Learning How to Fuel for Long Bike Rides

June 15, 2015

Related Topics: Ambassadors, Trip Reports


PROBAR ambassador Christine Donaldson is focusing on building endurance on her bike this summer. She’s learning some valuable lessons about fueling while riding. Christine reports here on what she’s learned so far:

Last week my Dad and I packed up “The Beast” (the giant van we’ve adventured in ever since I was a kid) and took our road bikes to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I’ve been cycling for a few years now but this is the first year that I’ve started training more seriously. I knew the elevation gain would have me huffing and puffing but I was really excited to challenge myself and log some rides over 40 miles! I love riding with my Dad because he knows that I can ride faster than I usually do on my own :)

The first ride on our list was out and back a portion of the west shore of Lake Tahoe. It’s a great warm up ride because there are lots of rollers with a few short, steep climbs. We took it pretty easy because we knew we were doing a big ride the following day. There are some great beaches on the south shore where you can take a break and have a Bite bar to refuel you for the ride back.




The most challenging ride of the trip (though by far the most beautiful) was the Gold Lake Loop. In fact, it’s the coolest ride I’ve ever done. The ride is about 50 miles and has 2 massive climbs, the first of which is about 9 miles. During this climb there are about 3 false summits. It’s a mind game! But the descent takes you right below the Sierra Buttes. The second portion of the ride takes you through amazing high country terrain and warm little river valleys that help distract you from the pain ;)

What I didn’t expect on this ride was how frequently I felt my body screaming for fuel. Luckily I had a couple PROBAR Bolts before the long climb or else I’m not sure I would have handled it so well! Splitting a BASE Bar with my Dad was necessary to finish the rest of the ride. I would have completely tuckered out without the assistance of food. It’s crazy how fueling properly can revive your legs like magic!




The last long ride of our trip was on the way back from Tahoe to San Francisco. We started in Davis and road out to Lake Berryessa and back. This is almost the same distance as the Gold Lake Loop (45 miles) but it’s almost all flat! After a good recovery day I was feeling really strong and we managed to ride at an average speed of 17 or 18 mph. But man it was HOT!! About 95 degrees. I was lightheaded when I got off my bike and all I could think about was food. Thank the universe for PROBAR Meal Bars! I didn’t have to wait until we found a restaurant.




All in all the trip was exactly what I was looking for! A great opportunity to challenge myself on long bike rides, hang out in the Sierra, and build my base for cycling. I appreciated the unexpected lesson in the importance of fueling properly for long bike rides.