Before Your Ride


The day before your ride, it is best to avoid caffeine and alcohol. Instead, hydrate throughout the day with 3 to 4 bottles of water or approximately 2 liters. You should aim to have the same level of hydration for the next day.

Dinner the night before

Dinner is a fantastic time to start your fueling. Having a meal high that is in carbohydrates the night before will allow the body time to create full tank of fuel:

  • Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Brown Rice
  • Meat, Chicken, Fish, or tofu
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit


Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Starting the day with a good meal will prepare you for hard work in the saddle. Try starting your day with a mixture of good fats, proteins, and natural earthy carbs—think whole-grain breads & oatmeal. These types of carbohydrates provide a sustained source of energy.

Weekend Group Ride: Try non-instant oatmeal and fruit

High Intensity Ride: Try whole grain toasts, fruit smoothies, and yogurt

Century-distance and RFLC: Grab an egg burrito, water-dense fruits, nuts and berries

RFAC 'Better than Oreos" Oats

Try one of our favorite oatmeal recipes:


  • 1/3 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • fruit and nuts, for toppin


  1. Combine oats, yogurt, milk, and protein powder. Mix and refrigerate overnight.

  2. Serve cold, topped with fruit and nuts.

During Your Ride


It is a good idea to have multiple water bottle cages installed on your bike. Some riders prefer one bottle to hold water and the second bottle to hold an electrolyte drink. Your method should be not to chug, but to have an easy drink every 10-15 minutes. Another best practice is to be aware of how much you’re sweating and using the restroom. Make mental notes of your restroom break frequency and be sure to refill your water bottles at every rest stop. If you can’t recall the last time you had a drink from your water bottle, it’s time!

Electrolytes are very important in maintaining a sufficient sodium intake during heavy training and while you’re on the Ride. You can find this in a variety of brands available at Official Ride for Life Chicago Partners: Vision Quest Coaching, Kozy’s Cyclery, and Roscoe Village Bikes.

Choosing the right electrolyte can be a little tricky. You may need to experiment to find what works for you. 

Rapha Chicago has a great article on homemade cycling nutrition:

Snacks for your jersey pocket:

Our favorite suggestions:

  • Bananas
  • Bagels
  • Energy Bars: look for a bar with around 5g fat, 5g fiber, and no more than 10g protein
  • Dates and Fig bars

After Your Ride

Once your ride is complete, arriving at camp or crossing the finish line, you’ll want to keep in mind that recovery is the next step. Your body will be in a state of depletion and will need refueling and rest.

Refuel by replacing carbohydrates, proteins, and electrolytes. Your metabolism will be raised for about 30 minutes post-workout, so this is a crucial time to refuel and replace.

Having access to a recovery drink can help to replace carbohydrates, electrolytes and proteins quickly. You can find brands such as:

  • GU
  • Skratch Labs
  • HEED
  • Gatorade (Available on the Ride.)
  • Chocolate Milk (Available on the Ride.)
  • Keep your water bottle full of water and handy so that you can continue hydrating

Within two hours after your ride, you should have a 500-1,000 calorie meal. You might need to eat twice to get that many calories, and that’s perfectly fine!

Make sure your meal is made up of 65-70% carbs, 15 % protein, and 15-20% fat. This means having the salad, some extra pasta, adding a little salt to your meal, having dessert (the meals on the Ride are planned for this), and snacking until you’re off to bed.