How do I not kill everyone while eating/drinking?

Title pretty much says it all, ha.

I’m a decently strong rider in power terms, I switched into cycling from competitive running and have gotten into racing quickly. So far this year, I’ve raced a handful of cat 5 road races, and been top 10 a couple of times–it’s a ton of fun. Except when I try to eat or drink anything during a race or fast group ride. I just feel like I have to stop pedaling to avoid weaving, but obviously stopping pedaling in a large group is super dangerous too. I seem unable to hold a line, put out power, and eat at the same time.

Thus far, I’ve skirted the issue by being vastly underfueled in races :slight_smile:. But, as I start to train with faster groups and do more 40+ mile traning rides, I have to eat and drink. My current strategy is to drift to the back of the group, stop pedaling, drink (don’t even get me started about getting things out of jersey pockets :frowning:) and then push big watts to get back on. Maybe.

I know practice makes perfect, and I’m trying to take some slower solo rides and just work on getting things out of pockets and bottles out of cages. Also, one of my current training tools is rollers, and I’m getting more confident on them slowly, so I’d like to also try to practice on those. Not there yet though.

Any other ideas for ways to get more confident? I don’t want to keep getting yelled at!


Work on core strength off the bike and you’ll hold a better line on the bike.


Can you specify your fear or what confidence you are lacking?

In general, you are headed in the right direction. Practice new stuff slow, and in a safe environment, so if you screw up (which you may) the consequences are low.

  • Trainer and rollers are great.
    • Work on the coordination and act of removing, using, and returning the bottle.
    • Same for jersey pocket access.
    • These are generally safe (depending on your comfort on rollers in particular) and a good way to repeat the mechanics to a point that it becomes more natural.
  • A grass field and flat pedals (or regular shoes while pedaling on clipless) may reduce fear of falling (if that is an issue).
  • Move up to an open and empty parking lot or closed-ish road can be the next step, all solo.
  • Then start in small groups, at the back like you have been doing. But make sure to keep pedaling so you don’t slide off the back.

You should be able to drink, hold a steady line, and ride at threshold. If you can’t, you should practice.

Eating is a little bit more difficult, and usually I’ll pull out of the rotation or sit at the back for a second unless its something quick like a gel.

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Carb mix in your bottle. Gels up your shorts legs instead of inside pockets.

Ild question if you need more than that (or anything bar whatever water rate you drink at) for 40mi/60km.

After that it’s probably just more experience and confidence riding in a large group. Generally the closer you are to the front the smoother things are and the easier it will be to not have to worry as much.

Practice will help too. Go out for cycles where your focus is on holding that line while you reach for your bottle. When I would cycle with my wife I would practice riding along the line marking the shoulder for example…not to gain much except it was practice cycling in a straight line with little deviation.

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Do everything you want to do outside regarding eating and drinking exactly the same as you do on the trainer. I do it on a trail through the woods during an XCO race and never think much about it. So, as others have said, practice solo until it becomes second nature.

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Fingerless gloves help a ton vs. full-fingered. I find the dexterity loss, coupled with fatigue and being in a hurry makes eating with regular gloves a challenge.

I had really good luck doing the lick and stick method with Shot Blocks onto my top tube. It depends a bit on the shape of your top tube but you can fit quite a few and they stay on pretty well. It’s easy to grab one and get back onto your bars and only biting one doesn’t require you to drink instantly. It also gives you a nice visual of how much you’re eating.

Food for thought… get it… sorry… I’m a dad.


Where are your hands? Ride on the tops while you fish around for snacks. Look up.

Start grabbing stuff while you drift back instead of grabbing it after you’ve already drifted back. Don’t drift Off the back. That will save you those watts.

Keep pedalling to keep stable. You should be able to grab your bottle on one pedal revolution and back in on another without missing a revolution. In and out when your knee is out of the way on the downstroke.

Have your food easily accessible and already partially open depending on what you have. Makes it quicker and easier to open and eat.

Practice this all this at speed on your own. Keep relaxed and fluid.

I’ll say look up again. Look down the road while you grab your stuff. Should help you keep in a straight line.

Thanks all! +1 for the core strength suggestion. I neglect that too often. Going to focus on core work and doing more alone practice.

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Have noticed the glove thing for sure! Unfortunately it’s been a cold spring so I’ve been using full gloves.

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If you lick shot bloks they’ll stick to your top tube…

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I always find going up one gear harder helps a lot to keep even pressure on the pedals while you’re fishing around the back.

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  1. No matter what you’re reaching for or doing, keep looking forward. This will keep you going in the right direction without swerving and you will be more aware of any minor course corrections required.

  2. Open gels with your teeth, rather than trying to use two hands. You can rip the top off and squeeze a gel into your mouth in a single action. Don’t worry about squeezing every last drop from the gel packet.

  3. Hold your bottles underhand (thumb pointing toward the bottom of the bottle). Doing this means that you can completely invert the bottle without having to rotate your shoulder & body through a large angle. The large rotation causes imabalance and also requires you to take youe eyes off the road.

  4. Wherever you eat/drink, give yourself enough time to do it before you get to the next corner.

  5. Keep your pockets clear and know what is in each. When racing in my crit suit I have two pockets. Right pocket is gels, left pocket is bars. There is no fishing around because there is nothing else in that pocket - so whatever my hand touches is what I need.


A lot of it comes with practice but a lot of riders have the same issue.

Drinking becomes almost reflex like where you can grab your bottle, drink and then put it back in the cage without looking down at it.
But I’ve also seen (and erm maybe been guilty of) riders thinking the bottle is in the cage and dropping it in the road, anyone behind won’t be thrilled.

Try opening the bar wrapper before you ride, makes getting it out far easier.
You can tape food to your bike too, just do it in an easy to remove way, gels by the tear off bit for example.
Even use a top tube bag if need be, the ones that attach at the stem.

The other skill is judging when and where to eat and drink.
Trying to chew a bar whilst huffing and puffing up a hill doesn’t work but taking your hands off the bars on a fast descent isn’t a good idea either. Look for the in between areas, cresting a hill or hitting more gentle hill where the pace slows.


Definitely need to work on that skill :man_facepalming:

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You can practice a lot of this on the turbo so the movement becomes instinctive, reach and replace your bottle without looking down, make sure you focus ahead. Same with gels and nutrition, keep it in your back pocket on the turbo, reach around without stopping pedaling etc. You can do this throughout your sessions, you don’t even have to actually drink or eat, just do the movements. When you do your own rides, keep practicing, focus on maintaining your line and speed.

As above, when on these races / rides, think about when you will need to take drinks and food in, aim for places where it’s less chaotic.


One Kona podcast mentioned this. And how doing so tends to remove the clear coat.

^^ didn’t mention it in the inital post, but I may have thrown a bottle into a large training group the other day. Glad someone else has done it too.

I’ve done it a few times too, thankfully I use the elite corsa bottles which have a blowoff feature that renders dropped bottles pretty harmless.

Among all the other great tips, teach yourself (when riding alone!) to ride no handed. At first you will suck and may only be able to do a second or two but it will help you identify the various flaws in your riding technique that keep you from being able to hold a line without constant handlebar input. Once you can go go no handed while alone, taking one hand off to grab a bottle or get into yoour pockets while holding your line should be a piece of cake.

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