How to Plan your nutrition for a long race/ride 70miles plus

I’m sure everyone is aware of carb loading and how your body needs replenishing throughout your longer rides.
But how do you plan this out?
How many calories or which type carbs before the race? How many days of carb loading? Same carbs every day or taper your carbs?
How to fuel your ride? Constant and consistent calories/energy? Or more food on the flatter bits so you have the energy for the climbs?
How to use the data from ssb 1 & 2 and general build to help build a nutrition plan.

My ride in question is The Fred Whitton challenge, I’ve never ridden over 60miles and defiantly never done that amount of climbing. I’m going to start riding longer distances when the wether gets better, but how do I fuel this?
Hopefully someone can point me in the right direction of a deep dive podcast that I’ve missed, or a website with a super computer style calorie calculator.

Thanks for reading, look forward to reading the responsences.

this is what I’ve been doing for 70.3 and the associated training sessions

60-90g per hour of carbs. this is 240-360 kcal. I went with combination of clif bar and 5 gels diluted with H2O in a bottle for race; I only did the gels once before in training because I find it disgusting and otherwise go for clif bar and banana

from a cycling nutrition talk I took away that you should take in 30g carbs/hr for 1-2hr events, 30-60g for 2-3hr events and 90 for >3 hr, the reference given was Med Sci Sports Excer 41(3);709-31, 2009.

spread out well over each hour e.g. eat every 20 or 30 minutes

I add 0.5g himalaya salt (simple from grocery store) to 0.75-1L H2O for training and drink that within one hour (1L in 30°C otherwise a bit less depending on how I feel, I definitely do 500mL in cold conditions). if I have it around I add juice of half a lemon.
I have also used mineral tablets, felt good but they did not have enough sodium

my plan for this year is to improve my liquid nutrition, just ordered Xendurance Fuel-5 as per AACC podcast recommendation and will try to supplement the required salt in it. alternatively I have also ordered maltodextrin and flavodrops from myprotein as per @JulianM recommendation to try out mixing my own stuff (+ salt). side note, I will also add whey protein to this to try as my own recovery mix.

the key take away is to try it during training!

I’m interested in how you get on with the xendurance, thought about a few times because they advertise on IM talk and they have a promocode for it.

I do food at the beginning and then just use carborocket 333 for the rest. Remember to eat and drink before you think you need to. Pacing is huge as well.
good luck.

Hi Tim

Have ridden the Fred 4 times - check the other thread for my tips.

I try and stick to the guidance of 0.5 - 1g Carbs per kg, per hr. So for me that’s about 66g per hour. What’s always worked me is mixing that between homemade energy bars (made with dates, oats, peanut butter, honey) for some wholefoud/slowish release, and gels.

Start eating early - I’ll start from the top of Kirkstone on the Fred. Don’t try and eat on the climbs! Good spots are after Kirkstone, in-between Matterdale and and A66, after Whinlatter descent.

Try a gel with caffeine before Hardknott.

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A lot of this comes down to what you practice. All the studies in the world can’t help figure out what’s right for you, or what will make it out of the bottle cage or jersey pocket and into your mouth.

A great starting point is this blog post from Asker Jeukendrup, which summarizes current broad recommendations:

A trickier problem is figuring out the composition of various drinks, chews, gels … etc. Some educated guesses are necessary to convert generic ingredients into glucose vs. fructose vs. other types of carbs.

I have used Skratch and Honey Stinger chews with good results, targeting about 70-80 grams of carbs per hour. I also tried Science in Sport BetaFuel, which I liked but found that I need to also take in fluid (without any mix) since 500 mL/hour left me feeling underhydrated.

I’d agree with most of the comments that it’s something you need to practice and while there are general guidelines it can be a really individual thing. My jaw always hits the floor when @Nate_Pearson talks about his carb loading strategy but if it works for him all is good.

I seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum to that, and generally cut back on carbs a little in the week before a race because of the reduced training load. Generally my main evening meal a the 3-4 days beforehand will be brown rice with chicken in some sort of homemade tomato sauce - I always have a chicken curry the night before a race (again some sort of tomato based curry sauce) which has become a bit a superstition on my part!

During a race I seem to be able to use less carbs than most - I had some metabolic testing done a few years ago which seemed to confirm this so I get through around 45g carbs per hour during an IM bike leg. Solid wise I have a clif bar or similar cut into chunks in a top tube bag along with a few jelly babies for the first half of the ride and 6 gels mixed with water in a 600ml bottle of the down tube for the second half. For a 100 mile TT I’ll have the same number of gels and one 750ml bottle of water and on 50 mile TT’s and below no food or water.

Having said that as @m-a-t-t has said the nature of the ride of the Fred Whitton is very different to a more steady state ride and you’ll have to make sure you plan the timing of the nutrition well. I’ve ridden some of the climbs on the ride and the only thing you’ll be worried about climbing the likes of Hardknott is not falling off the back of the bike it’s that steep. Riding down a 30% incline on a potentially damp road is pretty sketchy as well so you won’t be eating or drinking there either. I’d be planning it much as a TR interval ride and consuming calories between the climbing/descending.

@schmidt for the salt I’ve bought something like this

A 100g bag will last me well over a year I reckon.

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Four words:

Massive Bowl Of Porridge.

A few more words: with raisins, honey, some peanut butter stirred in.

There is no breakfast that you can possibly eat that you won’t burn off doing the Fred Whitton. So eat as much as you can manage 2-3 hours before your start time. Get up early if necessary. Have some carbs before you go to bed, too.

If you have all that fuel in you, on-bike nutrition is still important but less of a worry. Just have some good carbs every hour and maybe something a bit more substantial half way through if you feel like you can stomach some “real” food.


A few key facts that might help guide your strategy:

  • complex carbs take around 2 hours to digest
  • simple carbs take about 20 minutes to digest
  • as you increase intensity, all the extra energy is going to come from carbs, not from fat.
  • digestion takes blood supply, so you don’t want to be trying to eat while putting in maximal effort on the steepest gradients.
  • for a really tough ride like the Fred Whitton, your body (including your digestive system) gets more and more stressed, so you want to make your intake simpler as you go.

Solids can be a good idea at the start of a ride (start within 10-15 minutes of the ride), and gradually switch over to gels and the like. In theory, you want to be taking in carbs fairly consistently, but the terrain of Fred Whitton means you may have to modify this. I try to pop a gel 10 minutes or so before a long climb, so that it is hitting my bloodstream and providing energy during the climb. Taking in carbs in the form of sports drink is even easier on the body at maximal effort, so you may want to swap bidons to drink water on the easier sections, and sports drinks on the tough climbs.

If you have never ridden 60 miles, I am guessing your FTP is lower, so you will probably be burning 60 g of carbs per hour, rather than the 90g intake that requires more complex mixing of glucose and fructose.

Definitely experiment with nutrition on longer rides as the event approaches - you want to have everything dialed in, with nothing new on race day.

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+1 for the massive bowl of porridge.

I like to add some cinnamon, honey and jam to taste.

Then on the ride eat real food - flapjacks, ricecakes, bananas. I also like those Bounce bites. Have a gel in reserve. Eat before you are hungry as if you find yourself hungry it’s too late. Make sure you don’t run out of fluids. Don’t try anything new on the day of the event.

I also find that restricting caffiene for a few days before helps me prevent against cramp.

Plus whatever else is going in, I always add a little pinch of salt before/during cooking. Just makes it less bland.

I also like to make it with water only, then add cold milk on top at the end.

I feel a “perfect porridge” thread coming on.

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I like to soak the oats overnight in water, then cook them with the rest of the milk in the morning.:ok_hand:

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60/70 miles is a decent length, but it’s not really a true endurance effort IMO so I don’t think you have to overthink it. It should take around 3 hours depending on the speed and that isn’t enough for me to do too much in advance. I generally do a bunch of pancakes with maple syrup before. Pre-load with a bottle of electrolyte mix. Two bottles of tailwind + 1 bottle of water. A banana, and a couple packets of energy chews is enough to get me through.

A question along these lines was proposed to the SiS rep in the latest episode The Cycling Podcast. Section starts on 59’:

I guess you haven’t heard about the difficulty of the Fred Whitton Challenge?

Road book

That’s quite wrong :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I soak mine overnight in Almond Milk with a handful of sultanas and cook them in the morning with extra Almond milk, adding a mashed banana and sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon over the results. :+1:

The OP said he is doing the Fred Whitton Challenge which is 114 miles, but that he has not yet done a ride over 60 miles.

Don’t know about “super computer”, but I’ve put a simple spreadsheet-style calculator together. Link and instructions here.