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Carbohydrates: Cycling Fuel
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by Bill Bejeck

We are in that time of year when there is some great metric and full century rides being offered throughout our region. With that in mind, this month we are going to discuss carbohydrates and their role as fuel for the cyclist. We will cover 3 specific time frames, regarding carbohydrate intake. In particular- pre-ride carbs, carbs during the ride, and post ride carbs.


Eating before you ride is an important component of your performance and how much you enjoy your ride. The questions of when to eat and how much are the questions that most cyclists want to know. If you were going out for a short ride (less than 1 hour), then a Power bar or Cliff bar pre-ride would be fine. What to eat before those long training rides? Trial and error will tell what works for you, a good dose of carbs about 3 hours before you ride (100-200grams of carbohydrate 3D 400-800 calories of carbohydrates) Try to stick with foods that are easily digested and not high in fat (fat slows the digestive process). Bananas, bagels, waffles, oatmeal, pasta, rice, and potatoes are some examples. Also, eating a high carbohydrate diet for several days prior to your event will allow you to maximize your muscle glycogen stores and help to hold off fatigue during your event.

During the Ride

If you riding for more than an hour, replacing carbs while you ride is essential. That is easily accomplished with the sports drinks available today. Make sure that you continually drink during the ride. If you bonk, it is too late, no matter how much you drink. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you are going though about 1 water bottle every 20 miles or so. Take small sips on a regular basis, about every 10 minutes or so. If you use a powder form of sports drink, be careful not to use too much. Too much sugar slows the rate that water empties from the stomach.

Post Ride

Getting enough carbohydrates after you ride is very important. There is a window of opportunity after exercising where the body converts "carbs" into glycogen much faster than normal. Getting enough carbs into your system after you ride speeds your recovery. In fact, there has been some evidence to suggest that the muscle stiffness that occurs after vigorous exercise is related to muscle glycogen depletion. For cyclists doing a 5 or 6-day ride, making sure that you intake enough carbs after each days ride is essential. Focus on foods like pasta, breads, and rice. If you like to indulge in a favorite meal after a "special ride" e.g. a century by all means do so. Just make sure that you get a carbohydrate rich meal immediately after you ride first, and then later have what ever you desire. You have earned it!

Bill Bejeck is a full time personal trainer and avid cyclist with his own company called HealthSport. Bill can be reached at Hsport at with questions or comments.

more Ride Schedule

4/28/2017 » 4/30/2017
Lewes Delaware Weekend 2017

Women * D * 17 * DC * 9 AM * Slow BRC Training Ride * Georgetown Waterfront park

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Linda B. KolkoLinda is the C Ride Coordinator for MD & DC.