Nutrition for 2 hour rides

Hello everyone!

I am going through general build mid-volume and need some help with nutrition for the two hour Sunday rides. I eat a bowl of Raisin Bran crunch with almond milk about an hour before, and eat three individual apple cinnamon fig bars during the ride. I also have 2 large bottles of water and one bottle with electrolyte mix. With about thirty minutes to go I start feeling weak then when I get done I feel light headed, weak, and a little nauseous. Does anyone know what could cause this and how to prevent it?


2hr Sunday ride is 2hrs of easy or 4x20min SS or what? More details!

If you feel light headed and weak, it sounds like you are doing a workout and have insufficient fuel.

Try taking a Gel or Bar after an hour, I would also eat a banana just before getting on your bike. Try it once and adjust if you need more. If you find that does not help, try a bar and gel before you start and another around an hour in. You should be looking at 60 - 90 grams of Carb’s per hour = eat something every 20 mins / bar / gel / shot blocks etc… is what’s recommend - this normally need a little bit of experimentiation as it can cause stomach problems.


Agree with @GrahamH above, also mix in a sports fuel drink, I use Hammer Heed. But there are plenty of other good fuel drinks.

Okay, I don’t know if I have the science down perfectly…but

Eating 1 hour before isn’t the ideal window for eating before riding. Usually 2.5 to 3 hours prior, allows you to elevate blood sugar and get it back down again. 1 hour before is like the toughest time because your body is diverting its attention to increasing insulin levels to get back to homeostasis, then you head out there to ride/race and your body’s glucose levels plummet.

There’s more science to back this up on the internet somewhere, and I’m fairly sure TR has discussed it in a podcast at some point.


Eating 1 hour before the ride is a mistake I think. I’ve seen studies where that can cause hypoglycemia during the ride (low blood sugar). I’ve experienced it myself.

Try to eat 3 hours before the ride or immediately before.

I either eat a meal 3 hours before, then a gel 10-15 minutes before.


Ezekiel raisin bread with honey in my kit, finish that up, hop on the bike. I’ll only do that if it’s an early morning workout and I can’t eat 3 hours before the ride.


Agree eating 3 hours out. Even at the 2 hour mark after a large carb-centric meal i was feeling terrible up until at least 45-60 mins into a intense workout. Have started measuring my blood sugars to see if i can substantiate a ‘sweet spot’ when best to get on the bike after a large pre-ride meal.

What kind of intensity are you guys doing these rides where your out of energy after 40-60 minutes?

It seems abnormally fast to be drained to the point of needing more food.

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Now you have me thinking… I’ve struggled the last number of weeks on faster/ race group rides. I was fueling more (overnight oats/ oatmeal), but I maybe should’ve stuck with going out fasted and eating early like I did on the more “social” spins. (I was eating early on the faster spins too, but with the addition of the oats).

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My thought in addition to your timing, where I agree eating earlier is probably better, though I often do Ezekiel raisin bread with honey just a few minutes before a morning session…

Try in ride fueling with a liquid source - sports drink or gel. Anything with intensity draws blood away from basic functions and to your muscles. You may not be digesting the solid bars well during your ride and thus not getting the carbs and calories you need quickly enough. I have never had success with solid fueling alone on rides, I don’t even really like energy chews personally. I suspect you’d have better success with gel or drink, where the sugar is more easily and quickly absorbed on ingestion.

Same concept applies after your ride where most take in a liquid recovery drink then eat a few hours later. The nutrients in the liquid are more easily absorbed while your body is directing energy and resources to recovery.

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Out of interest: do you do this workout AM or PM?

You mention you follow the general build MV plan, so I’m assuming you ride on Saturday as well.

My advice would be to take the entire weekend into consideration: let’s say you finish your ride on Saturday (which has quite some work at 95%FTP or in the worst case: Spanish Needle) around 4PM. If your post ride nutrition is suboptimal, you only have a light dinner, some greek yoghurt before you go to bed and than breakfast with the food you mention above, your ‘fuel tank’ is not at 100%. Performing 5x15 minutes at sweetspot at AM timing will feel terrible… Just because you haven’t replenished the energy you have used to day before.

As a guideline, for trainings > 2hours, I use:
-2 to 3 hours prior workout: last big meal, lots of carbs - not too much fat
-During: 60 grams of carbs per hour (1 bottle of isotone drink + 1 bar/banana/…
-Within 15 minutes after the workout: recuperation shake (home made or of the shelf)
-Within 2 hours:
A) Rehydrate! (I’m not a doctor, but this can be the rootcause of your nauseous feeling)
B) A meal with carbs & protein


This is very true for me too. I have eaten a bowl of porridge one hour before thinking easy to digest this has left me with the jitters.
Toast is fairly good to have before you get changed. But beware toast, coffee then getting fully kitted up could lead to needing a dump.


I typically do my rides first thing in the morning (start between 5:30am and 6:00am) normally on the 1:30 rides I will eat a piece of toast with honey and a cup of black coffee and be fine the entire time, even during VO2 max efforts. Directly after the ride I take in a homemade recovery drink (dark chocolate almond milk, whey protien powder, a banana and two medjool dates.) I think my timing on pre-ride nutrition for those 2 hour rides may be what’s messing me up.

I’ve had a couple of occasions recently where I know the workout will be hard but I have to do them first thing in the morning - I’ve had my breakfast the night before, just before bed! Worked out well!

I just got through GBHV that has a lot of 2hr workouts. All my workouts start around 5am so all I had time for was a bagel w/Almond Butter on it and a cup of coffee usually 15-30 minutes before the ride. The first half of the build plan I would only drink water and eat a small snack at the 1 hour mark. I kept a small Gatorade next to me in case I needed it and during tougher workouts I did usually drink it if not just for the mental boost. This strategy worked okay but the 2nd half of the build I started eating around 30 minutes in and again after the first hour and that seemed to help me finish stronger without the need for Gatorade. My go to snacks were banana and Larabars. Seemed to work for me.

I forgot to mention I have a bad habit of eating a pretty massive amount of calories just before bed. It’s a terrible habit.

My method for fueling first thing in the morning rides:

  1. Prep sport drink night before, already sitting in the bike, with ~120 cal in it. For a two hour ride I’ll normally do two for ~240 cal. Goal is to finish them with 10-15 min to go in the workout.
  2. Get on the bike and start the warmup.
  3. Eat a bar that is weighted slightly towards CHO. I’m not too worried about the protein and fiber that sneaks in here. I want something that will sit in my stomach a little, but give me a slow drip nutrition to some extent. Ends up being ~200 cal.
  4. Eat a blok every 10-15 minutes. If it’s an hour endurance ride this is generally omitted. For 90 minute rides I want to finish the sleeve right before/halfway into the last interval or with 15 minutes to go. For 120 min rides I go up to two sleeves. So that’s 200-400 cal.
  5. Hop off the bike and do 200 calories of 4:1 CHO:protein recovery drink. I only skip this if I have to do a PM ride and don’t have anything the next day, and even then I’ll take it if I had any kind of intensity.
  6. An hour or two later I’ll have a 200-400 cal breakfast of instant oatmeal.

At my middling FTP that means that after my recovery drink I end up +/- 100 calories for 60-90 minute efforts and down 200-300 calories for the two hour efforts after the recovery drink. That means it is easy enough to find a reasonable landing place with breakfast and morning snacks to bridge to lunch.

I imagine that I may need to modify my pre/post ride fueling as my calorie demands climb, but I haven’t considered that yet.

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Most of the time I will just drink water for an easy two hour ride.I might have some carbo drink on standby just in case.

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I eat an hour before a ride all the time w/out issue. A couple of things have to be considered. What type of meal are you eating (e.g., banana, porridge, steak and eggs, etc…)? What kind of ride are you about to do (e.g., VO2 intervals, coffee ride w/the crew, etc…) Lastly, not everyone is the same.

When I say eat an hour before, it’s very light. A bagel or a very small serving of muesli typically along w/coffee. I can do any workout about an hour later on the bike. I specified bike, because if I’m running, 2.5hr minimum or I’m spitting it up, even on an easy run. Hence, I typically run fasted and pop a gel if needed. But, I know others who can literally eat bacon, eggs, coffee and hit the start line of a 10km half an hour later and go full gas.

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@Nate_Pearson does this carry through to less intense, longer endurance rides? I’ve 200km plus (flat) audax coming up at the weekend. I won’t be getting up to eat 3 hours before the start. So skip the oats, and go for simple carbs (e.g. Bagel) in the car to the start? Or as it’s lower intensity does that change things, in your experience?

After the lifestyle and diet change I’ve made over the last 5 or 6 years, I thought I had this stuff nailed, but I’m always learning on this! In ride, I’m happy, but feel like pre ride I’m still not getting it right.

I would experiment to see what works, but i like the mix of simple (honey) and complex (Ezekiel) at the start. I’d do the same if I had to do it for a race, but your mileage may vary.