Any tips for eating solid food during mountain bike race?

I’ve got a 6 hour event coming up that I’ve done several times. I will be getting most of my calories from my water, but I do like to add in some gels and am planning on some solid items like a few waffles and maybe some pickles. Gels I got sorted, but even though it’s a long event, I don’t want to stop and it’s mountain biking so you don’t have a lot of time to ride one handed to go through the motions of pulling the waffle out of my pocket and getting the bit out of the package to eat it. So I’m looking for some clever ideas. Obviously I can just put the waffles in my pocket without the wrappers, which may be a winner, but am concerned about them getting water logged with sweat or sticking together or crumbling too much. Also, the pickles probably won’t mix well in the same pocket as my waffles. So, if I have gels in my right pocket, any pouch ideas, wrapper ideas, or other ideas for storing the waffles and pickles in my other two pockets to make it so I can grab without stopping? Also, I won’t have any supporters that can hand me stuff.

I was looking for a waterproof pouch that has an opening that kind of stays open so I wouldn’t even have to fight the elastic in the jersey pocket since that can even be tricky with full finger gloves. Also considered ziploc baggies, foil packets, and just putting them in my pockets bare, but probably wouldn’t do that with the pickles. Also, could possibly store them elsewhere, like bib elastic, but similar challenges remain. or attaching to my bike, which may work well for gels, but not sure about the other things. I’m sure there is no magic answer to this, but just thought I’d check to see if anyone had some success.

I came in second last year because I took the 12 seconds I needed to swap bottles every lap, so really looking to not stop except one time to swap camelbaks.

I’m mainly relying on ClifBloks (usually in a small top tube bag or leg pocket if using cargo bibs) and Gels for XC races but do occasionally eat some Untapped Waffles as well. I’ve found they still work well and are pretty easy to open if you just tear down the side where they are meant to be opened. You can usually hold with one hand and use your teeth to tear the side. As soon as I get it open I usually just take the whole waffle into my mouth. If its a slow part of the race, then I hold in one hand and take a few bites.

Torq bars and chews are also not bad options for something more solid, but a little harder to open compared to the Untapped Waffles. For a race, I’d consider snipping at least part of the top of the package to make it easier to open.

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thanks, appreciate the idea. I’m using Stinger Waffles so same idea as the Untapped Waffles. Maybe pre-cutting the top of the wrapper as well as part of the side will let me bite the waffle out of the wrapper. I can then hold the waffle in my mouth and grab it after putting the wrapper under my bib short. Now that I think about it. Wrappers of both gels and waffles can go under either legs elastic so i can keep those pockets clean of trash. I can probably discard trash each lap as I do ride by my pit at the finish line.

Is there a spot on the course that you know you could be one handed? If it’s a lap race then that might be your best bet. I eat stuff like a white bread PBJ on my road bike all the time and I just put it in a sandwich bag and right into the back pocket.


yeah, the finish line area begins with a pea-gravel road and then grass, all slightly uphill, so that could be a good option to get at least one thing down and then just discard into the pit, so good thought. The other flatish, straightish spots are good places to go fast, so don’t want to waste those. I can probably get the gel down without much trouble on any somewhat tame incline, then maybe I’ll plan on eating the solids just before crossing the finish line for each lap. Still even with that, the easier to handle the better.

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If the race is dry…

You can lick cliff blocks and stick them to your top tube - then you just pop them off and eat (what is a little extra dirt)

You can dump cliff blocks unpackaged into a pocket (again only if it isn’t wet)

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Is this the new magic fuel?
When I do long solos I use an aero bag on my top tube, which closes itself to, but I can put my hand in at any point.
I line it with foil and if it rains I can close it around the food. The advantage is that seeing it there in front of me reminds me to eat and I can have bars/ blocks etc unwrapped.

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Riding with a camelback will slow you down more than 12s/lap compared to bottles, imho. You basically end up riding 2/3rd of the race with way more water than you need…plus the added air drag and heat entrapment of a pack. There’s times when packs can be advantageous, but generally a lapped mtb race is not one of them.

I would set up a table and lay out your bottles so you can grab them without stopping or even putting a foot down.

As for the waffles…any plastic bag should be fine. Shouldn’t be that hard to get it open and start chewing.

With both these things…practice beforehand. Set up a table in your driveway or something and grab the bottles while zipping by. Practice getting the waffle out and eating with one hand.


Pickles have a lot of sodium due to the pickling process. No real fuel, but looking to get some salt and a palate cleanser from all the sugar.

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I did it last year with 8 bottles. These cambelbaks are small, 50oz. 30 ounces of extra water, which I only have for half the time I’m wearing it, since it will be the same as a bottle halfway through won’t cost me 96-120 seconds. I used the bottle strategy last year. I rode with the guy that beat me and watched him pedal away from me every lap when I stopped to pick up a new bottle. If I could grab a bottle without stopping, I would, but given it’s uneven grass and uphill, it would be really difficult to reliably pedal at slow speed and grab something off a table. I tried it. If I were able to coast by my table instead might be a more realistic solution.

but you’ve given me a challenge and made me rethink. It doesn’t answer my original question since water wasn’t my concern, but I have a boat load of dowels about the perfect length and some scrap plywood. I’m looking to build a quick vertical wine bottle rack style bottle holder that I can hang from the leg of my tent. I think it may work.


This is what I came up with in a few minutes. Pretty good I think.


30oz of water is almost 2lbs. Plus the weight of a pack and we’ll call it at least 2lbs. Napkin math says 2-2.5lbs takes 5 extra watts to go uphill at the same speed. Let’s say half the time you’re carrying an equal amount of water as a bottle. So now we’re at 3hrs of the race spent with extra weight on your body. 1/3 of that time is likely spent downhill or flattish, which makes the 2lbs null for 1hr. But now we’re at 2hrs of carrying an extra 2lbs uphill over a 6hr race, which takes an extra 5 watts. Let’s say your NP for those 2hrs is 240 watts. 5/240 = 2%, so you’d be about 2% slower over those 2hrs with a pack. 2% of 120 minutes is 140 seconds or so. And that’s not accounting for any aero loss from a pack, as well as the heat that’s not dissipated as efficiently through your back.

Remember, just because the other guy did it, doesn’t meant it was right or the most efficient. If he had had bottles set up on a table (or on a makeshift wine rack), he might have ridden away from you on the climbs never to be seen again.

Are you required to ‘pit’ at that one spot and no where else? Could you set up bottles anywhere else on the course? Even so, uphill pedaling slowly is a more efficient way to get a bottle anyway compared to having to slow down on a flat/descent to grab a bottle. Just practice it more.

Edit to add: The other advantage of bottles is it forces you to drink everything you make. ie. ‘my goal is to drink half this bottle by X point in the lap, and be done with it before the lap is over’. With a pack it’s much harder to estimate how much you’ve drank and how much is left…and I find it easy to get behind on liquid nutrition or I stress out because I think I’ve drank too much and won’t have enough left. I just did a 125 mile race this weekend and started with about 45oz of water in a pack to supplement bottles of nutrition I’d stop to refill at aid stations. It felt like I was drinking from the pack semi-regularly, and 9hrs in I dropped the pack and just went on bottles the rest of the way. Opened the pack after the race and I had damn near a liter left. So I had lugged an extra 2lbs up about 13k vertical. Stupid me.

The way i look at nutrition during a race is simply getting as many carbs into my body as quickly as possible while trying to keep my heart rate down. I don’t want to spend time messing around trying to breathe and eat at the same time.

That said, I do a few things:

one, I have at least 100 grams of carb in my gut when starting the race.

Two, I get most of my nutrition via liquid

Three, I tape gels to my top tube in a way that I snatch one off and it rips open for me and that piece stays attached to the bike so I don’t have to worry about litter. So I’ll snatch it, slam it, and then throw it into my right pocket that’s empty. I use E-gel which are 37g per. I can get 4 of them on my top tube and down tube.

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Obviously i tried the idea before so i thought it would be better. Didnt love it so much in practice, but if I can not stop then I would definitely prefer it. But to say 2lbs is good for 5 watts is overstating the benefit of weight by a long way. Especially on a particularly flat loop. According to bestbikesplit, 2 lbs is worth 1 watt on this course. Not to mention ignoring the fact the camelbak is half empty roughly half the time and the bottles are full every lap. The bottle is actually heavier 2 out of the 8 laps. So less than 1 watt difference i think is a wash and compared to the 2 minutes I lost stopping for bottles a loser in last years event. Now if I can not stop and grab the bottles then it could be win win, but the winning is mainly in the not stopping, not the weight of the camelbak (in this case).

+1 for bottles in a lap race.

I’m probably the biggest hydration pack-fan on this whole entire forum, but when it comes to lap races, bottles are the way to go. I did 2 8-hour races earlier this year using bottles, plus have years of using a hydration pack and I prefer bottles. It is really just a matter of seconds to swap bottles. You can’t ride as well as you’d like for 6 hours non-stop. Those little tiny breaks are useful to keep riding strong rather than just wearing yourself down until you’re tired and slow.

Also, what was your plan for refilling or replacing your hydration bladder? Unless you can carry enough for 6 hours, you’ll be taking off your pack at one or two points during the race. It takes way more time to take off a pack than throwing a bottle away and grabbing a new one!

Other tips:

  • It’s key to get to the race early and find a good spot for your table/cooler right on the course.
  • Be strategic about the best spots along the course for taking big drinks and eating and don’t miss them!
  • Use a small top tube bag for snacks, and have all of your lap snacks in separate baggies and ready to go at your little resupply point. When you grab a bottle, grab your pre-made bag of lap snacks and put em in your top tube bag.
  • Or, since you’re saying you want to separate wet pickles from dry waffles, put all of the race pickles in a plastic-lined top tube bag and the waffles with wrappers on, but cut open in your jersey pockets.

I have 2 50 oz packs. I would have stopped mid way to exchange.

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OK, that doesn’t sound too bad! You might find though that a couple tiny breaks might benefit you more than planning to ride for 6 hours straight. If the laps are less than an hour each, you can also try out bigger bottles that last for 2 laps each.

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I do a 3 lap 100 mile MTB race every year which takes about 8-8:30 and I’d recommend bottles as well. It results in 2 pit stops. For me it’s just easy to regulate carb and hydration intake (1 bottle per hour). With a camelbak I never know how much I’m actually drinking or when I’ll run out.

For easy food access I’d recommend a top tube bag. Easy to unzip and have pre-opened solids to grab from. Not to mention, easier than fumbling with a back pocket.


If you swap bottles every lap, could you not attach whatever solid food you want to each bottle? That way you grab a bottle with a pickle/waffle attached (maybe in a little foil pack you only need to unfold a bit). Sounds like your re-supply point is also a good stretch to eat solids.

Or, with the pickles, put a small bowl next to your bottles and just grab one and a bottle on each lap? They sound difficult to carry around.
(I’m not sold on their benefit, but I do like them, so, hey).

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