Going on a long bike ride is extremely demanding on your body but with some simple nutrition tricks you can significantly improve the distance and speed that you ride at. We’ve put together some of the top tips that you can do to finish your next ride stronger.
Why do we need sports nutrition? We often hear a rider in the Tour de France will burn in excess of 8,000 calories each day. Of course this is extreme but the point is that you will burn a lot of energy when you are cycling and the main source of that energy is carbohydrates. The problem is that you only have a limited store of carbohydrate and when this runs out, you will slow down and start to struggle. In fact, if you completely run out, then you will hit the wall, also known as “bonking”. So, replacing your energy stores with carbohydrate is
key to extending your endurance performance.
Sports drinks often contain minerals called “electrolytes”. This is because when you sweat, you don’t just lose water but also important minerals, like sodium and potassium. These are important for your normal functioning of your muscles and therefore important to replace when cycling, alongside the fluid you lose. How much fluid you lose will vary by individual and by weather conditions. In extreme situations, sweat rates can exceed 2 litres per hour but typically you’re likely to lose around 1 litre per hour.
So here are our five top tips that you can follow on your next long bike ride:
1. Start straight away
Begin to eat and drink early into the ride. You start to sweat and use carbohydrates for energy as soon as you are riding. By topping up on fluids and carbohydrate, you are protecting the stores in your body so they can last you longer. EnergyBar is great for eating on the bike.
2. Little but often
This is something every pro rider will tell you. Eat and drink only a little at a time but do it regularly. Every 10-20 minutes is a good frequency to aim for. This means you get a steady supply of energy and fluids without overloading your stomach.
3. Choose the right drink
Use a sports drink like EnergySource that provides you with both fluids, energy and electrolytes. Water alone does not contain the minerals you lose through sweat. And having carbohydrates in your drink means that you also get an energy supply.
4. Pace yourself
Keep an eye on your intensity from the start. The harder you ride, the more strain you put on your body. Save energy where you can, whether that’s following your friends wheel or taking it a little easier on the descent. Especially early on, it’s easy to push a bit too hard because it feels easy but you could be using up vital energy stores. Safe it for the second half of your ride instead.
There are many scientific research studies that have shown that caffeine helps to improve your endurance performance. You should aim for 3mg per kg bodyweight to get a performance boost. To keep it easy for you, here is how much that is for your bodyweight and an idea of what products you could take to get there:
- 40kg: 120mg (425ml EnergySource X’treme)
- 50kg: 150mg (550ml EnergySource X’treme)
- 60kg: 180mg (650ml EnergySource X’treme)
- 70kg: 210mg (750ml EnergySource X’treme)
- 80kg: 240mg (500ml EnergySource X’treme + 1x IsoGel X’treme)
- 90kg: 270mg (750ml EnergySource X’treme + 2x Gel Plus)
You can either take this before the ride or strategically during the ride (about an hour before you think it’s going to get really tough). Your body removes caffeine from your bloodstream over time. Once you have loaded up with caffeine, you should top up with 30mg caffeine every hour. EnergyGel Plus and IsoGel Plus each contain exactly 30mg caffeine per sachet so take one of these to keep you going late on.