Question: I’ve started doing long rides to build a base for ultra-distance racing next summer. But I tend to bonk after three or four hours because I forget to eat and drink enough. Any ideas? — Peter S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It’s crucial to stay fed and hydrated on long rides. When you don’t, you bonk — you run out of glycogen for your muscles and blood glucose for your brain. The result isn’t pretty.
To help you remember to take in food and fluids at a steady rate, get a sports watch with a countdown alarm. Set it to beep every 15 minutes. Then, take a bite of food and a couple of big swallows.
On a long ride, you should consume the equivalent of one energy bar per hour, along with a bottle of sports drink. This supplies about 300 calories — the per-hour average that should keep you going strong throughout the ride.
Eat and drink this way even if you have a hearty breakfast before the start. You won’t feel hungry in the first hour or two, but you must start eating. It’s the best way to ensure enough energy for a strong finish.