Question: On rides of 60-100 miles, should I drink water and sports drink, or just sports drink? Is there some optimal mix of the two? How much should I drink per hour? What about energy bars? — Robin B.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: On long rides you should drink both water and sports drink.
The percentage should lean heavily toward the latter because you need the carbohydrate that sports drinks contain. Drinking both water and sports drinks in equal amounts dilutes the carbs in your stomach and delays stomach emptying.
You could drink only sweet stuff. But most riders find that the taste becomes cloying and they like to “chase” a couple of swigs of sports drink with water.
The usual recommendation is to drink one big bottle of sports drink per hour, but this depends on body size as well as temperature.
As for energy bars, eating one per hour on long rides should keep you fueled. But this, too, depends on temperature and other factors. On a hot day, you’ll feel like drinking more and eating less. As long as you’re getting fluid carbs, you can get by with fewer solid carbs.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.