Fueling Strategy for Century bike ride

The Forum for Endurance Athletes

Fueling Strategy for Century bike ride

Postby sygyzy » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:19 pm


Two years ago I completed the Lighthouse Century on the central coast of California. I did not take any nurtritional data into account and did not use any real fueling strategy. I had coffee and ate a scone before the event, and throughout the day, just drank some electrolytes, water, and feasted on the trail mix, fruit, peanut butter, and chocolate they have available at the rest stops. It was a tough day for me but I never bonked and had no issues with recovery.

A year later (2010), I did the same event but this time with lots of intense research, reading pages upon pages of Hammer Nutrition literature, calculating calories/hr, oz of water/hr, weight, HR zones, etc. I didn't eat the morning of and carefully consumed Sustained Energy dosed in three hour bottles. I felt pretty bad most of the ride and wanted to drop out numerous times. I finished about 15 minutes slower than the year before. I should have done better seeing as how I had a year more experience and was a stronger rider over all. I should mention that heat was a problem for this year. It was an average of 90F and peaked around 107F.

Anyway, I was really disappointed because I was expecting to feel much better by not eating junk food. In reality, having no strategy at all in 2009 resulted in a ride that just felt better.

I have been using Hammer for a few years now and exclusively use Hammer Gel, HEED, and Recoverite for my training rides that are less than 2-3 hours. I am totally happy with the products. What worries me for this year's century, coming up at the end of this month (September), is an endurance strategy for fueling.

I would appreciate some help with this. Here is some information that might be useful:

    30 years old, 5'8", 161lbs
    100 mile bike event. Will take an estimated 6.5 hours
    Temperature: historical average 71F, last year 90+F
    Rest stops (water available), every 20 miles apart
    Average HR - 80-87% of max

I will not have a SAG wagon so I cannot expect someone to hand me a refrigerated bottle of Perpeteum or Sustained Energy. I can carry, at most, 2 water bottles at a time. Likely an insulated 24 oz bottle and a standard 16 oz bottle. I can carry two 24 oz bottles of necessary. I will not carry a third bottle in my jersey. I have no limits on what I carry in my jersey pockets so if it means 20 pills of Endurolytes or a dozen 0pills of Perpeteum solids, that's fine.

2009 Lighthouse Century
2010 Lighthouse Century
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:00 pm

Re: Fueling Strategy for Century bike ride

Postby jrawlins » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:03 am

I would never compare my results on a normal-temp ride with those on a very hot day like your century. My heart rate increases by about 20 bpm when I'm working hard and the temp goes from 80 to 100, and I often feel sick, have no strength, etc. etc. Heat will do that. I carry a 3rd water bottle in a pocket dedicated to soaking my head and chest, I take 6 Endurolytes/hr, and I think a light headscarf keeps the sun off one's head and retains the water so is actually cooler. But when all is said and done, if it's over 100, just finishing the ride is a victory.

Jack Rawlins
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:18 pm

Re: Fueling Strategy for Century bike ride

Postby steve-born » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:39 am

Hello sygyzy -

I agree with Jack 100%. When the temperatures/riding conditions are that extreme, it's impossible to gauge your performance as compared to what you've done under "normal" conditions.

In hot weather, your ability to process calories will most likely diminish while your fluid and electrolyte needs will go up. With that in mind, I'd suggest making a 3-hour bottle of Perpetuem or Sustained Energy. At 161 lbs I'd suggest making a 5-scoop bottle of Perpetuem. That will give you 675 calories, which will supply you with 225 calories an hour over the course of 3 hours... that's an amount I think would work just fine. If you're going to use Sustained Energy, I'd suggest you make a 6-scoop bottle. That will give you a 640-calorie bottle, providing you with just about 213 calories an hour over the course of 3 hours, which I also think would work well.

Also, I'd suggest using your 16-ounce water bottle for making your fuel in and use your 24-ounce bottle for water only. The main reason for this suggestion is because if you use the smaller bottle to make your fuel in that means you don't have to drink so much volume of flavored liquid on an hourly basis. Also (and I have no "science" to back this up), I have found that the more concentrated the mix of Perpetuem or Sustained Energy is, the longer it tends to last in the heat. So try mixing your Perpetuem or Sustained Energy in the smaller bottle and use the larger one for water.

If I remember correctly, the hilly century ride starts in San Luis Obispo, then goes inland for awhile (with lots of climbing), before heading back down to the coast on Hwy 1. I don't know what the temperatures will be nor do I know when the ride will start. However, given that the start will most likely be in the morning hours, which means it'll be a bit cooler, a 3-hour bottle of Perpetuem or Sustained Energy should stay cool most-to-all of the time and be quite palatable.

That would be my strategy, using Perpetuem or Sustained Energy to cover most of my calorie needs, using plain water from another bottle to cover hydration needs, and as many Endurolytes as is necessary to cover my electrolyte requirements. In terms of Endurolytes, I think that for you, starting at 3 capsules per hour - with the first dose taken before the ride starts - would be ideal, knowing that you can and should increase the dose on an as-needed basis in deference to the weather and other variables.

I'd also carry a full flask of Hammer Gel with me to cover 2 more hours of fueling requirements (you can use this after you finish that first 3-hour bottle of Perpetuem or you can use it later on in the ride). Now you've got 5 hours of fueling requirements covered from one 3-hour bottle of Perpetuem or Sustained Energy and 1 flask of Hammer Gel. To cover the other 1-2 hours you will need to stop and make another 2-hour bottle of Perpetuem or Sustained Energy at some point (so remember to carry some extra powder with you). You will probably not use all of what you've mixed in your bottle but it's always better to have a little extra fuel with you just in case you end up being out there longer than expected.

These are my suggestions, it'd be my basic strategy if I were doing this ride, and I hope you will find them - along with Jack's suggestions - to be helpful.

Just as an FYI, I will be out of the office and with limited internet capabilities. So if you post a question and it doesn't get answered right away, it's only because I'm out of town. I'll be back on Sunday night and if there are any posts on the forum I'll get to them on Monday.

Sincerely -

Steve Born
Fueling Expert
Event Sponsorship Coordinator
User avatar
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:16 pm

Re: Fueling Strategy for Century bike ride

Postby sygyzy » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:55 pm

Jack - Thanks for your help.

Steve - Thank you for taking the time to reply as well. Please bear with me while I ask for some clarification on your advice.

1. Do you have a personal recommendation of Perpetuem vs Sustained Energy for this particular ride I am doing? I don't care which I use, I was just curious what you thought or preferred.

2. This is really more of a product question. Other than the single serving packets, are Perpetuem and Sustained Energy still packaged in the pouches? I ask because Heed comes in a plastic barrel container but this is not reflected on the product page. Having a plastic barrel for 15-30 servings is just more convenient.

3. You are right on the ride course and time of day. It starts quite early and is usually pretty cold in the morning. It usually warms up quite quickly after that. I am hoping it's not a scorcher this year.

4. 16 oz bottle for calories, 24 oz bottle for water, 3 Endurolytes per hour - got it.

5. Can you clarify what the purpose of the Hammer Gel is? I thought it's only useful for exercising less than 2 hours. Will it still be effective hours 3 to 6? Does inserting gel randomly into the middle of a long event, buffered by Perpetuem/Sustained Energy really work? I am playing devil's advocate here because I really want to believe you are right. It would save me from having to drink a second bottle ... however you recommend doing just that - make another 2 hour bottle. Wouldn't it be just as effective to make a second 3 hour bottle?

Or is there any way I could do the three hour bottle + flask full of Hammer Gel (5 servings = 450 calories) + 6 tablets of Perpetuem for the remaining hour?

6. How do you recommend me carrying all this powder with me? For the Endurolytes and gel, they have proper containers but having to carry a number of scoops for a potential second bottle of calories is challenging. Do people just put it in a ziplock bag or something?

Thank you,
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:00 pm

Return to Endurance Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest