What to eat during a ride?

This might be the week that the B ride at our club hit its tipping point. We had eight riders out for the Sunday ride, double what we’ve been getting lately. We kept the ride deliberately short because of our ridiculously hot temperatures. It wound up at 30 miles round trip at about a 15 mph average. Nothing earth shattering, but the consensus was that this was the right ride to do on a day like today.

We stopped in downtown (I use the word loosely) Buda, Texas, a block short of where we usually make our turnaround. That’s at a stoplight at the town’s main intersection. But today, the shade of a big live oak tree attracted us, and we pulled under its branches to get a tad cooler (temp in low 90sF).

Besides gulping various concoctions of water and electrolytes, most of us pulled out some kind of food to fuel us for the return trip. Most of us, because I had forgotten to stick a bar in my pocket when I left the house this morning. I looked around at the other riders to see what they chose.

Clif bars seemed to be the number one choice, with several unwrapping one of those. One person preferred Clif Shot Bloks to the bars. There was a Power Bar, and one rider had a small chocolate and coconut bar that was passed out at the start of the ride a week or two ago. I forget what they’re called, but I remember that they weren’t bad.

A 10-year-old boy riding with us wanted to go one more block to a donut shop, but his mother nixed the idea. “No donut if you’re going to turn around and ride another hour,” she said. He was not pleased. He reached into his pocket and took out some Shot Bloks, and chewed three of them at once.

On the way back, we made another stop after a stretch of twisty, hilly road. This was conveniently at a convenience store. The store could be more convenient, however, because a sign over the sink says the water is not potable. Dandy water stop, with no drinkable water. I grabbed a bottle of G2, and looked in vain for some kind of nutrition bar to sustain me until we got back home. Nothing but candy bars. Finally, I asked the clerk, who pointed at an end display. One box of Nature Valley granola bars. Honey-oat. No other choice. I bought one, and scarfed it down.

I could probably have gotten by without it, since I had my usual large pre-ride breakfast this morning, but I like to eat something to keep going during a ride. My bar of choice is a Lara Bar, much like a Clif Bar, but my wife and I prefer their taste. On organized rides, I’ll always go for the half bananas at the rest stops, and if they have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in quarters, I’ll have one of those, too.

But I don’t carry PB&Js with me on regular rides. Bananas, either, although I’ve seen them sticking out of other riders’ jersey pockets. What do you like for mid-ride food? How often do you eat during a ride?

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17 thoughts on “What to eat during a ride?

  1. I generally don’t eat anything during the ride if I’m riding two hours or less. The last 50 mile ride I did started with bacon, eggs, applesauce and toast, about two hours later before the ride started, half a powerbar, and the other half about halfway through the ride.

  2. For rides of more than 40 miles, I eat something during the ride. I’ve eaten PB&J, Oreos, Clif Bars, Clif Gels, Clif Shots, etc. Anything for a few calories to get in my body. Last year, on a 2-day double century to San Antonio, I intentionally ate A LOT at every rest stop. I seriously wanted to eat until it hurt. It never hurt, and I never bonked!

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  4. I generally don’t eat during the ride if the ride is less than 50 miles but I always eat before I leave for a ride. If the ride is longer than 50 m I take along a banana and a PB&J. I never leave without tucking a power bar in my jersey, although these get recycled a lot.

  5. I don’t eat much during rides, although I am trying to get better about that. I think it helps my recovery later on if I eat during the ride.

    In terms of energy bars, I like Clif bars or Balance “Bare” bars. They’re the most palatable to me.

    However, I really don’t care for energy bars, in general. Nutter Butters can be a surprisingly good source of energy. Lately I’ve taken to eating something salty. Potato chips are fine. And I gladly would’ve gone with the kid to get a donut.

  6. I don’t usually eat solids during a ride of any length, I’ll get my calories in my Hammer Perpetuem/Heed or gels. At today’s ACA ride the ride starter had Clif Bars, baby sized ones so I grabbed a couple of those and eat one at mile 30 and one on the drive home. I also don’t eat anything before the ride unless I have a 3 hour window. Pre ride I’ll have a couple shots of gel and maybe a latte if there is a drive longer than 45 minutes to the start. On a couple self supported centuries I’ve been in a “pinch” and had a snickers and a coke. But in the last 3 years that’s the only time I’ll consume either a candy bar or a full on Coke (non diet).

  7. I like to eat something every one to two hours. So typically nothing on a short ride. Usually a banana or two on a 3-4 hour ride with one rest stop and no store. Maybe a sandwich or just the bread if I had it at home to bring along. If there’s a grocery store part way, then I just buy what I feel like at the time. Often cookies, bananas, Gatorade, a package of deli meat, nuts, string cheese, pastries. Full meals at a restaurant or a fast food chain work for me too, especially in the middle of a longer ride (6-10 hours). You just have to go easy for the first 30 minutes or so after a bigger meal to give it some time to settle.
    I like granola bars too, but I usually don’t have any to take. I’ve learned that if I buy a package, they tend to disappear before I ever get to the ride… I guess I could buy the energy bars, since I wouldn’t be tempted to eat those up at home, but I really don’t like them and they’re expensive too.

  8. I’m starting to build up an aversion to Clif Bars. They’re just too sweet for me and cause my teeth to hurt. For some reason Clif Bloks are better (not really sure why as I’m pretty sure they’re sweeter!) But I can get them down a lot easier than the shots. I prefer real food or to get my nutrition in liquid form. Like others have said if the ride is under 2 hours I generally don’t bother, although I always take something with me as a “just in case.”

  9. My bars of choice are Lara Bars (http://www.larabar.com/)and Odwalla Bars (http://www.odwalla.com/). I like the lemon, apple pie, pecan pie and banana bread flavored Lara Bars (just to mention a few among the couple of dozen she makes)…Berries Gomega and Choco-walla Odwalla bars taste pretty good too. I really don’t know what Power Bar has to offer these days because the last time I tried one I had to spit it out it was so bad! Hope they improved their ingredients and/or offerings.
    My favorite cheap substitute for an energy bar is good-old Fig Newtons. I usually take 3 or 4 with me if I’m heading out for a ride between 1.5-2 hours.

    • We buy Lara Bars in boxes of a dozen at Costco; they sell Clif Bars in bulk, too. I’d forgotten about fig bars — I like them a lot, but I haven’t had any recently.

  10. Ditto on the Fig Newtons (two of the “longer” bars per package). Breakfast is usually 2 hard boiled eggs and then I’ll eat the fig bars around 30 miles or so depending on how far I’m going. I only drink water (lots!) during a ride. On Saturday’s ride (Buescher to Bastrop) I drained my 70oz camelback at about 8 miles into the ride. Of course it was 100+ degrees too, but still..

  11. If I’m going longer than 30 miles, I’ll eat after 20 then every 15 or so after that. I haven’t gotten into the energy bar or gellified carb foods much. I prefer something like a Sweet & Salty granola bar – something with nuts, salt and carbs. Then I usually munch on some almonds, pretzles or fruit later in the ride. That’s what works best for me.

  12. Lately I have eating FiberOne bars. Cheaper than PowerBars and not quite so sticky in the heat we are having. I also am partial to those old time animal crackers.

  13. I bake oatmeal cookies. Roughly the same nutritional content as a cliff bar, but tastes 100 times better.

    I also use energy gels. I like the crank e-gels and gu gels.

    I have a boss who swears by the shot blocks, but I’m not totally a fan of them. I think they are expensive gummy bears… so I’d rather just have gummy bears if I’m going to go that route. My tummy likes gels more than gummy things.

    And then I will bring real food. Because I usually use a rack trunk, I can fit sammiches or other such yummy things.

    I like pastries and donuts from stores.

  14. Rides less than an our I just drink water. From 1 to 3 hours I depend on energy drinks, beyond that i will goo, or slowly eat shot blocks or an energy bar. In races I depend on my energy drink and goo (pre open the package and eat them at pre-determined intervals.) to keep up my levels.

    I have developed a new pre-ride favorite snack, string cheese. I like to eat one of those when I get home from work before I jump on my bike. It keeps my stomach from grumbling for dinner.

  15. I like to eat a full roast dinner while im on a big ride. I sometimes down a carton of Umbongo, if im feeling cheeky.
    x

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