How To Fuel For A Long Bike Ride | Cycling Nutrition Tips


– Fuelling properly is
one of the easiest things that you can do, but will have a massive impact on your performance. And the longer your ride is, the more important fueling becomes. So if you’re just going
out on a long, winter, base-mile ride, or that big, huge sportive that you’ve been preparing
for for a long time, or just some long summer rides. We’re going to show you what to eat and when to eat it. But before we do, make
sure you subscribe to GCN if you haven’t already, and
also click the bell icon so that you get notifications and help support the channel. (dramatic music) – [Narrator] Now the first thing to know about fueling for a long
ride is that your fueling doesn’t start when you get on the bike. You need to think about
your pre-ride nutrition and that starts with your
meal the night before. You want to eat a solid, carb-heavy meal. Maybe something with pasta,
rice, or even quinoa. But don’t make the classic
mistake of overeating. Although carb loading is good thing, you want to fill up those
carbohydrate reserves, but if you eat double
what you’d normally eat, you’re just going to feel bloated and sluggish the next day. Try to eat slightly more carbohydrates than you usually would. Now what you eat the
morning of your big ride is also super important. You really want to have a hearty,
low-GI, low-fat breakfast. So something like
porridge, a Bircher muesli, or some overnight oats would be ideal. This will give you a good
amount of carbohydrates for energy but the fact
that they are low-GI carbs mean that the energy
will be released slowly. So you will feel the benefits for longer. And you want to avoid fatty
foods as they will delay the absorption of much-needed
carbs into your system. So unfortunately, a full-English
fry up is probably not the best option before a big ride. (slow techno beat) – Simple things first. If you’re going on a long
ride, take two bottles. Now, 750 ml bottles are really useful if you can fit them into your frame. This is actually a 500,
but 750s don’t fit into everyone’s frame, especially
if you’ve got a smaller bike. But ultimately, the
hydration strategy you go for is going to depend on the
conditions that you ride in. – [Narrator] If it’s really hot, focus on having
electrolytes in your drinks to replace the essential minerals
you lose through sweating. And if can, try planning at
least one point on your ride where you can refill your bottles. Also, a pro tip is to
take an electrolyte tablet or a sachet of drink mix
in your pocket or saddlebag ready for when you refill your bottles. Now in summer, I quite like
to have water in my bottles and electrolytes to make
sure that I’m replenishing the minerals lost by sweat. But in winter, I like
to put carbohydrate mix in the bottles and by
using a sort of dedicated product, a sachet of carbohydrate mix, you can actually get the
maximum amount of carbohydrate that your body is able
to absorb in an hour. The reason for this is that
they have the correct blend of sugars that enable you
to absorb the maximum amount of carbohydrate per hour
which can massively help with your fueling. (techno music) – [Narrator] On long-distance
bike rides, whenever you can, take real food with you. So these could be flapjacks,
rice cakes, bananas, or maybe even little sandwiches. If you haven’t quite got
your fueling strategy right and you’re starting to feel
tired, hungry and maybe you might bonk, then one of
the best things you can eat is an energy gel. Because energy gels just contain
what you need: fuel, sugar. And they’re really easy
to absorb by the body. So with that in mind,
it’s always good to carry a couple of energy gels
on your long rides. But you’re not going to want to eat energy gels all the time. You have a lot of them and they can start to be quite sickly. But in terms of trying to
offset the dreaded bonk, well, speak to an experienced cyclist and they’ll tell you
there’s nothing better. (techno music) – [Narrator] It’s a bit of a cliche, but if you start to feel
hungry on a long ride, it really is too late. On short rides, it’s not
the end of the world, but if you do run out of fuel, you’re probably not too far from home. But take it from me, you
really, really don’t want to run out of fuel halfway
round an epic ride. It’s not fun. A good guideline if you’re
on a long, intense ride is to try to consume some carbohydrate every 20 minutes or so. Now that could be half an
energy bar, gel, or a rice cake, or something like that. And what I tend to do is quite geeky. Is look at the ride I’m going to be doing and plan how much food I’m going to need, and then pack my pockets accordingly. But then always add on an extra bar or an extra couple of gels
just in case I need it. For example, if the
ride’s a bit more intense than your planning, or you start to feel like you might bonk, that’s your insurance
policy, that’s your reserves, your emergency rations. I hope you’ve found this look at what to eat on long rides useful. And if you have, then
please give the video a big thumbs up. You’ve got no excuse now if you bonk on your next six-hour epic. And if you’d like to
stay hydrated in style, then why not head over to
the GCN shop and get yourself some GCN Camelback water bottles. And if you’d like to watch
another how-to video, click down here.

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100 thoughts on “How To Fuel For A Long Bike Ride | Cycling Nutrition Tips

  1. GCN please clarify how many kilpmeters is a long ride because for some riders a long ride could be 50 kilometers or a long ride for others 100 kilometers and so on and so forth, for me a long ride is above 80 kilometers, Thanks in Advance.

  2. Fueling properly in the real world would be the 2 for $5 McDonald's Big Mac special.I blame elitists like you for global warming.

  3. my thought is we tend to cycle for the enjoyment, health but probably most to be environmental in some way. yet videos like this are constantly all about the gels, bars etc. ( Single use plastics) surely theres some better way, like make your own stuff and get off your bike and eat it.

  4. Perfect timing on the video! I have my first ever cycle tour coming up next week and this video helped no end, thanks!

  5. Coming from MTB I wear a hydration pack, it's so much easier to drink from and the bags are easy to freeze to keep one cool in the summer. I use the bottles for water and I keep electrolyte drinks in the pack as well

  6. If it's for a LONG ride, surely your lovely British Fry-Up with loads of lovely fats (i.e. not cooked in veg oil) and its heaps of calories would be great for the long haul no? (well…I'm 'asking' but I've done it plenty of times and works fine for me…solo spins or grand fondos, but I suppose everyone is different so). Ye can always have some Spelt Bread with it if ye wanna add in some carbs I suppose, but pack on that butter! Also I thought I read somewhere the night-before's "carb loading" theory was shown not to actually work? (must look for that link if I've time…)

  7. To those asking, what's a long ride? If you only do 25K, 50K is a long ride for a first timer. For someone who's done a few 50Ks, next is eventually 100K. If you done few 100ks, a 100Miler is long enough. Or anything atleast 40% more than your previous. I'm yet to do a 100K, last week I did 65K, so I'd need to plan for a 100K, thanks to GCN, plenty of advice around! 😊🙏

  8. I swear every time I see one of these long ride video tips the amount of time of when you should be eating changes. First it was 40 min, then 30 and now 20, next is 10?

  9. I really don't like eating on a bike ride. I prefer splitting the ride, making a break shortly after the half way.. That may sound casual, but it keeps me at it. Water and minerals plus some calories are essentials, no question.

  10. I did a century ride yesterday. I only had water and two granola bars. Lots of hills and gravel roads. Did fine till the last 20. If I can do that on very little I can only imagine how well with food every 20 mins.

  11. One of the best things about living in Latin America is that there are colmados every 50 meters so fueling is never a concern

  12. Tea with honey and lemon is really good. Except later cleaning the tubes. Almonds, dates and chocolate chips will do as well. OK, also banana;-)

  13. Guess everybody body is different. This week received my blood results and my triglycerides came at 250 (150 is normal). Doctor told me to cut all carbs/sugar for now. I'm on my second day and I'm withdrawal. Feel awful, guess that's what addiction to sugar does to some.

  14. Instead of buying sachets to make your bidon fluids you can mix 1/3 (organic) apple juice with 2/3 water. This mix will be easily absorbed in your body and has the same effect.

  15. to underline the Global in the title…you need to remind people what you mean by "flapjacks" most people in North America would think you mean pancakes (round flat things cooked in a frying pan)…and apparently bonking has another meaning in Los Angeles.

  16. Did my first 100 miler 2 weeks ago. Had a steak, broccoli, and Mac and cheese dinner the night before. Had a bacon and egg breakfast 2 hours before, a banana 1hour before, 3 Chip Ahoy cookies, 1cereal bar a bag of pretzels, a jam sandwich, gummy bears, and and (3) 750ml bottles of Gatorade during the ride. This was perfect for me. I finished my ride with energy to spare. (It’s the gummy bears!)

  17. I would prefer a completely liquid calorie consumption plan on a long ride. Is there such a thing that is easy on the stomach and flows easily enough out of the water bottle? So far, the most calories I’ve had in my water bottles is Gatorade. I don’t think I could drink enough Gatorade to supply enough calories, and I don’t want to. I drink it because it comes in powder form, has sugar, and it’s cheap. I don’t like it.

  18. If you are doing long steady ride than you must eat fat from all sorts of food sources…it*s 101 from phisiology.Body is using fat for energy if you ride easy tempo ride.

  19. Most important is that You don't eat or drink something new which Your body isn't familiar with. Also "listen" and "learn" Your own body when training; we all don't need to drink or eat all the time… (did a couple Years ago that huge mistake that started drinking sips from beginning; it was a really hot race day, but after six hours ride I ended bonking because stomach was full and nothing went down. Horrible. Usually I consume less than half what took in that day. Lesson learned.)

  20. You are kidding right? Come on. You eat this and a ultra rider will eat 60% of you up at 2.5 hours. And 90% at 4hours without ever having put a foot down. Water is a waste without calories and or electrolytes. And the notion of energy gels… bye bye.

  21. Ok, got it. Carbohydrates =sugar. I’m a type 2 diabetic. So, any ideas or suggestions on how to fuel for a long ride and during a ride, cause now I’m confused.
    Any chance you could do a special on this as I’m sure I’m not alone.

  22. I go with the tried and true Eddie “b” Borysewitcz Ham sandwiches method , lots of gels and some protein bars . No bonking !

  23. I am confused. If you are going for a long ride wouldn't you want to delay the absorption of carbs into your system? Especially true if you had a higher than normal carb meal the night before. Your glycogen stores, which isn't very much, should still be overloaded from the night before and available to burn for the first couple of hours if you are riding at a moderate rate. For all the carbs that are being discussed intaking in this video, you will need to drink one ounce of water per gram of carbs.
    I guess the steak and egg meal I had the night before my first century wasn't a good thing and then having a bunch of cooked bacon in my pockets during the ride didn't help. I do admit I did feel like I was starting to bunk at about 97 miles into the ride, but grabbed my last slice of bacon and had no problem finishing the last 10 miles of the ride (yes, 107 miles for an advertised 100-mile ride). Okay, I wasn't going for any world speed records and it did take me about 6:30 hrs of riding time to finish. I will admit I did put a Lifesaver between my cheek and gums for the long hill that was part of the ride, so I guess I didn't do the ride without any added sugar.

  24. How long is considered long, I usually ride 30 – 50 KMs in the cool California mornings. I'm able to do these with little to no water. At what point would fuel be recommend?

  25. Tolerance mapping your own custom macro and micro nutrients to near perfection is an art. For example, research states that you can only absorb up to 90 grams of carbs per hour with certain ratios of differing types of sugars. That's actually only partially true. Proof? The tdf pros can absorb much, much more than that. In a recent race in Montreal Canada, pro tdf riders were told from their team directors to aim for 4000 calories for a 4 hour race. Let me repeat that, as I didn't make a mistake, that's 4000 calories for a 4 hour race. That's a lot more than 90 grams of carbs per hour.
    Bottom Line:

    Doing your own research by trying new things (like differing amounts, types, ratios, liquids, gels, brands, or diy food/drinks, etc) of what you'll be eating/drinking is the absolute best way to tolerance map your own custom nutritional needs to near perfection.

  26. I rest for two days, the night before the ride I eat copious amounts of spaghetti twice,  the morning of the ride I eat a regular breakfast with bacon or sausage and as much potatoes as I can get in me and I avoid sugar but I will bring two giant snickers bars with me just in case I get in to trouble…….   immediately after that ride I consume pure protein with no carbs,  two T-bone steaks with baked beans is my favorite

  27. All those grains… I don't know how people can eat them, porridge, oats…even rice. I am burning fat for fuel and I eat my main fueling meal one night before the ride. If absolutely necessary I get carbs from broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers…if I get depleted on the road, some fruits or chocolate, but that would not be necessary for endurance, only for fast explosive cycling. I should add that many times when people feel hungry and tired it's just a lack of electrolytes: natural mine salt, magnesium and potassium in water, made when necessary on the spot, that's all.

  28. #askgcntraining I never actually managed to grasp this training concept, would you be able to bring it up in one of your videos ?

    How is it possible that training at zone 2 for 3 hours can be better then pushing a high pace and high effort for 3 hours ?

    Recovery is not an issue for me because I only ride weekends, surely on my rides I should be pushing hard to get the best benefits for my time ?

  29. Informative video but could you leave out the background noise? It's very distracting and makes it hard to understand what your saying sometimes. Thanks.

  30. I made this mistake of eating too much . Order a chip barn on a hilly ride near Sheffield and had to ride home with a heavy meal in my stomach … was not popular that day 😂

  31. Doesn't one of the strong training effects, namely increased mitochondrial production and increased fat utilization, come from "bonking"? Of course, I realize the downside of perhaps compromised immune function if done regularly, however, can't "bonking" or "hitting the wall" once in a while actually improve your fitness/performance level?

  32. What about avoiding Hyperthermia?
    On a recent ride, it was very hot. I became Hyperthermic and passed out.
    I was told that I had a temp of 103-deg F.
    I wasn't injured badly with the exception of a concussion and some memory-loss.

    How can I prevent this from happening again?
    I love your channel. Keep up the great work!

  33. Haha! More proof that I am a freak. I take two bottles and a cliff bar on my 100k rides (2-3 per week on average) and often come home with a full bottle and an untouched cliff bar. A few years back I did the Banff Gran Fondo and drank one bottle while setting a bunch of PRs. Any other camels out there?

  34. I use Maurten on my lsd training and 1/2 & full triatlons.
    Works great only have to remember to drink. And it’s easy on the stomach.

  35. @Global Cycling Network How about an in-depth video (possibly series?) on the newest methods and science regarding recovery? Like full on lab coat mode, as in the recent (and excellent!) videos on asthma and heart health.
    Recovery is not the most sexy topic in the world of cycling – but probably the most important, yet overlooked one.

  36. Energy gels cost $4 each (in NZ) and contain 25g maltodextrin. That's $160 A kilo. Maltodextrin costs about $6 A kilo. Think about it

  37. In the morning I cook complete lunch menu(because only porridge is not enough) , then offer, then eat, then after 2 hours bike training😊

  38. Where is the meat?! How are you going to keep muscle healthy and ready-to-go if you're not eating muscle? This seems like very old and outdated information. Eating low-carb and being able to access body fat for energy makes way more sense. that's why you hold fat on your body, it's fuel! That way you don't need to carry loads of carby food with you, you can pack dense nutrition into a small pack and you're flying.

  39. So, I was going to leave a comment about how you guys have done a ton of videos on this subject already. But I think you actually worked some new information in there, so well done on that.

    You should explain what "low GI" foods are though.

  40. These cyclists need to lift weights and consume more protein. They have the upper bodies of 10 year olds. No offense. Lol 💪😎

  41. Suddenly i will go for a ride to another city…….i dont know how much KM will be……But they say are 3 hours with normal pedaling is just road………….My first 70KM on 1 ride i feel like i was going go die, no energy, no legs, but i think after that i eat a lot and after i feel less tired………………………i think its all part of what u eat………Seriously a Chips, Gatorade, Powerade, candyes can make you feel better………………….

  42. By my experience, when you use drinks made from carbohydrate powder, only use half the amount recommended on the package (so, one pouch per two bottles). The recommended concentration is mostly too sweet and feels kind of sticky, especially when in hot weather and your drink "loses its cool".

  43. hmmm, some athletes are switching to a high fat diet and having more endurance, after some adaptation time, im no expert in any way everyone should do your research. Carb loading will be really bad in the long run, i guess Mark Sisson and Dr. Stephen Phinney have some words on the topic.

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