The question I'm often asked by riders new to longer events is what do you eat? How do you get enough calories to sustain your body for all day and multi day long rides?
The truth is I believe most people take in many more calories than is needed on these rides. At the moderate pace maintained over long distance by most Randonneurs it is possible to burn a high percentage of stored body fat in relationship to carbohydrate intake. The carbs are the flame and the fat is the fuel. So the question remaining is how many carbs does it take to keep one going? My answer is very little! On average I can get by with about 100 calories per hour, or less.
Typically, I eat a 200 calorie item between controls of 35 to 50 miles. There are many pocket food items that work out to about that calorie content. Snickers Bars, which are available at any convenience store, fit the bill. Though, it is important to take in a small amount of protein with the carbs for proper absorption. Failure to do so will cause your body to cannibalize the protein from your muscles. The Snickers Bars, and other reasonable sports energy bars, have enough protein to get the job done.
As for the energy bar category I always have a couple in my back pocket. My bar of choice for many years was the Clif Bar. Typically, I eat everything on a ride while pedaling my bike. I found the Clif Bars stored well in the jersey pocket and could be opened and consumed while riding. These are a very efficient food choice, but somewhat lacking in enjoyment. I never remember savoring them, no matter what flavor I was carrying. None the less, I continued to purchase them by the box.
One day while perusing the shelves of the market for interesting Clif Bar flavors I came across Luna Bars. These were made by Clif, but were marketed as women's specific nutrition. I wondered what could really be different about a bar meant to be consumed by women. It was slightly lower in calorie then the men's product by a very small amount. The shape of the packaging was a bit different too. And, the flavors looked much more interesting. Like; Caramel Walnut Brownie, Chocolate Dipped Coconut, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk, Lemon Zest, Blueberry Bliss, Iced Oatmeal Raisin and Honey Salted Peanut for starters. There are more. I purchased a half dozen of these bars in the flavors I found most interesting. I would try them the next time out.
I reached for that first bar tearing open the package with my teeth while riding down the road. The first bite of the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut was really a different experience. The texture was easier to consume and more enjoyable than the highly compressed Clif Bars. And, the flavors really came alive, actually stimulating the taste buds. I quickly ate the whole bar. It was a much more enjoyable experience than other bars I've tried. More on par with the enjoyment level of the sugary candy bars, though this product contained far less sugar. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Especially, if the bars are consumed as food while not exercising. Which I do when I'm busy working.
Since then I've been only buying the Luna Bars and have not touched a Clif Bar. I've really sort of forgotten that they were meant for women. They work well for me so I buy them and consume them. Possibly they will work for you as well. One doesn't have to be any particular gender to enjoy a well designed and tasty energy bar.
See you on the roads.
Joe Kratovil is a Randonneur and Ultra Distance Rider. In the pursuit of these activities he has logged over 120,000 road miles.