Feeding Your Body During Your Rides
Everyone knows that we need to eat to survive and in order for our body to function and correctly and have energy we need to feed it what it needs. And when we say feed it what it needs that doesn't necessarily mean feed it what you happen to be in the mood for at the moment, especially if you plan on exercising afterwards or you are in the middle of your physical activity.
Another thing we all know is that mountain biking takes a lot of energy to do. Even if you are taking a shuttle to the top and riding down it still gets tiring and you need to make sure you have the proper energy or else you are asking for trouble, most likely in the form of a crash! And just because you stuffed your face before your ride doesn't mean it's going to be enough to get you by for the entire ride.
So what do you do to make sure you have the energy you need while out on the trail? The first thing is to plan for how long of a ride you are doing and its physical difficulty level as well as the weather conditions. And you definitely don't want to stuff your face too much right before the ride because then you will be getting cramps or some other kind of stomach ache related issue. And the same goes for liquids. Drinking a gallon of water before a ride won't make it so you don't have to drink on the trail and will probably just hurt you in the long run.
I'm no doctor but if you follow some basic guidelines you will be better off on those longer rides when it comes to the way you feel and how well you perform. The key is not to wait until you are hungry or thirsty before eating and drinking because by then it's too late and it will not help you nearly as much when it comes to recovery and energy. People tend to think they need to carb up before or during a ride for the energy but in reality the body can only store a small amount of carbohydrates so it's better to keep topping off the tank rather than flooding it. In fact, the body only uses about 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise so try and measure accordingly. Combining things like fructose, sugar and glucose will allow your body to absorb carbs more easily and allow your body to turn it into energy. Also try mixing in some bananas or nuts rather than the typical protein bar.
Always make sure to bring plenty of water or other type of hydration with some electrolytes in it and try and drink 16 to 32 oz. of liquid per hour depending on the amount of exertion you are putting your body through. If you aren't the type to stick with just water then make sure your other drink is light on the carbs to make up for the carbs you will be ingesting with your food. If you like your GU packs and gel chews make sure to chase them with plenty of water as well.
So be sure to pack a variety of items and see which of them work best for you and provide the best energy without the crash or stomach aches that many seem to get by not eating properly. And don't be a weight weenie and go light on the liquids because you may regret it later. You can always share with others if you realize you have to much or dump some along the trail to lighten your load later.
Posted by Preston Mason