Eating and drinking on the move is an essential skill, especially on those longer distance rides where not taking on enough fluids and calories can bring on the dreaded bonk. However, making frequent stops to take a sip of a drink or bite of a bar isn’t always convenient and can break up the momentum of your ride.
Staying in control of the bike while fuelling and topping up fluid levels takes a bit of practice. Some cyclists feel awkward and unstable when reaching for the bottle and if the bike swerves and wobbles as you take a drink, it could potentially cause an accident.
How to drink while cycling
Practice makes perfect when mastering a riding skill. To nail your drinking technique, head to a quiet, flat section of road and try cycling with one hand on the bars. Moving your remaining hand closer to the stem and engaging your core muscles helps with stability. Coast with one leg straight and reach down with the same hand as your straight leg. Get used to feeling the top of the bottle without taking your eyes off the road.
Once you feel confident with riding with one hand, practice retrieving and replacing the bottle in the cage. Raise the bottle up and squeeze the drink into the side of your mouth without obstructing your view.
Changing over bottles while cycling
Most bikes will have enough space on the frame to mount two bottle cages, allowing you to carry enough fluid to last the entire ride. You might choose to carry an electrolyte drink in one bottle and an energy drink in the other. If you ride with two bottles, then there’s a whole new skill to learn – swapping over bottles.
When you’ve drained the contents of your bottle, you’ll want to switch over to a full bottle. Grip the nozzle in your teeth as you move your full bottle into the cage on the down-tube. Then place the empty one back into the cage on the seat-tube.
The best bottles and cages for drinking on the bike
On frames with a more compact geometry, it can be tricky to manoeuvre your bottle within the limited space. Try sideloading cages – they make it straightforward to slide the bottle into place and can be mounted in different positions giving easy access from either the left or right.
The cage should grip the bottle snuggly, but not so tight that you have to yank it out. You might also want to consider the type of bottle you are using – those with an indented side are easier to grip.
How to eat while cycling
Eating on the go can be made much easier if you incorporate a few basic tips. Prepare for your ride by making sure your bars and gels are easily accessible – tuck them in your right jersey pocket if you’re right-handed, and vice-versa if you’re left-handed. A top tip is to cut open your energy bar wrappers beforehand to avoid fumbling with them on the move.
Choose your munching moment wisely, it’s best to avoid eating when riding in a cross-wind or downhill as you’ll need both hands on the bars. Using a similar technique to drinking, move your hand into a stable position on the bars then reach around with your other arm to your jersey pocket. While chewing, place both hands back onto the handlebars to maintain control over the bike’s movements.
A small frame bag or bento box on your top tube is another solution for keeping nutrition products close to hand. Chop your bars into smaller pieces and store them inside a zip-lock pouch within the bag, so that they’re easy to eat in one bite.
Remember to avoid creating litter on the roads and hold onto your rubbish until you can dispose of it responsibly.
After a little practice, eating and drinking on the bike will become a piece of cake.
Do you struggle to eat and drink while cycling?