Over the past few years, cycling has become majorly popular. Elite cyclists can cover between 400 to 1,000 km a week while the ones who treat it as a recreational sport can usually go over the 300 km line. A training of this magnitude is heavily reliant on a balanced diet to keep the riders fit.
Maintaining the level of carbohydrates is critical when riding as this regulates the amount of blood glucose flowing through your body. Whether you’re taking the bike out for a weekend stroll in the highway nearby or plan on spending hours biking a tough trail, food has to be an important part of the equation. That’s when you’re hit with the question: how to carry food on a bike without causing a mess and potentially losing your sustenance?
Unfortunately, not all bikes feature pre-installed baskets for the simple transportation of goods. To solve this problem, there are numerous other additions you can make to your bike. Some solutions can be directly correlated to the best way to deliver food on a bike.
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How to Carry Food on a Bike?
There are several ways to carry food on a bike, but the simplest of them would have to be getting a kind of cycling luggage. This comes with many benefits, such as ease of transport and convenience. You could certainly carry your meals in a backpack, but we would suggest considering investing in cycling luggage. The biggest benefit here is that you can strap it to the bike instead of yourself, decreasing the load on your body.
Cycling luggage also comes in water-resistant forms so you can go on with your ride without worrying about whether the food spilled and ruined your carrier. Plus, the rain will not be able to get to it. The market has a wide range of cycling luggage available, made to meet your every need. Each one comes with its set of pros and cons.
Related reading: Best Way to Deliver Food on Bike
We all must be familiar with handlebar bags. These bags dangle from the handlebars precariously, much like their name would suggest. They aren’t that comfortable, so they are not placed on the top of our recommendations list.
The bags keep smacking against the bike’s front wheel, making the handlebars wobble. Consider this an option, not the final resort. If you want one, the Rhinowalk handlebar bag could be a good option.
- Comes in many sizes
- Quick-release mount for fast and easy removal
- If overfilled, can affect handling negatively
- May not fit properly with too much cabling
If your bike has a rear or front rack, strapping a sturdy box or crate to it will surely help with carrying food.
Keep in mind that this won’t work for all kinds of food, but foods wrapped in plastic could surely work. You can secure it to the rack with ropes, zip ties, or bungee cords.
- Comes in different sizes
- Water-proof variants can be found
- Easy to steal
- Isn’t the safest to hold food
- Difficult to switch between bicycles
We know we said backpacks aren’t the best, but some people are just more comfortable with it. For the majority of our lives, we are used to spending hours with a large backpack strapped to our backs. Your middle school backpack will come in handy now.
Adjust the backpack’s straps so they sit high on the back. Strategically place the food items – the heaviest one go on the bottom and the lighter, more delicate items go on top. You may have to reorganize things mid-ride because it got a tad bit too uncomfortable so be prepared for that. The best grocery backpacks are usually pricey so remember that too.
- Available in many different size
- Easier to transport
- Some are water-proof
- Might have drinking bladder slots
- Uncomfortable when overloaded
- Not the most secure
- Becomes floppy if not filled completely.
Also known as bike bags, panniers come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, and are perfect for carrying food. Panniers definitely have a lot of advantages like being waterproof, sturdy, and easily removable, but they are equally pricey and usually require installing the rear rack.
A basic pannier won’t cost you much. If you like traveling light and won’t need as much food for the journey, one pannier will do the trick. That being said, loading one pannier may mess with the bike’s balance, so it’s best to put equal weight in each pannier.
- Easier to move around with
- Can be waterproof
- Huge carrying capacity
- Comes in many size
- Bike has to have a rear rack for it to work
- Balancing can get difficult if only pannier is placed on a size of the bike
- Easily stolen
Maybe you’ve got a big appetite, or you need to consume at least 60 calories per hour. Staying out for 12+ hours on your bike means you will get hungry, so you need to have enough food. Consider getting a trailer if you are planning a multi day bike trip.
Make sure you get tons of bungees to secure the thing in place. Want to know how to carry groceries on a bike for a big family? Trailers!
- Large carrying capacity with minimal handling interference
- Can be heavy
- Has to be locked when the bike is parked
Front or Rear Bike Basket
Setting up a basket on the front of your bike will cost you less than you think but broaden your horizons significantly. If the bike has a “drop” handlebar, there may not be space for a new basket, but it will work with any other type of bar. The local bike shop will happily install one for you for a few bucks.
Make sure you get a basket that’s large enough to carry three to four meals. Then, once secure, take some time to familiarize yourself with it.
Tip: Cut out a plastic placemat to secure the bottom so the straps don’t dangle in the front. You can use a bungie net or a few bungies to stretch over the top of the basket so the load doesn’t fly out when you move over bumpy paths.
- Affordable option
- Easy to set up
- Not the most secured option for food
What to Eat?
On the topic of how to carry food on a bike, you may be ignoring an important question which is, what should you eat. Moreover, what you eat is also directly connected to how much food you have to carry, thus which carrier will suit you the best.
For rides more than an hour, you have to be careful about carb intake. You should get between 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour (based on the intensity of your cycling). 30-gram carbohydrate can be provided by:
- One large banana
- One and a half carbohydrate energy gels
- One large carb-based low fiber energy bar or cereal bar
- 500ml isotonic sports drink
Related reading: How To Carry Plywood On A Bike?
Regardless of the cycling luggage you go for, almost all of them can be the answer to how to carry food on a bike. It basically depends on what you’re going to carry and how much you want to carry.
For an inventive mind, there are even more answers to this query. Perhaps if you’re just bringing along two or three granola bars for the ride, you would be better off sticking them in your pocket. Chips, crackers, nuts, or aluminum-wrapped burritos or sandwiches are easier to transport rather than chicken curry in rice.
But if you can’t imagine a meal without your favorite sauce, curry, or chutney, make sure to use spill-proof food containers.
How long can one ride without refueling?
For rides under an hour, it’s not necessary to refuel mid-ride, especially if you’ve eaten beforehand. Afterward, cyclists should consume high GI carbohydrates which will supply them the required blood glucose and give fuel to the muscles, maintaining energy.
How can I boost energy during a ride?
Apart from consuming carbohydrates to supplement the need for energy, caffeine is a great element to keep the body awake. There are quite a few options within the commercial sports gels and drinks menu that are high in caffeine. If you’re running a race, you would love the extra jolt from a good helping of caffeine.
How frequently should I eat during a ride?
Don’t make hunger a cue to eat during a ride. Seasoned riders recommend practicing and refining a fueling system during training rides, getting comfortable with it, and adjusting it per needs. An efficient way to provide constant energy to the body is consuming carbs, ever so often.