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Carbs: How many is enough?
By Coach Rick

After an underperforming race or ride one thing you in all probability would not say is 'I forgot to train".

You might however say something along the lines of 'I forgot to eat".

As silly as the first one sounds, they actually both hold equal importance and

either one can seriously derail you on race day.

Let's dive in.


A Recent article(linked below)makes some really important points about on the bike fueling:


Dietary trends come and go, but carbs will always remain the king of the endurance world.

Nutrition, and particularly carbohydrate, has now become so important that it’s seen as the third pillar of pro(and I would add for all riders)cycling alongside training and tech.

A rider that’s not optimally fueled will see much faster declines in their power profile during a long ride.

Carbohydrate is essential to mitigating that drop. 

And, going one step further, the better you’re eating on the bike, the better your chances for recovery the next day. 


OK, we all know we have to fuel during a ride.

Knowing how much and how often, ehhh, that's where things can get a little foggy.

The longer the ride, the more critical your fueling strategy becomes.

Not a big deal in a 45 minute crit, HUGE deal in a 7 hour Fondo.


You can have the fastest bike, be incredibly fit and still fall apart on race day with poor on-the-bike fueling.


 I have been racing for a long time and have made my share of mistakes when it comes to eating and drinking on a ride.

Case in point- Asheville 2022, National Championships Gran Fondo.

I  rode too hard between sections and got really ragged on when and how much I was eating, due to getting caught up in the race and going too long between fuel intake.

Result-The worst cramping episode of my life and power literally gone for the last couple of hours.

Pure misery.

That lesson was pretty well scorched into my brain and I knew just saying 'eat and drink, eat and drink' as the pre race protocol was not specific enough.

So, this last summer, I spent many miles experimenting  with specific carb intake

amounts per hour, mixing gels and drinks.

All of us are going to be different as to how much and what type of carbs we can stomach, and that is where each one of us needs to find what works for you specifically.

The ballpark number I arrived at for me is 90 carbs an hour. The pros are going higher, 120 and above, but I think 90 is a good starter point. Looking back, I may have gone several hours at Asheville with no more than maybe 30 grams in an hour. 


Make no mistake, the carb deficiency doomsday clock is ticking when you do that,

and it will come to haunt you.

 It sure did me.

Fast forward to this year at Maryland. I made sure I hit my 90 carb per hour window and was not in trouble all day(Except for the horrid weather, but I digress).


Sum up-

Give this linked article a read-Carb Fueling.

Then, revisit your own fueling practices, see how they work or don't work and make a plan for 2024 that you have confidence in.

Your coaches at VeloJawn are here to help, as always.

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