The best place to store food is in the rear pockets of your jersey. To reach it, first grip the handlebar with one hand near the stem to prevent the bike from swerving. Then reach around with the other hand to grab that banana, which you can peel with your teeth and eat. Another approach is to snack during rest stops.
Soon after a long ride that burns thousands of calories and depletes much of your glycogen, enjoy a high-carbohydrate meal. Not only is this a reward for your effort, but it refuels your muscles to help the next day's ride go just as well. DIFFERENT RIDES, DIFFERENT DIETS: Different types of cycling require special nutritional preparation. Here's how to eat for three common types of rides. Recreational Ride or Commute: Steady speed, light to moderate effort Distance: 5 to 20 miles Time: less than 90 minutes
In preparing nutritionally for such a ride, you should have two goals: 1) to ride comfortably, and; 2) to have enough energy left to enjoy post-ride activities.
Eating a pre-ride meal is important. For morning commutes, have a high carbohydrate breakfast that includes fruit, cereal, skim milk, and whole grain bread or muffins. For lunch or an afternoon snack, eat nutritional foods such as pasta, fruits, and vegetables so your glycogen stores are fully replenished for the ride home. In general, allow yourself 30 to 45 minutes for digestion before you begin pedaling.
Caffeine (coffee, tea, or cola) might give you that "get-up-and-go" feeling, but it's also a diuretic. Large amounts will cause your body to lose fluid and magnify the losses you'll incur while riding. This lowers performance. In fact, fluid replacement should be your primary refueling concern during a commute or recreational ride. Drinking about one bottle of water per hour should be sufficient unless it's extremely hot and humid. Middle Distance: Basic training ride, moderate intensity Distance: 15 to 50 miles Time: 45 minutes to three hours
Nutritionally, there are two dangers to avoid on training rides. The first is bonking -allowing your glycogen stores to become depleted. This usually can't happen unless the ride is two hours or longer. The second is dehydration -a loss of body fluid that results in fatigue.
You can avoid both conditions by using sports drinks. Resist the temptation to rely on them exclusively, however. You still benefit from plain water on long rides since sweat loss outweighs the need for energy replacement. Carry two bottles-one filled with a drink and the other with water. Alternately swig from each every 10 to 20 minutes. Also, about 20 minutes before riding you should drink 8 to 20 ounces of water. This is particularly important during the summer when you sweat more.
To be on the safe side, you may want to carry a high-carbo snack such as a commercial energy bar. For a two-hour ride, food that supplies about 100 to 200 calories should be enough. Long Distance: Steady speed, low-to-moderate intensity Distance: 50 to 100 miles or more Time: four hours plus
A century is one type of ride where you can' t survive on bad nutrition. When a cyclist fails on a long ride, it's usually due to poor eating habits. During a century you'll probably ride slower than normal, which means you'll burn more fat for energy. Nonetheless, carbohydrate stores are still the limiting factor. Make sure yours are high by eating lots of carbo-rich foods in the days preceding the event. Don't train during the final day or two before the ride, and your muscles will be packed with glycogen.
On the day of the century, eat a big meal a couple of hours before the start. A pancake breakfast (light on the butter and syrup) with fruit and plenty of water should do the trick.
Carefully plan for how and what you'll eat during the ride. Most organized centuries feature snack stops. If not, carry bananas, sandwiches made with low-fat ingredients such as jam, honey or apple butter, and other high-carbo snacks. Nibble throughout the ride. Your body handles a steady intake of small food portions much better than one or two overloads.
Of course, fluid replacement is crucial. Carry at least four water bottles if there are no stops along the route. For extra carbo nourishment, put a sports drink in two of them.