The Biking Basics class I am teaching for Nashville Community Education has wrapped up its second week, and I wanted to address a question I got in the class this week about what to eat before (or during) a ride.
The wisdom I have heard is, “Eat before you’re hungry; drink before you’re thirsty.” I think that’s a good starting point of nutrition and hydration for bike riders, especially those who are riding longer distances (15-50 miles or more at a stretch) or for those who are re-acclimating to being in the saddle. Hotter days also mean more water loss and more exertion, so it’s important to keep your body fueled so you don’t bonk.
What does it mean to bonk? It’s the feeling of, oh no, I can’t go any further… legs stopping … but you’re 10 miles from your destination and you have no other way to get there. So what do you do? Stop, rest, refuel.
“Fake foods” – like energy goos, protein bars, and the like – are decent enough in a pinch and are great to have as an emergency backup, but your calories are ideally derived from REAL FOOD. Something you can have that is easily packable either into a jersey pocket or a saddlebag or a fanny pack.
Avoid foods that make you less comfortable in the saddle. You want to be satiated, not stuffed.
Portable Foods are Good Foods
Foods I have brought along with me on rides include:
- Sausage kolache from Yeast Nashville
- Banana (the ultimate power food for a bike rider)
- Granola bar (or Clif Bar, which is essentially a candy bar with fiber)
- Snickers bars (not in the summer)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Rice krispy treats
- Jerky (usually turkey jerky)
The featured image here is a biscuit from Biscuitville in Lexington, NC, and for sure if I had a Biscuitville near me here in Nashville I would ride to the restaurant, get a biscuit, eat half, ride some more, and then eat the other half. (It’s a fried bologna, hashbrown, and cheese biscuit, too.)
What do you bring on a ride? What do you like to have to snack on as needed?
(See also some good ideas at Relentless Forward Commotion too.)