The Hairless Bikers Guide to Food

Whenever I’m out on the bike, especially when I’m reaching out into the unknown, I do like to take some sustenance with me. A bottle of H2O usually does the trick in the summer, but a flask of coffee is always welcome in the winter months. I have been known to throw a couple of doorstep sandwiches into my top box or even the odd apple or three, if I’m feeling particularly healthy, but rarely would I go out into the wide world with any kind of ready meal.

If you go to any camping store, you’ll find these highly nutritious and fattening survival foods that usually taste like dog’s excrement. I know they do the trick and they are lightweight but I really don’t see the need for them when you can get by with home produced foods or that which you can buy along the way.

I know of many survival stories where people have survived in the great outdoors on a conservative staple of some nuts and berries…so by extension, if you pack a few bags of mixed nuts and dried fruit, it would amount to the same thing.

The point of the exercise is to take food and drink with you that will keep you going on your journey or until your next date with civilisation. Of course you could really go to town and buy all the stuff that is on offer, all of the cooking wares to giving you that alfresco cooking experience but how many of you can honestly say that you’ll ever really need anything other than the raw essentials if you’re only travelling relatively short distances and within a day’s ride of a shop or people.

So, I travel light and think of the types of food that I’m likely to want and eat. If I’m going on a day ride and don’t plan on stopping somewhere for lunch, then I’ll pack some snacks and a sandwich…however any overnight stop then I might push the boat out for a tin of beans or a ‘meal in a can’ type deal. Anything longer than that then you have to really start thinking a lot harder about rationing and the amount of space available you have on the bike to be able to carry all of this extra food.

The best thinking then is to ask the ancestors…yes look back at history and find out what the old travellers would carry with them when out on their trails. Usually you’ll find that they would pick food up as they went…hunted, caught or bought…or would carry dried foods like beans, fruits, cured meats with them.

However, drinks is a totally different proposition. If you want to stay on the safe side then all you’ll ever need is water. Everything else is just window dressing for what your body really needs. Of course you can take gallons with you for a day’s ride, but realistically try to work out how much you’re likely to need and factor the amount for the conditions and temperatures you’re riding in.

So, on the long summer days in the saddle out on the trails, you might want to take a couple of bottles of water at least. You’ll be surprised how much energy you’ll burn up in the heat and also how much you’ll sweat out too. There is nothing so disconcerting when you’re in the middle of relative nowhere, you’re tired and dehydrated…and you’re supposed to be able to carry on riding your bike successfully. Believe me, fatigue and dehydration are a sure way to making lots of mistakes, errors in judgement and ultimately bad decisions that you might not be able to get away from.

I’ll always take a drink with me and a little snack, whether I need it or not. It’s nothing gastronomic but it’ll suffice to keep me on the straight and narrow and usually see me to the end of the day.
Depending on the time of year, and if I come across anything to eat…I might scavenge a quick snack or simply make do until I find a shop of petrol station. However, anything more than that would simply be a waste of time and added weight to the bike.

Of course if you’re going on the grand off road adventure into the desert, then you need to rethink the whole thing and take lots of water and food too. If you ever watch survival documentaries or listen to stories, they say a lot about not fighting the conditions and working the problem…but the best survival tool is to prepare yourself so that you are most unlikely to ever be in a survival situation in the first place.

If you’re going out into the desert or into the jungle, then tell people where you’re going and the route you’ll take. Do not stray from that route either. Tell people what time you should arrive at the destination and have somebody come look for you if you don’t arrive on time. However, time and time again people are caught out because they forget the very basic planning and notably do they have enough water on board to complete the trip with contingencies too…not to mention fuel as well of course.

We might all be aware of the 7 Ps…Perfect Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance…Probably. Yes, you can factor all you like but there is always a risk in anything you do, but the objective is to minimise the likelihood of that risk occurring. However, you should never ignore the common sense approach and doing the basics well…first and foremost.

So, although we might all like to think that we’re cool bikers who can knock up a feast with a couple of twigs, some ground bat droppings and some hand made pasta, the reality is we are anything but that…and we certainly don’t need to be either. Just take the essentials that you’ll need and depending on where you’ll ride too. Think of what you’ll need to keep you going and thinking clearly. Remember you’ll need hydration a lot more than food in the early hours and days especially if it’s scorching hot.

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