You may not realize it, but fuelling for a long outdoor bike ride is similar to fuelling for a marathon.
You use a lot of energy, for extended periods of time. If you’re gone for over an hour, you should be packing some snacks as you go.
The main type of macronutrient you should be looking for is carbohydrates, like fruits or gels, to give you the necessary energy to keep you from fading out. Of course, any endurance athlete knows that you don’t want to be consuming heavy foods as that takes a little longer to break down, possibly leading to an upset stomach.
On rule of thumb: you want to consume around 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per 1 - 2.5 hours of exercise, with up to 90 grams for larger bouts.
Here are some of our top picks to fuel for those long outdoor rides:
1. Medjool Dates
As a natural source of carbohydrates (around 16g per date!), dates are also easy on the stomach as they’re small. Also each date has about 1.6 grams of fibre. With the added fibre, the carbohydrates can burn (just a little) slower.
If you want to carry some with you, just throw them into a zip locked bag!
2. Energy Gels
A fan favourite among long-distance runners and cyclists, gels have been an easy way to get energy without feeling full. Prior to purchasing a gel, it’s important to read the label, as the amount of carbs per serving can vary from as little as 5g to around 30g.
If you’re looking for something more natural, Honey Stinger Organic Gels are a great option with 24g of carbs and a variety of flavours like vanilla, acai pomegranate, and mixed berry smoothie.
GU Energy Gels are another tried-and true classic also includes electrolytes and antioxidants to stave of muscle tissue damage, all with 22g of carbohydrates.
Pro tip: Tape your gel pack to the frame of the bike. This way, when you pull the pack, the tab will rip off with the tape. Leaving you to easily drink it back.
3. Carbohydrate drinks
Carbohydrate-rich drinks are a great way to refuel on H20 and get in the energy you need for the rest of your workout. How much you hydrate on your ride (and how long you ride for) will determine the type of energy drink mix that you need.
Vega Pre-Workout Energizer contains 16g of carbohydrates from primarily natural sources, along with 100mg of caffeine, making this a good option for a short ride, or even some time on an indoor cycling bike!
If you’re looking for something that packs a bigger punch, GU Roctane Energy Drink Mix has about 60g of carbohydrates per serving. This one is best for the extra-long rides.
4. Real Food Energy Bars
Yes, we’re biased. We love local and eating real food that will give us the energy we need. Lately, we’ve gravitated toward bars like Prima, made out of whole foods including dates, nut butters, and seeds (plus more).
Similarly, Larabars are another great energy bar made from real foods that will give you the carbohydrate kick you need.
These are both great because they'll fit in the back pocket of your cycling jersey, and won't melt or get squished!
Items to avoid:
- Chocolate, especially on a hot day. Melted chocolate does not make for a clean ride.
- Heavy foods that might upset your stomach.