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How to Fuel Guide: Century (100-Mile) Cycling Events


For many cyclists, completing a century ride is a major goal. And it’s an excellent goal to achieve… 100 miles on a bike is a long way! On the other end of the spectrum, for many ultra-distance cyclists (myself included when I was still competing in the sport), two or more century rides is “par for the course” in terms of meeting weekly mileage goals.

Whether you are:

  • A casual cyclist looking to complete your first century
  • A “century specialist” who enters a few organized century rides annually
  • An ultra-distance cyclist who does a century ride 2-3 times a week as training

… proper fueling and a bit of supplementation will make your day on the bike undeniably more enjoyable.

Before you get to the product suggestions. Here is some essential information...

5 Simple Ways to Improve Athletic Performance Now

While there are numerous steps that you can (and should) take to optimize athletic performance, here are a couple of super easy ones. Start with this right away, and you’ll experience noticeably rapid improvement in your endurance and overall exercise performance.

1) Stay properly hydrated all day long. With approximately 60% of your body being comprised of water, it’s vital to maintain optimal hydration all day. Unfortunately, a lot of people—perhaps you? —live in a state of perpetual dehydration that negatively affects athletic performance and overall health. Starting now, gradually increase your fluid intake—primarily from pure, clean water—so that the total number of ounces you’re drinking daily is equal to 0.5 to 0.6 of your body weight in pounds (e.g., a 180-lb athlete should consume 90 – 108 ounces of fluids daily, in addition to what is being consumed during exercise). During exercise, drink 16-26 ounces per hour.

2) Fuel lean. It’s interesting to know how many calories you’re burning every hour during exercise; however, that amount isn’t a factor in terms of how many calories your body can accept in return for your fuel donation. The goal of caloric intake is to consume the least amount necessary to maintain energy levels where you want and need them to be hour after hour. For most athletes, this represents an intake of 120-180 calories per hour. Larger athletes (200+ lbs.) can consume 200 or slightly more calories. And if you find that’s not quite enough calories, that’s an easy fix—you consume a few more. Remember, it is ALWAYS easier to fix a “not enough” problem than an “uh oh, I overdid it, and now my stomach is rebelling” problem.

3) Ditch the sugar. Most fuels are comprised of short-chain carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.) Hammer Nutrition fuels do not contain any simple sugars; instead, we use maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate. Both maltodextrin and some simple sugars will boost energy levels quickly, which is a desirable benefit. However, simple sugars—because they are comprised of only one or two saccharide molecules—will drop your energy levels just about as quickly. Constantly feeling great for a few minutes, then fighting your way out of an energy rut for several minutes—commonly referred to as ”flash and crash”—is no way to enjoy your winter sport/activity.

Conversely, because maltodextrin is MANY saccharide molecules weakly linked together, you enjoy quick-acting and much longer-lasting energy without any wild fluctuations in energy levels. Another great thing with maltodextrin is that your body can digest greater amounts of calories—with no delay from entry to exit of the digestive tract—and make them available for energy production. You can efficiently digest up to 3x more calories with maltodextrin than any simple sugar, which basically eliminates stomach distress issues.

4) Don’t eat for 3 hours before your workouts, races, and competitions. By refraining from consuming any calories in the 3-hour period before your workouts, races, and competitions, you put your body in the ideal physiological state to use its finite stores of muscle glycogen most efficiently while utilizing the vast amounts of calories from body fat stores more effectively. Adopt this practice in all your workouts—even the early morning ones—and you’ll start seeing massive improvements in your endurance in a relatively short time. Note: If you must have some calories before the start of exercise, consuming something easy to digest (e.g., a serving of Hammer Gel) 5-10 minutes before the beginning—but no further out—is acceptable.

5) “Refill the tank” ASAP after all your workouts. Your body wants to reward you for your efforts in training, strengthening the immune system, rebuilding muscle tissue, and storing more minutes of readily available fuel (glycogen) in the muscles. All you have to do to enjoy all of these endurance-enhancing benefits is supply your body with the materials it needs right away—ideally within the first 30 minutes after exercise (the sooner, the better)—meaning complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein such as found in Recoverite and Organic Vegan Recoverite.

Supplement Suggestions

Fully Charged – Hammer Nutrition’s pre-exercise supplement provides numerous athletic performance-enhancing benefits without resorting to stimulants or excessive amounts of caffeine. Taking one dose 15-30 minutes before the start of your ride will allow you to enjoy all of this amazing product’s benefits for a good 3 hours and oftentimes longer. If you’ll be exercising longer than that, additional doses may be taken. See “Get Charged or Get Left Behind” for more information about this “there’s nothing like it” product!

Anti-Fatigue Caps – This unique supplement significantly increases endurance by neutralizing the fatigue-causing ammonia that builds up in the blood and muscles during both high-intensity and endurance exercise, both of which are very much a part of many winter sports and activities. Take one dose of 2-4 capsules 15-30 minutes before the start, with additional doses of 1-2 capsules hourly.

Fueling Suggestions

1) Success "during" starts "after"! It’s absolutely vital that you "refill the tank" after all your workouts... this is a major key for noticeably enhancing athletic performance. When you begin a workout/activity or race/competition, your body's primary fuel for the first 60-90 minutes or so is known as muscle glycogen. The more consistent you are with ASAP post-exercise fueling—Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite is ideal for that—among the many benefits you'll receive is more minutes of glycogen stored in the muscles—maxing out at somewhere between 60-90 minutes—ready to serve you in future workouts and competitions.

2) Finish all calorie consumption 3 hours before you start. See #4 in the earlier article for why this is so important.

“Fueling for Success” Protocol

1) Primary-to-sole fuel is Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0. These are our long-duration fuels, containing complex carbs, protein, and key auxiliary nutrients (Perpetuem also contains a small amount of healthy fat). These are both such complete fuels that you could use them as your sole source of calories from beginning to end. That said, I do like some variety in the menu, so I alternate with other Hammer Nutrition fuels.

Each scoop of Perpetuem 2.0 contains 90 calories. A good starting point when it comes to how many calories to consume in an hour’s time is 1 calorie per pound of body weight. This is not a “written in stone” recommendation, but the feedback I’ve received from athletes is that this amount works really well. I (Steve Born) personally use 2.25 scoops of Perpetuem 2.0 an hour, which supplies 202.5 calories, an amount that works well for larger athletes like me (I’m 200 pounds). For light-weight athletes, 1.0 scoop (90 calories) to 1.25 scoops (112.5 calories) per hour works well. Medium-weight athletes will find that 1.50 scoops (135 calories) to 2.0 scoops (180 calories) per hour is an excellent amount.

Each scoop of Sustained Energy 2.0 contains 100 calories. I (Steve Born) personally use 2.0 scoops an hour, which supplies me with 200 calories. For light-weight athletes, 1.0 scoop (100 calories) to 1.25 scoops (125 calories) per hour works well. Medium-weight athletes will find that 1.50 scoops (150 calories) to 1.75 scoops (175 calories) per hour is an excellent amount.

The advantages of the multi-hour fuel bottle

As far as Perpetuem 2.0 and Sustained Energy 2.0 are concerned, instead of making a 1-hour bottle, which would mean I’d have to drink a full bottle of flavored/semi-flavored liquid hour after hour (which I wouldn’t like), while also having to stop and make more (which burns up precious time), I would make a bottle of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0 that contains a few hours’ worth of fuel. To make (for example) a 4-hour bottle I’d start by using the smallest water bottle I have (less flavored drink mix I have to consume). Then, I fill that water bottle 1/3 full of water, add a couple of scoops of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0, put the lid on, and shake well. I’ll repeat the process until I’ve mixed the appropriate number of scoops in my one bottle (9 scoops for Perpetuem 2.0 and 8 scoops of Sustained Energy 2.0). Now, because I have 4 hours of fuel in one bottle, I only have to drink ¼ of that bottle every hour, augmenting that with water from another source to take care of my hydration needs.

Again, the benefits of using a multi-hour bottle of fuel:

  • I don’t have to drink so much volume of flavored liquid hour after hour. Because I have 4 hours’ worth of fuel in one bottle, I only need to drink ¼ of the bottle every hour, augmenting that with plain water from another source (water bottle, hydration pack) to take care of my hydration needs. I personally find—as a lot of athletes do—that plain water quenches my thirst better than liquid fuels do, and drinking water to cleanse the palate makes taking another drink of flavored fuel even more palatable.
  • Because I have 4 hours of fuel in my bottle, I don’t have to stop and make more every hour, which saves me time.

If you need to, take a Sharpie pen and mark your bottle off into four equal sections. This will give you a visual as to how much to drink in a given hour.

NOTE: If the weather is going to be hot, make your 4-hour bottle the night before and put it in the freezer. Perfectly acceptable, and it will keep the mixture cold for a longer period of time.

2) I would carry a full Hammer Flask of Hammer Gel. This holds 5 servings, which easily covers 2 hours’ worth of calorie requirements, and for some 2.5 hours. Plus, it is a LOT LESS MESSY than the single-serving packets.

3) A great option for some solid food during my 8-hour fueling plan, I’d consume 1/2 to 2/3 of a Hammer Bar. Super easy to chew, really tasty, and quite satisfying.

4) I use Endurolytes in capsule form and I take a dose 15-30 minutes prior to the start, and every hour during, to cover my electrolyte requirements. The dose ranges from 1-6 capsules per hour, with most athletes using 2-4 capsules per hour. For Endurolytes Extreme the usual dose is 1-2 capsules, with the first dose taken 15-30 minutes prior to the start, with additional doses every hour during. If you prefer to drink your electrolytes versus taking capsules, 1-3 tablets of Endurolytes Fizz or 1-2 scoops of Endurolytes Extreme Powder added to your water bottles will be sufficient in fulfilling an hour’s worth of electrolytic mineral requirements.

So, in 1 bottle, 1 flask, and 1-2 bars I have all the fuel I need to take care of my calorie needs for 8 hours. A flip-top capsule dispenser will carry enough Endurolytes for at least 8 hours, oftentimes more, and it’ll easily carry all of the Endurolytes Extreme you’ll need.

Below is a possible fueling plan using the above-listed fuels that will cover up to 8 hours on the bike. If your ride will be in the 5-6-hour range, using a 4-hour bottle of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained 2.0, and one-half to a full flask of Hammer Gel will cover all your calorie needs.

  • Hour #1 – ¼ bottle of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0 + water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #2 – ¼ bottle of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0 + water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #3 – ½ to ¾ Hammer Bar+ water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #4 – Up to ½ flask of Hammer Gel + water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #5 – ¼ bottle of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0 + water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #6 – ¼ bottle of Perpetuem 2.0 or Sustained Energy 2.0 + water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #7 – ½ to ¾ Hammer Bar+ water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)
  • Hour #8 – Up to ½ flask of Hammer Gel + water + Endurolytes (or Endurolytes Extreme)

SPECIAL NOTE: On a hot-weather day consume Perpetuem in the first four hours...

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT AID STATIONS: Most organized century rides will have an awesome spread at their aid stations, offering a wide range of foods and snacks. And while it certainly looks inviting, you’ll want to avoid the temptation to eat much of what’s being offered. Cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts, and other similar foods may taste good going down, but it’s guaranteed to result in stomach issues not too far down the road… and that’s no fun at all.

If you want to enjoy a little solid food while you’re filling up your water bottles, opt for fruits such as bananas, cantaloupe, pears, watermelon, papaya, and mangos. These are all alkaline fruits, and since you’re an “acid-producing machine” while riding your century, these fruits will help balance blood and muscle pH, and that will negate stomach issues from occurring. Also, make sure that you don’t overconsume solid food, even these healthy fruits, as that will cause your body to use its finite energy to digest food instead of helping you get down the road faster.

5) As soon as possible when the workout/event is completed, be sure to consume a 2-scoop serving of Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite. The complex carbohydrates will restock the muscle cells with fuel (so that you’re not “on empty” for tomorrow’s workout), the protein will help repair/rebuild the lean muscle tissue while also reducing soreness, and the glutamine (amino acid) will provide outstanding support for the immune system.

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