With le tour de France fever gripping the nation, amateur cyclists will be preparing for cycling sportives across the UK. We know that our diet plays a huge part in performance and what we eat before and after long training rides and competitive sportives can really make the difference. With long rides cyclists need to balance how they eat whilst they are on the bike as well as off it, and whilst each rider will have their differences, here are some important tips for keeping up those energy levels.
- Energy gels are currently the go-to energy provider when on the road. They are available from different local cycle shops and can also be ordered from a large number of online outlets. They come in flavours ranging from citrus and berry to rhubarb and custard and double espresso. Energy gels are generally recommended to be taken 1-3 times an hour to provide between 45-60grams of carbohydrate depending on which gel you decide to go for. The fast utilisation carbohydrates will help you avoid fatigue and burnout on those long rides.
- Some cyclists can survive on energy gels alone but some may find they need something more solid to stave off those hunger pangs that can distract performance. Bananas, peanut butter, fig rolls are great sources of energy to keep your legs turning but are also slightly encumbering. Energy bars are a lightweight solid alternative. They can be eaten alongside energy gels and they provide that more satisfying feeling of solid food, which you may be very grateful for after hours in the saddle.
- No space should be wasted on your bike so adding a little extra to your drinks bottles will help with your energy levels. One isotonic drink to replace water will help you keep your energy levels up. Isotonic drinks alone will not provide enough energy to sustain you through long rides so must always be taken in conjunction with energy gels or energy bars etc.
Some cyclists rely heavily on one type of on-the-go nutrition but that may not be the case for you. Experiment with different combinations on rides to find out which works best for you. Finding the right combination for you will help you increase your performance, and if you feel like taking your performance even further there are personal training courses available to help give you advice on the best type of nutrition suited to you.