Eating logistics for bike touring
I wrote this article for my blog but decided I'd try posting it here first to see if you all wonderful folks had any suggestions, comments or criticisms!
No matter your riding style, cycling burns a ton of calories, so it's important to replenish them frequently and effectively. And while it may seem easy to just simply eat more than you normally would after a day out pedaling, it becomes a bit more complex when you embark on an extended tour.
Your eating style will largely be dictated by the type of touring you decide on, so here are a couple of factors to consider:
How much money is in your budget?
The first thing you'll need to decide is whether you want to cook some (or most) of your own meals or just eat out at restaurants and gas stations along the way. This decision generally comes down to how much money you're willing to spend- eating out can be expensive, especially if you're going with actual restaurants instead of cheap fast food. If you're a credit card tourer than you've likely factored eating out into your expenses already, but if you're on a budget then cooking your own grub is definitely the way to go.
How much room do you have?
While the minimalist/hardcore/racer tourist types tend to just eat whatever they can get from the nearest gas station, if you've got the space on the bike's panniers or trailer you can go gourmet and bring along a stove, cookset and spices. Generally I tend to try and keep an entire pannier available for my cookset, fuel, food and water, which is generally enough to last me a few days.
How much time do you have?
Timing when to eat can be a bit tricky on a longer bike tour, and I've found that it helps to have a whole lot of snacks on hand to tide me over until the next time I can sit down and devote to an entire meal. Generally I tend to cook my breakfasts and dinners, and eat pre-made stuff (like sandwiches) for lunch. Ideally you can find yourself a grocery store right before finding a place to camp for the night, which allows you to pick up perishable foods that can be cooked up right away.
What kind of stores are along the way?
When choosing your route, you should look for the kinds of towns you'll encounter- these will factor in to your options as far as ingredients go. Larger cities tend to have more grocery stores with larger selections, smaller ones might only have a gas station or two to work with. Either way, if you're rolling through a larger town and know you won't be encountering another one for a while then it's generally helpful to stock up on a few days worth of food beforehand.
These are just a few of the things you should consider when it come to eating along a longer bike tour, in future articles I'll go into further depth on how to go about meal planning, buying and cooking. So stay tuned!