2024 Oliver Training Camp:

Fuelling on the Bike

By Shannon Erfle, Registered Dietitian 

This trip to Oliver will be my third time at the LYNX / Doctrine Training Camp. My favourite part of camp is Steak on the Lake but I keep coming back for the challenging back-to-back training days that I wouldn’t be able to get at home. One of the biggest challenges of training over multiple days can be managing fuelling on the bike. Fuelling well means that today’s ride can be fun and hard without stealing from tomorrow. 

Why is Fuelling on the Bike important?

  • To support training – for today and tomorrow!
  • To avoid the BONK 
  • To maximize / optimize training benefit & results

How to optimize Fuelling on the Bike: 

I have three priorities:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Hydration
  • Electrolytes

Knowing how much you need is very individual and depends on many factors. How hot is it? How long are you riding? Are there opportunities to stop for refills en route? Unfortunately this requires some practice. 

Consuming carbohydrates is critical for a long ride. A word of warning, it is best to work your way up. If you aren’t used to fuelling on the bike consider starting small and working your way up. (Or risk discomfort, or worse, urgently looking for a bathroom!). You may choose to eat or drink your carbohydrates.  For a long ride I usually do both. 

Hydrating during your ride is also critical. In general I aim for 500ml per hour. On a really hot day I would drink a little more. On a cold day I won’t drink as much. Some people need a little more and some less. One of our coaches would be looking for a bathroom every 30 minutes if they drank what I drink. 

For long days in the saddle, electrolytes are also important, especially when it’s hot. I’m a salty sweater and can turn a black jersey white with sweat stains. (TMI!) I usually use Nuun or Xact mixed into my water. Many (but not all) gels and gummies have electrolytes as well. 

Signs you aren’t getting enough:

  • Dark or smelly urine
  • Headache
  • Not sweating
  • Not peeing
  • Low energy
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling light-headed

Before I notice any of these signs, I usually notice that I am grumpy and I start not liking my bike. Once you fall behind it can be challenging to catch up, but it is amazing how many rides have been saved by a good friend with a spare gel! (I make mistakes too, so please carry an extra gel and make me eat it if I am getting surly!). If you’ve watched long races, you may have noticed some athletes will tape a fuelling and hydration plan to their top tube. They know that following a plan supports their race goals. 

Between now and camp we have a few weeks to practice a fuelling strategy. What are you going to try?

Hot tips:

  • Start early! If you’ve been in Kevin’s Sunday Doctrine class, you know that he starts pushing fluids 15 minutes into the endurance ride! Same goes for carbohydrates and electrolytes. 
  • Read labels. Pay attention to how much carbohydrate you are getting when you train. 
  • Start practicing your nutrition plan now!
  • Your coaches have a ton of experience fuelling long rides – ask them for advice! (And then do your best to follow that advice!) 

Have questions or comments? Please reach out: shannon.erfle@gmail.com

See you at camp!