My go to race fuel plan has always been the gels/chews/bars rotation that you’ve talked about: Target about 300 calories per hour (for longer than 2.5 hrs), eating every 30 minutes, and getting about 200 of the hour’s calories from gels/chews/bars, and the remaining 100 calories from drink mix.
However, the upcoming Steamboat gravel race has made me rethink this plan: The fluid choices at the aid stations will be either water, or GU Roctane Energy drink, which has about 250 calories per 21 oz tall bottle. I figure that I’ll be consuming about a tall bottle (21 oz) per hour during the last half (4 hrs??) of the race when it gets warm.
If I were just using bottles, this wouldn’t be an issue, because it would be simple to grab 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of the Roctane, alternate the drinking, and end up following the above plan.
BUT… My plan for this race is to use a Camelback Chase Vest (1.5 L or 50 oz capacity), and skip most of the stops. I’ve been doing my simulation rides with the same Roctane in my hydration pack, and in my bottles. That means cutting back the gels/chews/bars to a pretty minimal 50 calories per hour, and relying on the Roctane drink mix to supply the bulk of the calories.
What do you think? So far (longest race sim 6 hrs) this plan has worked OK. But, I’ve never raced 8hrs relying this much on liquid calories. Your thoughts appreciated!