I love to eat. I love to ride my bike. Strangely, though, I don’t love to eat while I’m on my bike.
It’s strange, when you think about it. There’s nothing in the world I enjoy eating more than a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Seriously, I believe that may be the best food in the world. But when I’m riding, all the pleasure goes out of eating that sandwich. It becomes fuel, and nothing more. The same thing goes for Snickers bars. And for cookies.
Even after a dozen years of riding, I still don’t understand why this is true.
I have tried to find something I really, really love to eat while biking, because I figure if I can find something I look forward to eating even when on an endurance ride, I’ll have eliminated one of the big problems of endurance riding. Here are the things I have tried:
Campbell’s Soup-at-Hand Chicken and Stars Soup
Let’s at least start with my one moderate success. A few years ago it occurred to me that since I have such a hard time eating while riding, maybe soup would do the job. At about the same time, Campbell’s came out with these single-serve pop-top wonders. When you’re on the trail, for some reason you don’t care that the soup’s just body temperature. It tastes good — your body craving that 890mg (!!!) of sodium, I think.
At only 60 calories / 10g carbs though, it’s not going to exactly power you for the rest of the day. And the packaging’s awkward. Maybe for Leadville this year, I should just fill my camelback with soup (pureed first, so it won’t jam up in the drinking tube).
A turkey sandwich is a perfectly balanced meal. You’ve got your grains, your meat, your vegetables (dill relish), and your dairy (mayonnaise). The only thing better than a good turkey sandwich is a peanut butter sandwich. But, like a peanut butter sandwich, a turkey sandwich crushes to an unrecognizable form when it’s been compressed by your jersey pocket for two hours.
Meanwhile, the mayonnaise is busy converting itself into poison.
Plus, there’s the problem that while on the bike, a turkey sandwich just doesn’t taste good. How can this be?
OK, I admit I haven’t ever tried eating Spam while on a bike. You’ve got to admit, though, it’s an intriguing idea. Plus, by bringing this up I can now relate the following anecdote:
About seven or eight years ago, I thought it would be funny to try to put together a team of Sport-level racers, sponsored by Spam. We would be Team Spam. So I wrote to Hormel with a proposal, telling them that if they would pay our entry fees and design a Spam jersey for us, I would become the single most passionate advocate of Spam in bike racing history.
I would provide Spam samples at every race I went to.
I would have my Honda Civic painted to look like a Spam can.
I would send them entertaining race reports they could put up on their website (nowadays, I would have proposed a racer’s blog, but this was before blogs).
Hormel sent me a form letter saying they get a lot of requests for sponsorship and can’t sponsor everyone. So that was the end of that. I’ve been thinking lately, though, that I should do more with this idea. I.e., I should start putting sponsorship requests together for very unlikely companies, then see what happens. At the very worst, I’ll have some fun proposals to share with you when they don’t work out. At the best, I could wind up with some very unusual and entertaining sponsors on the upcoming Fat Cyclist jersey.
I’m going to come out and say it: I like Clif Bars. I eat them recreationally. But when I’m on the bike, I can only barely choke them down.
Gels / Shot Bloks / Ensure
These aren’t real food, so don’t count. Plus, it’s not like I ever find myself a-hankering for a Gu. Strangely, though, after drinking an Ensure, I have a powerful urge to yell at kids to get offa my lawn.
Contest Time! Win Matisse & Jack’s Bake-at-Home Energy Bars
OK, these I like. They’ve got a problem, though: these are especially good hot out of the oven. What are the odds they’re going to last ’til the next time I go riding?
Want to see what I mean?
You can win five boxes of these energy bars by entering today’s contest: Tell me about the best and/or worst thing you’ve ever eaten on a bike.
And, meanwhile, may I please make a recommendation? Christmas is coming, and these energy bars are on sale. Five boxes costs only $25 and gets you free shipping, and they’d make a great, affordable present for a cyclist you know.
I especially recommend the Chocolate Chip flavor.