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Everything was going fine until.......

pommygit's picture

By pommygit - Posted on 09 March 2014

I got back in the car after a couple of laps taking in Duck Hole/ Centre Trails, headed back to Long via Perimeter Trails then to the car. Thats when the games began.

Was feeling tired but overall quite good, sore legs etc but nothing to stressful. Jumped in the vehicle for the drive home.

Anyhow, got as far as Terrey Hills shops and started feeling very faint with gastro type symptoms. With the AC pumping, still feeling very hot and almost loosing fluid at both ends I pulled over (twice) on Powderworks Road to recover. Made it home and collapsed on the floor, with very little sympathy from the missus, I puked, washed and fell asleep.

Never bonked before, I guess that was it, never again. The ride length seemed fine (50k) the fact I didn't consume enough calories during the ride was the deciding factor in my fate.

I know its an old topic- any hints on what to consume on longer rides, Im 45 hitting 46 if this helps and reasonably fit.

For the record I drank 2 ltrs of Gatorade and 4 pieces of dark choccy, looks like I should have eaten a lot more and drank less not sure??


Ian_A's picture

I'm no expert by any means but 2L of Gatorade on a 50km ride is heaps. I had about 700mL of staminade over a 100km mtb ride today. I recon you were completely overloaded with salt and sugar. Maybe try more water and less Gatorade - you'd probably only need around 1.5L fluid in total over 50km and have a little more solid food.

sikllama's picture

Lots of knowledgable people on here that will give sound advice but it's generally accepted that consuming 1 gram of carbs per kg of body weight per hour is a good starting point. It was a little warm today so drinking 2L over what would have been a 2.5 - 3hr ride isn't excessive. I generally go through 600ml of endura per hour on my rides but everyone is different.

Hawkeye has a great article (from AMB mag I believe) about nutrition on the bike. I've been following it religiously since last year (after I got cold shivers on a high 20's day at Ourimbah as i overheated and generally didn't feel right) and haven't come close to bonking since then.

Getting nutrition right really increases your enjoyment of MTBing!

Fatboy's picture

We are all different re what we need. Apart from the general rule re carbs as mentioned at 1g/kg body weight/hour the hydration part is very different. For example, I did a 4hr ride last weekend in the rain with a mate. Being cool and wet I didn't need my usual 1L/hr (I sweat heaps) so took 2 bottles thinking that would get me through. I ended up drinking my mates bottle as well. He didn't even drink a sip during the 4 hrs...

pommygit's picture

Thanks for the advice fellas.

Thought I was fine drinking that amount, the only thing I can think of is, not carbing up the night before, also throughout the day, conscious I was riding in the arvo.

Next time, will carb up prior & eat more during the ride.


hawkeye's picture

Measure your weight before and after the ride. Digital scales are best. 1kg weight loss = 1 litre you didn't drink. Urine should be light to clear.

it doesn't take much fluid loss to get into serious trouble. The light headedness and vomiting/diahorrea sounds a lot like dehydration or heat stroke or a combination of the two.

1g carbs per kg bodyweight per hour works for me.

Preloading with carbs with a good plate of rice or pasta the night before does help but its not a deal breaker for me but it does depend on what else I've eaten over the last 24 hours.

Gatorade is mass market garbage. Get a proper drink base like High5, Endura or Hammer. Gels shoukd be part of your arsenal and sport specific carb bars are good if you want something with a bit of texture. Bananas are good too although a bit bulky.

andyfev's picture

Sounds like a classic case of sunstroke to me. Chocolate is a very bad choice of carbs as it is a fatty carb... Hard to digest and won't give you the energy you wanted.

I've recently done a fair amount of reading on this topic some of which supplied by Hawkeye (cheers Eye-wink) The Aus institute of sport website is a great resource and well worth a read.

Whilst Gatorade and Powerade are "commercial" products and do not contain the same complex carbohydrate as other more science based sports drinks they're still better that just water alone. The trick is to drink little amounts regularly not a large amount in one hit.

Everybody is different with regards to fluid intake requirements and training should be part of working out what you need. Environmental factors make a big difference too. Note that even if it's cold and you don't sweat much you still need fluid to maintain normal homeostasis.

Hope you're feeling better.

Hackasaurus's picture

Very interesting discussion as I'm still learning what works and what doesn't. As Hawkeye has suggested, jumping on the scales before and after a ride is a very good indicator of hydration levels. Checking your weight occasionally on a non-ride day is also useful to normalise your expectations. That's my belief anyway.

I am 42, 100kgs and of poor to moderate fitness, but trying hard to improve. Have come a long way since my first day on the bike about two years ago (first bike ride for over 20 years) when I bailed after about 500 metres up a slight incline as I thought my legs were going to explode.

I find that cramping in my quads is the biggest limitation I currently face when trying to ride longer distances or ride a known shorter distance much faster than before. 35km is a long (slow if it involves hills) ride for me at the moment and it doesn't seem to matter how strong I'm feeling towards the end of the ride, its that last push to have some fun before heading home that it happens. Not every time as I've learned how to anticipate it and manage it for the ride home, but it's a real bugger.

On those occasions when I have been in poor shape after a ride I've either had mild headaches or more fatigue than was warranted by the ride, but it's not necessarily consistent. Sometimes I reckon I can guarantee that it's from not drinking enough (debate about the quality of sports drinks aside), but sometimes a bit of post-ride analysis suggests it may be from drinking too much relative to ride time and effort. Only once though, have I ever felt truly sick and that was stupidity on my part. About 3 hours on the trails (long time for the early days of my MTB career) in high 30's temps and only two bottles of plain water and a muesli bar. Hence my current survivalist approach documented below. Never felt sick on a ride since.

I always carry 2L of water in the Camelback and 2x 600ml bottles of Gatorade on the bike. Only carry this much in case I decide to stay out longer in warmer weather or ride a bit further and would rather carry the extra weight than be caught short. Usually come home with just under a litre in Camelback and maybe one bottle untouched, but sometimes I'll empty the lot. Just drink when I feel thirsty with some extra consumption when I know the ride is about to get harder and I'm going to sweat a lot. Once I get home I then try to have small but regular drinks of water or occasionally juice, tea, etc for the remainder of the day so that I don't overload, but don't fall behind with my hydration. Seems to work OK most rides. I also try very hard to resist the temptation to have a rum (or any alcohol) that day. If I'm not as well hydrated as I thought I was it hits me like a truck.

For energy I take muesli or "fruit" bars and used to eat whatever I had. These days I still carry several bars, but usually only eat one despite the longer distances. If I eat more than one I deliberately space them out from about the first 50-60 minutes onwards. I sometimes toodle around for many hours just because I can. It is usually preventative where I am wanting to try to ride a bit further and feel that the previous proper meal may not be sufficient as a base to sustain me well into the ride.

I'm not into gels or supplements (other than Gatorade for a bit of sodium and a few extra carbs and to make the water taste interesting) so I've just tried a few different normal foods. Stuff that is packaged and won't turn to mush or go rancid in the heat. After going through several different flavours of Uncle Toby's and some other brand name bars I gave them up as they were like eating cardboard and had a lot more fat than I had thought. Pays to read the nutrition labels.

Most convenient commercially packaged stuff (what I can grab while shopping at Woolies or similar) has crazy amounts of either fat, additives or refined sugar with little nutritional benefit and not enough carbs to make it worthwhile. After reading a lot of nutrition labels I've settle on two types of bars (bars meet the durability requirements) that are equally edible, especially when you're hot and bothered, and have tolerable amounts of bad stuff relative to carbs. They are not health foods, but neither do they make me gag like the big brand name bars nor give me a sugar rush and subsequent sugar crash.

Aldi Hillcrest Fruity Filled bars are a current favourite and Mother Earth Baked Oatey Slices are a close second. I keep eyeing off bags of nuts and seeds at the supermarket, but haven't committed yet as small bags are expensive at say one bag per ride and big bags are, well, big and would take forever to get through. Many seeds and some nuts are a very good source of magnesium and I'm thinking this might help my cramping. You lose magnesium (important for muscle function) in sweat and interestingly most sports drinks (that I've looked at anyway) don't contain it.

I noticed that Hawkeye mentioned bananas. If you like 'em, but are worried about the bulk or effect the heat might have on them I've noticed that Woolies (and probably every other grocery store) sell bags of dried banana pieces. Might have to give that a go myself.

Anyhoo, hope I haven't hijacked the thread. As I said up top, it's a very interesting topic and I'd love to hear from others.



hawkeye's picture

Sure, better than plain water but I always suffer on the bike with that stuff.

Depending on temperature I get 1 to 1 1/2 hours per 750ml bidon with 3 scoops of High5. I use gels to adjust the carb intake to the 1-1.2g per kg per hour based on perceived need for fuel. On a hot day I drink more and use less gels. 60km on the mtb and 85 on the roadie will usually see me go through 3 bidons and I carry another litre sometimes 2 in the Camelbak for a reserve when the heat is nasty. This summer has been pretty mild. Either that or I was getting more efficient. Was... all undone now thanks to this stupid knee. Sad

That pretty much does me. Sometimes I'll treat myself with Aunty Ems cookies - nice and soft and moist, easy to get down but not cheap. Fresh white bread jam sangas work well as a cheap option. I love those fruit cake slices you used to be able to get individually wrapped from the supermarket but haven't seen them for ages.

Edit: you must start your intake within the first 15 minutes or you will never get it back. Leaving it to 50 minutes to start topping up almost guarantees your tank is empty leaving you nothing in reserve.

You can get by with other stuff including muesli bars or nut bars but when I'm going hard and pushing my aerobic limits on a training ride I find that other stuff just doesn't fill the tank fast enough. Of greater concern, it sticks like dry peanut butter to the roof of my mouth and starts to worry me as a choking hazard unless I throttle right back.

Hackasaurus's picture

Thanks Hawkeye. Duly noted. I'll keep experimenting with food and try eating earlier in the ride. I'll also look at the drink supplements you mentioned and ditch the Gatorade.

hawkeye's picture

If you buy from the right place, cost works out about the same as the tubs of Gatorade powder from the supermarket

Black Flash's picture

Something I learned from @gazza.
Know where lots of drinking water taps are. I now carry One water bottle and a few high5 electrolyte tabs and top up when necessary.
There are taps at the terrey hills shops, west head, church point, st Ives showgrounds and even at the hydro lab at the dam.

If you are riding more than 3 hours, you should really carry or plan to get access to some kind of food. As @hawkeye has mentioned, sandwiches are great (my pref is peanut butter and honey) wrap them in glad wrap and put them in whatever pocket you want. They mould to any shape! Smiling

Or include a bakery on your route. Mmmmmmmmmm..... Steak n mushroom pies.....

Gels are good, some bars are good.

Find what works for you, you'll be surprised at how much longer you can ride when you're hydrated and adequately fuelled.

Remember to take all your rubbish home or at least dispose of in the correct manner.

pommygit's picture

I think thats where I went wrong, not enough solid before or during.

Never really thought about refueling before in detail. I always made sure I had drink and a snack, intervals of intake, very sporadic at best or when I felt hungry.

Looks like I learned a lesson. Ill definitely take more care next time,

Thanks for the tips.

stefan43's picture

download a free copy of Steve Born's ebook on
He gave a talk at City Bike Depot some time ago. it's worked wonders for me and got me through the 100mile fling without a single cramp or other issue...

evan's picture

My picks are High5 products and for GU gels or chomps work. Staminade has magnesium in it and you can buy it tubs at Woolworths. I usually take 2 bottles with me. One has a Staminade mix in it and the other water. On the rides I go on I know where taps are and just top up my water bottle when needed.


StanTheMan's picture


yea fluids are important. I find after a roughly 60 min commute I'm about 1 kg lighter in the current weather. If I'm riding for 60 min or so I don't require water intake. Anything more than that.... I make sure I have water with me. I used to get into the Gatorade when i first started commuting. eventually I only took it on when my body told me I need it.
No I don't feel the need. However In a race....I always take on supplements. If a lap is around 60 min. I don't take any water. of course in the case of the Sydney 24 at mt Annan in 2012 where it was 40 deg. heat. That would be murder. Its not a rule set in stone.

Part of the cramping would be from sweat and important body nutrients by the sounds of it in the case of the poster above as well as you have to make sure you stretch. Eventualy as you get used to distances & you eat the right things....the cramping will come less frequent.
In the case of Mt Annan in 2012....I started cramping after about lap 3. That was purely because of the amount of body liquids I had lost as well as lack of stretching.
The Dr who was massaging there took one good look at me & said....."nothing I can do for you". & gave me a lecture about stretching.
Of course she was right. I'm hopeless at stretching just don't do anywhere near enough.
Of course after that....after every ride in that race I stretched and i got through the race.

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