What Should You Eat Before & After a Long Bike Ride

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If you’re thinking of planning your first long ride, then one of the most important factors to consider is your nutrition and hydration strategy. No, you can’t just hop on your bike and ride 100 miles on an empty stomach, although that is what many rookies to cycling do.

Over the last few years, long-distance cycling has become increasingly popular amongst beginner and intermediate-level cyclists. The challenge of pushing yourself above and beyond your normal physical and mental limits is very enticing and extremely rewarding (in terms of health benefits) once you’ve finished.

But the one area that beginner cyclists seem to neglect is nutrition and hydration. It’s fair to say that the way in which you fuel for a 30-mile ride is vastly different from how you would fuel for a 100-mile ride. 

This article will look at the three most important areas to consider when it comes to fueling for your first long ride. You may be familiar with some of these and understand their importance, while others may take you by surprise, especially regarding how important fuelling is during your ride.

  • Fueling pre-ride
  • Fueling during your ride
  • Fueling post-ride 

These tips and strategies are easy to implement yet are incredibly effective and will have you riding long and hard during your 100-mile epic challenge.

Let’s get started!

Pre-Ride Fueling For Your First 100-Mile

food before long bike ride 1

I highly recommend consuming high-quality solid meals at least one hour before you head off on your first 100-mile ride. You want to ensure you’re safe and get your ride off to a good start. Some foods will be better suited to a longer ride, like foods such as low-GI food, which release slowly during your ride. 

Avoid eating anything that might upset your stomach; yes, I know bacon, sausages, eggs, and croissants are delicious, but unless you want to avoid an embarrassing time on the bike, I’d steer clear of them pre-ride. 

Some easily digestible foods are:

  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Trail mix
  • Energy gels 
  • Energy bars
  • Peanut butter sandwiches

Some Of The Best Meals Perfect For Pre-Ride Fueling 

  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs and toast (sorry, no bacon)
  • Yogurt with granola
  • Rice and fish 
  • Peanut butter sandwiches 

The last thing you want to ensure is that you have already started drinking water and/or sports drinks before riding 100 miles. Not drinking enough before the ride begins is one of the most neglected areas that cyclists fail to consider. 

Read Also: You can check my also my tips about The Day Before A 100-Mile Ride

Fueling For Performance During Your 100-Mile Ride

So you’re out on the bike, and you’re 20 miles into the 100 miles, which means it’s now time to start getting in some quality carbs. The easiest way to do this is by drinking a carb mix sports drink or gel or eating energy bars jam-packed with carbs. 

Water is obviously required, and you should be drinking at least one water bottle every hour regardless of the temperature; many riders don’t drink in the coolers months because they’re not sweating; this is a critical mistake that can wreak havoc on your performance. If you’re ever in doubt, then DRINK. 

Gels are the most common and effective way to fuel during your ride because they’re light, fit in your back pocket, and provide all the essential nutrients you need to keep performing at peak levels.

Some of the best foods perfect during your 100-mile ride

  • Sports Drinks
  • Fruit Jelly
  • Light Snacks
  • Gels
  • Energy bars

Typically speaking, most sports nutritional guidelines recommend that athletes consume between 40 and 60 grams of quality carbohydrates every hour. Obviously, this number will vary significantly from athlete to athlete, so consult with a registered dietician or nutritionist to ensure you’re fueling correctly. 

Post-Ride Fuelling Is Just As Important

Ok, so you’ve successfully completed your first 100-mile ride—Congratulations, what an outstanding performance. But your work is still not finished. Now, it’s time to start your post-ride recovery by ensuring your body gets all the essential nutrients it needs to recover effectively and rapidly. 

Your post-ride recovery is vital because you first need to restore and replenish yoiur glycogen stores, which, believe me, after a 100-mile ride, will be completely depleted. In an ideal world, your post-ride meals should consist of a combination of macros, including protein, fats, and of course, carbs. 

By recovering effectively and quickly, you give yourself the best chance to recover and do it again tomorrow if you wish; well, you might want to have a week off unless you’re thinking of joining ther Tour De France.

Some of the best meals to help you recover

  • Protein, peanut butter, and oatmeal smoothies
  • Chicken and rice with vegetables
  • Steak and rice with vegetables 
  • Chicken and pasta and brown bread
  • Pizza; Hawaiian, of course

Please do not neglect your post-ride recovery meals, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to eat some of your favorite feasts to replace the calories you just lost. Now is the perfect time to eat some pizza and pasta and have a nice cold beer or glass of wine. 

After completing a 100-mile ride, the best part is those little treats once you’ve finished.


eating before and after a long bike ride

So that’s a wrap, folks; the three phases of nutrition covered above are critically important to the success of your first 100-mile ride. Remember that each one of them is just as important as one another; it’s like the chain on your bike; if one link in the chain is broken, then the whole chain won’t work; that’s the same way in which nutrition works. Be sure to eat a healthy and nutritious meal 60 minutes before your ride; this will ensure you get off to the best possible start.

During your ride, avoid eating overly heavy foods such as curry, pizza, or hamburgers. Try to stick with foods like fruits, gels, energy bars, and light snacks like trail mix. 

Finally, never neglect your post-ride recovery meals because this is your only chance to give your body the essential nutrients it needs to recover for your next long ride. Now get out there, start mashing the pedals, and enjoy the great outdoors with family and friends. 

Brenton Barker

Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute. Brenton currently consults with several Professional Athletes and clients in Self- Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.

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