Riding for more than 2 hours? You need to eat snacks and drink plenty of water.

If you want to ride for more than two hours, you’ll need to keep your body hydrated and your muscles fueled. Two hours is about the time in which muscle depletion generally occurs when you’re cycling so to avoid that you can snack every 20-30 minutes. You have to eat enough to prevent hunger and avoid eating too much as that will cause bloating, nausea and then deteriorating performance.

If you are riding competitively, you’ll want to eat on the bike but us recreational riders usually like to stop and enjoy our snacks. I tend to stop to snack every 90 minutes if I’m going to be out all day. Any calories you absorb will delay your muscle depletion before the onset of fatigue. The ideal daily intake of fat is between 20% and 30%.

If you are riding at a higher intensity, the simpler the carbohydrates, such as energy drinks, gels and fruits is what you should eat and drink and then stick to 200-300 calories (60 grams of carbs) per hour.

On the longer rides, which are usually at a lower intensity and lower heart rate, you’ll want to eat more complex carbohydrate snacks. These will typically have a higher fat content and will offer many alternatives.

Before going on your ride make sure you plan your snacks accordingly by estimating the number of calories you will expend, both in total and per hour. Next you’ll need to decide on a “refueling” schedule, every 15-20 minutes is practical. Then pack your snacks. The one thing you don’t want to do is try new snacks on a bike trip – it’s just not the time or place to find out if your digestive tract likes the snack as much as you think it will.

You can snack while cycling but it takes some practice. Start by slowing down, increasing your concentration and trying to anticipate obstacles or hazards. Here’s few tips for snack preparation:

  • Some of the snacks are hard to open, especially if you’re wearing gloves so you can either open them prior to your ride or cut them into bite-size pieces and put them in a baggie.
  • If you use baggies to store your snacks, don’t seal it, just fold it over.  Then you can pull it out and eat it with one hand.
  • If you want to control how much comes out at once, you can seal the baggie and cut a small hole in the opposite end just large enough to allow a single bite size piece to go through.

The most common snacks while cycling are dried fruits, power bars, sports drinks and the newest snack – energy gels, which come in a squeeze tube in syrup or paste form.  There are also some snacks you’ll want to avoid including dairy products, spicy, greasy and oily foods.  Here’s a few more suggestions:

  • cookies (chips ahoy or oreo)
  • fig newton
  • banana
  • grapes
  • apple
  • raisins
  • apricots
  • prunes
  • candy bar
  • donut
  • toast
  • bagel
  • yogurt
  • pudding
  • dry cereal
  • pop tart
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwich

When I go riding I always bring raisins, peanut butter crackers, fruit and granola bars plus plenty of water and 1-2 bottles of crystal light.

Ride, live, have fun!!  Cindy 🙂

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