Portable carbs for 7 hours

I finished a gran fondo last weekend, and had a repeat of a problem I’ve experienced before and would like to fix. After about three hours, I converted over to aid-station nutrition instead of my tested stand-bys, and it went sideways.

I took in 90gm/hour of carbs for the first three hours and felt fantastic, then ran out of supplies that I brought on the bike. The HEED at the aid stations was fine, but that’s only 25 gms of carbs. The problem was, I couldn’t find anything palatable to supplement that. Gels, nutrigrain bars, and PB&J sandwiches were making me feel really nauseated, as sometimes happens in heat (weirdly, candy usually is fine even in the hear, but I didn’t have any). I was desperate for something less sweet and struggling to stay fueled.

I typically prefer to get all of my ride nutrition in liquid form, but drinks served at events are rarely more than 25 gms/bottle. What can I easily carry with me for hours 3-7 (240-360 gms of carbs total, not too sweet and highly portable)? Should I take four gel flasks filled with just maltodextrin, to supplement the sports drink they supply? I would need a bento box (not enough space in jersey pockets), but it would be worth it.

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I’d say start the ride with solid foods like rice cakes and bars and leave the gels for those last few hours instead. This seems to be the going nutrition strategy I hear most often and has served me well personally. It will make the carbs in your bottles go further as well.

If you’re interested in making and bringing your own food, I’m a fan of the rice cakes found in the Feedzone Cookbook for my longer rides. They’re not super flavorful and are easy to eat on the bike or when stopped at an aid station. The book has a ton of solid recipes that have become staples in my life, and is totally worth it imo.

There’s also Feedzone Portables for more home made options you could make and bring with you, but I don’t own that one so I can’t speak to any of the recipes.

Only three hours?

First two hours’ worth of carbs should already be in the bottles.

Each subsequent hour can be fueled with, say, one Beta Fuel. I could easily fit three in each of my side jersey pockets, plus a 7th and my phone in the middle pocket. For me, that’s enough fuel for a 200km solo ride. A fondo usually won’t last that long since I’m latching onto groups and catching a draft.


There is plenty of room on the top tube:

In only want my trusted pure Maltodextrin-Fructose mix for long races. Commercial gels/drinks offered at aid stations often contain additives. I’m not scared of additives but sum up how much you take in over the course of 12h race or so. And often the label says do not consume more than 3 or 4 per day. The crucial experience for me was a 7h race where they only provided gels with coffein. I fully relied on the aid stations and was not aware of the coffein content. 3 to 4 gels per hour, each with coffein. This was not healthy and made me feel really sick. I just figured out after the race. Since then it’s all self-supported.


Make one or two bottles at 3-4x concentration, one bottle of just water and subsequently dilute with the aid station mixes so you get your overall carbs for the 7 hours. Add in gels like sis or maurten


This. ^^

I just carry Maurten packets or put my own mix in ziplock bags. One bag per bottle, all bags stuffed in one bigger bag that goes into my middle jersey pocket. Then mix with the pure water at rest stops. You look like a coke dealer, but it works fine.


I’ve done this in the past, but I’ve found it hard to pour into the bottle compared to the commercial sachets. The last few times I’ve used electrolyte/ vitamin c 20 tablet tubes - I’ve found they hold 40g of mix (which is the equivalent of the likes of SIS sachets).


Thanks all, for the replies. I had guessed that ~450 grams of mix (homemade or Maurten) would not fit in jersey pockets and so hadn’t tried, so that is good to know that I was wrong. For those that use the 4x concentrated mix, you keep that bottle in a cage and only have one bottle of water (or traditional-strength mix) in the second cage? Or both cages get drinkable bottles, and the concentrate goes into a back bottle or something similar? I need two bottles to drink between aid stations.

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Yeah, it can be a bit of a sticky mess if you mess up the pour, but way better than trying to drink Gatorade on a long hot ride :face_vomiting:

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Same here, my first attempts were with ziplock bags as well. This got messy. It rained and it was windy. Wasted half of it. Later in better condtions it was a quite cumbersome. And it all got sticky. And this all after many hours in a dellusional state

That’s why I changed over to little plastic bottles. A few in the jersey pockets, a few taped to the top tube as shown in the picture above. Sufficient for loooong races. I can fill the drinking bottles while riding. Just add some water at the aid station and I’m good to go.


very timely discussion as I wasjust thinking about this ahead of my next event in a couple of weekends time. I took some ziploc bags last weekend and even pouring out at an indoor kitchen sink was a PITA so was thinking about my 8hr event and what to do… I like the idea of the concentrate bottle and the plastic electrolyte tubes as I have some of those handy.

I do have a vacuum sealer and was even considering making some DIY sachets of maltex and vac sealing them, then partially cutting them so I could tear off the corner, but really dont want to use single use plastics if there is any way to avoid it…

Recycle can be a bit hit and miss depending on the waste bins available at stops, but I definitely justify the tubes with “Reuse” (and “Reduce” my use single use plastics/ foil of the commercial options).

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This all entirely depends on how much water you need. I always keep one bottle with just water, personal preference, i like to be able to swig water after the carb mix be able to drink for thirst without worrying about taking in too much carbs. Third bottle goes in the jersey pocket. If you know that you won’t need as much water early in the event, fill the third bottle with just your powdered mix, it can contain 4-5 servings. Alternatively you can add water and thoroughly mix the bottle to make diluting and mixing easier later on. Then the second bottle in the cage can get 1 to 4x mix depending on if you need to consume the whole second bottle between your stops. if you think you’ll drink only 1.5 bottles then mix at 3-4x and only drink half of the mix bottle and all of the water.

When you get to the stop you either top off both bottles or add some of the powder/liquid from the third bottle back into the second bottle and add water. Eventually you add water to the third bottle too or ditch it at a stop if empty depending on hydration needs.

For shorter rides you can use the same strategy with just two bottles and supplement with whatever the stops have. I personally have no problem with fizzy coke which hits the spot or candy/cookies with a handful of potato chips. I carry savory rice cakes for a change of pace and to add a bit more digestible carbs/salt