Monday, October 26, 2009

What Long Distance Cyclists Really Eat

OK folks, I'm going to start with some disclaimers.

Although the various foodstuffs described here have worked well for me and my various high-mileage friends, I am not a nutritional role model. I'm pretty sure that holds true for my pals as well.

Despite all the glowing words I'm about to heap on the makers of Peanut M&Ms, PayDay candy bars and the various fine products made by the people at Reeses, I'm not sponsored by nor do I get any kickbacks from the folks who make those incredibly tasty, high-energy foods. This is not some example of blog-journalistic integrity on my part. This is, in fact, just a damn shame. If anyone reading these words has any pull with the makers of these wonderful products, tell them that Kent's Bike Blog is a great way to connect with hundreds of hungry cyclists and sponsoring me in the 2010 Tour Divide would certainly be a wise use of their marketing dollars.

I researched this article by riding a lot and eating a lot and also soliciting advice from randonneurs, ultra-distance mountain bikers and long distance bike tourists. For purposes of this discussion, Long Distance Riding refers to riding more than one hundred miles per day for days at a time. Most of these trips involve refueling at little gas stations and markets along the route, so much of the advice based around the items stocked in such establishments.

A decade ago, when I was first getting into randonneuring, my friend Mark Thomas explained the his method of fueling for a long ride. In this case, the ride was the Vancouver Island 1000K and Mark wrote:
You really can go and go on a long ride with powder for power. (I used about 12,000 calories worth of Twinlabs Gainers Fuel 2500). All you need are a scientifically chosen collection of supplements to the powder. Mine included a spanish omelette and bacon, bananas, a sausage and pepperoni pizza, ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken and cheese sandwiches, ice cream, mushroom soup, french fries, a salmon and bacon club sandwich, oatmeal, onion rings, grapes, a blueberry scone and other similar nutrients.
Mark is a Super Randonneur (yes, that's a real title) and I take his advice seriously. Mark is a rich source of rando-knowledge and knows many useful things like how many Starbucks DoubleShots can fit in a Zefal Magnum Water Bottle and how many miles those DoubleShots will take you. You don't learn those things from a book, you learn them late at night on the road.

Ken Bonner rides more than anyone I know. I say the odds are good that he rides more than anyone you know, unless you know Henry Berkenbos. Last year, for example, Ken rode 29,124 kilometers. When I asked Ken about what fuels his motor, he didn't tell me about wheat germ and yogurt. He did mention:
As a mental and physical energy booster on hot days, I recommend McDonald’s super-size chocolate milkshakes. Unfortunately, McDonald’s factory-made gourmet rando-food outlets are rarely placed on rando-brevet routes.
Another extremely accomplished randonneur, Jan Heine, offers up a great bit of wisdom when he advises "eat while riding, not stopped. That way there is plenty of time for eating." Jan also confesses that he's fond of "Dark chocolate. When no energy bars taste good anymore, and you happen to be near a half-way decent grocery store... I sometimes even take an 'emergency ration' in my handlebar bag."

When I posed my food question to rando-pal Mark Vande Kamp he responded:
I'm not at the "Great Divide" level but I have one "fake food" and one "real food" thing that each work for me. The fake food is straight maltodextrin. I bought a couple of 50 pound bags and split them up with some other randonneur types. I find the stuff bland enough to get it down almost any time and it is the best anti-bonk remedy I've used. It would be hard to take enough along for a multi-day adventure, but I've found that mixing up a concentrated gel in the blender, carrying that in a "food" bottle, and squirting/mixing that with water in a different bottle provides a steady source of calories in an easy to carry, easy to drink, and easy to digest form.

The real food is black kalamata olives. A small plastic jar of these is so much more tasty than salt capsules and it basically serves the same purpose. Little bits of super-salty, veggie-oil-saturated, tastiness -- what's not to love?
Mark brings up a key point, variety. Years ago, I heard John Stamstad talk at REI and he advised carrying foods with a range of tastes and textures. "Something salty, something sweet. Some crunchy stuff, some smooth stuff. If you have just one thing, you'll get so you can't stand to eat it." John, the man who basically invented ultra-distance mountain biking, also told me that he reads nutritional labels "backwards from the way most people do. I'm looking for the most calories per dollar." John's view of food is nicely described in this quote:
"Stamstad also believes in the restorative though as yet medically unexplained power of Mountain Dew and Krispy Kreme donuts. He argues in defense of Twinkies, Little Debbie snack cakes, and Pop-Tarts, noting that none of them freeze on the trail and all excel in calorie-to-cost benefit. (Little Debbie oatmeal-creme pie: 170 calories, at 11 cents.)" -- Outside Magazine profile of John Stamstad, That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger
Tough guy Moishe Lettvin confesses that "Ramen noodles, raw & straight from the package, have got me past a couple of fairly epic bonks." Elden "Fatty" Nelson probably doesn't strictly fit my "multiple hundred mile plus days" category, but he's raced Leadville at least a dozen times and one of his fuels is so good and so weird I had to include it here. He drinks Campbell's Chicken and Stars Soup cold, straight out of the can! I'd be proud to ride with Fatty any day.

If you are not racing against the clock or other people, you can actually take some time and cook food. Wayne Methner advises:
Buy a garlic and onion, a thing of dried salami and either a thing of couscous or Knorr brand Mexican rice dish... With a JetBoil or, in my case, a Colman Peak One, you saute the onion garlic and salami for about a minute, add the appropriate water and rice or couscous...meal-Dinner is ready in 10 - 15 minutes. Starter breakfast is Bread, avocado/tomato, left over onion and salami. Cost about $15, two people two meals including beer and wine. Ride 50-80 K and have a sit down breakfast...Milkshakes/lattes until you get to your overnight and dinner.
Jon Muellner offers up his favorite:
Mine is rice/beans/tortillas. Soak the beans and rice all day in a water bottle while riding. Pour them in a pan and cook them in camp that night and there you go. Make an extra for the next day.
Back at the convenience store, Jon claims that "nothing beats Coke and JoJos!" Tarik Saleh, like many of the folks who responded to my request for data, cites peanuts as being a great energy source:
My favorite convenience store food on long rides are 2 for a dollar salted nuts. The ones that come in the long plastic bag tubes. Usually one of salted peanuts and one of honey roasted peanuts. Occasionally almonds or others, but the old faithful is the peanuts. For planned mid ride lunch I usually have a peanut/almondbutter-honey and grapenut sandwich. It usually packs best if you make it the night before and the bread is slightly crusty and the nutbutter and honey have saturated the grapenuts and bread. Smear the nut butter on both sides of the bread, pile grapenuts on one side, cover grapenuts in honey, smash sammich together, place in one, or a double plastic bag.

Alas, I have found if I am too far gone on the bonk/effort, this is not a very good meal, but in the middle of a long ride it is great.

That and bananas.
Paul "Dr. Codfish" Johnson advises:

If a convenience store is at hand I find that those sandwiches of indeterminate age in the cold case suit me well for distance riding. You know the ones I mean: White bread, mystery meat, cheese-like food product and another slab of white bread. It’s the right ratio of carbs, fat, and protein for me (if you add the mayo and mustard-like food products). I found to my delight that there is a very similar rocket fuel in France when riding PBP: The Jambon et burre baguette (sometimes referred to as the ‘gagette’. Chew slowly lest you find yourself on the side of the road reaching frantically from the ditch for your water bottle).

If I plan ahead I‘ll put a zip loc baggie of salted nuts (almonds or cashews) and a baggie of dried apricots in my bag. These are usually tasty most anywhere along the time-distance continuum. They travel and keep pretty well.

Somewhere along the way in a multi-day event or with a sustained intensity level, I get a craving for a big glass of really cold milk. Otherwise milk is not on my list.

Back in my energy drink days I found I could make Sustained Energy palatable by adding a heaping tablespoonful of chocolate milk powder and another of Nestle’s malted milk powder. Instant chocolate malt on the go.

I also find that Ensure works well for me in almost any circumstance. Unfortunately you don’t get this in singles at the inconvenience store.

These ‘gummy sport’ bites seem pretty good to me. They give you something to occupy your attention on the long boring straight sections (or night sections) of rides.

That microwaved cup-o-noodles can bring a person back from the brink.

In the area of home brew stomach remedies, I have found that a cold 7-Up can often do wonders at quieting an upset stomach. It’s cheap easy to get and does not cost much.

Joel Metz, bike messenger, randonneur and organizer of the Raid Californie-Oregon makes sense when he says:
I - firmly in the category of "if I finish PBP in 89 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, or less, I'm doing fine!" - live completely by two rules:

1. Eat early, eat often. (also works with drinking)

2. Drink water, eat food.

I generally don't touch any of the fancy-schmancy energy or recovery drinks, or much of anything in bar or goo form. I walk into an establishment that offers food, and get what my stomach says it wants.

If I'm packing in advance, I'm partial to the good ol PBJ; peanut butter/honey/banana sandwiches; dried and fresh fruit of various varieties; baguettes stuffed with a) tomato + avocado, b) brie or c) ham and butter; roasted/salted cashews; chocolate. If I could find a way to pack ice cream, I would. Seriously. I'll eat almost anything I can find along the way, and pretty much do. While I don't quite delve as deeply into the processed convenience store food as some do, I have a hard time passing up corn dogs, and again, if my stomach is demanding a certain item, far be it from me to question its judgment.

I'm "blessed" with a decade and a half of messengering, which means I have a greater than normal capacity to eat and run, or eat while riding. This helps with the whole "eating anything you encounter" thing.

Joel's "Eat what you encounter" philosophy mirrors my own, but a key part of this is having a sense of what you might encounter. I knew, from reading accounts of previous Great Divide racers, that there aren't a lot of Whole Foods Markets and fresh produce along the tiny trails that hug the spine of the Rockies. So for months before the race, I was eating lunches that I got from 7-11s and gas stations. I know what works for me.

Peanut M&Ms. God how I love Peanut M&Ms. Back in 1982, Peanut M&Ms got me across Wyoming. When it's hot, I need salt. Potato chips are good, Fritos are better. A great amount of calories for the weight.

Milk. Chocolate milk, regular milk, I don't care. The more fat the better. I don't carry it with me on the bike but washing a Hershey bar down with a pint of milk puts hundreds of calories into your system pretty darn quickly. And if you've practiced this a lot, like I have, you can do this in about a minute and be back on your bike.

The good folks at Clif will sell you Clif Shots and I know they work great but so do Gummi Bears. Or Gummi Fish. Or any other Gummi Creature.

Peanut Butter Cups. They are really good, but can get melty. Not an issue if you're doing something like the Iditarod or if you eat them fast. PayDay bars travel better in the heat, but lack the chocolatey goodness.

The common thread in all the responses I got and in the experiences we've all recounted is the importance of getting calories in, in finding a food you like that works for you.

As Chris Plesko, current Tour Divide single-speed record-holder wrote:
The Divide sure makes you eat weird food. I'm fond of all sorts of junk.

Reeses big cups and PB Twix are the best. Peanut M&Ms are a staple. Caramellos work awesome for before bed but not while riding. Same with Cheetos.

I also like any sort of little pastry item, lemon cake, cheese danish etc. Muffins work here too.

For savory, I'm fond of cheese sticks and peanuts and Pringles.

Starbucks DoubleShots are a gift to AM wake ups though I once hauled a king size GLASS Frapaccino because that's all there was.

Now I'm sure there is some favored cycling food that hasn't been mentioned here. And there might be one or two nutritionists who will have differing opinions as to what folks should be eating on long rides. That's what the comment section is for. What do you eat before, during and after long miles in the saddle? Let me know and keep on rolling,


photo courtesy of Brad Hawkins.


Reddan said...

I follow the "powders plus supplements" philosophy on my brevets. Heed, Caffe Latte-flavored Perpetuem, and Jelly Belly Energy Beans (the caffeinated Extreme variety, of course!) are what I pack, but Pepsi, donuts, meatball hoagies, all-you-can-eat BBQ platters, and honey-roasted peanuts fill in the gaps nicely.

I like to think of my off-bike overeating as training my digestive system for the next brevet series.

Bill Meadows said...

i try and mix it up as much as possible but in the end i almost always come back to the same stuff....raspberry hammer gel, beef jerky, pretzels, PB&J, gummi bears, double shots, ice cream sandwhiches, and dr pepper.......

so far so good!!!!!


Vincent Muoneke said...

2 breakfasts at lunch time.

Cyclin' Missy said...

I like to eat stuff like Sweet & Salty peanut granola bars, pretzles, fruit rollups, almonds, peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy treats...

I tried drinking a V8 on a long bike trip once. I thought, calories, salt, vitamins...not to shabby! Worst choice ever. Yuck!

Bob said...

When it's hot and I have no appetite chocolate milk always goes down easy. The chicken salad or tuna salad deli pre-packed sandwiches also seem easier to get down easier than a slab of meat/cheese. Hammer Gel for a quick pick-me-up.


dexey said...

Excellent. Worth waiting for.
Now what's the rest of the kit in that box behind the saddle?

jimmythefly said...

I'd love to hear what else folks like that isn't sweet. I have no problem with twix, pop-tarts, gatorade, etc. But after a while I just want something like rice & beans -is there any convenience-store equivalent?

Kent Peterson said...

Gee Dexey, you sure seem obsessed with the notion that there is some big secret in the box behind the saddle. The truth of the matter is, most times it's empty! Actually, my bike lock rides in there. And I sometimes cram food in there. What's the food? See this post.


The Shed Master said...

An hour before big races I get a lot of weird looks as I'm consuming a Coke, PopTarts and a Banana.

Works everytime.

2whls3spds said...

Anything from Little Debbie, and I have found sweet tea (Table Wine of the South) to be a great pick me up. You get fluids, caffeine and copious amounts of sugar. It is becoming more universally available at McDonalds the country over. But in my part of the world it had better be available at every restaurant, greasy spoon and roadside bar and grill, or they won't remain in business long.


lynnef said...

many of my food choices are already listed, but... hard-boiled eggs (yes, they can be purchased in convenience stores sometimes). Fritos, mmmm.

Drinking - I'm ok with water and Gatorade, and on cold days hot tea with Orange Gatorade is really, really good. (I have a great thermal bottle; stays hot for a long time)

Cecil Anne said...

I always love to see what other people eat on rides - as a vegan, I tend to carry more food from home with me on rides than other folks, since very few Kwicki-Marts (excpet Apu's, of course) cater to vegans, especially out in the hinterlands where we usually ride. But now that Oreos are no longer made with lard, I can occasionally indulge in junk food for instant energy ;-)

leo from kitsap said...

High density nutrition.
Egg/spinach/black bean/ shredded chicken/cheese/olive oil/ hash brown potato or rice, all wrapped up in a couple tortillas, wrapped in alum foil.
Breakfast of century rides.
You haven't lived until you do a tempura batter dipped deep fried powerbar. Yum!

kfg said...

I'm a celiac (gluten intolerant). I can't eat "energy" bars even if I wanted to. Until I started reading your rando reports I thought Paydays were my little secret.

I don't eat anything that's "special." I eat food. Lots of it. Any food I can get and safely eat, even if this is rather harder for me than for many. Find a market, buy some food, eat it. Bananas, chips, Paydays, raisins,Tootsie Rolls, whatever. Buy some more, eat that too. Start looking for another market down the road. It's not rocket science. Just stay fueled.

Unlike yourself I will lay claim to be a nutritional role model. Don't be weird or fussy on the road, for God's sake just EAT something. It won't kill you, but NOT doing so just might.

"John . . . reads nutritional labels "backwards from the way most people do. I'm looking for the most calories per dollar.""

Doesn't everybody? I mean, it only makes sense. Would you put gas in your car that costs four times as much but is guaranteed to give you no more than 2 mpg? Or ZERO mpg?

Anonymous said...

You have heard of diabetes haven't you?

Just because you exercise a lot doesn't mean you're decreasing your risk to develop it via consuming large amounts of sugar. You're still screwing with your insulin levels add to that the fact many athletes can have a high diabetic predisposition and not know it since exercise reduces the symptoms. You could be setting yourself up for future blood sugar troubles.

Scott P said...

Cheeseburgers! Not anything fancy, just the generic mini-mart kind: bread, meat, cheese. No onions, lettuce, tomatos, etc. They go down easy, regardless of how bad my stomach is feeling, have tons of calories, and a good mix of protein, fat and carbs. First thing in the morning a sausage-egg-cheese-muffin sandwich is good too.

Andy Sohn said...

1. Trader Joes peanut butter filled pretzel bites.
2. Spam musubi (block of formed Japanese rice sushi style with a slice of Spam fried in egg and green onions, wrapped in nori). You can go for days on Spam musubi alone. Wrap in foil, shove in pocket, eat while riding. Those in the Spam musubi cult know.
3. Clif ShotBloks.
4. Coca Cola

Unknown said...

Salami and Cheese sandwiches on Dave's Blues bread. Slim Jims. Salty, greasy crisps.

For chem-lab foods, I mix a scoop of fruit punch Accelerade with a scoop of Mango-Peach Isopure Zero Carb. It's about 250 calories and 20g of protein in a single water bottle and doesn't get all curdled like Perpetuem over the course of an hour.

My favourite late-night caffeinated snack is something I've dubbed the Randoccino: A bottle of chocolate Ensure and a can of Starbucks Doubleshot mocha mixed together.

dexey said...

Kent Peterson said...
Gee Dexey, you sure seem obsessed with the notion that there is some big secret in the box behind the saddle.

I can't deny that Kent :0)

From your post of 18th August: "Some time in the future I'll cover what I carry in terms of repair tools, food and other stuff."

I've seen tools and food, is 'the other stuff' just the bike lock, then? Away with you. I'd be interested in what spare clothing you carry when overnighting.

Evan said...

Now this is a great post. Someone besides myself has discovered the power of the krispy kreme doughnut. On the nonsweet side I love a bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese.

F.W. Adams said...

Great reading! Love the complete randomness of what everyone is eathing with only the common thread of eat what works for you.

I'm guessing this blog post won't make a lot of energy bar/drink companies too happy--unless you count Little Debbie, Snickers, etc.

Anonymous said...

salt bagel -- if it's a good bagel it can last all day and tastes kinda like a pretzel. Yum

Anonymous said...

2 for a dollar peanuts, for sure - best when eaten with a Milky Way Midnight bar (dark chocolate, oh, yes). When on tour (it's been a while, but it could happen again) I tend to live on peanut butter, honey and cheese sandwiches (definitely better the next day, when the honey and peanut oil have soaked into the multi grain bread, making a solid wafer), and for extreme bonk emergencies, I would always try to keep in reserve a peanut butter, honey and cheese with coffee beans. Extra crunchy, and one of the best flavor combinations ever. Val

Nat said...

Thanks for this compilation. Some excellent ideas here!

Sam H. said...

If I can find a subway, I really enjoy a tuna sub wih extra tomatoes.

Otherwise, since brevets generally seem to be held during the hot season (above 60 degrees F), my most common rando food ist ice-cream sandwiches.

I avoid drinking, but when it's necessary I like water with a diluted nuun tablet. I don't know about the electrolytes, but it does give the water a mild but pleasant flavor. At controls, an ice-cold fountain pepsi usually goes down pretty well.

On the last chance 1200K, I found a store that offered heated egg sandwiches on croissants. I ate about 4 of those on the way out, and 4 on the way back.

Snickers bars are grea too, as long as it's not so hot that they melt.

Cycle Jerk said...

Great Post!!

Peanut M&M's, salted cashews, beef jerky, and sour patch kids are on my 'must have in the stem bag' list.

Did I mention Sour Patch Kids!? When you need both an emotional and physical boost they can't be beat.

Dave Harris said...

Super post!

For events long enough I'll be sitting down at some point, it's tough to beat instant mashed potato mixes. They work fine with cold water and are quite savory. Add some tuna/cheese/summer sausage and it's a fine trailside meal.

Anonymous said...

Ice cream. Ice cream all the time. Haagen Daiz particuallrly. I think milkshakes are the idea bike food. Protien, fat to keep you going, sugar to get you moving quick and debonk, fluid. And it tastes good so you'll finish it and in the USA at least you can find them everywhere. As you know, i'm more concerned about sugar and artificial ingredients then you -- candy doesn't work for me because of the sugar. But little mini potatos boiled and stuck in my jersey pocket work well. I always bring nuts too. Hash browns are great. And chocolate milk. That's essential. Oh how i miss the double cream organic Wilcox chocolate milk.

lap57 said...

My favorite real foods are ham and turkey grinders from Subway. They are about the right size for lunch or dinner. For snacking in between this post covered all the basics. Your stomach will tell you which one is right on a given day (although chocolate milk or Frapacino with cookies or a donut make for a great snack).

The secret weapon in my bag is Espresso Love by GU. When my legs feel like lead then one of these will get me moving for the next 15 miles.

On PBP I did discover one drink that was excellent but no one else has mentioned. Many of the stops had small cans of non-alcoholic beer. These were great, cold with a little fiz and lots of carbs. I can't drink soda on a long ride it tastes too sweet and the sugar causes a real spike and crash. I will admint that they also had small cans of real beer and when one of the stops late in my ride only had real beer left it was just as good.

jimbobrides said...

A couple of things that are easy to eat and have unique texture are fig newtons, rice krispy treats, and mega calorie apple pies.

heidimo said...

as a natural medicine professional with a history of being sickened by chemical exposure, i am more of a nutritional role model. i don't totally avoid sugar, but certainly eat less of it than a lot of people here. my main goal is to avoid chemicals.

here's what i do eat:
1) hot breakfast, any time of day, any of the following: pancakes, waffles, hash browns, eggs, scones, sausage. the pastries at starbucks are usually ok, as are their breakfast sandwiches. i'll eat baked goods that are more carbs than sugar. i'll eat at a diner, but i prefer somewhere that the food is already cooked, like a deli at a health food store.
2) i never drink coffee, coke, or gatorade. tea, lots of it, hot or cold, usually unsweetened or less sweetened, if i can get it. i buy alacer electro mix by the box, and add it to the bottles of water i buy along the way. i alternate it with packets of alacer emergen-c. it makes the water easier to drink, tastier, and is full of electrolytes and such, but no sugar.
3) i blame you that i tried payday bars and they passed my test. :D i will also eat haagen dazs bars or ben and jerry's, and have drunk chocolate milk on occasion. i usually avoid the rancid nuts for sale in mini-marts. the payday bars definitely turn over faster, and are less likely rancid. natural chips, like kettle brand, are ok. fish and chips is better. fish tacos are good, if not spicy. trader joe's or newman's peanut butter cups or also ok with me, but not a lot.
4) cliff blocks, shots, and chews are ok, now and then.

Filings from the bench said...

Landjaeger. Fits in your jersey. Keeps well. Easy to eat.

I often bring along chocolate covered espresso beans. You can even get fancy shmancy organinc ones in bulk in your food co-op.

Someone mentioned not liking V8, but on hot days, these are excellent. Slam a v8, then down an entire coke. The two seem to settle each other in the belly. If I need a caffeine boost, I'll add a Starbuck's Double Shot to the mix.

I've been driving (I know, I know!) to Portland and back a lot lately and found that Dairygold chocolate milk is the best thing in any convenience store fridge. And there's no high fructose corn syrup in it FWIW. I haven't tried this on a brevet yet, however.

In the hot case next to the jo jo's don't overlook the chicken tenders. These helped me avoid a bonk on a measly 200k, the Tahuya 200k a couple summers ago.

I recently discovered Kiwi berries, which are grape sized kiwi fruits that you eat whole since they don't have the fuzzy rind. Pretty tasty and refreshing, but delicate, so eat 'em on the first day.

Chewing Gum is good for staying awake.

If you can find it, pizza by the slice. Good bagels with melted cheese and nutella.

Thanks for the blog post Kent!

David said...

I think most folks know I've be fairly successful using Hammer Nutrition over the past three years. Here's how I use it:

Rides less than 2 hours:
Hammer Heed

Rides less than 4 hours:
Hammer Sustained Energy
Endurolyte caps / 1-3 per hour

Rides greater than 8 hours:
Hammer Perpetuem / 4-hour bottles / Pre-mix 1-bottle baggies
Hammer Endurolyte caps / 1-3 per hour
Hammer Gel / Espresso
Hammer Bars / 1 per 8 hours

Real foods that work with Hammer:
Hammer warns against mixing simple sugars (candy bars, full-strength colas, muffins, etc) with their foods, which are based on Maltodextrin - a complex carb.

These are the foods I can find at gas station mini-marts AND eat with Hammer nutrition products that won't upset the stomach:
- V8 Juice
- Fritos
- Diet coke
- Starbucks "Double-shot"

When I want to get off the bike and eat (what a concept) I always look for a Subway and build a custom sandwich without any spicy meats, veges, or condi's.

Keep the pedals turnin'


William Boyd said...

I once got 130 miles out of a bag of dark chocolate covered peanuts. They were good to the last peanut. Fig Newtons are good with water. You’re never too old for a good PB&J sandwich. A coffee stop is nice. And I look forward to my salty vitamin packed V8s!

Anonymous said...

I have not done any long distance cycling, but if my bike commute is any indicator of how hungry one can become after riding their machine, then I can understand the need for junk food. Some days, I neglect to bring enough to eat and have to bike past a Church's chicken, a local pizzeria, and various Vietnamese restaurant which inflames my hunger so that by the time I get home I eat the first thing in sight. Many of my cycling colleagues frankly admit that they ride to eat!

Mike Nevin
Sacramento, CA

Anonymous said...

I always make sure to have 3 egg whites and one yoke with 2 slices multi-grain and a cup of strong coffee.

For 40-60 mile ride, I'd pack salty nuts and raisins or crasins and a good old PB&J or buy a bagel & cream cheese plus a cup of coffee at the rest stop. Then eat what ever meal is made after I get home or just good old instant noodles with added chicken and vegetables.

For a 90 mile ride I'd pack an extra banana and double the size of my own mixture of nuts.

Anonymous said...

Chocolate milk works great after riding but anything dairy is death for me during a ride. I have had some bad experiences compounded by poison ivy in all the wrong places so for years avoided dairy completely!

I did find that the little sandwich cookies are a great energy source. You can get these at any gas station or supermarket in chocolate or vanilla. The last pack I bought had almost 100 calories for each two cookies.

Great post.

Velomann said...

Surprised I didn't see more mentions of fig bars. Easy to pack, sweet, high carbs, easy on the belly... I get the double-sized ones in 5 lb bags from
The one thing I consistently pack on every ride. I also find I crave coffee at nearly every stop, regardless of weather or time of day.

Lindsey said...

Did anyone mention beer? When you've been hustling all day and its about 4 pm and you have a couple hours to go a beer is best. Then when you finish you reward yourself with one more and after some tuna and ramen you are asleep by the time the sun sets.

Tony said...

Two items I've been eating on my short and long rides are Aussie Bites and Cashew Nut Clusters from Costco. I'll also add my Hammer Gel flask to this mix. After that it depends on how long the ride and what's available. I usually go for nuts, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, and something sweet.

As for drink mixes my favorite is Gu Brew Raspberry. Don't try the others, they suck! When I run out I try to find Vitamin Water Lemonade.

After riding 9 doubles in 3 years and many centuries plus I've learned that you need to eat at a consistent rate, but don't need that much to keep going if you eat healthy/clean food.

Thanks for the post.

mrk. said...

By the way kent, the photo of Brad, mentioned as courtesy of Brad. I took that photo. It was in Bow Washington on the way to Vancouver.

Unknown said...

Great post! Food on the ride is a totally personalized thing - my buddy will go for ice cream or shakes any chance he gets, I prefer small, frequent, snacks of variety (fruit, nuts, energy bars, etc).

Love it!

Unknown said...

Great article, my crazy husband cycled over 600km in 28 hours (no sleep) and relied on a lot of your advice!

Dan Ricks said...

Payday bars, pizza, chocolate milk, cashews, licorice (black and red), ice cream. In th end, your body knows: if it itastes god, it is good. If it's not appetizing, you're not going to eat it or enjoy it.

Unknown said...

gas station hot dog... the older the better.

Moon and Owl Marketing said...

In 12 hour races, Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread alternated with mini-bean burritos (flour tortilla and light splay of refried beans). Coupled with regular old Gatorade, some gels, and water (and Hammer Endurolytes), boom PODIUM 2 times.