Yesterday was Crowie’s annual Inverloch 280 ride. It went from Melbourne to Inverloch and back on some of the most sensational roads I’ve ever seen. Just when you think you’ve seen all the good rides in the area it pays to go out with an old pro like Crowie to show you a thing or two that you’ve been missing.

A 280km ride at approximately 33km/hr (which is a reasonable average speed) will be about 8hrs.  This amount of riding will be very demanding on the fuel reserves in your body.   To keep topped up you will need a nutrition plan. If I burn 700 calories per hour (being a moderate pace), that works out to 5600 calories that’ll need to be replaced during that ride (1000 calories per hr if it’s race pace). Seeing as the body can only really absorb about 500 calories per hour,  this should be your target for the duration of the ride.

Every hour I drank a 750ml bottle of energy drink (about 200 calories), and some sort of easily digestible food (I like using 1/2can of creamed rice – 250 calories) along with a jell or some snakes. Energy bars have about 300 calories, so that’s another good option if you have the patience to eat them. That gives a solid 500 calories per hour to keep me topped up. Usually when you least want to eat is a good sign that you really need to eat. About 30km into our ride home it started pouring cats and dogs on us and became very miserable out. When we get cold and wet is usually the time when we don’t feel like we need to eat and it’s very inconvenient to mess around with food. It doesn’t take much to go without food or water for an hour when it’s raining and cold out, so this is the time to be very cognizant of this.

By the end of the ride 8hrs later I was still full of energy. This has everything to do with the nutrition throughout the ride and not nearly as much as the fitness level. Without the nutrition you can’t use your fitness for these longer rides – I don’t care who you are, you won’t overcome a few thousand calorie deficit!

In summary:

5600 calories required for this ride

every hour eat and drink:

  • 750ml of energy drink (200 calories)
  • something easy to eat (i.e. powerbar (300cal) + gel (100cal))

This gives you 500-600 calories per hour for a total of 4500 calories.  Adding the 1500 calories that you have stored from glycogen in your muscles, you will have enough calories to fuel your body for 8 hours in the saddle.  It’s not complicated and I wish that I had taken the time to learn a bit about nutrition in my younger days. It’s no different than a gas tank in a car. You won’t go anywhere if it’s not kept topped up.