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.
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)
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.
- 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”:
- 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)
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!