Fueling 1-1.5 hour prior to hard group ride

Hi all,

Quick question here. Possibly covered before somewhere, but I had a quick look and couldn’t see anything. Weekly Saturday group ride now sets off at 7.30 am. I leave the house at 7 am and ride slowly (z1/z2) to meet the others. The ride is basically equivalent to a 1.15 hour crit with regards to intensity, pain, zones etc. Then a 30 min pootle back home.

I don’t want to wake up at 5am to eat a decent bowl of porridge which I did when the ride set off at 9am.

Fridays are rest day.

I am thinking of having more carbs/bowl of porridge the night before. Then wake up 6.15 to have coffee, water, set bike up etc and leave at 7. I will eat a couple of bananas/energy bar on the way to the ride whilst riding slowly, then I will have a bottle of mix (36g carb) and a gel (22g) for the hard ride.

Will likely have a hot chocolate and a banana at the cafe following the ride (sitting chatting for around 45 mins) before riding home slowly, where I can then eat something substantial.

Can someone advise if this all sounds good? Probably a bit of trial and error due I imagine.


If I was going to have to be on it I would want at least a couple of hours to wake up. So I would get up at 5 ish have the porridge and coffee…5;30 ish and pootle over. If I have a an early morning TT I get up at least 3 hours before even if I have a 6am start and eat porridge, have a shower, coffee even if I don’t have a long journey - I also need a longer warm up early doors. You would lose some of the benefit of eating the night before as some of the energy would be used…although at least your glycogen stores should be full…wouldn’t fancy an all out effort fasted! I used to carbo load for marathons but that is in conjunction with a taper over a 48 hour period. If the group ride means that much to you then it’s worth a bit of sacrifice to get the most out of it.

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I’d have a big bowl of porriage/musuli etc before going to bed to make sure fully stocked up in the morning, then a coffee and a banana/bit of toast just before I left


Fuelling properly the day before is what will impact the quality of your performance.

For a 1hour30 ride as long as your glycogen stores are full you’ll be ok with some simple carbs 30mins before so dont worry about waking up really early and stuffing yourself with porridge.

Just eat a bunch of carbs the day and night before.


Have you ever tried eating oatmeal 30, 60, or 90 minutes before a hard effort? If so (and you know it doesn’t work for you), then carry on with your plan - carb up the night before and eat some fast sugars on your easy ride to the start

If not - experiment and try eating at 6:30 or 6 and see how you react. Everyone has a different tolerance for slow digesting food before a hard effort and you should not take the 3 hour or 2 hour pre-race as gospel until you’ve tried and seen how your body responds.

Some people are like @Nate_Pearson and experience a hard crash if they eat in the wrong time window, others can eat much closer and be totally fine. A group ride is a great opportunity to find your sweet spot for fueling before a hard effort


Thanks for the feedback all. Some solid suggestions here!

I’d skip the porridge. I’d wake up and drink a bottle of sports drinks (36g carbs) and take a gel. Not the best breakfast, but will actually do something and you’ll still have a stomach that is ready to rock and roll. Banana should be okay, can experiment with that.

But as mentioned below, the night before’s meal will help you out; just lean the diet towards carbs for that, no need to go crazy for a 1.5h ride, but you do want to be eating carbs.

If you have other nutrition questions, this article I put together on timing and intensity may be of benefit.

Enjoy the smashing!!!



Just read that fantastic article Brendan. Its my go-to for things like this now. Thank you.

Personally I get up at 5-5:30 for the 7:30 group ride. I have my oatmeal already made. 2 minutes in the microwave, add maple syrup, nuts, blueberries on top and I have a bowl that can sustain me for a 3 hour ride.

I think your plan is ok. What you could do is:

Eat a small bowl of oatmeal and fruit before bed the night before.

Drink water and eat some sugar first thing in the morning. You get dehydrated over night and your liver glycogen stores get low. If you eat some sugar first thing you can top up the liver.

If you have oatmeal premade you could eat a tiny bowl if that agrees with you. Eat the 2nd banana about an hour before the ride. It takes about that long for it to kick in.

I forget the name of it but there is that slow release sports drink that would be perfect for this scenario.

It can be personal and how you deal with food pre ride. Today I had a v busy day but had The workout ‘Fish’ I needed to get done.

I knew riding empty was a no go, so I woke at 5am, smaller bowl of porridge than usual and a coffee, then workout at 6:15am. I also had a gel after 40 mins and after 70 mins.

Managed the workout well with no issues in terms of stomach problems or feeling empty.

I would usually try to ensure close to 2 hours between breakfast and hard session, but seems like 1 hour is fine if I dial back the breakfast volume and add some Extra feeling on the bike.

That sounds fine. I do most of my rides at 6am, so I never eat anything before a ride (I generally dont like to eat before a ride anyways). I just fuel with carbs on the bike and lately, carbs in my bottles.

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That seems like an awful lot of calories for what is a pretty short ride (even if it is intense).

Our regular Sat ride (pre-COVID) is closer to 4 hours and is pretty damn fast (esepcially in designated areas) I may toss something down my throat before I leave the house (banana, apple etc), or I’ll do it on the ride down (like you, roughly 30 min, easy pace). Sometimes I don’t even do that. Fuel properly during the ride and I am fine.

Our Tues / Thurs ride sounds very similar to the ride you describe (avg 25 mph / 40 KPH, ~30 miles) and I rarely have anything to eat before the ride…no problems.

Agreed with this, it would be way too much for me. I wouldn’t get up specially early to fuel for a 75mn ride, just wake up, quick normal breakfast then go. Nothing else. Then grab lunch when you get back in. Make sure you are hydrated.


I think this sounds perfect. Only adaptation i would do is to have the banana when you get up with the coffee. Try it, see what works and adopt From there?

You’re overthinking this, its a 1.5hr ride… don’t think you’re gonna run out of glycogen. if you’re worried, put drink mix in your bottles and take the carbs when you drink.