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I like to mix almonds, walnuts, raisins, cashews and dried blueberries together have them as a snack throughout the day. I've never tried this food source on a 25-50 mile ride. I'd like some thoughts from knowledgeable people on how good this would be to eat during a ride. Anything good to add to this?

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I agree with the answers you've gotten if this is a casual, recreational ride. If the ride is a high intensity training ride, you'll want to consume carbs, possibly electrolytes, and definitely hydrate yourself. –  user313 Feb 8 '12 at 19:16
    
@wdypdx22 - Good point. This really wouldn't be a casual, recreational type ride. But not a race either. I would probably be averaging 16-18 miles per hour. Fitness is the goal here. –  Randy Minder Feb 8 '12 at 20:01
    
If you can, start the ride already well fed, so that you can make some "sugar fixes" with your suggested food during the ride, always with liberal amounts of liquid. Being previously well fed (not too much, of course) improves muscle endurance a lot. –  heltonbiker Feb 8 '12 at 20:06
    
@Randy - I use Carmichael's "The Time Crunched Cyclist" as one of my main training guides. Carmichael stresses the importance of fueling for intense training, especially carbs. Joe Freil also makes similar recommendations. –  user313 Feb 8 '12 at 20:18
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I asked a similar question at bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/3532/1097 (so you might find some of the answers to that question helpful too). –  ChrisW Feb 9 '12 at 14:27
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3 Answers 3

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The EXPERIENCED CYCLIST, who is not, eg, out of shape after a long winter does not need any food for 50 road miles. This is because his muscles and liver have "learned" to store extra sugar/carbs to provide energy over a long period of time.

But a beginning cyclist who is not, say, already a distance runner or otherwise used to exercising vigorously for several hours DOES need some extra carbs along the way to keep his blood sugar up, not, perhaps, for a 25 mile ride, but for a 50 mile one. (Note, you DON'T want large amounts of fat or protein -- these do nothing to help your sugar levels and they are hard to digest.)

The form of the carbs is not especially critical, other than the food should be chosen for convenience, neatness (you don't, eg, want chocolate smeared all over your hands), and personal taste.

Avoid foods with any significant amount of fat, and avoid spicy or strongly flavored foods -- these may seem appetizing at the store but do not go down well or "sit" well on the road, especially if you allow yourself to become a hair dehydrated (which of course you shouldn't do, but it happens). A modest amount of salt is desired, but too much (without enough water) can send your stomach on a spin. (The nut-raisin snack, by itself, is just a tad "heavy" for my taste, and may be a hair too heavy in terms of fat. But as one of a small variety of snacks it's fine, and likely a decent source of salt.)

I would say figure on about 500 calories of mostly carb snacks for a 50-mile, 3-hour ride. This isn't nearly enough to replace the calories you burn, but it is enough to prevent a low blood sugar condition.

And, of course, HYDRATE!

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I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that the "experienced cyclist" gets hungry, too. Leaving home without some sort of caloric supplement in your back pocket is highly inadvisable and a great way to bonk. –  joelmdev Feb 10 '12 at 6:36
    
Certainly it's a good idea to have some snacks along, but a "typical" cyclist in good shape and used to the distance would be unlikely bonk in 50 miles of reasonably flat road riding. Push it much beyond that, though, and food will be needed. I always carry snacks if I'm out for more than 25 or so, but then in several ways I'm not a "typical" cyclist. –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 10 '12 at 12:20
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Really, any source of food is fine for a 25–50 mile ride.

Although for anything of longer distance, you're going to want to add significant quantities of carbohydrates. Nuts are great, but they're primarily fat and protein. Toss some M&Ms and raisins into that mix for an improvement, and make sure there's some salt in them.

But really, 25–50 miles doesn't require any sort of well-tailored nutrition. Just bring water and any kind of tasty snacks and you'll be fine.

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I'd expand to say "any food source or even nothing." You don't necessarily need food for a ride of this length. It would be fine to just eat before or after. –  user973810 Feb 8 '12 at 17:53
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I pack bananas as my cycling food of choice. That said I'm unfit as anything and I'm not sure that 25 to 50 miles is that far even for me.

Make sure you have water or an electrolyte drink and you should be fine.

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