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How to Fuel Your Century Ride

Science in Sport ambassador Simone Dailey explains how best to prepare for a Century Ride.

The rules of nutrition.. there are no rules per se. Each and everyone of us is different in many ways from size, ability and experience but there are a few guidelines to follow that can help any of you out there planning to hit the 100!

Pre, during & post training nutrition is vital. Riding 100 miles starts a few days before you hit the saddle. Making sure you are eating well and consistently, not skipping meals and keeping hydrated is all key. Nutrition is so individual, as we all have different likes/dislikes, intolerances and just things we can’t stomach when the body is moving and under certain pressures. This is something that takes practice and something I am still learning and developing to this day.

Before Your Ride

Sorting and preparing your nutrition prior to your ride is just as important as on the day, my breakfast is pretty standard day in day out, therefore the body knows what it’s getting and how to digest efficiently.

I always start with a homemade Bircher, this consists of:

  • 80g oats (I choose gluten free, I like the texture of them)
  • 50ml Greek yogurt
  • 100ml Coconut milk (love the taste)
  • With a sprinkle of:
  • Sunflower seeds/Pumpkin seeds/Flaxseed/Linceed/ Hemp seed/ Cinnamon
  • 1/2 grated Apple
  • Raisins and goji berries.

All of this is mixed and left overnight in the fridge. This breakfast is a power meal, it has sufficient carbs, good fats and protein all in one.

For lunch: I will look at having Protein/carb and good fats again in this meal, for example my favourite is a Quinoa, jerk chicken and raw green salad mix. With a handful of cashew nuts on top. A list of good carbohydrates to add in each meal are sweet potato, white and brown rice, quinoa, white and wholewheat pasta to name a few. A source of protein could be white or red meat, fish or alternatively beans and pulses if you prefer a vegetarian choice.

Dinner the night before a long ride would be something quite plain, I try to avoid any foods with spice or foods I know that won’t sit well or digest properly overnight. This could be something really simple like spaghetti bolognese, pesto chicken breast lots of green veg and sweet potato wedges.

When it comes to nutrition I go by the motto of ‘never empty, never full’ I try to keep the body topped up every few hours, in between meals I will snack – some great examples of my favourite snacks are: Carrots with peanut butter, Salt and vinegar rice cakes with cottage cheese or Science in Sport chocolate peanut protein bars. By keeping your fuel topped up you then avoid dips in blood sugar therefore energy levels don’t spike and you keep energy systems balanced.

Hydration is incredibly important not only prior to & during the ride, but all the time. Making sure you are drinking enough water throughout the days before is key and SiS GO Hydro tabs are fab! They come in a variety of flavours, Berry and Pineapple & Mango are awesome! Keeping electrolytes topped up will help constantly replace any salts lost during exercise through sweating. If the weather is warm it is vital salt stores are a priority & they can be maintained by keeping properly hydrated.

I’m a big fan of BCAA’s prior to big days in the saddle, BCAA’s stand for Branch Chain Amino Acids: it helps the breakdown of muscle fatigue and speeds up the recovery process. A hydration strategy needs to be in place alongside fuelling, that on hotter days having extra fluid with electrolyte (non carb) is something to keep in mind but don’t exceed your hourly carb intake,, mixing up fuelling sources is also key, on easier sections have ‘real’ food like bars and on grippier sections that it is harder to eat use your gels, this works for me.

Today is the day!

The morning of a 100-miler I will eat my standard Bircher up to 90mins prior to riding. From starting the ride I will make sure I have all my nutrition with me on the bike, this will consist of:

  • 1 x mini SiS bar for every hour I plan to be out.
  • 1 x SiS Gel for every hour.
  • 4 x bottles of SiS Go Electrolyte with 1 extra carb mix.

100 miles can vary in terms of terrain and weather conditions, on this basis I will work to how long I think the ride would take me and plan my nutrition around hours spent on the bike. Obviously if the terrain is super hilly then you will be out for longer, I look at 60-80g of carbohydrate per hour. The hillier the course the more calories you will burn, if this is the case then I look at taking on towards 80g+ per hour.

  • Each Science in Sport Energy Bar consists of 25g of carbohydrate.
  • Each Energy Gel consists of 22g.
  • Each bottle (containing GO Electrolyte)36g of carbohydrate.

If the course is flatter/faster I will also look at taking on roughly 80g per hour. The heat will make more of an impact than terrain the reason for this can vary from salts lost through sweating more, but also digestion, it can become more difficult to stomach food. My advise would be to make sure you keep taking fluids to stay hydrated.

Post ride

Always try to take a source of Protein within a 30 minute window, a really easy way are protein shakes, I personally love Rapid Rego Recovery in chocolate by SiS which tastes amazing and easy on the stomach. Fuelling after a ride can depend on how the body feels, again I try to stay pretty simple, with another source of Carbs/protein and good fats. But to be totally honest… 100miles is a pretty long way! So I advise to eat whatever takes your fancy!! Just make sure you have a good mix of the carbs/protein/good fats, then you can’t go wrong! I would also suggest that having another 20g of protein (real food not powders) within 3hrs post ride is also important and SiS Overnight Protein is also a good idea to help replenish muscle and speed up recovery.


Written By

Simone Mitchell

Simone is a Science in Sport ambassador.