What’s Your Favorite Cycling Fuel?

Yes, I call it fuel. You can call them Scooby Snacks or Tasty Bits or whatever you like. Because I like to think of myself as a Mack Truck, I choose to use the word fuel.

The Amazing Energy Bars have gotten me thinking. Dan makes these bars because he likes “real food” while he’s riding, which is a noble pursuit. Last Saturday on our way back from Colossal Cave Mountain Park we stopped at a Farmer’s Market and bought some homemade bars that feature chia seeds (which you might recall I’m recently obsessed with). The chia bars, called Mia Chia, taste delicious, but I haven’t been able to test them on the bike yet.

My choice: The Arizona Cocktail

I appreciate the idea behind “real food” on the bike, but my personal favorite way to fuel is a little something I learned last year at The Cycling House. We named it The Arizona Cocktail. Basically, you mix as many scoops of Hammer Perpetuem as you need (I use about one – or 133 cal – per every hour) and then squeeze Chocolate or Espresso Flavored Hammer Gel into the bottle (one or two shots worth). Shake very well, which takes some doing.

Voila! On-bike chocolate milkshake. For a four hour ride I can make an 800+ calorie bottle. I’ve found that eating about 200 calories per hour does me just right. I’ve done entire centuries on liquid nutrition alone, though many people find that they have to have some kind of solid after a certain point. The number one thing I like about liquid fueling is that there’s no messing around with packaging and unwrapping and handling objects – just squirt and go, homie. In a race situation, this is super convenient.

Rehydration Station

To augment my “calorie bottle”, I carry a rehydration bottle which usually contains electrolyte. I stick with Hammer HEED or Nuun depending on whether or not I need a few additional calories (the HEED has 100 cals per scoop). Sometimes, I just use a few scoops of Hammer’s Endurolyte Powder. As a person who sweats like a beast, I’m always wary of getting a few more electrolytes than the average bear. Then, for backup, I always pack an extra bar and a flask of Gu. I don’t plan to eat these on the ride, but it makes me feel better that they’re back there in my pocket, just in case.

I vary this routine, of course, depending on where I’m riding and what the purpose is. For a casual 1 hour recovery ride I usually carry only water. For a spin to the park for a picnic, it’s PB&J or a reasonable facsimile. The Arizona Cocktail only comes out on really big training days.

Recovery Lovin’

After a hard ride, if I can’t eat right away I kill a serving of Hammer Recoverite (slam it, these don’t taste good). Otherwise, its some sort of fantastical smoothie with a little protein powder, pecans, almond milk, greens, frozen fruit, and ground flax seed a la the Kitchen Sink Smoothie.

And no, I have no affiliation with Hammer Nutrition. I just happen to really like their products. They work and they’re not loaded with the sugar that some other products are.

What about you?

So, how do you fuel? What do you eat? What are your favorites? What do you like to eat afterwards (the best part!)?


PS: I’m extending the Haiti donation giveaway by one week, so you still have until Friday to comment and throw your favorite charity into the ring.

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  1. Hammer would be the choice on the bike, but most of my extended rides are on dirt, non-competitive riding, where I typically stop and replenish. Last time I had some paks of http://justinsnutbutter.com/ which is just outstanding and could be used in place of gel if you are cool with fats opposed to Hammer’s carbs via maltodextrin. I also had turkey jerkey and some homemade trail mix of almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried bluberries, and dried cranberries. I took in some fat and protein on the stops I made.

  2. Mmmm that chocolate shake sound good! Might have to try it on my 60 mile ride this weekend.

  3. peter simpson

    Cytomax “peachy Keen” or “Cool Citrus” in the water bottle, “CarbBoom” apple cinnamon gel in a flask, and a P-nut butter crunch Cliff bar in the jersey pocket, just in case…..

  4. i used to be a big hammer user but I kinda burned out on it after a couple of years. i especially don’t like it when the liquids get warm/hot in the summer.
    i go Nuun or water in the bottles. i will carry gel/bloks for a quick fuel but also eat plain ole clif bars a lot.
    my favorite food though is a (crunchy) peanut butter and nutella sammich on those little sandwich thins bread. that’s the best!
    oh, and bananas are a staple for rides even though i feel guilty about the massive amount of oil used in transporting said banana into my jersey pocket.
    and last but not least, a snickers bar will save your a** when you’re about to bonk 20 miles from home!

  5. To drink, usually water. Sometimes diluted apple juice or something like Gatorade.

    To eat, granola bars, fig bars, or whatever I can find in my house 10 seconds before running out the door. My friend down the road makes amazing energy bars, but I’m too busy to make those, and eat so much they’d be gone almost as soon as they came out of the oven. I prefer to eat something normal before riding and just use the snacks to supplement after I burn that off.

    I really think it’s important to eat REAL food. None of that pre-digested gel crap. My vegan friend Jerome used to carry raw kale shakes in his bottles, so anything can be held down while riding if your stomach is ready for it.

    I started with powerbars and carbo drinks, but the longer I do this bike stuff, the less complicated I realize it needs to be.

  6. Just cause I hate spending inordinate amounts of money on designer athletic crap I snarf down some fig newtons. Easy to store in a baggie, easy to ration out when needed. The only drawback is you have to be sure you have enough water to go with it cause they can be a little dry at times.

  7. Dave,
    Dan, who is behind the Amazing Energy Bar recipe, often carries straight up dried figs. I really liked that idea. I also like the idea of fresh figs, but I can’t figure out how to keep them from getting smashed.
    : )

  8. The Power Pucks from this Pez article are tasty as well as quick and easy to make.


  9. Power Pucks.
    Great name!
    I’ll check them out.
    Thanks, Pat

  10. we make a oatmeal based bar, we call it Jogger’s Nibble, coz we run too. But I love them on the bike also.

    Before a ride.
    A pastry
    An espresso – doppio

    Jogger’s Nibble
    Malt loaf
    Washed down with Watermelon flavour SIS Go.

    Balanced Diet!

    Pave de Beouf et Frite
    Westmalle dubbel

  11. Still refining this in my third season back on the bike. Solids: Between 1.5 and 3 hours, nothing but dates and raw almonds. All the time. LOVE is too weak a word. Seems to be perfect carb-fat ratio, and almost always palatable. For four-to-six hrs, I’ll throw in a rollup or two of thin chicken lunch meat in a corn tortilla. Stores easily.

    Liquids: Usually Gatorade mix in my first bottle (no HFCS — and yes, I’ve tried all the fancy stuff. This is cheap and it works). Sometimes I’ll splurge on a Vitamin Water. Second bottle might be the same, or have a mix of Gat. and tea, or just tea. For that boost I need for the final 20, works like a charm.

    Def. not as streamlined as I would sometimes like, but I like the “real food” aspect — and, maybe even more, that it’s OG.

  12. H-

    For the Hammer Power Shake, try mixing it the night ahead of times with really hot water, then stick it in the freezer/fridge overnight. That usually helps with the texture/consistency issues.


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