Be kind to your body, you are relying on it a lot!
Many modes of modern travel do not require that we have to eat good food to keep going! But when cycling, you are relying on your food intake to keep you pedalling and moving ahead. It is not wise to treat a cycle tour as an opportunity to lose weight! [Actually, if you are like me, then the opposite happens – you generally put on weight, as your muscles become fitter and more developed to cope with the demands you are putting on them].
The issue of food is one of the really great things about cyclo-touring! You not only can eat lots of lovely food, but you have to do this to stay healthy! Getting food while on the road can, however, become an issue if it is not planned properly.
If you are from a country where the inhabitants like to eat at any time of the day, you will need to adjust this way of thinking while you are in France! Australians (for example) like to have food available where ever they go and consequently, a wealth of food outlets is found in most places. So if you forget your lunch, that is probably not a major issue, you can simply buy something to eat.
In France, food seems to be less of a ‘consuming passion’ 🙂 for the inhabitants.
Small villages often have no food available anywhere. (An example of this is Bussière-sur-Ouche, which appeared to have no food outlet). Cyclists who are not prepared for this can get themselves into problematic situations. It pays to always have at least one day of food on board your bike at any stage. If you are not cycling through any major centres, then you may need to stock up for a few days.
If you are staying at B&Bs, as we did many times on our tour, you can also run into issues with getting a main meal at night. Many B&Bs will provide meals if you request this which is wonderful. But many don’t. They also don’t provide the means to cook your own – the expectation is that you will eat out.
Where the B&B is in a larger centre where there are restaurants, this is easy. Where the latter are some distance away from where you are staying, you have a problem.
While it sounds rather romantic to ride a 30km round trip to a restaurant for your evening meal, it does have a down side! After being all day on your bike, braving the elements, and working your legs and body for a number of hours, your bike will quickly lose its appeal as a means of transport!
The only time I have enjoyed ‘riding to get dinner’ was after a particularly easy day on the bike – I wrote about this in the post Riding in the inky dark.
You need to have your meals (which require no significant food preparation) with you in these instances. We have dined on muesli and fresh fruit on more than one occasion! Not terribly appetising, but packed with energy and nourishment.
(Australians who are used to huge selection of muesli on the supermarket shelves need to be aware that muesli is very difficult to come by in many places overseas. You may need to be prepared to make your own if you eat a lot of it. If you have a great muesli recipe that would be easy to make while on the road, please feel free to add this in the comments below. I and other cyclists would, I am sure, be most appreciative!).
Just as important as food is water. Before going on tour in France I read something which made me laugh at the time, but it was very valid. The article suggested that if you run short of water, to look for a cemetery. Not so that you can select a spot there to meet your demise :-), but to find a tap. French cemeteries apparently have water supplied for mourners to add to fresh flowers on graves. [Taps are not located in Australian cemeteries, but most service stations (fuel stations) have water available.]
We filled up our water bottles each night, and our B&B hosts happily filled our thermos with hot water for coffee. This was sufficient for our needs, but we were travelling at a very cool time of year.
I suggest that each day’s cyclo-touring should be catered for in entirety (unless you know you are going to be in a large centre which will have food available). There are many light weight, non perishable types of food that are easily carried and stored. Carrying of adequate water supplies is (as it is the world over) a must.
A related issue is eating adequately while riding. Professional riders know all about this, but as an amateur, I learnt a lot while riding every day. This will feature in a future post.