stroopwaffles are the only things I've found so far that seem to hit my system right away.



Essentially flat, paved MUP, 47.65 miles, 686 feet of ascent. This basically represents a paced but otherwise high intensity for me, a recovering desk potato. No power meter, but Strava estimates 77w, 919 kJ for this ride. 77w is low for me, but most of my rides are in the 25-35 mile range.
When I do an MUP ride like that, I stop at a bench and have a banana and a granola bar and do some people watching. When I get back on the bike I spin easy for a while.
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Old 11-20-22, 11:01 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
To each his own.

I don't much care for gels; they are primarily meant for quick energy and too much sugar on my stomach doesn't sit well on a long ride. For the same reason, I don't use Gatorade unless I'm diluting it way down; just too much sugar at one time.

I recommend energy bars like Lara or Clif that have some protein along with the carbs. They are slower to metabolize so they'll keep you going longer.

And it's always better to carry too much food and water rather than not enough. On really hot days, I've carried a third water bottle in my center jersey pocket.

And I have no problem stopping at a gas station to get a sandwich or sausage biscuit or even a bowl of stew on a long ride or on a cold day. I'm not 'droping the Hamer' or 'dialing it up to 400 watts'; I'm just out enjoying nature and having fun.
I've had good luck with Lara bars but I haven't tried more than one at a time. Yeah, Gatorade is a bit much but you can buy the powdered form and mix it yourself.

During the part of the pandemic when even the parks had the water turned off I was using a Camelbak on hot rides, plus 2 bottles. Like that I didn't have to worry about finding water. I've also used the Camelbak when we ride in the mountains where there are no stores. And, of course, on mountain bike rides.
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Old 11-20-22, 11:26 PM
  #60  
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Eat a high carb meal no less than 2 hours before you ride. If you don't do that, don't eat anything before the ride except a Clif Bar or the like 15' before you ride.

And don't eat before you're hungry. IME, that's BS. Or maybe for riders who haven't developed any fat burning ability because they either don't ride long enough or eat too much. I drink to thirst and eat to hunger. I ride a lot, doubles, brevets, long rides in the mountains, that sort of thing. That's what I've learned, and somewhat painfully. The worst thing you can do is overeat. The best thing is small amounts about every 15'.

I don't know a single distance rider who uses gels. 20 years ago, Hammer Gel in their 6oz. flasks were the thing. That's enormously better than onesies. Hammer Nutrition. Now everyone seems to use liquids or more ordinary food, like sandwiches, cookies, dates, bars. Some use Shot Bloks. That's like gels without the hassle.
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Old 11-21-22, 12:14 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I thought the cool kids were licking and sticking their chews lined up along the top of the stem?
I put them on the top tube behind the stem. (It’s more aero, duh).
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Old 11-21-22, 03:06 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I don't know a single distance rider who uses gels.
I use caffeine gels when I need a wake up hit. But a 200ml bottle or can of coke is probably just as effective.
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Old 11-21-22, 08:04 AM
  #63  
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It all depends on your body... there is no miracle recipe.

For instance, I usually don't eat at all when riding unless it's a 100+km ride (3 to 3.5 hours) or unless I feel hungry during the ride, but I know many of us start needing fuel after 60-90 minutes of riding. I think it would be a good and safe practice to get some carbs in every hour and see how you feel. I always carry energy gels and a Mars bar in case.

Now, what you eat before a ride is as important as what you eat during the ride.
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Old 11-21-22, 08:49 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by UnCruel View Post
An update: I went on said ride, and I only consumed four energy gels. Instead of timing my pre-ride meal correctly, I ate a somewhat smaller high-carb meal a little too early, and then more a little too late. I just felt like I'd be force-feeding myself for the first 90 minutes or so, and after that, I was eating without feeling any particular need for more energy. I'm buying into the "if you feel hungry, it's already too late" argument here. The hip belt pockets on my backpack (with the water reservoir) turned out to be very functional for energy gels, partly due to location, and partly due to the zipper pull being easy to grab with gloves. Jersey pockets were basically inaccessible due to the jacket and backpack.
Essentially flat, paved MUP, 47.65 miles, 686 feet of ascent. This basically represents a paced but otherwise high intensity for me, a recovering desk potato. No power meter, but Strava estimates 77w, 919 kJ for this ride. 77w is low for me, but most of my rides are in the 25-35 mile range.
Maybe it's too early in the morning for me and I haven't had enough coffee. However I can't really make any sense of any of this. Or whether you are saying it was a better experience or worse experience.

How often did you consume a gel? How often did you drink some water?

How often do you ride and for how many total miles each week? If you are only doing this one 47.65 mile ride each week, then the frequency of your rides themselves is likely a big part of your issue. Not so much your hydration and feeding.
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Old 11-21-22, 09:09 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by UnCruel View Post
An update: I went on said ride, and I only consumed four energy gels. Instead of timing my pre-ride meal correctly, I ate a somewhat smaller high-carb meal a little too early, and then more a little too late. I just felt like I'd be force-feeding myself for the first 90 minutes or so, and after that, I was eating without feeling any particular need for more energy. I'm buying into the "if you feel hungry, it's already too late" argument here. The hip belt pockets on my backpack (with the water reservoir) turned out to be very functional for energy gels, partly due to location, and partly due to the zipper pull being easy to grab with gloves. Jersey pockets were basically inaccessible due to the jacket and backpack.

[Edit to add:] Apart from the rough start, this seems to have been a nutritionally successful ride. I ran down toward the end, but I have the sense that it was for other reasons than lack of energy.

It ended up being 47.65 miles.

If I stop for long, it ends up being some degree of excruciating to get going again. Subsequent comments about "café legs" or "lunch legs" are what I'm talking about. I guess if it was a ride where I wasn't really pushing myself hard ...

I have, and it hasn't worked well for me. Because protein and fat slow down metabolic rate, I end up not being able to take advantage of the energy fast enough. Even oat/granola bars do this to me. Energy gels and stroopwaffles are the only things I've found so far that seem to hit my system right away.

Essentially flat, paved MUP, 47.65 miles, 686 feet of ascent. This basically represents a paced but otherwise high intensity for me, a recovering desk potato. No power meter, but Strava estimates 77w, 919 kJ for this ride. 77w is low for me, but most of my rides are in the 25-35 mile range.
It's not my intention to come off as a dick, but I probably will, anyway - if I felt that I *needed* a constant feed of sugars to get through these kinds of efforts, I'd take the slow, but steady steps to train myself out of that rather than feed in to it more.

When I started cycling as an adult, I usually did 3 rides per week, all at a moderately high effort level for my fitness at the time. One ride was usually in the 45+ mile range, the other two in the 25-30 mile range. It was a rinse-and-repeat thing that didn't really get me too far, in terms of fitness progress, for several years. My biggest gains came when I started adding fasted (empty stomach, first thing in the morning), one hour rides on my "off" days - these rides were (and still generally are) very easy... like, brisk-walking-pace easy.

First, I realized that there's a difference between feeling hungry and needing fuel. My "needs," on rides short of 60 miles, slowly diminished. Second, I started losing weight, more so than the annual 20lb yo-yo between on- and off-seasons. Third, the additional time in the saddle, even though at low effort, helped both my strength and endurance pretty significantly. New cyclists shouldn't underestimate the efficacy of easy rides.

Now, I need to couch this with "everybody is different," "your mileage may vary," "I am not a doctor," etc, etc. but do keep in mind that humans are the finest endurance athletes in the world.
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Old 11-21-22, 09:41 AM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
It's not my intention to come off as a dick, but I probably will, anyway - if I felt that I *needed* a constant feed of sugars to get through these kinds of efforts, I'd take the slow, but steady steps to train myself out of that rather than feed in to it more.
.
Good point. Not only do we have to try different things to figure out what works for us, it takes time to train the body to do this stuff. It's a lot easier for me to eat and ride than when I started.
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Old 11-21-22, 09:57 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
The worst thing you can do is overeat.
I agree with most of your points but the worst thing I can do is not eat enough. Eating too much may cause a little discomfort but will resolve soon enough. Not eating enough can cause me nausea and running out of energy, possibly even bonking and becoming more dingy than I already am.

When I was younger I did a 6 week tour. Started the ride @220 pounds plus the 55-60 pound bike. I ate 6000 calories per day and lost 10 pounds. I could burn food up almost as fast as I could eat it. I did find certain foods didn't work.

I've never done a double but when I used to do charity centuries I would stop at all the rest stops and eat. If I keep eating I don't have stomach problems. If I do a big climbing ride and don't eat I can get nausea. Once that happens it's difficult to recover.
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Old 11-21-22, 11:02 AM
  #68  
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I ride 3-1/2 hours with lots of climbing three days a week in the summer. I take water only. Never bonked yet. If I'm riding 54 miles with over 5,000 feet of climbing, I may down a concentrated energy drink, just before starting..
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Old 11-21-22, 12:15 PM
  #69  
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You should start loading carbs, fuel, electrolytes, hydrating, etc 2 or 3 days before the event. I know the article is for a marathon, but it still applies here. Gut rot is painful, trust me. We have a nutrition clinic every year during marathon training. It is explained at the clinic like this:

Your body is a race car. You start the event with a full tank of fuel. You go until your tank is nearly empty. You then start refueling, but only put in a 1/4 tank.(gel, chews. bar, whatever) Then you continue until you are nearly empty again and repeat the process until you finish the race. It takes about 10 minutes for the gel, etc to take effect. The key is to take it with enough time so the fuel kicks in before you bonk.

https://marathonhandbook.com/carb-loading/
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Old 11-21-22, 12:44 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
You should start loading carbs, fuel, electrolytes, hydrating, etc 2 or 3 days before the event. I know the article is for a marathon, but it still applies here. Gut rot is painful, trust me. We have a nutrition clinic every year during marathon training. It is explained at the clinic like this:

Your body is a race car. You start the event with a full tank of fuel. You go until your tank is nearly empty. You then start refueling, but only put in a 1/4 tank.(gel, chews. bar, whatever) Then you continue until you are nearly empty again and repeat the process until you finish the race. It takes about 10 minutes for the gel, etc to take effect. The key is to take it with enough time so the fuel kicks in before you bonk.

https://marathonhandbook.com/carb-loading/
While this is all well and good, the "event" that we're talking about is not a marathon, but a 45 mile ride at a level that Strava pegs as a ~1000 calorie effort (flat and ~15mph, so the estimate is probably within spitting distance); most people should have twice that in glycogen stores without any special effort. I get that everyone is different, but I can't help but think that advice on carbo loading, in addition to in-ride refueling, is misplaced.
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Old 11-21-22, 12:51 PM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
While this is all well and good, the "event" that we're talking about is not a marathon, but a 45 mile ride at a level that Strava pegs as a ~1000 calorie effort (flat and ~15mph, so the estimate is probably within spitting distance); most people should have twice that in glycogen stores without any special effort. I get that everyone is different, but I can't help but think that advice on carbo loading, in addition to in-ride refueling, is misplaced.
Yes. The point for the OP/anyone though, is that hydration, fueling, etc.(whatever that amount is) shouldn't begin the day of, at the start or sometime into the event. It should begin before that. That's the most important thing I was trying to get across.

Edit: I can't think of a reason a cyclist would need to pop a gel every 20 minutes. If it's a hot day, you're a heavy sweater and you need extra electrolytes for whatever reason, this brand is cheaper and works as well as the Saltsticks brand. At least for me it does. If you're on a really tight budget, I think the seasalt packets from Wendy's have the other ingredients in them in addition to the salt.

https://www.amazon.com/Elite-Sportz-.../dp/B00OU7YXU2

Last edited by seypat; 11-21-22 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 11-21-22, 01:13 PM
  #72  
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I wonder if I could even keep down 8 gels, if I’m riding with any intensity at all.
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Old 11-21-22, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I wonder if I could even keep down 8 gels, if I’m riding with any intensity at all.
I'll never know - I wouldn't have the will to choke down 8 of 'em in the first place.
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Old 11-21-22, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I wonder if I could even keep down 8 gels, if I’m riding with any intensity at all.
The coaches say you can train that too. I have trouble with full strength sports drinks.
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Old 11-21-22, 02:40 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
There are gel flasks that you can put multiple servings in.

Some people find that too many gels will sour their stomach. For me, gels are a last resort fuel after taking solid nutrition first. Then again, 3 1/2 hours isn't that long, so maybe you'll be fine.
I second that. Gel flasks are much easier to deal with. Twist, squeeze, done. No need to tear off gel packs. Although I put GuGel Roctane gels in my flask, I assume it would be easy enough to put healthy stuff in a blender and use it. The benefit of having easier access to nutrition is that you will do it more often.
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