"Fueling For A Mountain Bike Ride" was written by Qloom ambassador, Lee McCormack. Lee is a world renowned mountain bike technique author and instructor based in Boulder, CO. Check out his books, in-person clinics and free articles at www.leelikesbikes.com. See our full selection of snacks for fueling MTB rides HERE.
As a mountain bike skills author and instructor, I get to ride in some very cool places with very cool people. Not only do I get to ride all of the trails the clients ride, but I have to ride them perfectly, and sometimes I have to ride them again even faster -- for the sake of learning, of course.
Meanwhile, I have to maintain high mental focus to keep everyone safe and learning. This all adds up to mega calories delivered throughout a long day. Here's how I fuel for a big day of riding and coaching.
Before: Water and Beets
If you believe the claims about the nitric oxide in beets, a well-timed beet dose can improve your endurance and recovery. When I use beet products, I feel like I can maintain a higher workload for longer, and it seems like I recover more quickly between efforts. That's all good stuff, so why not? While I work through my 20- to 40-minute off-bike warmup, I drink a large bottle of water mixed with beet powder. When the ride (or class) starts, I'm deeply warm, fully hydrated and ready to beet the world.
Before we take off, I make sure my hydration pack is filled with plenty of fluid, enough food to keep me and my clients happy and clothes for any conditions. After plenty of mishaps, I like to pack some light kneeguards; my foldable Qloom Buffalo rain jacket and an extra pair of ultra-light Qloom Sorento gloves. Dry hands are happy hands.
During: Bars, Water and Electrolytes
I love eating. I love riding. Eating while riding? Even better!
Once we start moving, I trickle a steady stream of small bars -- about one every two hours, eaten in small bites. I love the easy-carry of bars, but I want them to feel like real food. Can I see nuts? Are there obvious signs of plant life? Cool. Throw some chocolate on top and I'm even happier.
My hydration pack contains straight, old-school tap water. No distilled water for this guy; gotta get your selenium somewhere. Meanwhile, my water bottle contains new-school electrolyte powder or tabs. Since I'm alternating between the hydration pack and this bottle, and the bottle has to last all day, I usually mix the electrolytes 2x or 3x stronger than stock. One sip is a blast of sodium. Wash it down with water and you stay in balance.
Lunch: Fruit, Meal Bar and A Treat
Ah, the vista. The camaraderie. And the food! The only thing better than lunch … is lunch on a ride.
At mid day we stop for a proper sit-down meal and some talk-about time. I've carried big sandwiches into the field and loved them! But it's hard to resume shredding with a cannonball in your tummy. Here's my current favorite on-trail lunch:
- Fruit. Dried is easy to carry and can live in your pack for a while.
- A big, badass meal bar. A Probar Meal Bar is made of real food, it withstands intra-pack punishment and it has almost 400 calories of slow-release shred fuel.
- For dessert I savor a packet of honey peanut butter. Sugar, fat, salt and some protein. Four great tastes that taste great together.
Turbo boost: Sugar and caffeine!
If my kung fu wanes or we're about to attack a technical descent, I like a little something to perk me up, to sharpen my sword. Caffeinated gels or blocks hit me like a drug — boom! — and I’m ready to finish the day strong. Riding is awesome. Eating is awesome. Riding and eating is even more awesome. Have fun out there!
Need to fuel your next ride? Grab a box of snacks for your summer MTB rides HERE.