Bike Food Part 2: Food to Take on a Bike Tour

On long bike rides, your body needs lots of food. Buying all your food from restaurants can leave you broke. Trying to subsist on granola bars alone can leave you unsatisfied and wondering why you decided to go on this trip in the first place! With a little creativity, however, choosing food to take on a bike tour can become part of the adventure! If you haven’t read Bike Food Part 1, make sure to give that a read as well.

When I toured down Highway 101 from Washington State to California, I tried to live on $10 a day or less. I came across enough grocery stores that I was able to restock almost every day. You may need to save room in your bags for a few days worth of food, depending on where you are going. Adventure Cycling has excellent maps that can help with planning routes, indicating spots to pick up food, get bike maintenance and camp.

Food to Take on a Bike Tour

To help you better understand what food to take on a bike tour, here is an example menu for one day. I’ve left recipes pretty loose because you never know exactly what you’ll be able to find. You can always add a little flair with sides like a bag of hot potatoes or a roadside peach.

Muesli

For breakfast, you want something simple you can prepare ahead of time.  In the morning, muesli is delicious served in a cup or bowl with some milk and a banana. In a pinch, you can also have it raw or with water. One travel trick I like to use is to put quick oats in a cup and find a place with drip coffee, like a bank or drive-thru cafe. Pour a little coffee into the oats and you’ve got delicious caffeinated oatmeal!

I buy these ingredients when I find a good bulk section at a grocery store.

  • 3 parts quick oats (regular is fine if you like chewy)
  • 1 part nuts (almonds, walnuts, slivered or chopped is best)
  • 1 part dry fruit (raisins, dates, apricots)
  • Throw something interesting in like coconut flakes or graham cracker bits!
  • 1 part seeds (pumpkin, chia, sunflower)

Roadside Wrap

Your lunch spot usually chooses you. Your legs may yell at you for a break or you may come across a hilltop park to have your bike food with a view of the sea. Either way, you’ll want something you can put together without too much effort. Wraps are pretty easy and are a good way to use fresh vegetables you may come across.

  • Torilla
  • Avocado or hummus
  • Red onion, chopped
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Lettuce and/or any other veggies you find
  • Add protein with yogurt, seeds, or nuts (optional)
  • If you like spicy, add peppers or garlic

Or, if I have the good fortune to come across a berry bush, I like to make a fresh tortilla “smoothie”:

  • Tortilla
  • Wild berries (make sure you know what they are, or have your friend try one first)
  • Nut butter (Almond, sunflower, peanut) or yogurt
  • Chopped apples or whatever other fruits you have (optional)

Campfire Food

After a long ride, it feels real good to sit and not move your legs. Your dinner possibilities will depend on where you’re stopping for the night. If you’re able to make a fire, cooking can be a nice way to wind the day down. If you’ve got a stove and a pot, go ahead and whip up your instant pad Thai. However, people have been cooking with nothing but fire for thousands of years. Here are a few examples of things you can cook over coals:

  • Yam (helps to wrap it in tin foil). Delicious if garnished with butter, salt, paprika or other spices
  • Bread! Mix water, flour and anything else (cheese, wild greens, etc.). Roll into balls and place on top of hot coals. Rotate to cook evenly. Remove when firm and set aside to cool. Dust off ashes and top with something delicious.
  • Can of beans. Drain and rinse first. Be sure to rotate and stir.

For more bike food tips for your trips check out Bike Food Part 1 : How to Make Your Ride Delicious and stay tuned for Bike Food Part 3. Stop in the shop sometime, we’re happy to chat with you and give tips on how to plan food to take on a bike tour!

Bike Light Review: Cygolite Hotshot 100 lumen Rear Light

As summer’s luxuriously long days grew shorter and shorter, I spent a while in denial. I thought of myself as someone who “doesn’t really ride at night all that much.” So I didn’t invest in a very good light. The light I used ran on batteries that only seemed to last a few days. Now that the sun sets around 4pm, I ride in the dark every day. I saw other commuters with brighter lights – great furnaces I noticed from blocks away. I grew envious. At last, I decided to accept that I am actually someone who rides at night all the time. Therefore a proper light was not decadent, but entirely appropriate. It was time to turn the green lights on getting that red light. So for a new rear light user, I decided to write up my own bike light review to share with other nightly commuters.

Cygolite Hotshot
Cygolite Hotshot 100 lumens (Bright!)

Cygolite Hotshot Bike Light Review

I decided on the Cygolite hotshot with 100 lumens. The packaging warns “do not look directly into the light” and boy howdy were they right! My previous tail light couldn’t blind a mole. This Cygolite turns everyone behind me red! I now no longer roll up to stoplights, embarrassed by my weak glow. Now that I’ve had the chance to ride with it a few times, I’ll admit that 100 lumens is probably more than you’d need for riding in well lit areas with lots of other cyclists. This isn’t a problem because you can adjust the brightness of the Cygolite with a button. However, if you’re deciding between the 100 or 50 lumen model, you may be fine with the latter.

I try to have as few things that run on batteries as possible. Batteries can be expensive and are a pretty toxic form of garbage after they’re used up. If you do use batteries, make sure you’re recycling them the right way. Cygolites charge with a USB cable and can go up to 200 hours of use on a charge, so I figure I’ll end up saving money in the long run. Overall, this is the light I’d reccomend to anyone looking to be seen.

Bike Food Part 1 : How to Make Your Ride Delicious

If you’ve ridden a bike much, you may have noticed there are few kitchens on the side of the road. You also may have noticed you are hungry. You are not alone. But with a some preparation, a positive spirit and burritos, you’ll find there is bike food out there suitable for all cyclists.

Bike Food

I always carry at least a granola bar in my saddle bag. “Bonking,” or running out of energy on a bike ride, is at best an avoidable bummer. At worst, it can be a health hazard, especially if you are far from civilization or riding in cold weather. Fueling your ride can be either a chore or a delicious picnic. It’s easy to find a place to get food in a city like Portland where food trucks are around every corner! But when traveling longer distances, a little planning and attitude makes all the difference.

Your body does require more calories and electrolytes while exercising, but don’t be intimidated by sports food marketing. “Electrolytes” is basically just another way to say “salt”. Calories and electrolytes exist in literally all food. This is what makes it food. Over my experience on longer rides and tours, I’ve found a few favorite foods that fit well in a jersey pocket or saddle bag and add to the pleasure of riding a bike. Then again, everything tastes better after a long bike ride.

Burrito!

A perfect pocket-sized sandwich. I used to have a shirt that said “53 miles per burrito,” which is pretty accurate. The real advantage of this food is the near ubiquity of taco trucks in some parts.  Many times have I been saved from hunger by some middle-of-nowhere taqueria. Remember to bring some cash when you ride, if you dream of burritos.

Trail Mix!

I guess on a bike it would technically be a “road mix,” but the principle remains the same. You can make it as fancy or cheap as you’d like, but I like to buy a bunch of ingredients in bulk and mix them into bags to take with me. Here is a rough recipe I like:

Harmonious Pairs

Snacks don’t have to be complex. Some of the most satisfying road foods I kept going back to were pairs of things that go together. This is partly because its easier to find just two things at a random convenience store in the middle of nowhere. But also you don’t want to spend all your time planning food when you could be riding. Here are a few of the pairs I kept going back to on longer rides:Apple and Nut ButterHummus and chips

Beverage

Water is the best beverage, but sometimes you want something else. You can get fancy powders that magic your water into a smoothie or a sports drink. I prefer to use a little lemon juice or hibiscus mixed with honey, or even coconut water. On long trips with friends, I like to hide a bottle of beer in my pannier. When you arrive at your destination everyone is tired, but a little surprise at the end can turn “ugh, what a ride…” into “wow, what a ride!”

Bike food is important for the mind, body and spirit. As important as it is to take care of your bike, it’s probably more important to take care of yourself! Put the right things in your body and you’ll get the best out of your bike and yourself! Stay tuned for more bike food tips in part 2 and part 3.

Keep Hope Alive in Winter: Actually Prepare

Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter. Suddenly Commuting isn’t so Hard!

Obvious in retrospect, but when I was in college I rode my carbon race bike (my only bike for a while) everywhere. There was no room for fenders in this SUPERFAST frame, so I would show up everywhere very wet. Now that I am older and (a bit) wiser, I realize that there is no gear more stylish than the crinkly clothes that go “swshswshswsh” because you can shed them like a wet snake skin when you arrive at your destination. The trick is you have to cover actually every part of yourself. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize, but this means jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and a hood or hat. If you want to commute like a professional, here are some recommendations from our staff with over 5 years of Portland commuting experience…

 

Lights

The #1 essential you should always shoot for is a spectacular pair of lights. Lights are good to have through all seasons, but especially so when the days are darker and shorter. I usually carry one high quality, USB rechargeable set, and one cheaper, disposable battery set as a back-up. The higher quality lights will be on my bike, with the back-up set in my bag. Be sure to remove lights from your bike when you lock it up, as these tend to be thief-bait. My favorite lights in general, and that we carry in the shop, are by Light & Motion.

Light & Motion Urban 650 Headlamp
Light & Motion Urban 650 Headlamp

Pictured above is the Urban 650 at $80. I’ve had this light since I started commuting 5 years ago and it still works fantastically. Cheaper lights I’ve bought have had a much shorter lifespan. We carry a variety of Light & Motion lights up to 800. The Urban 350 is fantastic for city riding, especially if your commute is already lit. If you’re like me, and have very dark commutes with no lamps, the 650 is a good go-to.

 

Raingear

The first thing you want to do before you ride is check the weather report. What’s today’s high/low? What are the chances of precipitation by the hour? I like to think of “percent chance” of rain as actually being “percent volume”. But most telling: How many centimeters or inches is it supposed to rain today?

That last question helps me really decide how much gear I need each day. For example, if it’s going to rain 0.3in or more in one day I will definitely grab my pair of rain pants and rain boots. Here’s how I personally categorize rainfall/day:

 

Other Gear

Fenders are essential, unless you are a fan of mud stripes down your back. Depending on your commuting situation, you may also consider upgrading to all-weather brake pads, upgrading to wider tires with more grip, or covering your bike up if you park it outside to prevent excess wear. Come by the shop and we’ll be more than happy to help you get set up for year-round riding and turn that frowny commute upside-down. Plus, if you come in before December 31st, all our accessories are 25% off, so you’ll save on your lights, fenders and other gear!

 

 

Keep Hope Alive in Winter: Plan Your Next Tour

If you moved to Portland a few months ago, you may have thought you were moving to a land of eternal summer. Just look at all the yards growing banana plants and the abundance of patio seating! Now that the weight of your misunderstanding is sinking in, you may be looking for ways to keep  hope alive through the long drizzle season. A cyclist does not run on burritos alone, after all. Here we will encourage you through the winter time by planning for your next tour.

Banana Plant

Step 1: Believe Summer Will Return

Don’t get your head in the clouds, summer doesn’t have clouds. Instead, spend your indoor-time dreaming of all the bike tours you will embark on next year. Weekend tours can be planned fairly spur of the moment.  Maybe a jaunt to L.L.Stub Steward State Park (The Banks-Veronia Trail goes straight through it)? Or perhaps a loop around the Columbia Gorge (Ainsworth State Park has a spacious bike-camping field)? Longer tours might require a winter of planning.

I did not plan much for my tour into California. While it mostly worked out in the end, you might benefit from spending your pent-up energy planning more obsessively than I did. I left Olympia, WA with no destination except “South.” I took the carbon road bike I raced in college, since that was the only bike I had. As I pulled into the campground I intended to stay on the first evening of my tour, I went over a speed bump and my rack fell off. Don’t try to tour with a carbon seatpost and a clamp-on rack! I was then told the campground was closed. So I carried all my gear on my head while I looked for a bridge to sleep under until it was light enough to hitchhike to the nearest town. The next day I bought an aluminum seatpost.

So Plan Your Tour

You can spend a whole winter deciding on a destination, but the journey itself is really the important part. Highway 101 is an ideal touring route. It has abundant views, quaint seaside towns and world-class parks. Some 800 miles later, I ended up in Yolo County in a town of about 150 people. I spent the winter on a family farm/goat dairy and eating the most delicious oranges and pomegranates I ever had.

Welcome to Yolo

If you’d like some help dreaming up your next bike tour, why not stop by the shop for some tea? From our combined wealth of experience, we can suggest routes through the San Juan Islands, Glacier National Park, across India, and beyond. You might just keep the drizzle from seeping into your spleen (well known organ of hope).

 

Coming next: “Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter.”