On-the-bike nutrition is a big part of a cyclist’s life. Everyone knows (or should know!) what foods, gels, or drinks work best with their body, and that nutrition plan should be incorporated not only into races but into everyday training as well. By consuming your sports nutrition specifically while training, you can ‘fine tune’ your nutrition plan. This also allows the body to become familiar with the amount and type of calories consumed (endurance foods can be very foreign to the body.)
My tip: make an effort to maintain a constant pace/power output while consuming your mid-ride nutrition. It can be very tempting to slow down and let the heart rate drop a bit, making it easier to consume food. It feel a bit like a mid-ride ‘break’! The fact is, you may not have this sort of ‘flexibility’ in the middle of the race–you may have to shovel down calories while in a breakaway or on an hour-long climb!
The body’s reflex is to reject food during intense efforts. Eating is an activity in itself! It requires digestive fluids, blood, muscle movement, and–most importantly–calories! Your body would rather use those calories to power your lungs and leg muscles. It wants to convince you that you shouldn’t eat right now: “Just get through this effort and then we can eat!” But, of course, you know that you MUST eat, that you will eventually ‘bonk’ if you postpone calorie intake.
As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s important that you learn to eat while maintaining an elevated pace, reflective of the event you are training for. This way, when someone attacks the peloton and you’re halfway through a stroopwaffel, you can respond while mid-munch!