Winter Endurance MTB race nutrition

I’ll be doing some endurance 6+ hours mountain bike races this winter, and am wondering about what you guys use for nutrition. I traditionally rely on fluid based nutrition, with a few gels here and there. The last time I tried drinking that many fluids for a winter race (1 bottle or so per hour), I found myself needing to pee every hour which was quite annoying. During warmer months, this isn’t so much a problem due to increased sweat rate.

I’m just looking for some winter race nutrition tips! Will rice cakes be too hard to chew in 30 degree weather? Will gels be frozen? Not sure if I’ll have my wife there as race support handing me nutrition when I come around every lap, so it may be running to the car to pick up stuff myself. Anyone ever try some nice warm broth in a bottle to warm you up and provide some salty nutrition? Any tips would be appreciated!

Depending on the technicality of the race it might be hard to handle a complicated messy solid food like a rice cake. Make sure you can eat with one hand, either by pre-unwrapping the foods and putting them in your jersey pocket, or shoulder pocket on hydration pack, or bento box on top tube.

What works best for me on long races over many years is a lighter concentration hydration mix like Skratch which adds calories and takes care of electrolytes, plus some normal solid foods (some variation of bars that I really like, dried bananas, salted dates, etc.), switching to more gel/chew type foods later in the race when I’m tired of eating.

The broth idea sounds divine though. It’s very low calorie, but I would think the salt and warmth is going to lift your spirits if it’s really cold.


I find it hard to chew food when I’m working hard on the bike so I would opt for gels even with a race distance as long as you’re expecting. Perhaps make your fluid drinks a little stronger as you won’t be drinking so much due to the cold, as it’s another good way of getting those calories in.

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I don’t think you’ll have problems with gels freezing up at 30 degrees, that’s pretty warm. Solid food can be difficult for me later in a long effort like that but the soup sounds fantastic! Have you tried maple syrup in a gel flask? I used it a couple of times this year in addition to my normal Tailwind mix & it was great!

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Three Popeye’s drumsticks, one in each jersey pocket, for starters.


Change nothing, since it works for you, except making your drink mix more concentrated and drink less. For example, make a double strong bottle that lasts 2 hours. This way you’re consuming the same calories but less water, since sweat rates are significantly less in winter.

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I recently did a fairly challenging 100km Mtb race.
I consumed a gel every 30minutes energy wise I felt great.

I divided 14 gels up into 3 gel flasks and marked the bottles where each gel was.

It was about 13-14gels by the end of the race.

Then had electrolytes in my bottles.

Worked well for me.


These are all some great tips! Thanks!

Buying a gel flask now!