I’m wondering what everyone’s experience is of what to eat when a ride goes right through the night. I did my first such event at the weekend and really struggled with the nutrition side of things. I think my body clock was totally confused and simply didn’t want to eat in the early hours of the morning. I couldn’t cope with anything solid, and the only thing I could manage were gels. I tried my usual bars and other things available at feed stations, but let’s just say that nothing stuck!
Like everything else its all about training.
In the past for me I’ve found keeping to the little and often approach helps. Also mixing up the flavours, sweet, savoury etc and having a drink mix. My feeling this places less pressure on the gut to have to process and break down a larger volume of solid food at any one time. There is no way I’d be able to go 24hrs on mostly gels, my stomach is turning just at the thought of it.
By Instagram, I have a feeling the majority of those tagged are actually doing races right now
Agree with @kevstorr on this - 100% about training the gut and finding what works well for you
Okay, about eating through the night. I never practiced it really. If you don’t do a face-first big event like I did, it might be wise to cut the night into chunks. So do a night ride from 22:00 to 02:00 and the other night from 02:00 to 06:00.
My event started at 18:00. The organisation provided a pasta-party before hand. Forget about your personal meal plan. This is what you get, so take it. I took two plates of pasta. Spread your food. Don’t take too much at once. I ate my first plate easy and slow and then decided to take a second plate. Be thankful for it, its better than a few bars. First step is to get loaded! Also go to the toilet before the night! It empties your body from unneccesary stuff.
I kept eating whilst the sun dissapeared behind the hills. Make sure you find a shop before darkness (or have the luck to pass by a 24-hour shop) to re-fill liquids and maybe get some extra bars. Through the night I kept eating around 60g to 90g of carbs. I constantly swapped between gels and bars. This is a personal choice, bars do not really do it for me at all over the entire ride. Plus: your body gets into rest mode somewhere in the night. Gels are easier digestible for your body since you dont have to chew. A key advice here: load your bike with food for the entire night. So preferably food for up to 12 hours.
Remember: food = mood! I literally ate my way through harder moments. Be aware though: if you spot obstacles at a near miss-rate, you maybe should close your eyes for even a few minutes up to a few hours. I did not experience this until 5am luckily, but it is something to be aware of.
Also consider high-carb drinking powders. You may not drink an entire 800ml bottle per hour, to get 80g of carbs per hour, but every bit helps. Keep drinking but don’t drink like water is everywhere around you.
Once the night is over: try to find a bakery and get some real food. In France I stumbled upon a good bakery where I drank an espresso and ate some pain au chocolats. I took a few extra for along the way. Real food outruns gels and bars in terms of joy. Plus: it also enables you to keep eating the gels and bars for the rest of the day. A bakery-stop should be as a nice breakfast at home. Enjoy it and allow yourself some ease. Maybe even close your eyes for five minutes.
- Load the entry and de-load the exit before the start
- Take food for 12 hours with you
- Food = mood. The night is not easy, but food is your buddy. Gels are easier digestible than bars. Drink, but do not overdo it.
- Remember that everything passes eventually, so does the night. Remind yourself that during summer (assuming you don’t live on the equator) the night is already halfway at around 01:00-02:00.
- Find a good bakery/grocery/gas station at the end of the night and enjoy that sandwich or croissant!
@Ultrathom Thank you for such a detailed reply. There’s some great advice there. What you’ve said about the body going into rest mode during the night and it being more difficult to eat. That was certainly my experience. I think a high carb drink makes good sense too. Lots of things to try out.
Great feedback! Thank you for this
This is awesome @Ultrathom thanks
Thanks for this @Ultrathom - great feedback to share with the users
Epic! Just epic @Ultrathom - kudos and thank you.