‘This is how we eat while cycle touring’ is a part of the series “This is how… by TwistingSpokes.com”. We all know that the intake during a multi month or year cycle journey is crucial to have enough energy to cycle up all those climbs and to keep the body warm.
We have found it to be a main priority and a challenge as we cycle through different conditions and very different cultures. We will try to outline how our culinary skills have developed along the way and also maybe mention some of our favorite snacks from different countries.
We have three main meals during the day as this works well for us and has been used for centuries by humanity so not changing much on that one 🙂 Something has changed though as the amount is extraordinary most of the time and the amount of in between snacks is just as important.
Lets begin with these three main meals on the day to describe the main sources of energy. This is really what it comes down to while cycling: the amount of energy used and replaced by the body while cycling and it is quite a bit. It has been apparent for us as we have had days with less energy at moments and we could clearly relate this to a lack of enough to eat or a lack of holding the nutrients in our body.
Our morning meal also called breakfast is made up from following ingredients to a power porridge which is really a thing that keeps the legs rolling all day. Breakfast we eat depending on season between 6 to 8 o’clock, in the summer we eat early and winter late, this is mainly due to sunlight.
Optional are banana & chocolate & milk powder or soja bean powder, depending on availability and necessary energy. The milk powder was a nice extra during the winter for added energy.
We cook almost every morning and have made that a routine, it does cost time in the morning but without it our days would for sure not be the same. We have met several cyclist who don’t take their time to cook in the morning and go by with some bread and spread of some kind. This we have also tried a few times where we were out of oats and it is really not the same we get hungry a lot faster and miss the sturdy base that makes our day.
The porridge has taken many forms along the way as we can’t always find these ingredients and then we have to be creative and find other sources of energy. Alternatives has been: Apples, Bananas, nuts of all kinds, chocolate, sugar and so on. Really porridge is for us the only breakfast for cycle touring.
Second meal of the day would be lunch and this is maybe the most difficult one as the food really changes along the way from country to country and we are not the most bread loving people. We usually will stop for a small hour or so for a midday break and lunch this is less comfortable in winter. In winter we will stop for not more than 15 min to eat as much as we can. As we said usually it is around an hour we stop and relax.
- The food we eat consists of:
- Spread Nutella or equal
- Sausages or salami
- Nuts and Raisins
- Dried fruits
In Tajikistan there is a strong tradition connected to bread as in many other countries, in Tajikistan it can be hard to buy bread as it is mainly baked at home so not sold in shops. So when we cycled in Tajikistan we adapted to preparing buckwheat in the morning in our thermos and then eating it for lunch with some nuts and spices. Also the bread was sometimes very old so this way we had fresh lunch but after a few weeks the strong taste was not so interesting for us anymore.
When we have the chance for lunch we will go to a small local eatery and order the local dish. In Kazakstan and Xinjiang it was the Laghman a great noodle dish, Kyrgyzstan it was the Bifsteak, Turkey the Durum, Iran the Kebab, Greece the Gyros, Germany Frikandelle and the list goes on 🙂 now in Korea we are enjoying Kimbap. This is really a great way to meet locals during the day and enjoy some small interactions as we eat.
When we have found our spot for the night and have pitched the tent it is time to start cooking our dinner. Dinner is really a meal we are looking forward to in the afternoon as we start to get hungry. For dinner we mainly cook pasta and as much as we can eat. We have a set of pots and a frying pan (never made those pan cakes yet but planning to when the weather is nicer…) What we do is we cook the pasta and then when it has boiled for a minute or two we place the pot in the holster from the pot set and let it get ready there. While the pasta is getting ready we prepare the sauce which can consist of any of the ingredients below.
- Cycle touring Pasta sauce
- Beans where available
- Sausage or meat
- Spices (Curry and other local spices) or sauce
Above is just some of the main ingredients as we are never sure what is available in the different countries so we just adapt and eat well 🙂 Dinner is really important as a restitution meal and to keep warm at night when the temperatures are below zero. For example in China pasta is not available so we would buy noodles instead and cook a noodle soup with the same ingredients. We always enjoy fresh garlic as we once tried it fresh in Albania when we were hosted by a family. We got fresh garlic with dinner and this has been a part of the ritual ever since, a piece of garlic, and very healthy!
We know of a cook book from Tara on bikecampcook.com, We have yet to be inspired by all the nice dishes to eat while cycle touring.
The snacks are a highlight of our day and a thing we could not do without. It has really become a sure thing our small snacks during the days. At around 11 o’clock depending of time we started we will stop for a snack if in a populated area we will buy something local and enjoy that. This is not a meal and a big snack 🙂 at around 15:00 we will have another break and snack. Depending on temperature we will then also have a refreshing drink or a warm drink depending if these are available or not.
- Other snacks consist of:
- Cookies (we try to find filled cakes that have energy in them)
- Dried fruits (we found some great dried bananas in China)
- Bananas or other fresh fruits
Snacks can be anything and we use them to keep us topped up on energy during the day. Not only does it help on the energy, it also is a real mood changer, if the day is tough more snacks are needed. We have found small local treats along the way. In Mongolia we had colorful sour balls that made us cycle, recently in China we enjoyed honey milky tea in bottles you can buy and they taste very nice (no clue what is in these). Through most of the Stans we relied on Snickers and before in Turkey and Iran we had sugary colored sweets that powered us on. Not always the best but at the end of the day with some climbs ahead the sugar gives us the extra boost.
Also we have enjoyed fresh fruits in many of the countries. Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan and the start of Tajikistan provided us with cherries, apples, sour berries, figs, peaches, apricots, pomegranates, watermelons etc. the best refreshment ever during hot days!
So this was a short roundup of how and what we eat while cycle touring. If you have any recommendations for us on the road we would love to hear them in the comments!