Fueling your ride - how do you carry enough food?

Recently I’ve been focusing more on appropriately fueling my rides outside. Previously I used to just take whatever food I needed to not get too hungry. But now I’ve been trying to take in 50-60g of carbs per hour, which is quite a bit more food than I was previously consuming.

Any tips for carrying enough food to fuel properly when riding outside? I recently went on a 3 hour ride, and the food I took was a little bulky (energy bars, stroopwafels, dates, and a gel). It’s easy enough to carry for that length of ride; I’m more wondering about what to do for a 6 hour ride or something. I haven’t tried getting more carbs through drink mixes, partly because when it’s cold out like it is now, I don’t drink a whole lot.

A top tube bag is one alternative. I use one on long road and gravel rides to carry more food.
I also sometimes stop a a convenience store to replenish water or food but the selection can be sketchy.
You could also plan a “clover leaf” route that circles back to home or vehicle to replenish food.


Here was how I carried food for a 12 hour Time Trial, with 3 stops to pick up more.I got used to taking in 90gm an hour in food and drink. In this case I had an off the back system that allowed me to carry another two bottles and a bento box on the top tube where I put my already cut in half energy bars and gels. In this event I was in a skin suit hence no pockets. (This did for just over 236 miles)

The three stops I swapped out 4 bottles and a pre-prepare pack of gels and energy bars.

This pic shows the bottles and food in preparation for that event.

For a normal 3-4 hr training ride I carry a couple of bananas, (eat one on the hour) and two 750ml bottles with some carbs in. I also have a couple of reserve gels and reserve energy bar. That works for me. Should really carry and eat a bit more.

Some people put tools etc in their pockets. I just put food and spare clothing (gloves/gilet etc.). Tools I carry in a saddle bag.

If you want to up your ability to take in more carbs, just practice. Look at the carbs in each product and design a fueling strategy that gives you that every 30mins or hour. Follow it rigourously. My big lesson was bonking on a 70 mile training ride, realising I had not taken enough carbs, did the sums, worked out what I should have taken in, and worked to that.

For longer training rides I either A) loop back home and pick up new bottles or b) pull over at a cafe and fill bottles up having taken powdered energy drink with me to pour into the bottles. Simple,

Third pic - all I ate in that 12hr TT. Oh there was a sneaky bit of marzipan in there as well.

For a 137mile ride with my son, we packed the food in pockets and bento boxes on the top tube, I carried 4 bottles and we picked up a 5lt bottle of water in a shop to refill all our bottles around 70 miles in. All depends a bit on where you are and how you can plan things.

In cold weather with thick gloves I find it difficult to get stuff out of my pockets so I tend to put stuff in a bento box. But it depends on the ride. Just be safe when you are getting food out and/or drinking. Don’t take a risk.

I just read that you don’t drink much. Arghh. One day do a ride where you weight yourself before and after - you’ll get a shock. One bonking ride I lost 5 lb and was clearly dehydrated. I tend to drink 500ml an hour. More on a hot day. That is with some carbs in either High 5 or simple orange juice mixed 1:3 with water. Aim to pee clear at the end of a long ride (and be able to pee).

I hope this helps.


Depends on your fueling preference.

On one end of the spectrum, you can use two 24oz bottles, each mixed with 1.5 servings of either SIS Beta Fuel or Maurtens 320 (1 serving is normally 80-90g carb and mixes into 16oz). That’s 240-270g of carb in two bottles. Done.

That’s just an example though. If you need extra hydration without consuming a ton of carb per swig of the bottle, maybe not such a great idea.

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If you want to do long rides without stops, get used to stuffing your pockets full of food. Also find food that is less bulky, or has less bulky packaging. For example, I find SiS gels to be pretty big for the amount of carbs in them.

The alternative, more civilised way of doing long rides is to simply have a cafe stop and eat proper food (beans on toast, obviously).


I dont do super long rides, but I use a top tube bag for 4+ hrs on the bike. As pictured :slight_smile:

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Endurance cargo shorts give you two more leg pockets to carry more food.


I use a drink mix from Infinit Nutrition. It’s a little pricey at $2-3 per bottle but one bottle an hour has everything I need - carbs (both simple and complex), sodium, protein, and caffeine. You can get one of their pre-made formulas or talk to a consultant for free to build a custom blend. I did my first Fondo / century using only the mix, and just had to carry powder and get water at the aid stations, with no issues.


One packet of beta fuel w/ 500 ml of water & two gels per hour. Hot days do 1 packet of beta/500 ml water & 1 500 ml of water + two gels per hour. Very long rides use 1L bottles and/or stop & refill or stash along route.

Pack your pockets! I do a similar amount of carbs shared between food and drink. I’m not a big drinker or sweater so it’s mostly food

Cliff bars are 40g carbs each (I buy them in bulk when they are on sale for half price). I can fit loads in my back pockets.
I have made homemade versions in the past
Snickers bars are similar in carb content and relatively inepexensive
Bags of haribo are nice too :smile:

For higher intensity rides/races I carry a gel flask (or 2) in my back pockets so there is no concern with accidentally littering and/or getting sticky goo everywhere trying to open individual packs of gels

you nailed in, 40g of carbs in a bottle…

i can carry food for 6 hours, in two rear pockets, but they are JAMMED. it’s great if you can wear a vest and then there’s no issue


Wow, you guys eat a lot! On a training ride I just carry a bar or two just in case…at ~10 -11% bodyfat I’m pretty sure I have energy for at least 1000km to spare. I did Hamburg Cyclassics sportif 180km on four bars, I think I still had one left in my pocket. If I do longer training rides (>4h) I usually plan for an icecream-break and a soda. I also only carry plain water in my bottles.

On shorter intense stuff I do consume carbs, but usually not during rides below 0.68 IF.

I don’t race but if I did, my plan would be heavy on carbs.

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Would there be recommendations for a good top tube bag to road bike? Just for fuels on long rides so not need to be huge!

make a good dinner the night before, a good breakfast the day, of your ride. And then I always take a bar or gel per hour.

Just concentrate your drinks more. If you’re not sweating much or drinking much, you can probably tolerate >20% net concentration. I’ll often have 400g carbs in a front bottle and water in a rear bottle. Zefal Magnum Bottles (32oz)

Front bottle acts like a gel. Chase with water.

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You can try a drink mix that contains a high concentration of carbs, but bear in mind these things can be rough on the stomach. They are great, though. I use Skratch Superfuel, 400 cal’s/100g carbohydrate per big bottle. But I found through practice that I need to pair it with plain water and solid foods. The key is to practice with any new nutrition products and find the mixture that works best for you. It’s really darn cool when you find something that works and you are energetic at the end of a 12 hour ride!

I am not trying to be particularly aero, being primarily a long-distance mountain biker, but I use this top tube bag which boasts that it can fit 2000 calories, and I can attest to that:

This seems excessive, are u racing all the time?

I have this one and quite like it: FASTFUEL DRYBAG X | Topeak

I’ve only used it on a couple of much-longer-than-usual rides, but it worked well and meant I could ride without having my jersey pockets fully loaded - a great feeling, I think it helps with comfort on the longer rides. I also used some adhesive protectors on the frame so that the base wouldn’t rub the paint, but it probably isn’t really necessary.

That’s pretty consistent with established recommendations.


50-60g/hr is under-dosing for rides >2.5hr.