When you suddenly run out of energy during a long ride it’s like hitting a concrete wall.
It comes so quickly that the one minute you’re keeping up with your friends on a tough, long ride. The next minute they’re disappearing up the hills and you’re left behind, feeling shattered.
Did you know it may not be because they’re fitter than you!
This crash happens when your body runs out of its preferred fuel: glycogen – which is the energy you get when you eat carbohydrates. If you’re well fuelled before you start riding, you should have enough glycogen to last you approximately 90 minutes, depending on your fitness, body size, and riding intensity.
As it runs out, your body will progressively switch over to using fat as a fuel instead. Nothing wrong with that if you are okay with being slower than a sloth.
WHAT DAMAGE DO THESE CRASHES CAUSE?
During a three-hour ride, you’ll work your way through more calories than you would typically eat on a really generous day. So riding hard without constantly refuelling will leave you with a massive calorie deficit. This drops your riding performance like a hot potato, and your concentration goes through the window. Not a good idea when on a technical trail.
AVOIDING ENERGY CRASHES
The best way to avoid these crashes is to eat somewhere between 100 and 250 calories every 30 minutes (more if you’re racing). You don’t need to calculate everything to the nearest gram, but experiment a bit with what works
best for you. Just remember that the harder you ride, the more calories you need to replace.
Everyone responds differently so stick to what works for you and you’ll ride stronger and recover quicker.