Ally Mabry

Keep It Fresh: Best Foods for Bicycle Touring

May 16, 2019

In some parts of the world, it’s difficult to find fresh fruit and vegetables. When traveling in rural parts of the United States, gas stations and roadside diners become the main source of nourishment. You can expect hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, and chips, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a bag of baby carrots. 

As a hard-pedaling traveler, you’ll be ravenous. But your body needs a balanced diet to keep you cycling strong: plenty of carbs to fuel your workout, protein to aid in muscle recovery and growth, and healthy fats to reduce inflammation and help absorb nutrients. 

best food for cycling by Levi Boughn

Try to incorporate fresh foods into your daily menu and feed yourself small, carbohydrate-based snacks every hour or so while cycling. This can be fresh fruit, chickpeas, crackers, chips, or energy bars with oats, buckwheat, or quinoa. 

    As with water, it’s better to have too much food than too little. Keep a couple of spare protein bars or other energy-packed snacks tucked away in case you run out of other food sources. 

    Carrying Fresh Foods

    Some cyclists stock up on fresh foods and carry them for a few days, eating them as they ripen. The trick is to store them deeply in a pannier, away from direct sunlight, and not to wash them until you’re ready to eat, as washing speeds up spoilage.

    Foods like avocados, tomatoes, and bananas should be purchased before they’re ripe unless you want to eat them immediately. Ripe foods can spoil quickly in a pannier. 

    Fresh food in bike pannier by Levi Boughn

    Here’s a list of some of the toughest fresh foods for your panniers. 


    • Carrots
    • Cucumbers
    • Kale (the only leafy green that won’t immediately turn to mush in a pannier)
    • Celery 
    • Jicama 
    • Avocado (good fats and more potassium than a banana!)
    • Sweet corn (you can eat it right off the cob)


    • Apples
    • Bananas (treat them gently)
    • Oranges & grapefruits
    • Grapes

    Healthy, ready-to-eat snacks

    • Nut butter
    • Nuts, seeds, and trail mix
    • Crackers, bread, and tortilla chips 
    • Dark chocolate (it’s a superfood, it gives you energy, and … it’s chocolate)
    • Protein or energy bars 
    • Dried fruit and dehydrated veggie snacks
    • Canned fish or chicken
    • Jerky or cured summer sausage
    • Hummus or roasted chickpeas
    • Hard, aged cheeses, wax-wrapped cheese, or packaged string cheese
    • Powdered milk/coconut milk or other protein powders that can be mixed with water
    • Pickles

    Related Reading


    Melinda S. September 26, 2019, 2:01 PM

    Having cycled the TA in 2014, I became well aware of the weight of packed food. "Stock up day" meant carrying weighted panniers for a few days while eating through the supplies. CHANGE IN PLAN... This summer I have been putting my food dehydrator to use for my Lewis and Clark trip in May 2020. At a low heat, to retain vitamins and minerals, I have been dehydrating, jackfruit (soaked in seasoning sauce), plums, diced potatoes, carrots, quinoa, veggies, etc. I will be packaging them as snacks and meals on the route. Borrowing from the PCP hikers, I will have someone ship new supplies every week or 10 days. It will be an grand experiment.

    Dianne May 17, 2019, 10:17 AM

    You can also carry those tiny packets of yellow mustard (rather than pickles) for issues with cramping.

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