If you are planning on attempting a long distance cycling trip charity event, it is essential that you prepare for the physical challenge – which includes ensuring that you have the right nutrition. A long distance cycling challenge, such as a trip from London to Paris, is not something that you can just jump on your bike and do without the right preparation. You will need to train your body and ensure that you have the right fuel for completing the journey. Without the right nourishment, you will find yourself feeling weak and tired during the ride.
So what should you be eating when you are going on a long distance cycling trip to give your body the energy it needs? Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to planning your meals for the day before as well as during the ride.
The Night Before
There is a myth that you need to eat a large amount of pasta the night before a long bike ride for “carb loading” purposes. However, there is a maximum amount of energy in the form of glycogen that your body can store – so there really is no need to go overboard.
The best thing to eat on the night before the event will be some carbohydrate such as pasta or brown rice and a light protein such as fish or chicken. Eating red meat is not the best idea, as it is heavier and more difficult to digest. Also, stay away from very spicy food as this can be hard on your system and can affect you the next day.
Should you have a drink the night before? A glass of wine or a pint of beer is perfectly fine as it might help you to relax and sleep and won’t have a major effect on your performance. Of course, don’t overdo it because a hangover will seriously hamper your ability to complete the long distance cycling trip.
The Day of the Trip
What should you eat on the morning when it’s time to go? It is best to try to have your breakfast at least an hour and a half before you get on your bike, so that you can digest it before you start to pedal. For breakfast you will want to have something that will give you protein and energy.
Porridge is great for slow release energy, much better than white bread. Also, wholegrain toast or bagels can be a good option. For protein, try to have an omelet or a fried egg. Also, make sure that you are keeping hydrated as soon as you get up in the morning, you should be sipping water throughout the entire day.
Throughout the Ride
While you are cycling you will be burning a high amount of calories, so you will need to be eating throughout the day to replace them. You will probably need at least 1g of carbohydrates for every kilogram of bodyweight each hour. This means that you will want to be eating at least every 20-30 minutes to keep yourself fueled up with food and energy. Some cyclists will bring along carbohydrate gel packets to refuel with, but you might also want to bring along some real food. Some great food to bring with you on cycling trips include granola bars, flapjacks, nuts, dried fruit and other high energy snacks. You will want to bring along foods that you can keep in your pocket and nibble on while you are cycling, so that you don’t have to stop every time you want to eat. There will be points where you stop along the ride where you can eat more substantial meals to keep yourself going.
You can experiment with how much food works for you and what kind of foods you find easy to digest while riding. If you try to eat too much food, your body will struggle to process it and you will feel bloated. You can take your time and figure out the ideal amount for your needs.
These are just a few important pointers to keep in mind when it comes to nutrition when you are cycling long distance. Fueling up is crucial to ensuring that you have the energy to complete the long distance charity bike ride that you plan to achieve.