I ride relatively long distances on a road bike on Sundays, usually around 90-100 miles and have experimented much as to what to eat. Here's what I've found so far.

  • Soreen - tastes good, full of carbs, although must be buttered other the slices become a little stodgy after the fifth slice.
  • Bananas - Certain provide energy but don't "fill you up"
  • Power bars, expensive especially if you eat 5-6 on ride, but do what they say and give you a good energy boost
  • Gels, immediate energy boost for when your really flagging. However, taken as the sole food but prepared to much through quite a few!
  • Special K bars, 80 kcals per bar! I was felt hungry even after eating 8 of them.
  • Snickers (Marathon) bars, great energy boost but felt like my teeth were going to fall out by the fifth. Also this makes gum essential, plus with so much sugar you can kinda feel it come out in your skin when you sweat.

Basically I'm looking for superfood which make a perfect riding companion. To make a good riding food it must be;

  • Consumable - Easy to open when riding, i.e. the packet can be broken into whilst riding, either through ease of packet, or use of teeth
  • Digestible - goes down well tastes good, and won't repeat when I start climbing through the hills.
  • Calories - Must contain enough calories so I can continue to ride without feeling hungry.
  • Durable - Are they going to melt in the heat? Or become too brittle to eat in the freezing cold.

I'd be very happy for some more suggestions :-)

  • Nice question, looking forward to seeing answers. I removed the mountain-bike and road-bike tags, since the question isn't really about either; it's applicable to pretty much any kind of unsupported cycling. Related question: What should one eat while cycling?. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Feb 17 '11 at 17:59

11 Answers 11


A few years ago I ran across a recipe that Team Garmin uses (or did at the time). It's boiled potatoes with a bit of olive oil and salt. If you wrap it up right it's easy to carry, unwrap and eat while riding. I'm not sure how many of these you could carry. I've tried it on medium rides (40 to 50 miles) and they were great. I can't find the text of the original recipe but here is a video that shows how to cook and wrap them.

They are very cheap, they do require that you have some water to get them down, but the olive oil helps a lot. The potassium in the potato is great and they digest easily. I'm not sure I'd eat 5 or 6, but perhaps as one or two of the 5 or six snacks you go through.

  • Fascinating idea, I never thought of boiled potatoes as a cycling food. I'll give it a try... – sleske Feb 18 '11 at 0:48
  • Great video thanks! Definitely going to try these. :-) – wonea Feb 18 '11 at 9:25
  • This potato recipe is great! I first ran into it on a supported century a few years ago. A lot of ride food tends to be sweet and I find myself gagging after the 3rd or 4th sugary energy bar; so this recipe really hits the spot. – user313 Feb 18 '11 at 18:32

Granola/Power bars are cheap if you get the supermarket/Nature Valley ones, usually $10 for 32 double packs.

Or you can make your own - lot of recipes on the net. Basically melt butter / sugar / honey and add anything oat / fruit / nut like, spread on a tray and put in fridge.


Another idea: Dried apples. Not the ones you buy at a store, but ones you make yourself. Slice apples VERY thin (an apple slicing machine is good for this), spread them out and dry them in a dehydrator or warm oven until totally, crispy dry. Then place in zip-lock bags. They melt in your mouth, taste like candy, and are loaded with sugar (and a bit of fiber). The only problem is that it takes about a dozen apples to make one "single-serving" size bag of them.


Nuts: walnuts?

I'm thinking pre-shelled walnut halves (walnust halves may/should be fresher than chopped walnuts).

There are about 30 calories per whole walnut, or 185 per ounce (contrast with 96 calories per ounce of sugar): because it's from fat.

  • Quite a good idea, but how would you eat these? A self sealing packet might cause trouble, although I could definitely fill a back cycling pocket up with these. Maybe store them in a "Smarties" like cannister? – wonea Feb 17 '11 at 18:59
  • They're not terribly fragile and they don't melt. – ChrisW Feb 17 '11 at 19:07
  • Melting! Never thought of that, definitely agree on not being fragile. Worth a go. – wonea Feb 17 '11 at 19:52
  • @wonea Beware what e.g. sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sportsnutrition/a/Fat.htm says about eating fat to get calories during exercise: that fat is calorie-dense, but takes a while to metabolize. I don't know, maybe on a "90-100 mile" there's enough time. Perhaps one of the best times to get calories from fat is when you're exercising all day: climbing Everest, or migrating w/ a herd of buffalo, or something. I don't know but people who advise carbs for replenishment might be advising it for short-duration exercise ... e.g. even someone's running a marathon is all over in just a few hours. – ChrisW Feb 18 '11 at 17:07
  • Nuts are fine for long distance riding as long as you carry along carb rich foods as well. I often carry nuts mixed with rasins. – user313 Feb 18 '11 at 22:05

An old stand-by is fig bars. I typically get them in bulk bins at a local food co-op. Figs are rich in potassium and other minerals, as well as being a decent carb source.

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    Here in the UK 10 figs rolls are 39p! Bargain! Had an idea of buying a long packet of figs rolls, cut the packet in half, then use cellophane to seal the ends. – wonea Feb 21 '11 at 11:08
  • These fig bars are really good. I have them all the time when not on rides too. naturesbakery.com/in-our-pantry (I have no affiliation with Nature's Bakery.) – ekangas Jan 23 '15 at 7:11

I've become addicted to Tanka Bars as savory alternative to the usual round of sweet energy bars, etc. They're pemmican (Bison meat pounded with cranberries, salt and spices) made by the Lakota Sioux, and since my wife and I started getting them, our boxes of Builder Bars have been gathering dust. You can get them in mild and "Spicy Pepper Blend".

They won't give you a jolt of quick energy, but man, the protein really sticks with you and keeps you going! The one gotcha is they're only 70 calories apiece.

  • Wowsers, wasn't expecting this answer. Sounds lovely, I can imagine it's somewhat like Beef Jerky? – wonea Feb 18 '11 at 9:18
  • Yes, like beef jerky, except not so chewy, and the cranberries add just a touch of sweetness. I don't know if you're familiar with pemmican in the UK, but in the US, we learn about it in school. It was a traveling food for American Indians and early white settlers. They used to make it with higher fat content than you have in the Tanka Bars, so it packed a huge amount of calories and protein in a very small, lightweight package. – Bob Murphy Feb 18 '11 at 22:19

I find Clif Bars to be a pretty good solution. They're easy to open, they go down relatively easily, they don't melt or freeze (ever try eating a powerbar on a cold day?) and they have about 200+ calories.

On rides shorter than 3 hours, I just take a couple of packets of Gu, one bottle of water, and one bottle of lightly-mixed gatorade (I mix from powder since the full-strength stuff leaves the mouth quite sticky on a ride).

On longer outings, I'll take the Gu and a Clif Bar per 2 hours, and lots more water.

  • Clif bars are great. They have "sweet & salty" varieties nowadays for a break from all sweet. – user313 Feb 18 '11 at 22:15

Kelloggs Nutri-grain Elevenses bars are my favourite bike food, especially the ginger ones.

  • 167 calories per bar.
  • Equal amounts starchy and sugary carbohydrate, low fat, B vitamins. I'm no nutritionist, but I understand they're not that bad for you.
  • Moist, crumbling texture. Easier to eat than other cereal bars.
  • Packaging is a bit of a pain, but can be ripped whilst riding with some dedicated front teeth. Otherwise, make a small tear before you set off to make it easier later.
  • I've eaten them on warm and cold days, whilst pootling along and immediately after big hills. They always taste good.

No, I don't work for Kelloggs.


No one mentioned liquid nutrition.

I really like Perpetuem by Hammer, but there are many other options for liquid calories. I look for something that tastes good and has something more than just electrolytes, something with carbohydrates and a little protein. With Perpetuem, I can mix a thicker bottle for longer rides.

Some other liquid nutrition choices:

  • Accelerade
  • Carbo-Pro
  • Clif SHOT
  • Cytomax
  • Endurox
  • +1 for Perpetuem by Hammer Nutrition. This stuff works amazingly well when you're on a bike for a long time. – user313 Dec 2 '11 at 22:17
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    The downside of Perpetuem is that after 7 or 8 hours, it gets a bit disgusting...but on the other hand, it gets you over the 10th hour hill... – user313 Dec 2 '11 at 22:50

Nabisco Newton Fruit Crisps (not the crummy "Fruit Thins" which look more like cookies, or the Special-K Fruit Crisps which aren't half as good) are very good snacks, though unfortunately our local distributor stopped carrying them so I have to mail-order. Target's fruit/yogurt bars are also very good, and almost pure sugar.

  • Yeah, I've tried riding with Special K Bars, and felt hungry half way through the ride. Didn't seem to quench my hunger. – wonea May 25 '12 at 9:15
  • And unfortunately Target dropped their fruit/yogurt bars, and I've not found anything similar to replace them. – Daniel R Hicks May 25 '12 at 11:36

Peanut M&Ms. Mixture of carbs and fat, a bit of protein and caffeine, cheap and readily available, easy to eat out of the bag, and delicious.

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