Long winter rides - nutrition tips

Hi everyone.
Did my first super long ride in cold conditions this year. 7 hours of gravel riding in sub 10C, some of it in sub 5C.
That was a lot of fun and despite rain and mud, my clothing kept me warm.
What didn’t stay warm though was my on-bike food.
I had 3 bottles of beta fuel with carb boosters and while they got very cold, it wasn’t painful to drink.
My solid foods however were problematic.
I have used CLIF Bars, OTE Bars and CLIF blocs all year and I am generally happy with those.
I like the taste, can stomach them
Under stress and they have given me the right fuel so far.
Yesterday however, everything got terribly tough to chew, making it much tougher to consume them mid-ride.
While the gel and the liquid nutrition was fine, the solid nutrition failed for me.
The clif bars got rock hard, I could only take small bites and really had to work to get those down.

What food do you carry on your bike during the winter to prevent this from happening?
Looking forward to your advice!

Fig bars and dates.

Less solid fuel, more liquid fuel.

Keep solid fuel spread throughout all pockets of your innermost jersey so that each has nearly direct contact with your body and additional layers of insulation from the cold air.


I don’t like either …

The problem with liquid foods is that they work very much as a short term fuel for me.
I have experimented with super sapiens and bars tend to fuel me more “long term”, while most liquid fuels have my blood sugar shoot up and drop again in short succession.

Lastly, I have also incorporated savory bars before, but these likely won’t work either.
Only sweet food kinda gets to me after a while.

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The other thing I like, especially for hard century rides, is to pack sandwiches and some granola. Since the 1980s I’ve been using fig bars, granola, and sandwiches to fuel all day alpine skiing. The same works well for me on long hard rides.


I had good luck last winter with making my own belgian waffles. The batter had protein in it, and I added peanut butter, chocolate, a little syrup, and banana into to mix. Then I halved or quartered them, wrapped them up and was good to go. I am forgetting the carb/calorie estimates, but I I want to say 1 waffle was more than a clif bar.

And agree - I tried to eat skratch bars last winter and they almost ripped my teeth out or made be crash every time I tried to take a bit, they were so hard.

EDIT: I found my recipe: >300 calories, 32g carbs, 11g sugar, 7g protein per waffle, using pancake mix, 1 banana, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, chocolate, and nuts. The 1/2s or 1/4s fit well into my top tube bag.

I have recently discovered perfect solid fuel for me:
Aldi’s Kuchen Party waffles :slight_smile: they are very easy to digest, soft, you can add some jam or peanut butter if you like. When I have some time I also like rice cakes or homemade fruit bars. To be honest I never liked the ready bars od any type - they are too solid for me, or any chews. The waffles have perfect consistency and can be easily squized to put more in to the pockets.

Only thing I wouldn’t like about waffles is, that they are pretty voluminous.
3 Clif bars easily fit in one jersey pocket, while you would need 13 of said Aldi waffles to have the same amount of carbs.

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If I use solid food on a cold ride I have to keep it close to my skin. If wearing leg warmers, I’ll shove one or two items at a time up the leg band of my shorts. If wearing tights, I store it in the top of my tights. I do this with gels, bars or chews. It’s not perfect, but helps.

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can never go wrong with PBJ sandwiches


I make my own that look like that.

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I’d look into something like the Allen Lim Rice Cakes…good flavor, won’t be hard to chew and you can customize as you wish.


Cornish pasty?


True, but for me solid food is rather stomach filler than carbs. On these long rides my stomach get empty feeling and I need to put there something other than liquid. Even 3 waffles are enough for 4h ride when supplemented with highly concentrated carbs. I put 300g of carbs (didn’t have to put more but it is very doable) in one bottle, 2 bottles of liquid and some solid food. Sip a very little from the bottle and follow it with sip of water.

Drinks or just powder?
Beta fuel hardly blends when I tired two in one 750ml bottle and that’s just 160g of carbs.

300g carbs as a result. I buy maltodextrine, fructose and add some flavour (I use very small amount of bcaa because the flavours from bulk are great - watermelon is my favourite). There is absolutely no problem with solubility, no lumps at all (use 950 ml bottles).

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Interesting. Gotta give that a try. I have never tried putting that many carbs into a water bottle. Every sip is like 100kcal :joy:.


Yes it is, so be careful - I use elite fly water bottles and one squeeze is like eating 2 gels :slight_smile: So sip slowly and always follow with sip of water. But I do this for whole year and I do not see any gastric issues or any other problems and it is amazing space saver.

Started to do this on the trainer to test things out it just worked. Not to mention that doing mix yourself you have more control what you put there.

It can be maltodextrine or malto with cluster dextrine if you are feeling fancy on a given day:) I usually go 2:1 with fructose, only because 1:1 is too sweet for me and fructose is worse for me in terms of gastric feeling if I fuel too much.

Solid food is tricky in winter. That’s why I ditched it. And it’s better for dental health, my dentist has already made enough money with me.

Above 2-3°C I don’t change a lot. For below I have insulated bike bottles but insulation is pretty poor. Only keeps it warm(ish) for the first 90min or so. That’s why I use a USWE hydration pack. I only add pure water to it. A highly concentrated carb mix goes into the insulated bottles and/or softflasks in my back pockets. Usually the bike bottle for the first part of the ride and the soft flasks for the later part. This works nicely for multi hour base rides below 2-3°C in winter.

With solid food I would wear an additional super thin hot summer jersey below my winter jacket. For the extra back pockets. I would stuff them with ricee or polenta cakes. However, as already alluded to, I found this to be too much of an hassle.

I experienced the same when starting out with liquid fuel, as have a number of my clients. It’s the result of your gut processing them much more quickly and titrating sugar into blood stream faster, as you probably know.

The surprisingly simple solution to this:

Drink more often and in higher quantity per hour.

Optimal fueling rates with solid foods (grams of carb per hour) are often 10-30% lower than with a liquid-only approach.