One Gel Every 20 Mins

I’m not a gel consumer in general, but I’ve seen Peter Sagan squeeze them down his gullet enough times to know that there might be something to them. Sean Kelly has said that they get the energy to you like nothing else and that they’re good before ‘the last climb’.

I’ve got a race tomorrow (with a ‘last climb’) and was wavering over bringing none, one, or two along. Then I read this:

2016-04-02 16.24.58

I’ve got over 4 hours to ride tomorrow, so if I follow the directions I’d have to suck back at least 12 of these things. They do helpfully suggest that your limit should be 20 GELS / DAY, but I can’t help thinking: could this be criminal?


21 thoughts on “One Gel Every 20 Mins

  1. me personally go long between gels and I rotate two gels than a cliff bar on training rides. I may go 45 minutes between gels and cliff bar rotation. On race day, I try to remind myself to get one down every 10 miles. Mainly do this because of I don’t eat on the run leg of triathlons.

  2. every 20 minutes wow… I take it once in a while halfway thru a long ride but max 20 is 400 minutes which is a lot…. do you eat anything else when on longer rides/races?

    • On ‘rides’ I usually just take what I have around the house, e.g. figs, fruit cake, but in events I want something I can get down quickly, hence the gel thoughts for tomorrow. Gels don’t sit well in my stomach and I like to eat real food for the most part.

  3. If you can look at the BBC (Panorama I think) programme on sports clothing, drink and nutrition a real eye opener. Not sure if it’s still available, Graeme Obree was brilliant in it.

  4. I typically take one, just before the start of a 45′ cyclocross race. For a 4hr road race, it’s very different I would think: I’d go with your regular food during the first 3hr and keep 2 gels for the last hour.

  5. Remember your body has about 2.5 hours of glycogen already stored in the liver and muscles. So you really only need fuel for about 2 hours assuming a 4 hour race. And you will need to consume it at a rate of 1 gram of carbohydrate, per kilo of body weight, per hour. For a race, a good trick is to consume a post recovery drink just prior to the race. It’s easy to metabolize and will kick start your body and keep you going until you start taking the gels or drops about 1.5 hours into the race. As much as nutrition is a science, because everyone handles food differently on a bike, it needs fine tuning to meet your individual needs.

    • I’ve had gut raunch after only two gels in the past, so enjoy cake and dried fruit now. Oh, and the salami sandwiches on the Marmotte went down well, too! I can’t help but think that by the way these gels and things are marketed, some people might think that it is the gel, and not the legs, that will get them up the next hill.

  6. On my first Etape I burnt 3200 kj and ate somewhere around 800 in gels (8 or more) plus some real food, but my stomach doesn’t mind gels (and it’s important to drink when you eat them if they’re not isotonic). However on the Haute Route I ate few gels because the tour group guys banged on about how it doesn’t work for multi day events, and I definitely liked the croissants with Nutella I had instead 🙂

  7. Gerry – I “didn’t get” gels until HR Pyrenees last year and Everesting (just thought I would mention that) a couple of weeks ago. The boost is definitely there.
    Eating solids more than 3 hours into a long ride does nothing for my gut comfort and stamina. High volume Coke/water mix works but bloats so frequent concentrated glucose polymer shots plus water / electrolytes only is my next experiment on a long ride.
    Now I’m off to Home Brew to buy a kilo or 2 of maltodextrin powder for the shots so I don’t break the bank.
    Just to work out how to swallow it without tasting it…….

    • It’s a crap shoot, it seems, till you figure it out. The ‘secret’ appears to be that ‘everyone is different’. Good luck with the homemade shots. Think happy thoughts when swallowing!

  8. I cut up something like a clif bar in 4 chunks – have one every 20 min in an etape or Mtb marathon – then a gel – then anothe r clif bar in chunks every 20 min. My reasoning is that clif bars are slower burning and the gel gives a kick. Gel takes about 7-10min to kick in for me – or that’s when I notice I feel better (so on the run in before a climb not at the bottom looking up)

    • Sounds like a sensible plan, Rich. How do you wrap the chunks? I’ve tried tin foil and saran wrap, but neither are very easy to ‘work with’ when trying not to get killed in a paceline.

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