It’s not often that nutrition enters your mind when riding your local club run or a short fast training ride. For most of us a coffee and a cake during a steady ride will suffice, but up the intensity and/or distance of your rides and not taking in enough of the right food is going to hinder your performance and in a worst case scenario it may prevent you from finishing your ride. As we’ve previously written we’ve spent much of this winter training for the Mallorca 312, which you can read more about here. During this time we’ve been lucky enough to get a helping hand from our friends at Clif Bar, who were kind enough to sponsor us in the build up to and during the event. Clif Bar make a number of great nutrition items, which if used correctly will help improve your performance during long or hard rides.
If you riding for longer than 1 hour 30 mins, as general rule, you are going to need some kind of fuel in the form of either liquid or food. It’s important to start eating before you get hungry, as often if you’ve got a rumble in your stomach it’s probably too late. On a ride over say 2.5-3 hours we suggest starting to eat around the hour mark. Start with solid food, like a Clif Bar, to build on your base level of slow release energy. After this you should try to continue to eat solid food in small amounts over the next hour or two (this will depend on the overall length and intensity of your ride).
From this point on your body won’t have time to extract the energy from solid foods as quickly as it needs to, so starting to use something like Clif Bloks or Gels is a great option. Their jelly cube like structure dissolves very quickly in your stomach, especially when you are sipping water. Their cube shaped format breaks down each bloc into small pieces making it easier to get into your mouth. Clif also prescribes the energy content of each ‘blok,’ which makes it even easier to pace your food intake. During the 312 we found this to be an essential part of our ride fuelling. At the food stops we observed a lot of people who had taken too much too quick and were paying the price, vomiting all over their bikes. The little and often method is certainly an effective one!
After this gels are most likely to be your best option. They are incredibly fast acting and have often brought us back to life when we’ve been riding towards the dreaded bonk! Gels with caffeine can also be a good option at this stage and have been proven to help your perception of an effort, essentially making it just that bit easier to carry on going. Clif Bar make a number of flavours of gel and we think finding one you like the taste of is also an essential part of getting through the dark times. Curbar’s very own Dave will tell you that after sitting in the saddle for 12 hours during his 312 effort, reaching into his pocket and opening a mocha flavoured gel into his mouth was probably his least favourite part of the day.
Post ride, replenishing the carbs you’ve burned and getting protein back into your body within a 30 minute to 1 hour window is going to go a long way in helping you recover ready for your next ride. The is obviously no substitute for a good meal, but we all know it’s not that easy, so having some protein bars can be a good option for a quick fix pre shower.
Our last piece of advice is to enjoy riding your bike, build up your distance and speed over time and remember that rest is just as good as a hard day in the saddle. See you out on the road!