Eight laws of cycling nutrition that can't be ignored

There's one thing better than a good slice of cake on the club run: two

Cycling and eating go hand-in-hand.

In fact rumour* has it that the traditional club run was founded by a group of individuals who happened to own bikes, and needed a way to get themselves to the next village for coffee and cake.

Whilst we can all appreciate the importance of our power to weight ratio, hours on the bike add up, leaving many cyclists on a constant mission to refuel.

Here's a look at the (until now) unwritten rules which have helped to keep riders full over the years...

*Source unknown 

All morning bike riders reserve the right to enjoy a second breakfast

Decades of training literature tells us that exercising on an empty stomach helps cyclists to burn more fat, tuning the endurance engine.

However, training fuelled allows the same rider to reach higher intensities, and a recovery snack will aid preparation for whatever's next. Therefore, for most amateurs riding on limited time, second breakfast rules.

Double cake is a requirement of Sunday club runs

Image: Ride With Rockingham Cycling Club

A 75 kilogram rider, cycling at 24kph burns around 750 calories with every hour that they press the pedals. So, actually to fuel that Sunday club run a single cake just doesn't provide sufficient energy.

Sharing is not caring when it comes to mid-ride fuel stops

That's a pastry for one, not two. Image: Nigel Wynn
(Image credit: Nigel Wynn)

Emergency bars and gels can be swapped between riders en route, but there will be no ordering of 'an extra fork' when it comes time to stop.

Route planning should take into account quality of coffee stops

Only the best coffees and food are served here. Photo: Daniel Gould
(Image credit: daniel gould)

Coffee officially makes you ride faster, but it needs to be just the right dosage, and to appease the cultured tastes of a rabble of bike riders there needs to be a wide selection of caffeine delivery types available.

Even a flat white is bog standard now, especially since half of all cyclists have returned from Spanish training camps unable to stomach anything that isn't a cortado.

Chips become frites in Belgium and must be consumed with mayo

Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images
(Image credit: Corbis via Getty Images)

No cyclist wants to go hungry when standing in a cold, possibly wet/sandy/snowy field - and so this rule must be observed. Failure to comply may result in an inability to obtain or sudden loss of frites.

After all, if you didn't put mayonnaise on your chips, wear a bobble hat and lose all feeling in your toes, did you even see a cyclocross race?

Energy gels should be reserved for emergency situations

SiS Nitrate Gel

Gels are excellent for occasions where it's not possible to chew. But outside of high intensity training and racing, taste buds should be kept free from gloop.

Related: the laws of physics state that the gel you need the most will always be the one you drop.

No post-race journey is complete without chocolate milk

Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
(Image credit: Digital First Media via Getty Im)

Chocolate milk really could be your ticket to optimum recovery, containing a very palatable mix of simple carbohydrates and protein. It's also readily available at service stations, train stations and most newsagents (albeit not looking quite as swish as the above) - which is handy, however you're getting home.

Everything tastes better after a bike ride

There's something magical about the feeling of energy rushing your body once you've ridden far and fast enough to deplete it, and we're not sure there's many sensations which can beat that.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.


When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.


Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6. 


Height: 166cm

Weight: 56kg