Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Soft Diet

Yesterday I had my wisdom teeth removed, and you know - the procedure was not at all bad. Kind of fascinating actually. But the aftermath is the difficult part. My head is splitting even with the painkiller cocktail I am taking, I feel weak and drowsy, and I can't ride a bike for the next few days. But the worst part is eating. For the next week I am supposed to transition from a cold liquid diet to a warm soft one, before I can have regular food again. It isn't easy to procure real meals with these restrictions, especially for a cyclist who is used to consuming lots of calories. For the first day or two the dentist suggested "yoghurt, ice cream and fruit juice," but that is way too much sugar. It occurred to me that with a blender I could liquify normal meals (salmon asparagus smoothie, anyone?), but I don't own one and didn't feel like buying one just to use for a few days. So instead I got some baby food, and it is surprisingly tasty. In a day or two I can graduate to mushed bananas and various soups.

Planning this diet is making me think more about eating during long, strenuous rides. I am not very good at minding my nutritional intake while cycling and have not yet figured out a system that works perfectly for me. For one thing, I simply don't feel hungry when riding strenuously, and I've learned that forcing down random food just to prevent bonking will only make me feel sick. Heavy and sweet foods, such as the pastries cyclists like to eat in cafes, make me nauseous. Dense crunchy things such as energy bars get stuck in my throat and then come back up no matter how hard I try to wash them down with water. Through trial and error, I've learned that I need to stick to soft foods that are easy to swallow, are not too sweet, and are nutritionally dense. Generous bites of a banana every now and again. V8 juice in one of my water bottles. And those soft chewy fruit cubes that are sold in health food stores. If I stick to foods like that, I can eat without breaking my stride and feel good.

Only problem is, those things are difficult to carry on the bike without making a mess, and it's also hard to get enough calories out of them on longer rides. Watching some of my riding partners squeeze gels into their mouths, take pills, and mix powders into their drinking water, I am beginning to understand why that sort of thing is done. Still, I am extremely reluctant to go that route and I am highly suspicious of nutritional supplements with mysterious, "scientifically-formulated" ingredients. Mostly that is because I have to be cautious with my diet for health reasons, and many of these supplement mixtures, even if they are "all natural," have ingredients that can affect hormone levels. I simply do not know what a large concentration of, say, soy or whey protein will do to my system, and I am reluctant to experiment. That is why I've been staring at, but still haven't opened this enormous bottle of electrolyte powder I've been sent to try. The last and only time I had an electrolyte drink, my high school tennis coach fed it to me and I promptly passed out. Understandably, I am reluctant to try one again.

A friend who is a runner and occasional cyclist recommended some soft chews and natural gels, which she says come the closest to feeling like eating normal food while keeping her energy levels stable. I bought a couple of samples, but haven't tried them yet.

I guess what I really want to hear is that even when doing long and strenuous rides I don't have to resort to any of that stuff, that there is some magical combination of regular foods I can make do with instead. Can one ride a randonnĂ©e on bananas, V8 juice and peanut butter? Most serious cyclists I talk to think that's a terrible idea and believe scientifically-formulated nutritional supplements are a must. I am still deciding whether to take that plunge. But for now I will stick to the soft diet and will continue to be the girl with a mangled banana sticking out of her jersey pocket. Once I am back on the bike that is!

95 comments:

  1. I'm a sample of one, but I had my best long ride last Saturday (I've been riding 50+ mile long rides in preparation for a century), and I ate a lot more than usual.

    Usually I pack a pb&j; some fig newtons in my pockets for eating on the go; a clif bar or two just in case; and two water bottles, one with some sort of gatorade mix.

    This time, in addition to actually eating all of that (I usually eat about half the pb&J and don't touch the clif bars), I also tried one of the gel packet things about 15 minutes before the big climbing began; I brought drink hydration tabs so that when I filled up on water, I could make a drink mix (drinking too much plain water can be bad); and I also bought and ate a pack of ho-hos (!) along the way. Ho-hos are not in my usual diet!

    At 67 miles, it was the longest ride I've done--but it felt much easier than previous efforts. It could be cumulative training or it could be that I finally ate enough on my ride.

    The key with the drink mixes, I think, is to not use quite as much as recommended. Do an experiment: mix up a small glass before a ride so you can see if you really react to it or if it's something you just need to get over.

    I read in some long-distance cycling book that it's good to start eating by 30 minutes into a long ride. That's when I like the fig newtons--they're in the my pocket and easy to eat while I ride. But a gel would be a good use for this as well.

    I'm not sure if that stuff is a must, but I do know it's much easier to carry a small clif bar and gel packet than larger food with that same amount of calories and nutrition.

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  2. Well I call BS on the 'serious cyclist' beliefs. Eat whatever works for you. I found that experimenting with various foods during shorter (training if you will) rides was the best way to figure out what worked for me.

    I do mix up Gator-aid at less than recommended strength because electolyte replacement is a good idea on brevets.

    As a pre-ride breakfast I usually have a fruit smoothie with yogurt and protein powder and a few slices of toast and PB. (And several cups of tea). This get me about 50 -60 km before I need to start eating on the bike. I find that fat is a better fuel than carbs, but I need both. During the ride I eat apples, peaches, builder bars, lara bars, lune bars, chicken clubhouse sandwiches, bacon and eggs sometimes, depending on how I feel and what my body tells me it needs. On more than one ride I have ridden long distances (with a few snacks), walked into Subway and ordered the first thing that made me salivate! It has worked so far.

    When I describe my diet to other randos they look at me like I am crazy. But I tried some of their recommendations (perogies, baked potatoes, bags of chips) and can't stomach them at all.

    Several of our BC Randonneurs eat pudding during rides!

    I have found that each persons' food intake is highly individual, which is why I recommend the trial and error method. And the last 50 km are usually fueled by a can of Coke (not diet!) and two Wunderbars. Or by Clif shots. Both are personal rocket fuel for tired legs.

    Happy eating. Lee

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  3. In France, in the 1930's to 1950's, there were some cyclists who founded a thing called the Randonnee. I don't think they used "scientifically-formulated" foods either. Jan has talked to a lot of them. What did they eat and drink B.G. (Before Gatorade)? They didn't carry it all with them...
    Backpackers and Climbers have used GORP for decades - perhaps centuries. Good Old Raisins and Peanuts. Bananas, V8 and Peanut Butter sounds like an improvement for one particularly sensitive to sugar... Have you tried Banana chips? You wouldn't have to carry and dispose of the peel. Carrots hold up to bouncing around during rough pavement and dirt roads quite well. Boiled eggs fair well. Apples. Cheese (so many kinds...)
    I guess I'm just old enough to have withdrawn from the fashion market, and that includes food fads.

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    1. "They didn't carry it all with them..."
      There are boulangeries in every small town in France. I think that a town cannot be incorporated until it has a boulangerie.
      Derivation of the word Pannier: Fr. 'bread basket'.
      Reason for the French Revolution? It was a bread revolt.
      You could get the idea that the French are rather hung up on bread, more so than wine really. But if you've had some, you would know why.
      I make french bread in a bread machine. It doesn't keep. It's really good for about 12 hours, good for 24, and not bad for another 24. But that's exactly why it's so good to eat! It breaks down easily and well.

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    2. And I like peppers, pickled or fresh, for when it's cold or rainy. Warms the blood, though it also makes the nose run. But that keeps the passages open for breathing.

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  4. What a timely post! I am scheduled to get my wisdom teeth removed next week and I am dreading it. Did you stay awake for it? Did it hurt??

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    1. Well, it's different for everyone so my experience will likely not resemble yours. My teeth were fully grown, so that made it easier. The dentist (who is excellent) literally just yanked them out without even having to cut the gums open. I got shot up with novocaine, then they tapped on each tooth with a hammer from all sides to loosen it, then grabbed it with this forceps-like instrument. I heard a horrible crunch and then the tooth was out. No pain, just a disturbing sensation of my jaw breaking apart. I needed stitches in one spot, but that was all. I am so relieved it's over.

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    2. When I got my wisdom teeth removed, I found out it was much like childbirth in that everyone knows a horror story or two.

      I got knocked out for it, myself, but two of mine hadn't come through the gums and one was totally sideways. I spent a whole week in bed/on the couch sleepy with Vicodin.

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    3. The couch has definitely been my home for the past 2 days, with the cats watching over me (literally, stretched out along the back of the couch). I am getting kind of sick of it though and want to ride a bike!

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    4. Mine hadn't come through yet when they were removed. I was about 15. They gave me some sort of liquid pain killer (don't know what it was. I'm allergic to Novocaine) that made me HIGH as I don't know what. They gave it to me in the waiting room and I had to be carried back to the dentist chair b/c I could'nt walk. Then everything was the funniest thing ever! The dentist would get one tooth out and I would laugh and laugh and tell him to pull them all out! Once he was done my dad had to throw me over his shoulder and carry me out to the car. I remember flapping my arms around thinking I could fly away. That's about all I remember except for some unaccountable time later looking like a chipmunk and living off of mush. Fun times. :)

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  5. I have tried some of the gels and various sports drinks and hate, hate everything - not just the flavors, but also the consistency - until Honey Stinger. I've tried the Gold and Banana flavored gels, and am about to try the Orange Blossom chews. I prefer to avoid caffeine, but I have some of those too... haven't sampled them yet. Everything I've tried so far tastes pretty decent (surprisingly like honey) and actually serves to perk me up a bit.

    I'm kind of skeptical that scientifically formulated foods are "a must" - after all, humans have been surviving and thriving (and exercising!) for millions of years without this stuff. Granted, people have obviously evolved to be very efficient walkers and cycling/running will burn many more calories. So if you can eat more of the things you like, to meet your calorie needs without feeling too full to keep exercising, I believe you are fine.

    Other cycling staples for me: Cuties/mandarins, and Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bars.

    Hope you are as good as new soon, V!

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  6. You might want to check out the Feedzone Cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/The-Feed-Zone-Cookbook-Flavorful/dp/1934030767

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  7. Pickles and mustard packets - who needs Gatorade!

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    1. Okay, pickles make sense. But why the mustard?

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  8. Harriet Fell famously rode PBP with a whole
    roast chicken in her handle bar bag.
    Velocio favored fruit turnovers.
    I like dried apricots (lots of potassium)
    and on cold days some OJ mixed with water.

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  9. I'm with Daisy. PB&J, preferrably on whole wheat, and Fig Newtons are my foods of choice and I also have a couple of Clif bars in the saddle bag. A couple of years ago I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts on the way to ride an MS 150 to use the restroom. Out of guilt I bought a couple of donuts (Boston Creme), which promptly scarfed down before I started. While you'd think it would make you feel nauseous to eat that much sugar and then ride, oddly enough I felt great and finished my first century. But normally I don't do the high fat/high sugar thing and the PB&J and Newtons work fine.

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  10. If you aren't comfortable with the electrolyte drinks and protein powders, listen to your gut (pun intended!) and stick with regular food. People have been riding long distance since before this stuff existed. Over time you will figure out what works for you and how to store and carry it.

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  11. Don't know what to tell you about long rides, but you might continue with the soft food theme and run your favorites though a baby food mill (a Mouli would work, too). We had one for my daughter. When she was old enough to eat real food, we ran whatever we were having through it. It was more minced than mushed. I would think you could cram a lot of calories in a small space doing something like this.

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  12. Real food is perhaps the next trend from the past, after wool and 650B tires. ;-)

    When you think about it, all those Diagonalistes and PBP riders in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s rode incredible distances at incredible speeds, without support and without specific energy products.

    In PBP, they now serve great food for riding: white rice, noodles, string beans, vegetable soup, milk rice. After the heat of the first day, I could not eat bars, and rode most of the 1200 km on "real" food without slowing down. So it can be done. If you want to go fast, the food has to be easily digestible. Stomach issues are the biggest cause of DNFs in rides like PBP.

    Of course, not every ride is PBP, where such food can be procured easily. For rides in the U.S., I haven't found the answer yet. I used to make my own chocolate chip cookies (less sweet, more protein than commercial ones), which worked very well. (Softer than most bars, making them easier to swallow.)

    Lyli Herse used to make rice balls for her riders in PBP. She has promised me the recipe. If I get it, I'll publish it in Bicycle Quarterly.

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    1. Rice balls (Onigiri) are delicious!! Here is a great recipe: http://www.justhungry.com/2007/01/onigiri_omusubi_revisited_an_e.html

      I made these for a long ride and they hit the spot!

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    2. Oh 'real food' is definitely the big trend in the food world. And yes, what did all those cyclists eat back in the day? Plus they only had a few gears and had to work much much harder than a cyclist does today.
      We also live in a culture obsessed with unwellness. Even though we have access to clean water, endless food from junk food, to the best organic local food, foods are regulated to ensure safety, we have high living standards etc, we are obsessed with our ill health and making sure we get enough vitamin this that or the other, or trending on the latest supplement.
      The only thing I can think of is to have an idea of restaurants and stores along routes and know when and where to stop for some good food.

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  13. I've been exploring nutrition on the bike as well. Search the SF Randonneurs google group (or any other) and you can find ONE MILLION ideas about what to eat. Apparently, this is a favorite topic among the bikey folk.

    I do like Hammer Perpetuem, it seems to keep the bonk at bay on the reeeeally long rides. And Hammer seems to use 'real' ingredients.

    The Cliff bar shot bloks help with that crappy climb back to the GG bridge after hours in the saddle. That and Queen's 'We are the Champions'.

    For real food, there is a Brendan Brazier recipe for a lemon-lime, date, coconut water drink that also supplements calories during a long ride.

    I also made some rice bars from the Feed Zone. This book has some great 'portables' recipes that you can make in advance.

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  14. I don't really do rides which require me to take in calories on the ride, but from running, I really found the soft gel-type things to work wonders when you're crashing. Even if you don't want to rely on them as "food" I'd suggest having something like that in your emergency kit for bonking or bad weather. Honey works great, and I've been known on long runs to stop at McDonalds' and grab some honey packets "to go".

    Whole foods also sells little single servings of Peanut and Almond butter that you could eat on their own if you can't stomach the bread of a sandwich. V8 sounds like a great way to get sodium and Potassium.
    I'll echo the other advice that your body will tell you what it wants to eat, but you need to remind yourself on long trips (and before them) to stop and eat something.

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  15. I ride and race on traditional food as well as gels and bars. I eat whatever I happen to have. On middle distance rides, 30-50 miles, I like gels and bars. They are easy to carry and I don't mind the flavor. On longer rides, I like some real food to break things up. I'll usually carry a sandwich or stop at a shop. For an all day event, like a cross race where I'll be doing a few different races, I eat a solid breakfast of real food, take a gel 15 minutes before each race, and eat a sandwich between races.

    The point is, we could all survive without modern gels and bars, but they are more convenient sometimes. They are also somewhat easier to diguest while you are exercising, taking less blood away from your muscles to power your stomach. Eat what you want. If you feel like there is some conspiracy out there to convince everyone to eat only food in gel form, then you are too succeptable to advertising. Most of the people that use these products and claim to be benefitting from them (including myself) are not stressing their bodies enough to really require them in any meaningful way. If you're a cat1/pro racer, then yeah, they could be good. If not, they're mostly just convenient.

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  16. Instead of fig newtons, dried figs. And dates.

    I have never found a way to make a banana last 50 miles. Has anyone? Now that would be a scientific breakthrough.

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    1. My bananas look pretty disgusting toward the end of a ride, but remain edible!

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    2. I've seen plastic, yellow banana-shaped containers at an outdoor store. Guess what they're for?

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    3. I have to say, those Banana Bunker look a little obscene.

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    4. p.s. I received an (unsolicited) gift of a banana bunker recently. my official thought: just keep a squished banana in your jersey. less of a hassle and fewer obscene items to carry in your jersey pocket.

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    5. The only one I saw was not obscene, but silly nonetheless. It was yellow with holes in it. It definitely would protect the banana.
      http://www.amazon.com/Banana-Keeper-Saver-Holder-Bananas/dp/B004K6Q9ZK

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  17. Oh, and I hope your teeth feel better soon! Mine were impacted and they had to put me under to remove them, and I had a terrible reaction to the pain pills, so I know it can be not much fun. Did you end up going to my dentist in brookline?

    Hummus and Baba Ganoush might be other savory stuff you could buy pre-made if you get tired of baby food. Avocado and sweet potato mash well too (I've been spending too much time talking to my brother about baby food).

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    1. Your dentist is my dentist now too, and I love him. But for the wisdom teeth you have to go to a specialist, so he referred me to his colleague. There is also a root canal specialist they work with. All 3 of these dentists are just the best; I am impressed and tremendously relieved.

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    2. I ate a lot of miso soup after my wisdom teeth were removed. I was fortunate to be able to eat solid foods a week after the surgery though, so it wasn't a huge ordeal.

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  18. Blenders: Goodwill. I've become a blender snob; only metal and glass. Sub $10. And I don't even use them very often.

    Bonk foods/drinks. I too find it hard to eat when exercising but like these. Warm weather: weak, cold tea with lots of honey. Make a cup of strong tea and squeeze the honey bottle into it enthusiastically. Then dilute it about to about three times the volume with cold water. A 28 oz bottle of this worked for me on yesterday's rolling-hills, 40-mile fixed gear ride with no solid food, starting with an empty stomach. Cold weather alternative: Indian "chai" which is basically tea leaves boiled with a lot of milk and sugar in a saucepan (that's how the poor in India make it). Strain out the leaves, of course. Forget the bottled chi chi stuff. Wakes you up in a jiffy, if your stomach can accept the milk. Black tea with sugar is wonderful stuff. [Long ago memory of a week-long trek in the Himalayan foothills for my 12th birthday, spring, 1967: just goat tracks; now paved roads and Hiltons. All trade goods to the hinterlands carried on porters' backs. We came across a plump, babu (Raj meaning) trader (in street clothes and pointed shoes no less!) lying exhausted by the trailside. My father had our guide brew him up some chai and give him a big Cadbury chocolate bar. He came around very quickly. I believe he may well have died had someone not helped him -- lying in cold night-time temperatures with no food or drink.]

    Solids: Yesterday I discovered bulk, chocolate-covered, cinnamon-flavored marshmallow bears (a bit bigger than gummy bears): two make a bite; they are soft and go down quickly. And you can lick them and stick them to your top tube for use as needed. (Juuuust kidding.)

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    1. I love the tea/honey idea! I'm trying that next long ride I take. I usually put a little lemon juice in my water, but this sounds more interesting and good use for the tea I keep getting at christmas.

      I usually have a banana and some trail mix after my daily commute.

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  19. I've gone full circle a couple of times on my diet with distance rides. I started out with bananas, Clif bars, energy gels and V8's, but then found that my appetite for Clif bars tended to wane drastically after 6 hours (and it is always important to pick foods that you want to eat). I slowly started trying out Hammer products in 2007, and enjoyed using Sustained Energy for most of my brevets. To this day, I haven't found another product that is as effective for maintaining long-term endurance as SE. However, I stopped using it after a while due to expense, intermittent spoilage and digestion issues. In warm temperatures over several hours, it's possible for Perpeteum or Sustained Energy to 'ferment' (for lack of a better word) and cause digestion problems. I remember reading about an Ohio 400k a few years ago that had some colossal DNF rate because it was a supremely hot day and many riders fell victim to spoiled Hammer powders.

    After that brief dalliance with Sustained Energy, my diet went back to Fig Newtons, bananas, peanut butter. Endurolytes and bags of nuts. Those provided some variety, but I still found my energy levels to be somewhat uneven.

    Last year, I went back to using Sustained Energy, and I'm likely to stick with it this year for brevets. Still, for long-ish rides on my own with no time limit, I generally prefer to keep with 'real food'.

    In the end, it's part of what your goals are. One certainly doesn't need Hammer products to finish a brevet; though these help, and if one is aiming for an aggressive time, then it's more tempting.

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  20. oh, and as I may have mentioned once on Chic Cyclist's comment threads ... I do aspire to do a 400k or 600k with a roast chicken in my front bag. Last year's accident interrupted that plan, but I am to make up for lost time.

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  21. I used to do all long rides with real food, we made nutritionally dense muffins and bars and supplemented with fruit and juices, though I must admit, at around 100 miles, cheeseburger cravings kicked in and we ate those too. Running out of food and water miles from anything, with plenty of cash, nothing to buy, and no place to buy it, gives new meaning to bonking. Fun stuff! Then Powerbars came on the market and the selection just keeps expanding......energy in any form you could want. To be able to have those little packs of gels available for emergencies......exquisite, especially with caffeine. Love the Honey Stinger chews, maybe even more than Cliff Shot Blocks, both with caffeine. I like compact, easy to use, no thought energy packs, always available to go early in the morning. How many miles....hours....throw what is needed in the bag or jersey pockets and go. Love it!

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  22. I like Justins Nut Butter packets and a homemade larabar knock off to get energy'd up for crossfit or longer rides. Both would be pretty easy to stash in a jersey pocket. I also have a smoothie I make for recovery with plain Kefir, frozen berries (I buy a ton whenever they're on sale at the food coop), and Tera's When vanilla whey powder. Tara's Whey was the most basic one I could find, but its got stevia and is pretty sweet, which is perfect with the tangy kefir, but even regular plain yogurt makes for two sweet of a smoothie. I tend to be really blood sugar sensitive, and have to be fairly purposeful with my diet, and these are staples for my gym bag and messenger bag.

    For the knockoff larabars: Bust up a cup of cashews in a food processor until they are like ice cream topping. Set them aside, and process a pound of dates (we use deglet noor because they're the cheapest we can find) until they are soft. Then mix the two together. I usually start with a sturdy wooden spoon until its coated enough to not stick between my fingers and then move to my hands.

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  23. Ooh, the health supplement bracket. Welcome. The next big scandal will be in the health supplement world a friend of mine thinks. My husband is vegan, bikes alot etc and sometimes worries he is not getting enough nutrients. He starts taking supplements and powders, has problems and then stops. On and off he uses the Vega powder for iron man type athletes and would get illl, stop using it, but would start using it again when he wonders if he is getting enough nutrients again. He looked it up online and people were having trouble with the high doses of various vitamins and minerals. Plus when we peeled back the outer sticker, to see "more information underneath" there were various health warnings about people getting nausea, intestinal problems, headaches, blah blah blah. He came to the conclusion again, that real food really is best. I work in the organic food industry, and real food really is the best. Better than pills, powders, protein bars etc.. The more things are processed, the more junk has to be added and the quality of nutrients is degraded. I see all the food cults and obsessions with the next big superfood craze or supplement fad. Just eat actual food! In the summer while biking in the country, you can look out for farm gate stands and pick up yummy fruit.
    High amounts of this and that can have serious consequences. Food, drugs etc are tested on mostly males and doses are always based on average to large males. I take childrens vitamins for this reason.
    I do not get very hungry when I am working hard at work or biking for long periods, but then I tend to crash, so I understand the dilemma. If you read about rando, there are control stations every so often with food, and most people I know who do randos stuff their faces as much as possible. It tends to be easy to eat food like crackers, chips, bread, fruit, veg, dips, nut butter, cookies etc.. And the end of randos also seem to involve restaurants as well, so I do believe there is a great deal of eating going on.
    Now, if you are doing warrioress road cycling and want to carry as little as possible, it becomes harder to carry bits of the food you want to eat, so is it possible to allow a small handlebar bag or larger than your road biking saddle bag?
    I personally love my cups of tea with sugar. and good quality chocolate. In the future I will definitely remember to bring my thermos of tea for bike trips. My little hummingbird friends eat copious amounts of sugar and they are the strongest and busiest little creatures around. And sugar isn't all bad as long as it is real sugar, or something natural like brown rice syrup, agave, honey, maple syrup blah blah blah. It's the corn derived sugars that will cause health problems and also cause you to crash quickly.

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  24. I too am skeptical of energy products, but I can't deny that sometimes they are convenient.

    I rely on certain foods even in my daily life to keep me full. Otherwise, I can bonk even when sitting at my desk at work and end up craving sugar. Eating sugary foods on an empty stomach just makes me sick. I have to eat some protein first.

    My go-to foods are raisins, nuts, bananas, sugar snap-peas, and PB&J. These work for me on the bike and off. If I'm still bonking after one of these foods, then I'll try something sugary - any sugary snack will do, but coke is often ideal. On the bike I need about 100 calories every 45 mins or so. Off, I need something about every two hours.

    In the "fake" food category, I keep an emergency supply of mini Clif bars. They're small and seem to procreate because I find them all over - in every bike bag, purse, and coat pocket I own. I don't really like them, but I don't hate them either, and one will usually do the trick.

    I too end up with mushy bananas. Writing this makes me wonder whether a peanut butter and banana sandwich would work for me.

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  25. i had a happy reaction when I was riding with my buddy and he asks if "Anyone want a potato?" He had boiled them the night before, then injected melted butter into them, lay them on a pan in the fridge to solidify and the next day they were perfect!

    I always bring two hard boiled eggs with me, along with some sort of trail mix. At the end of the RSC brevet last month, i found myself downing the trader joe's chocolate trail mix.

    Maybe you could put some of that protein filled baby food into little good packets that runners wear. :)

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    1. " He had boiled them the night before, then injected melted butter into them..."

      Oh that is just awesome. I want!

      What are these packets you're talking bout? I would not mind eating mushed peas and stuff if I could find a way to squeeze them into a tiny packet.

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    2. like this?:
      http://www.amazon.com/Plum-Organics-Spinach-4-22-Ounce-Pouches/dp/B0031VBGX0

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    3. They sell little bottles for putting sports gels into. Google "Gel flask" You could easily put baby food (or Salmon asparagus smoothie -GAK!) into them. Please tell me you'll at least put pureed salmon in one, and pureed asparagus into another :)
      I wouldn't put hot food in them as they are the kind of soft plastic that I am scared to heat.

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    4. I used to use refillable squeeze tubes for peanut butter when backpacking. I imagine they'd work fine on the bike for baby food, or pureed anything. http://www.rei.com/product/696007/coghlans-squeeze-tubes-package-of-2

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    5. Cold potatoes has very low GI value, meaning it takes a long time for the starch to get into the blood.

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  26. Maybe consider Ensure protein drinks too. Hope you're back on your bikes soon. Jim Duncan

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  27. Baked potatoes wrapped in foil, still warm, is one food you might find in my bag.

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  28. Oh, another thing, humans are meant to run, leap, jump, climb etc. We are natural long distance runners. Our bodies are meant to move and it's not good to sit around. So think back to what people would have eaten.... probably not nearly as much as we do when going for a long bike ride. In fact, before weapons, we had to outrun our food which took hours and hours. The human body can endure alot and we can also learn from what cyclists in the past did when biking unsupported.

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    1. Peppy (your cycling snacks, I eats them)April 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Not I. It takes me seconds to outrun my food.

      Delete
  29. I hope you feel better fast,my friend :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

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  30. My wisdom teeth were extracted when I was nineteen as the final touch to seven years of orthodontics. Immediately before putting me under and going to work, the wise oral surgeon told me "Remember, this too shall pass." He was right -- within a day or so I was back to raising all kinds of hell. No big deal.

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    1. You know, if someone said that to me right before putting me under, I would be extremely freaked out.

      I look forward to being back to raising all kinds of hell.

      Delete
  31. I have the good fortune of actually really liking Clif Bars, and I don't ever seem to get sick of them. This is really nice, as my options for picking up food along the way are pretty limited as a vegan. Nonetheless, I sometimes forget to eat enough (it's especially tough in the winter when you can't eat while riding, but also don't really want to stop) and bonk. My secret weapon then is a can of non-diet coke plus a pack of peanuts. Or a big cup of coffee with a couple packs of sugar. Cheap, readily available at any gas station, and works wonders for me.

    When I did my longest ride so far, 230km, I tried Perpetuem and it didn't go down well at all! It seems I have trouble digesting maltodextrin (dark beers upset my stomach, too) and while I was able to drink the pack of Perpetuem but it tasted awful and made me feel rather sick. So yeah, do experiment with nutrition, but don't do it on a really long ride.

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  32. I often take the little honey single use serves on a ride. Bananas I try to have before I ride.

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  33. Real food! It sounds like you have some dietary restrictions, so your mileage may vary, but here's what I will carry with me on rides: sliced applies, bananas, PB&J, dried fruit bars (like LaraBars, but I get these smaller cheap-o ones from Fresh & Easy that are reasonably tasty; no added sugar), another vote for fig newtons, which I love.

    I make oat bars after this recipe: http://www.katheats.com/?page_id=4681 only I swap in a mushed banana for the egg, and I go crazy adding in all kinds of dried fruits and seeds and nuts. No need to stick to proportions here really, the recipe will still turn out as long as you use the oats and liquid.

    Someone mentioned the Feed Zone Cookbook already - I haven't read it but it's my understanding that it has lots of recipes for "real" energy foods.

    It is important to have a source of salt (electrolytes) on long rides. You can do this with sports drinks (some people like Pedialyte, which is more gentle), or you can just carry salty foods, like pretzels, and down a handful every now and again. Energy drinks have the advantage of having a lot of quick sugar in them as well, which when you're bonking can be a savior. Along those lines - it can be good to carry something with "quick" sugar in case of bonks. Healthy-type foods are great in the normal course of things, but if you're about to hit the wall a chocolate bar or gummy bears can save you. When you exercise, your blood is diverted away from your stomach, which can make it hard to digest proteins or fiber (and these things can cause cramps). This is the time and place for simple sugar (and this is why people use gels that you don't really have to digest at all). I don't usually carry this stuff, but I usually ride in areas where I'm never far from a cafe or convenience store if the need arises.

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  34. I find that I always crave salty salty salty foods on long rides. Shawn craves sweets. We usually ended up eating a lot of cookies and potato chips and pop while touring, but that's because it's what we could get at gas stations etc. on tour--being vegetarian and broke really limited our options.

    I've wondered what to eat on randos. The co-op near my house sells tubs of vegan potato salad that are amazingly good on long rides, but they do require stopping and sitting down to eat, and I've been looking for something that isn't totally unhealthy, easily digestible, portable, edible on the bike/without utensils and salty! I'm *really* excited about the onigiri link that got posted, since I love (vegan) onigiri! I thought I needed a fancy press, but the instructions just use a tiny bowl and plastic wrap! I think I know what I'm going to try now!

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    1. The classic triangular onigiri can be easily made with only Ones hands. I suggest wetting your hands with very cold water before grabbing a wad, as this will help prevent both sticking and burning. Just press them into shape - they don't have to be perfect, but personally I find the art of making uniform onigiri fun. For added transportability, plus some salt, wrap them in nori (dried seaweed), or grill them to get a crunchy exterior.

      As a side note, I had never thought of bringing them on a ride, having been satisfied with bananas, dates, and Justin's pb packets, but I am 100% certain I will be bringing some on the next long ride I have scheduled!

      Delete
    2. I wrapped the onigiri in plastic wrap, put a couple in a ziplock and included some nori in the ziplock as well. It was very portable and yummy!

      Delete
  35. The real food that you can handle will come from your own tastes and trial and error. But the real issues that helped me were around quantity and timing. You need to be fueling before you feel you need it. And if you eat a lot at once, your stomach goes into overdrive to deal with digestion which can cause all sorts of problems -- especially if you're riding non-stop and mainly eating on the bike.

    So for me, the magic formula was to alternate every 15 minutes between a couple gulps of a diluted sports drink and a bite of something solid, like banana, fig newton, pbj... whatever works for you. But the key for me was to do small amounts on regular intervals for the first 50 - 60 miles.

    The more miles, the more sweet stuff made me sick. So I'd personally move on to pretzels or salty things. And my rocket fuel was Fritos and a can of coke -- but I wouldn't allow myself that until I had 20 miles to go. And that would make for a strong finish for me.

    Anyway, I think the key is eating regularly and hydrating regularly. Don't start eating when you feel hungry. Same with whatever liquid you're drinking. And you'll figure out your rocket fuel. I had a coach who told me that. I didn't believe in that effect at first, but its true!

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  36. Energy bar make me queasy.

    I like to bring hummus avocado sandwiches on longer rides. Dates are as good as bananas and hold up better.

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  37. I find that carbs need to be consumed long before a ride for me to use them. I like toast with fancy, expensive spreadable farmhouse cheese on it. Why not? During a ride I like sugar: hence all my Snapple.

    If I need energy, I love kid's Cliff bars. Lower cal, not too filling, and the chocolate brownie one is really good. I can't eat too much on a ride, but those seem just right somewhere in the middle, and won't melt like a Hershey bar!

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  38. The original energy bar was a cookie. German bakery cookies featuring almonds and almond paste have always been personal favorites. Then there is the Sicilian bakery where there are pistachios as well as almonds in everything.
    Hardcore would be marzipan. Or fresh halvah.

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  39. Nuts and dry fruits can be easily stored and consumed while riding. I like the low calorie G2 for long rides. If you cannot tolerate these electrolyte drinks maybe homemade lemonade with sugar q.b. (but that would lack sodium...)
    There's no need to eat crushed bananas, I use one of these http://www.amazon.com/Banana-Keeper-Saver-Holder-Bananas/dp/B004K6Q9ZK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1334181407&sr=8-3 and at the store they garanteed it would work with 95% of bananas. So far it has been excelent.

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  40. I don't really have anything useful to add, but after reading your blog I suspect that the word "bonk" means something different in America to its interpretation in England...

    :-/

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    1. The term has a different meaning in cycling parlance than it does otherwise : )

      It would be difficult to accomplish the other kind while cycling, I would think.

      Delete
    2. Which is why when my teenage daughter goes out on dates I admonish the two, "Don't do anything you wouldn't do on a bicycle." ;-)

      Delete
  41. Hope you get well soon!
    On the food note... I vaguely remember reading a few research articles a couple of years ago that compared energy drinks, to water and chocolate milk and a couple of other drinks in athletes/university athletes. Chocolate milk came out on top.
    Can't remember all the details of the studies. After reading them at the time, I came to the conclusion that eating sensibly is just as good, if not better, than anything heavily advertised and marketed!

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    1. I believe that was a comparison of recovery drinks -- what to drink after a hard ride to be better prepared for the next day.

      Delete
  42. Velouria, it takes a certain genius to link wisdom teeth extraction with bicycle nutrition.

    You are clearly in the same league as Mick Jagger when he rhymed tombstone....with ice cream cone.

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  43. Well, eating while riding is one thing I have no experience with. Mind you I seldom go for long continuous rides so that makes it kind of unnecessary for me. I also think that there's something odd about my metabolism. I never really get hungry so once I decided to see how long it would take for me to feel hungry if I just stopped eating. At the time I was working eight hours a day at a physical job and riding about 15 miles a day in hilly terrain averaging 12 to 13 mph. After seven days without consuming anything but water and STILL not feeling hungry (or suffering any other noticeable ill effects) I gave up and started eating normally again.

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  44. chia (salvia hispanica) seed, whole or milled, mixed at 2-4 tbsp per 40oz with EITHER water and 1-2 envelopes of Emergen-C OR whole milk and matcha (powdered green tea). good alllll day.

    the chia turns the liquid to a lumpy/slippery gel that holds water deep into your gut, releasing slowly.

    that and dried bananas. not banana chips, but whole bananas. they look like cat turds but are sooo good and keep for a million years next to your spare tube.

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    1. Peppy (yes, I just did)April 12, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Sometimes I replace them.

      Delete
    2. Just so you know, I fainted reading your comment. Twice.

      Delete
    3. Peppy (can I interest you in some bananas?)April 12, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      Every time you faint, I access your snacks hiding spot. That is all.

      Delete
    4. Peppy, you are a bad influence. Tweaker is doing the same, and I don't even bring bananas on rides.

      He said something about "kopi luwak" and shrugged before I squirted him with the water bottle.

      Delete
  45. I haven't ridden very long distances yet but I like the sound of potatoes as an endurance food. Easy to digest, the texture would be good too. Washed down with fruit and vegetable juice I think. Probably the fruit and veg juice would have plenty of electrolytes too, I guess it depends on if they're pre-made or you make them fresh and what could be added.

    Maybe if you do want an electrolyte powder, you could find a compounding pharmacy and ask them to make you one that won't make you sick? I absolutely cannot stomach artificial sweeteners (in which I include highly processed sugars like sucralose and maltitol) and nearly all electrolyte formulas contain them. A compounding pharmacist made one for me that just had regular glucose and it has been great.

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  46. Fig Newtons are the way to go. Before riding a century I take a wrapper of them and eat a few during the ride. They are not overly sweet and have enough calories and are easy to digest. I avoid energy gels because they are super sweet and hard to digest. Like wise with cookies and stuff that is given out on organized centuries. Forget Powerbars, they taste like chalk. Likewise I just drink water. No energy drinks or other gimmicks marketed. Water is the best when riding.

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  47. Somebody mentioned "The Feed Zone" cookbook. That thing is full of real food that gets the job done while still managing to be tasty and practical. A couple of the fulltime pro racers I know recommended it and I'm liking it.

    I can eat just about anything on the bike as long as it's food(which incidentally is my favorite thing to eat). It's amazing to me how much stuff there is to eat that isn't(food that is). I don't like some(well, any) of the performance/nutrition bars and such. The linoleum-mocha plank, the ipecac based gels and the Windex fortified electrolyte drinks being some of the things that come to mind. BLEH. I use them in certain situations and admit they have their place, but man that's nasty.

    I know a couple of try-athletes that eat powerbars as snacks. Off the bike. By choice. My friend Connie rides like a million miles a year, runs like an antelope and swims for transportation and could eat an entire steer everyday and never push her body mass index above that of a snake. And what does she eat for a treat? Half of one of those carob/hickory chip powerbars. I would probably carry a sack of pie with me at all times if I was exercising that much. I sometimes do already actually. I've stopped along the road to eat eat ripe blackberries off the bush and had the guy I was riding with stand there and suck an energy gel because he thought picking food out of the fence row was gross.

    I've had a number of jaw surgeries over the last 12 years from a car accident when I was in college(implants, bone grafts, yada yada yada), and doing without real food for days at a time is one of the worst parts of the whole thing. I found that the pain medications were sometimes more effective at making me nauseous than reducing the discomfort and were keeping me from being able to eat enough so I chose gluttony over comfort. I eat a lot of soup, steamed broccoli, peas and all sorts of beans. I just cook them a little softer than I normally would. I have another implant surgery in June and I might try some baby food then.

    The midwife who delivered my daughter Sarah told us that one good way of taking the edge off pain is to suck on hard candy. She prescribed Life-Savers. I use them after surgery and am convinced they work almost as well as some of the things that make me queasy. Plus, it's CANDY! Which I really like. I popped some after falling in a MTB race once and it made a bad case of road-rash a little more tolerable. If I ever have to go through childbirth I'm going to make sure I have a pile of them on hand.

    Spindizzy

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    1. Totally agree with spindizzy's assessment of that non-food stuff. Windex-fortified indeed!

      I ride to eat and there is just no point going to an epic suffer-fest buffet.

      BTW, for those facing denatl surgery, it's not always awful. I had a very good experience when my wisdom teeth were extracted. Being devoid of wisdom, along with a pocket full of percocet, I did my first ever 300km 3 days later.

      Delete
  48. Hey Todd. The dried banana thing. You crossed a line.

    Spindizzy

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  49. This is an area I need to learn more about. I use the Stingers by the way, pictured above, and they definitely help me and they are definitely expensive.

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  50. In addition to other good suggestions such as simple dried fruit with no sugar added, soaked almonds, chia seeds, etc... There is one bar I have found that is simple real food, relatively tasty and nutritious without a lot of sugar. It's called the organic food bar. It is a little spendy but one of those goes a long way. I am a massage therapist and acupuncturist by trade and when working I can't fill up, but still need good energy - one of these bars takes me a long way through my day.

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  51. Hi Velouria, I hope that you're feeling better each day. Had a tooth removed too 2mth ago... It went from bad to worse, ended up having major jaw surgery and eating baby food for 4weeks :P - peanut butter, mash potato, soups, ice cream/yogurt, and fruit juices kept me sane.
    Biking food included eggs, bananas, peanut butter, honey and added electrolytes to my water.
    Good luck! Glad that cats are taking care of your sanity. ~Julz~

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  52. I just had a wisdom tooth removed,
    while touring in Argentina.
    The tooth started to come up
    while we were cycling in some fairly
    remote deserts and got infected.
    After a week of riding we arrived at
    Mendoza where I found a great dentist.

    My only problem now is that there is a
    big hole where the tooth used to be
    and it keeps getting filled with food.
    We tend to eat continuously while touring
    so it is always full of rubbish.

    I bought a syringe and needle from a chemist,
    then filed the point off the needle with
    my Swiss Army knife. The blunt needle
    and syringe is great for squirting
    high pressure water into the hole to
    keep it clean. It works great on the road.

    Hope all goes well for you.

    John I
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/southamericaminitour

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    1. You can do that no hands while you ride? :)

      Delete
  53. I'm a runner and transportational/parenting cyclist. I too have gone through many of the same thoughts with regard to fueling (with running). All I can say is that I've understood that I have to experiment with my body and what may work for one person will not necessarily work for another. I often choose Clif products because they are usually about 70% organic and don't seem to have too much 'chemicalized' ingredients. However, I have also gone to urgent care with a urinary tract infection from dehydration so I now take it very serious. My approach is now based more on the actual distance/mileage/exertion of the run (this could correlate to biking as well). If I am going past 4 miles running, I incorporate gels/Sport Beans into the run. Anything under that number and I generally do without any supplementation. If I am going past 8 miles running, I also incorporate now an additional sport drink mixture (currently trying out Accelerade). I prefer just water on my runs because I usually just want the clean simple hydration taste, but when the heat comes, I know I may have to mix things up a bit. So, my main thought would be that you could make the decisions more based on the amount of exertion that will be involved in the ride.

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  54. A little late, but check Tamia Nelson's blog for practical, down-to-earth suggestions for on-the-road nutrition. Lots of recipes for homemade goodies, and some tips for store-bought things like WalMart's Tropical Trail Mix (pineapple and papaya chunks, dried bananas, raisins, nuts, etc. -- a staple of mine) and MacDonald's surprising Fruit 'n' Yogurt Parfait.

    http://www.tamiasoutside.com/practical-cycling/bikeeats/

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  55. Hi there - what to eat while riding is very much down to the individual. I, like you, am really not keen on sports 'food'. My longest rides will generally be around 5 hours - I find croissants and brioche work well for me. Fillings are normally plain - cream/cottage cheese, some honey. Fig rolls (Newtons in US?) are easy to eat while riding along. I also find cheese oatcakes are great - providing that nice savoury hit and some salt. Flapjacks too (home-made with coconut oil and agave syrup). To wash it all down I usually have cold green, or herbal teas. Works for me!!

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  56. I dont think you can beat whole wheat rolls with peanut butter and banana filling! Carbs, fat and protein!

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