Over to you: how do you fuel your ride?

Gels and powders, or jam sandwiches and jelly babies?

Do a quick Google search for ‘cycling nutrition’ and you’ll get something in the region of 45 million results.

It’s a hot topic in cycling and understandably so. Your performance and even your enjoyment of cycling can very much depend on getting the right fuel into your body to fuel your ride.

Get it wrong and you risk running out of energy in that crucial race, or getting the dreaded bonk when out for a nice long ride while a long way from home. It’s as important for those who cycle purely for the feel of it as those who love the thrill of competition.

This of course means there are thousands of sports-specific products designed to provide the right mix of sugars, salts, proteins and carbohydrates for pre-, during and post-ride and in a plethora of flavours to suit all budgets.

There are thousands of nutrition products available to suit every function and palate
There are thousands of nutrition products available to suit every function and palate

At the same time, many people eschew shop-bought products and prefer to make their own. There are loads of recipes online (and on BikeRadar) for flapjacks, energy balls and the like. Graeme Obree himself is known to be partial to a jam sandwich.

Personally, I like a mix. I’m a big fan of the nutella-and-banana-wrap for very long mountain bike rides, home-made energy balls for road cycling missions and jelly babies for that energy kick.

On the sports-specific nutrition front, the Honey Stinger waffle is a personal favourite. It’s almost too nice, and resisting its tasty charms until I actually need to eat it can be hard. I’m not a fan of gels (too messy) but I like Cliff Shot Bloks.

Many riders prefer to make their own snacks
Many riders prefer to make their own snacks

On the hydration side of things, while I generally drink water, when it gets hot I do feel the benefit of added electrolytes and having tried a few my favourite are Nuun Active Hydration tablets in the rather delicious strawberry lemonade flavour. Yum!

Some of my riding companions swear by gels and recovery drinks, others are all about jam sandwiches, slices of chorizo and a glug of flat cola. All have experimented extensively to find out what works for them, with a few ‘interesting’ digestive tract-based incidents along the way.

So, over to you. What’s your preference: specifically designed nutrition products, or your own homemade equivalents? What products do you swear by? If you’ve got a restricted diet because of something like Coeliacs, how easy or hard do you find it to get suitable products?

And have you had any unfortunate mishaps along the way, like going overboard with the energy gels the first time you tried them?  

Let us know in the comments below!

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