What I eat to help me ride 50 miles

Stopping for a mid-ride meal at 25 miles.
Yesterday I got a little nuts. Seizing the opportunity to push myself even farther than ever before, I rode for 50 miles. Trip time: 4 hours and 14 minutes.

It's amazing to think that, only a few weeks ago, 30 miles seemed so long. I remember charting those first few rides and getting giddy at the idea of riding so far. Now, I don't think twice about it. 30 miles seems like a cakewalk.

One of the biggest differences in determining how far I could go was to change my eating habits while on the bike. For my first few rides, I didn't eat anything while on the bike. Re-reading this post from August 20, is it any wonder I wound up in so much pain? Lessons were definitely learned.

Since that time, I've wondered, "What should I eat during a long bike ride?" I read a number of articles on the subject, like this Bicycling.com article that states: "The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise."
The article is actually warning against over-eating, but it provides a good minimum to prevent under-eating, as well. I've since stocked up on several bars that I like to eat while riding, and it's definitely helped me go the distance.

One food I like, in particular, is Kashi's Honey Almond Flax.

I open a packet, stick it in my pocket and nibble off a quarter of a bar every 15 minutes. Depending on which route I take, that time interval is usually right after I go over some big hill, so I need to replenish the energy dished out to get me over the top.

Another favorite is Nature Valley's Oats & Honey bars.
Here, it's the same thing. Open a packet, stick it in a pocket for quick retrieval and munch on it while pedaling. There are 2 bars per packet and both need to be consumed within the hour to get the full 29 grams of carbohydrates.

Going back to the article, it's suggested that an athlete eats at least 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, so I also pack along a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat mid-ride while taking a short break and sipping on a sports drink. There's also a water fountain conveniently located at the Rockport Road trailhead access in the Lehigh Valley Gorge, so I make sure I refill with water before heading back home.

The before and after meals are also very important. I like to fuel up with a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grain cereals before I head out. It helps get me off to a good start. Meanwhile, a post-ride recovery meal of carbs and protein helps get me back on my feet. I haven't had a situation like this one in several weeks, and it's because I became a lot smarter about what I'm eating while riding.

I wrote this post not as a warning or a suggestion, but merely to highlight some of the steps I've taken to keep myself healthy, and it's worked so far. Comments, criticisms and suggestions are very welcome.


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