The body gets energy from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Carbohydrates are the primary
energy source for bicycling. Fats, which also serve as an energy source, are important for longer
endurance rides. Proteins are used to maintain and repair muscles.
Carbohydrates: Simple and Complex
Simple crabs, also called sugars, are found in fruits and vegetables. They provide quick
energy and are in many of the gel-type products cyclists use. Plan to carry some source of
simple carbs on a ride longer than one hour.
Complex carbs, also called starches, are found in pasta, grains, breads, potatoes, and
cereals. Complex carbs provide long-term energy to adequately fuel you through a long ride.
Consume a carbohydrate-rich meal the day before a long ride. A pre-ride meal of complex carbs
(cereal and a bagel) will provide a good energy foundation.
Fats Should Be Avoided on a Ride
Fats are difficult for the body to digest and will rob you of needed energy. Eating a
hamburger and fries, for example, will overload your body with fat. This will force your body to
use energy for digestion instead of for cycling. But fats are an important part of your energy
stores for longer rides, so donít avoid them altogether. [Note from MN: Many sports
nutritionists recommend consuming protein within 30 minutes of finishing your ride. It is
thought that the muscles can re-load faster and easier with in this window of opportunity. This
may be an important consideration if you are touring and need to ride several days in a row.
After the 30 minute window, continue with protein and carbohydrates (i.e. dinner) (in moderate
amounts) for about 2 hours. Try to make some of this fuel in liquid form: milk, 100% fruit juice,
water, beer if you are able, to help you rehydrate. Just remember, alcohol tends to dehydrate,
so donít over-do.]
Proteins are Important
Proteins, which are found in meats, peanut butter, and beans, should be consumed
moderately on the day of a ride. After a long ride, make sure you get some of these muscles
builders in your diet to help you recover.
Eating spaghetti, salad and bread the night before a long ride is good preparation. Figs,
granola bars, and dried fruits are excellent natural sources of simple carbohydrates that will
help you maintain energy during your ride. Bananas are a bicyclistís mainstay. They provide
necessary crabs as well as potassium and other vitamins that your body uses in large amounts
while bicycling. Plan to snack a little every 20 minutes.
You will perspire more heavily than normal while bicycling. Dehydration, or loss of body
fluid, is a serious condition and should be avoided. Try to consume more water than normal the
day before your ride. This will super-hydrate your body in preparation for the ride. During the
ride, drink the equivalent of one water bottle (20 oz.) in small amounts each hour or every 12 to
14 miles. Electrolyte (sport) drinks can greatly improve your riding enjoyment. If the weather is
exceptionally hot and humid, increase the amount you drink and drink more often, alternating
water and sports drinks.
If you find yourself feeling light-headed and ill on a very hot day, if you have ridden for a
couple of hours and have not urinated, or if your skin feels cold and you get goose bumps, you
may be experiencing dehydration. Get off your bike in some shade and re-hydrate before
continuing your ride.
The best option for an enjoyable ride is to eat and drink at a slow, steady pace, Plan when
and what you will consume and you will find that your muscles will enjoy the ride as much as you