No eating on rides under 4 hours

On our weekly club rides I’m joining the ranks of a couple of long-term, experienced cyclists. Each time I’m amazed at the fact that I never see them eat anything and they hardly drink. Last week there was one of them who drank less than half a bottle on a 3-hour ride :scream:

When I ask them about it they say they adhere to the philosophy of not eating on rides under 4 hours (the body has enough reserves to do that), and sticking to just plain water. You have to make your body used to it, implying that I was training my body to expect all those extra sugars every time I ride.

Given their heart rates and absence of talking while the speed is up, I take it they’re suffering as hard as I am. So how do they do it? This kind of performance does not fit with what I learned about fuelling rides. Am I over fuelling at roughly 60g carbs an hour? Is it their years of training? Some have 20-30 years of riding bikes under their belt. Compared to my 5 years, yet in those 5 years, I went from being able to follow to being able to pull/attack in the same group. And given their signs of suffering I’m thinking they’re at least putting in some work…

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Sounds like they are misinformed. Your body has enough glycogen for about 90 minutes if you are riding hard. Yes your body can farm energy from other stores, but it costs more to do so, which will affect performance. They may think they’ve adjusted, but I think they are just suffering for no good purpose.


Some people are so used to suffering that they dont know any better.

for years I would go on a 20 mile run with just a slice of bread and pb, or maybe couple of fig bars (200c or less). And then gu gels every 6 to 8 miles… and water… I was perfectly fine, and I think you can train your body to use less energy, but at the end, you will suffer more than if you had more calories before and during.

When I started using TR i would do the same… just a sub 200c before my ride (more often than not just 100c). And i would do a SS wo. It would be VERY painful and I would be totally depleted and tired after…

Now I go all in… take about 500c before most rides… If its more than 1 hr or a wo that I will burn more than 600 calories or have a brick run after the ride, I would add roctane bottle and/or gel. It has made everything more manageable… and much less pain inducing…

I know people who can run in Florida heat for 8 miles with no water… and can run 15 miles with minimal water and no gels…

I can’t do that! Plus…whay would you…?


I’m guilty of not eating and drinking enough, probably having a small body frame helps too; but to have a 4h rule is stupid IMO.


I think this statement says a lot. You have improved, they have plateaued or if they improved, your rate of improvement have been higher! So I’d say keep fueling your efforts!

I’d agree with doing low intensity endurance rides without fueling. But anything over that, why not fuel?


I’ve been through this process, it’s a false economy. Fuel = work harder = get fitter = burn more kjs…


I don’t even bring anything except water for my outside rides which are typically 3-5 hours long.
If you eat a nice meal before the ride, you’ll be fine. You don’t need to eat every 15 minutes like you’re attached to an infusion.


They are doing it wrong. /story

  • If weight loss is your goal then don’t eat
  • If performance is your goal then eat

We sadly live in a culture that lauds not eating, when we should be doing the opposite with regard to sport. Food is fuel.


Think how good they could be with the right fuel…


I usually don’t fuel on endurance rides of up to 2.5hrs, just water.

Anything longer, or higher intensity = plenty of fuel


Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Not eating or drinking might be possible, but is it optimal? Definitely not.


For riders that want to perform sub-optimally follow this approach. If you want to perform optimally whether it is in training or racing (or simply just riding around) FUEL THE WORK.

If you want to lose weight and diet doing it on the bike is not the optimal approach.


Sounds like guys that still roll with 120psi in 23mm tires :stuck_out_tongue:


In addition to what everyone else already said, I’m also curious as to whether each of them downed a 1000 calorie breakfast. “If yall didn’t see me eat it, it didn’t happen…”

Any funky smells during the ride?


I eat every 3 h (except when sleeping) and I’m not even on my bike lol


It’s a pretty simple experiment. Do a difficult ride without fuel. Judge how you felt (RPE), how you rest, and how you recover. Write it all down. A week later, do the same ride but with fuel. Do the same look back. I’d bet money you feel better during and after the ride, and that you recover faster with the fuel.


And 11-23 cassettes (11-21 for racing).


and 53/39 on the front, of course :wink:


It’s possible they go out the night before, throw down thousands of calories of beer chased by fries and chips, go to sleep and then wake up regretting the brief bender they went on and are evening it out. Ive met a guy in the mirror more than a few times that has this thought process.


If you aren’t doing intensity, not much if any fueling is necessary. When I’m in peak form I can do 4-5 hours of Z2 on just water with little to no cardiac drift. At 50-60% V02max(Z2) about half your energy is coming from fat oxidation, so for ~200w that is roughly 300cal/hour from glycogen with about 1500 cal accessible glycogen