How to Fuel for Long Gravel Races

7 May
10 MIN

We recently hosting another Gravel Chat with our four Jukebox Cycling gravel superstars: Alexey Vermeulen, Ashton Lambie, Adam Roberge and Dylan Johnson. They answered all of your tough gravel questions, and we’re sharing some of their answers on the blog. You can also watch the entire chat right here!

RIDER QUESTION: “I recently did an 81-mile gravel race and struggled to eat properly throughout. Gels and blocks got old. Any tips on how to handle eating enough on long rides like UnBound?

Alexey: I think it’s a combination of finding things you enjoy eating and then also changing it up so it doesn’t get repetitive. I think that's my whole outlook on life: I even have to change my alarm clock noise regularly because otherwise, I just hear it as part of my dreams! Nutrition is a double-edged sword, you want to do what works for you and stick with it, but you also don’t want to get bored. You need to train your gut to be able to feel good over 10 hours, 11 hours, 12 hours of riding. But the more you train your gut, the more likely it is that you get bored of what you’re eating. I suggest using really hard training days to focus on nutrition. On those rides, really ry to dial in what you’ll do on race day, and the other rides, just eat what you feel like eating. And try to find options. If you like a certain gel, maybe find other flavors you like. I love throwing my favorite stuff into a rice cake. You can put anything in the world in there.  I'm gonna put peanut butter and chocolate in some, and maybe do SPAM in another for similar nutrition but totally different flavors.

Dylan Johnson: There's there's the research side, and there's what the research says is optimal. But then there's actual practicality. Different people react very differently to different types of race nutrition. There are some people who have to eat very little when they're racing, there are some people who have to eat a ton. There are some people whose guts can handle a ton. There's some people whose guts can barely handle anything. So I know what the research says optimal nutrition, should look like. And I would say that I try to follow that and that it’s a good starting point. But that doesn't necessarily mean that will work for everyone. It’s so individual.

You have to train your gut to be able to handle these large carbohydrate loads for a long race. We know that. I do what Alexey does as well, and when I have a hard ride, that's the time when I practice my race nutrition. I try to do exactly what I'm going to do on race day from a nutrition standpoint. I’ll take in 80 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, even if I don't necessarily need 80 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour to make it through that workout. But I'm practicing it during that workout in order to practice actually taking in that much carbohydrates per hour and what that should feel like, and also to train my gut to do that during a race. That should definitely be part of your training if you have a long race coming up.