I just want to be perfectly clear here from the get go. I am no expert on food! In college I survived on Kraft Mac & Cheese, Cheese Burgers, Government issue Cheddar Cheese and Tuna Casserole with lots of (all together now!) CHEESE!
I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older, and I can make a whole lot more now. Ask the kids, my chicken enchiladas are damn good! Of course they will also tell you that they are ugly as sin, but who cares about looks when it comes to food.
However, this post isn’t about my cooking skills, or lack there of, it’s about the food I eat that gives me the energy to ride the miles I ride. I decided to do this post after talking to one of the ladies in my office who is just starting to ride. She was told by a guy at the bike store, that soon she’d be living on energy gel, shot blocks and fruit. She was very worried! She didn’t know if she could stomach those things, nor how she would avoid starving to death!
Well that’s why I am here little lady, to keep you from worrying your pretty little head about such things! OK, gotta be honest here! If I said that, she would rip my head off and toss me across the room! I was able to reassure her, though.
So where to begin…. Just like choosing what is for dinner, or where to eat, when and what you eat while you ride is up to you alone. Some eat as they ride, others stop to eat then take off again. Most likely you will need to experiment to see what works the best for you.
So first off, I do not always carry food. For me, if it is 40 miles or less, I just make sure to have enough liquids to stay hydrated. I like to have one bottle with water and one with Powerade. I do usually have a pack of ShotBloks, small gummy bear like candies that replace electrolytes. I prefer the black cherry since they have caffeine! A pack of these can get me the lt 10 miles if I get a bit peckish.
However, for longer rides I am all over the food! First and foremost on my list is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To me these are the ultimate work out food. Protein, carbs, and sugar. PLUS they taste great even if squished and heat or cold doesn’t bug them at all. I always have 2 or 3 in the bag, even during supported rides. Sometimes I do not want to stop at food stops, so if I have my own, I can gain more time.
Bagels are great. Real ones from a bagel store (I am kind of bagel snob). I like them since heat doesn’t spoil them either, and they are easy to eat on the fly. They are also filling and easy to digest. I cut them in half prior to the ride. Easier to eat that way. I also LOVE to make sandwiches out of bagels, cheddar and lunch meat. It works perfect for me as a quick filling breakfast before a ride. Before really big rides, I usually have 2, particularly if I have to drive to the starting line.
These thing listed above are the healthy food options I use. During the ride though, especially long hard ones, the most important thing is not WHAT you east, but that you DO eat.
Biking takes energy, and if you don’t bring in fuel, you are in trouble. I firmly believe that the only reason I survived the last 30 miles of the 1 day Seattle-to-Portland last year was the hotdog and brownie I had at the last rest stop. DAMN that was good!
I love cookies and brownies on the rides, what better time to eat them. Hotdogs and burgers work for me. Safeway has a pretty darn good ready-made sandwich and wrap section, and its easy to eat while pedaling. SUBWAY or any of sandwich places can save your butt! Its easier if they make it into a wrap, or you just sit and rest while you eat. I’ve even gone through the drive thru at McDonald’s for 3 chicken Snack Wraps!
Its better to eat before you feel hungry. But you also don’t want to eat so much you are stuffed. Some people say they don’t eat when they work out. I don’t consider long rides (50 miles or more) a just a work out. Feed the body, and you will enjoy the rides SO much more. And trust me, you can still lose weight if that is your goal!
So EAT to RIDE!