By: Molly Hurford
You might be wondering how to eat well while putting in big miles, or maybe you’re getting tired of eating the same bars or gels on every ride. Good news: Making your own ride food at home is easy, simple, and a great way to save money. And that’s how the pro racers eat! In interviewing hundreds of racers to get their secrets for training and fueling success, I’ve noticed that almost every pro rider isn’t chomping on gels or gummies during rides, they’re eating real food. Here, we’re sharing a few simple recipes that you can easily adapt to your personal preferences for your next riding adventure.
Oat-Based Energy Balls
Mountain bikers Ava Holmgren and Kelly Lawson both swear by energy balls, though they make them with slightly different ingredients. They’re easy to make, and fun to dial in to your personal preferences.
Both girls use oats as the base for the energy balls, since oats provide a hefty amount of easy to digest carbohydrates. Start with two cups of oats in a bowl or food processor, and begin to add your other ingredients in small amounts (especially the wet ingredients) until you achieve a consistency where you can easily shape the dough into balls and it’s not sticking to your hands—but it’s wet enough that it’s easily staying together.
Once you achieve that consistency, put the dough into the fridge to cool. You can either pre-roll the dough into balls or do that after it has cooled. Store in a sealed container for up to a week, or freeze the balls and thaw as needed.
Kelly’s recipe is a mix of: Natural peanut butter, Oats, Honey, Salt, Cinnamon, Chocolate chips
Ava’s recipe is a mix of: Honey, Peanut butter, Chia seeds, Ground Flax seed, Oats, Shredded Coconut, Semi-sweet chocolate chips
The Perfect Rice Bar
Rice bars are fantastic ride food because you can make one batch of rice, then divide it and make sweet and savory options. They’re simple, and once you’ve made one batch, you’ll see how tasty and easy they are to make. Plus, they’re the perfect easy-to-digest high carb snack—and you can add some fats if you’re doing a longer endurance ride and need a bit of extra caloric intake. Here’s how to make them:
Rice cooker (or use a stovetop pot, but rice cookers are inexpensive and are one of the best pieces of kitchen equipment a cyclist can own!)
Parchment paper and a cookie sheet
Toppings: Choose your own adventure, but top favorites from Ontario’s young development riders include jam, peanut butter, coconut flakes, and chocolate chips for sweet options, or diced scrambled egg, bacon crumbles, and soy sauce for savory selections
Wrapping paper: Look for a wrap that’s foil on one side, parchment on the other. You can use regular foil, but it will be stickier and harder to eat.
Hot To Make Them:
Cook your rice according to the directions on the label
Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper (can use the wrapping paper and then reuse it later if trying to save paper!)
While the rice is still hot, smooth a 1/2-inch layer using half of the rice onto the parchment paper
Add your toppings to the rice
Cover the toppings with the other half of the rice
Cover with another sheet of parchment (can use the wrapping paper and then reuse it later if trying to save paper!)
Gently use a rolling pin or another cookie tray to press the rice down
Allow it to cool in the fridge for an hour or two
Press down again
Once they’re chilled, take them out and remove top layer of parchment. Cut into squares (your choice of size, though 2.5 inches x 2.5 inches is a good goal to aim for) and individually wrap each.
Store in the fridge until you’re heading out for your ride!
Banana Oat Pancakes
Mountain biker Jocelyn Stel loves banana oat pancakes for pre-ride breakfast and in-ride snacking. In fact, that’s one of the best tips out there: Find a tasty breakfast treat like a pancake or muffin that doesn’t crumble when eating it, and make extra as your ride food.
“For my pre race breakfast I’ll eat them with syrup, avocado, eggs and fruit, or sometimes Greek yogurt as well if I’m extra hungry,” Stel says. “When I take them on rides, I put them in a plastic baggie and pour a bunch of syrup over top. The syrup normally soaks into the pancakes and helps the pancakes go down a little easier during the ride. It can get a little messy, but it’s worth it! I have a top tube bag I like to put them in.”
1 banana (preferably brown and soft)
1.5 cups quick oats (look for oats that are finely chopped rather than rolled)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
Oil for pan
How To Make Them:
Combine ingredients (for faster mixing, a food processor is great, but you can mash together by hand!)
Preheat a frying pan to medium heat, add oil to pan
Drop batter onto pan, aiming for 4-5 inch rounds
Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side (until you see bubbles), then flip
Cook for another 2-3 minutes until fully cooked through
Serve with your toppings of choice! If you’re using them for ride food, consider letting them cool before putting them in a bag. You may also want to swap syrup for a peanut butter or Nutella filling if you want something a bit less messy.