By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Many cyclists make pit stops to hydrate and refuel but that’s not always possible if you’re riding in a fast group. You may be so focused on hanging on to the pack that you don’t realize you haven’t been sipping from your water bottle or eaten the calories that you need to keep going. Suddenly you’re exhausted. You’ve bonked.
Bonking is difficult to recover from during a ride. To prevent it you need to know how to refuel while on the bike. But not everyone feels comfortable drinking and eating while on the bike—especially beginners. Here are a few tips to help you make the transition.
Go to the back of the pack
When you need to eat or drink, drop to the back of the pack. That way, if you momentarily swerve the bike or lose control you won’t take down your cycling buddies.
Make sure your food is easily accessible
Whether you transport your food in a top-bar pouch or in the back pockets of your jersey, make sure you can easily access it. Unless you’re a cyclist who can safely ride no-hands like the pros, you need to open energy-bar wrappers and baggies at the start of the ride so you can easily get to your snacks when you need them. I use a top-bar pouch. When I get hungry I put one hand on the handlebar near the stem, open the Velcro cover on the pouch and snack.
Drink, but don’t look down
With a bit of practice it’s easy to drink from your bottle while cycling. Wait until you’re on a smooth, flat (preferably car-free) part of the road. Keep your eyes on the road and on the cyclist in front of you. Place one hand on the handlebar near the stem. Reach for your bottle with the other hand. Practice this until you can do it without looking down. Raise the bottle and drink, being careful not to let the bottle block your view of the road. With practice you can also reverse this and return the bottle to the cage without looking down.