Long Ride Nutrition

Nailing nutrition on my long rides is a work in progress.  So much about training & racing nutrition is individual - you can get advice from others but what works for one doesn't work for another, so it's a lot of trial and error.  Luckily, there's a lot of chances to try things out Ironman training!

Here is what I used on my long ride (7 hours) a few days ago.  Bear in mind it was a hot (over 90 degrees F), hilly ride and therefore I needed a lot of calories and fluids.  I don't know if I nailed my nutrition - I didn't bonk and had good energy levels - but I never really know if I could do things even better and am always seeking to improve!

I started with three bottles on my bike:
- Vega Pre-workout energizer (70 cal) and 2 scoops of Carbopro (200 cal) in two of the bottles
- 2 scoops of Carbopro (200 cal) and a Nuun tablet (no calories, just electrolytes) in the third.

Every hour (approximately) I try to eat something.  I like to have solid food with me, however some things are hard to eat in the heat so I pick things that go down easily.
- 1st hour: "EatMore" chocolate bar (240 cal).  These are a Canadian product, they are basically peanuts, chewy toffee and chocolate.  They have the same nutritional profile as most energy bars, but are delicious and easy to eat!  Tip: put them in the freezer the night before your ride, so when you put them in your jersey pocket they don't turn super-melted-gooey before you eat them.  Any American friends who want to try one, just let me know and I'll put one in the mail to you!
- 2nd & 3rd hours:  Honey Stinger Organic Waffle (160 cal).
- 4th hour: Lara Bar (190 cal).
- 5th hour: Gu Roctane (100 cal).
- 6th hour: no food.
Thanks to cycling jersey pockets that hold a lot of stuff!

At about 3.5 hours, we stopped to refill bottles.  I was drinking about a bottle an hour because of the heat and humidity.  I also bought a small bottle of Coke (150 cal) and drank it at the store as we refilled.  I brought powder etc with me, so when we refilled our bottles this is what I ended up with:
- two bottles with 2 scoops of Carbopro (200 cal) and a Nuun tablet
- one bottle with just Nuun.

At the 6 hour mark, I stopped for a can of Coke (140 cal) because I only had the bottle with Nuun left.  I didn't think I also needed to eat as I just had an hour left.  By the time I finished my ride, I finished everything I had!  Total was over 2,000 calories, but considering a conservative estimate of calories expended over a 7-hour ride is over 5,000, I don't think I'd say I consumed too much.  

As soon as I got back to the house I had a Vega Recovery Accelerator (80 cal) and a Vega Performance Protein (120 cal).

What do you use on long rides?  Any advice on things I can try in the future?


  1. It looks like your calories were spot on. I've been told by everyone that has ever coached me to aim for between 275-325 calories per hour. So around 2000 calories for a 7 hour ride sounds perfect. I've been trying out IM perform as that is what is served on most IM courses and I like to eat solid food and try to mix it up a bit so I don't get the same flavor and consistency. I use gels, shotblocks, powerbars. The biggest challenge for me is keeping the cramping at bay so I have to make sure I include salt tabs with my nutrition. So much to remember. Sounds like you are getting it all worked out with plenty of time to spare.

  2. Salt tabs - great idea for the heat! Coach Kiki gave me a few for that day and I forgot to add them to the list.

  3. ever use rice patties or fig newtons? James loves the rice patties cooked with honey and soy sauce, then roll into balls.

  4. Fig newtons - I forgot about those! Thanks. The rice patties sound interesting.