Read time – 5 minutes
It is no secret that cycling and food go hand in hand. Ask any cyclist where they are planning to ride at the weekend and you will probably hear, “Oh, we’re heading to that café on the hill, you know, the one with good coffee and cake!”
Cycling allows you to eat pretty much whatever you want knowing that you have put in the hard work, but this doesn’t mean you should just live on pizza and cake when you’re cycling! What you eat can have a huge impact on how you feel, especially on a multi-day cycling holiday. Here are our tips and some of the best food for cyclists.
Cycling Diet Tips
Possibly the most important meal of the day, as what you eat now will fuel your ride and keep those pedals moving until lunch. Look for wholesome foods that will be digested slowly rather than sugary carbs. Fat is a much more efficient energy source which will keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day.
A bowl of cereal may be quick and easy, and it will give you a huge boost of energy – but it’s a boost which will burn off quickly, making that lunch stop seem very far away.
You have been cycling all morning and are craving food! But try not to overeat at lunch, a three-course meal can seem like a good idea at the time but you will regret it when you hop back on the bike. I will always look for something filling but not too heavy; save the big meal for later.
The hard work is done and it’s time to relax. You’re on holiday so treat yourself, but if you are at the beginning of a multi-day cycling tour it’s worth sparing a thought to how you will feel the following day. What you eat and drink now will be absorbed by your aching body overnight so look for protein-rich food and veggies that are high in iron and minerals.
As well as eating your three main meals, a selection of snacks will help you throughout the day. Some sugary sweets, energy bars, a banana or a gel can give you that extra boost when you are starting to feel a little fatigued. It can be the difference between whether or not you finish a particularly tough climb!
“On a bike you are the engine, so keep putting fuel in the tank!”
The most important thing I have learnt from racing and riding long distances is to eat before you feel hungry, always keep your energy levels topped up and stay well hydrated. It may sound silly but it is easy to forget to eat and drink whilst on your bike, especially when out of breath as chewing and swallowing is the last thing you want to do when trying to gulp in air.
Make time to eat, even if this means backing off the pedals for a little while or stopping for a break. On a bike you are the engine, so keep putting fuel in the tank!
Fuel Your Ride
Eating plenty of carbohydrates has long been considered the key to helping your stamina on a cycle ride, and the pre-ride pasta party has been a staple for cyclists for many years. It is an obvious place to start of course but there are hundreds of unusual varieties to try, such as ‘Sagne Ncannulate’ (twisted strands of pasta) in Puglia or ‘Bigoli’ (a hollow, tube-like pasta) in Venice.
Browse cycling trips in Italy
This delicious noodle soup from Vietnam is made with beef, stock, rice noodles and garnished with bean sprouts, herbs, lime and chilli. It is often eaten at breakfast and makes a fantastic pre-ride meal!
Browse cycling trips in Vietnam
This is a slow-braised stew, taking its name from the clay pot in which it is both cooked and served. The result is fantastic tender meat and aromatically spiced vegetables. Delicious!
Browse cycling trips in Morocco
A Recipe For Your Next Ride!
Dave’s Riding Rice Cakes
This perfect balanced snack recipe makes approximately 20 cakes – depending on how big you cut them, of course!
- 500g white rice 100g protein powder
- 50g plain flour
- 1 egg 50g raisins
- 50g mixed dried fruit
- 200g honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- First, cook the rice as per packet instructions until well cooked. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Once the rice is cool, mix the cooked rice, protein powder, flour, egg and honey and mix until well combined. Stir through the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Once cooled, cut into individual slices.
Tim Fearn’s Ultimate Cyclists Flapjack
Serious cyclist Tim is just as serious about his snacking – his flapjacks are the ideal accompaniment to any ride.
- 6 sheets of edible rice paper
- 50g butter 50g treacle
- 50g golden syrup
- 50mls maple syrup
- 50g dried apples
- 50g dried figs
- 50g dried mango
- 50g sultanas
- 50g raisins
- 50g dried mixed fruit
- 100g granola
- 100g porridge oats
- 50g dried milk powder
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease a 30cm x 20cm x 3cm tin and line with rice paper. Put the butter, treacle, golden syrup and maple syrup in a pan and bring to the boil. Once it boils take it off the heat a put to one side.
- Mix all the rest of the ingredients together well in a large bowl. Add the melted butter, treacle and syrups into the large bowl and mix very well until it is coated.
- Spread the mix in the tin and use a sheet of rice paper to push it all down firmly. Leave the rice paper on the top and put it in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until firm.
- Take from the oven and leave to cool completely before turning out with the rice paper still on both sides. Cut into long strips or squares.
Take a look at our cycling trips below and plan your biking adventure.