Fueling For On The Bike Performance

This past weekend, Ben and I attempted a kitchen sink kind of workout. One that addresses all of the energy systems: endurance, sprints, VO2, sweet spot and finally 1 minute all out efforts. If there were ever a training ride to prepare you for the demands of racing, this is it.

We fueled well that morning: an egg scramble with veggies, and a big bowl of oatmeal. We even pre-loaded with a hydration mix specifically formulated for long, hard, intense rides. I’d mentally prepared myself for the 4.5 hour grueling workout.

But one thing I failed to do well: fuel during the ride.

For the 4.5 hours we rode, I only ate a banana and two packs of chews (one Honeystinger, one Skratch). I also drink one bottle with one scoop of electrolyte mix. And of course, a bunch of water.

By the second half of the ride, my power output suffered significantly. I couldn’t sustain sweet spot, let alone the endurance pace between sets. And my one minute efforts were pathetic. At the hour to go mark, all I could think about was limping back home at the highest sustained pace: barely above zone 1.

Has this ever happened to you?

I struggle to eat enough on the bike. The thought of eating only sugary, melted chocolate, and sweet chews followed by sweet electrolyte drink is not palatable. And the few savory bars I have managed to find are similar to chewing cardboard. But if you don’t fuel and aim for that 50-90g of carbs per hour, your performance will suffer.

Who doesn’t want to go faster? Then you have to train yourself to onboard carbohydrates throughout a ride. And the more carbohydrate you can tolerate and take in, the better you’ll perform during longer efforts.

That night we discussed different fueling strategies: my goal is to aim for 50g of carbs per hour to start with (keep in mind, this is only for rides over 2 hours long). Eventually I’d like to be in the 60-80g hour range. That’s two packs of chews per hour! Great for someone who loves chews and sugar coating their teeth…. but not so good if you’d prefer savory carb sources.

I scoured my Feed Zone cookbooks. Turns out not many portables have a super high carb content… even the rice cakes only average 30g per serving. I’ll need to eat 1.5 servings every hour – and that’s a lot of food! But after my lackluster performance this past weekend, I’m willing to get to work in the kitchen and see if I can create something that tastes good and meets those higher carb needs.

Over the coming weeks, I’m going to experiment with different rice cakes and other homemade on the bike nutrition I hope to share here.

First up, the Denver Rice Cake from Feed Zone Portables.

Have any homemade carb rich bike food recipes you’d like to share? Please let me know!

Published by jensharp13

I am a Boulder, Colorado based cycling coach that focuses on the whole athlete and the balance needed in order to perform at your best.

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