Carbohydrates, are our body's preferred source of fuel for cycling.
We can store (in the form of glycogen within our liver and muscles) enough fuel for approx. 90 mins of exercise at any one time, this means no matter how much you eat before you tackle a sportive, you have roughly enough energy stored for 1 or 2 hours.
Clearly if you ride for up to two hours before you refuel, it's going to take time for that fuel to get into your system, therefore it's important to fuel on the go, before you hit a feed station, the goal is little and often (Approx every 20 mins).
We suggest starting the ride ready to go and carrying two bottles and some food in the form of energy bars or gels or whole foods such as bananas (25-30g of carbs) or dried apricots (Hand-full 15g).
Having a fuelling and hydration strategy is one thing; successfully executing it is an entirely different matter, as with everything you need to practice, and especially don't change anything on event day.
EAT PLENTY AND DRINK MORE
On your way to the event or before you start try and drink a bottle (500ml) of your preferred hydration, this is on top of your breakfast.
Once started you want to get into your ride and settled into your rhythm, but generally,Eat a banana or take an bite of an energy bar or nut bar within 20-30 minutes and keep that regular feeding going as you go along.
In this way you're hitting about 60g of carbs per hour. “That often means one or two isotonic gels or bars per hour plus what you're drinking, which should be at least one full bottle per hour, in hot conditions this could be more.
FEED STATIONS ARE NIBBLE STOPS NOT PICNICS
Stopping and topping up at feeds will help you both refill your bottles and top up the energy through food, typically these stops are to nibble lots of variety, they are not designed to be full meal stops.
Your body won't be able to digest big meals and you'd need 400g of pasta for 100g of carbs.
IT ALL STARTS BEFORE THE EVENT
This article is constructed using multiple on-line resources as well as our own knowledge.