Sycling Snippets

by Bobby Nefdt

10. Drinking & eating whilst riding

I have often seen riders when drinking on the bike bending over, looking down for the bottle, bike wobbling, removing the bottle, holding it out horizontally for those behind to see that he/she is drinking, drinking from the bottle, looking down again as they return the bottle to the bottle cage, wobbling again. Quite an onerous process and a risky one for those behind. Eating or drinking on the bike involves removing one hand from the bars and leaving the other behind. I find it best to leave one hand on the top of the bars on the horizontal part (road) about a hand-width from the handlebar stem. Riding on a MTB with one hand demands more practice in order to retain a straight line because you need to keep your hand in the normal position on the bars. Until you are experienced in doing so, I suggest that before eating or drinking, ensure that you have space around you and that you are not in the middle of a tight group or on bumpy terrain. Move to the edge of the group; left, right, or back (preferably not the front), without taking your eyes off the road ahead, bend over and feel for your bottle, remove it and lift it to your mouth, pulling the stopper out with your teeth allowing the liquid to flow freely. Have a good drink, never taking your eyes off the road ahead, pushing the stopper back in by tapping the top of your bottle on your chest and returning it to the bottle cage without taking your eyes off the road ahead. Always look ahead for obstacles, people slowing down or changing their line. By always keeping your eyes on the road ahead you are always aware of what is happening around you, giving you time to react. It also enables you to hold a straight line.

Remember to only eat or drink when you are not under stress; when you have crested a hill and you have recovered slightly or when you are riding at a fairly easy pace on the flats. Doing so on an uphill is not a good idea unless the pace is very easy. Eating should follow the same lines; never take your eyes off the road. When you pack food into your pockets always know which pocket you put your food in. I always use my left pocket for my phone, my middle pocket for my spare tube and tools (wrapped in an old sock) and my right pocket for food. I don’t carry a bag under my saddle for spares as I like to keep my bike as light as possible. Even when packing my food into my pocket I ensure that the food I am going to eat first is the most easily accessible e.g. my banana (which I eat earliest in my ride) is on the outside on my right pocket, easy to get out without having to dig around in my pocket. I like to eat Fastbars so that would be next to the banana but not against my body because they get warm and sticky from my body heat (difficult to unwrap on the bike). My energy gels are decanted into a small plastic bottle with a pull-up top topped up with water and is kept is closest to my body keeping the Fastbar away from my back.

When taking food from your pockets don’t take your eyes off the road ahead and you will keep your line. Practice eating and drinking when you don’t have to eat or drink!