The Best On the Bike Food

In Blog by Eric Benjamin1 Comment

Don’t forget, we are one month out from the photocycling tour! Get your registration in now! I will also be writing about someone special that wants to come on the tour with us, but needs some help. I am sure the AM crew can help her out.

First things first. Today’s title may be a bit misleading. Maybe it should say the best on the bike food in my opinion or something along those lines, but that doesn’t make as strong a title for Google, so I left it as is. But just so we are all on the same page, I do realize this is very subjective. Some of you can survive all day on Big Macs and Gu gels. I simply cannot. My gut has gotten sensitive as I have gotten a little older and when I am on the bike in the middle of a big ride, my gut is even more finicky about what I put in it, especially gluten. Anything with gluten becomes a gut bomb and you do not want to be near me after that. But I have finally found a combination of food and drink that keeps me going on the bike and does not make me feel gassy or otherwise horrible during or even after a big day of riding.

Second thing. I am not sponsored nor have I received any free product from the company I am about to talk very highly about. This is much to my dismay as I would love some free product or sponsorship from them. But it’s not very often a midpack rider gets sponsored, but things can change with a little blog like this that’s read around the world, so there’s always hope. Hint, hint to all you companies out there…especially one making carbon fatbike wheels that I’d love to talk about.

Anyway, let’s get started.

First off buy this book. It’s that good. If you click this link I will get like a nickel or something from every one purchased. And a few nickels will help keep this site alive, but if you live in Emporia get yours at the local Town Crier Bookstore like I did.

The first part of the book gives you the science behind the on-the-bike food and nutrition and the second part is recipes. I have taken one of their recipes and tweaked it for my own pleasure of eating something delicious while out riding. The book is worth buying if you are serious about making your own delicious, nutritious food for training.

So let’s jump in to my recipe. I have made a few different types of rice cakes, but this is my favorite. And this is not a dry, nasty rice cake that dieters eat. This is a moist, delicious rice cake full of calories and nutrition to help you go far on the bike. I like them because they have a light taste which makes them easy to eat and digest and yet I can pack them full of whatever I like. The rice base is light and not too tasty, but the rest of the ingredients is what makes it delicious. And unlike an energy bar, they are easy to eat and even easier to stomach. The rice breaks down into sugars and these babies can power me all day, even in the heat. When it gets hot, the sweet laboratory foods start to make me sick. On a typical big ride, I use Gu gels and these rice cakes and for me it’s a winning combination. By the end of the day, I am only eating rice cakes because the sweet stuff starts to make me feel ill. Now for some action.

First I start with sticky rice. My favorite is Calrose Rice but any kind of sushi or sticky rice can be used. I followed the recipe in the book which calls for 3 cups rice and 4.5 cups water. I throw it in a rice cooker I have that goes in the microwave with some salt and spices and in about 17 minutes it’s ready. It comes out all sticky – perfect for making rice cakes.

While that is going I take the following:
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Six eggsCycling Rice Cakes-003

A bunch of garlic, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers – that much. I don’t measure it, I just know how much will taste good. I also use some salt and spices on the veggies. Salt and spice to your liking.

Here is where you can be creative and add whatever you want to your rice cakes. Be creative but remember these will be in your pocket or bag on the bike, in the heat for hours, so be smart about it. I have also made PB&J rice cakes and I will try some other fruity ones, but these are my favorite. Now on to a little secret, non-kosher ingredient. Vegetarians look away and use something else besides the next ingredient.

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Bacon – one package or so, cooked crispy

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After the bacon is cooked, I put it on paper towels to soak up the excessive grease and then I cut it into little bits on the cutting board.

I cook the bacon, drain most of the grease from the pan, but leave a bit in there and cook up the veggies. Then I throw in the eggs as if I am making some delicious scrambled eggs. I make sure to get them really scrambled so I don’t have too many big clumps in the finished rice cakes. I cook the eggs and veggies well.

When everything is cooked, I pour the cooked rice into the pan (I use a large wok to make it easy) and mix it all up. I mix it really good. (Say it like Salt and Pepa did in the 80’s and now you are having a good time)
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There is my mixed up, sticky concoction. Now I put it all in a pan to form the cakesCycling Rice Cakes-007

I am no foot model, I know. But to help smash the cakes as densely as possible, I put a smaller pan on top and stand on it. I am using wax paper between the two pans. After I smash it into the pan I use my hands to even it all out and smash the sides down to make a nice, even rice cake in the pan.Cycling Rice Cakes-008Cycling Rice Cakes-009

There it is is all smashed and ready to cool, but wait there is one more secret ingredient.Cycling Rice Cakes-010

That is real maple syrup, like straight from a tree, no crazy chemicals or anything. I mean I already have bacon in there, time to try and be a little healthy. I pour just enough syrup on there to give it a sweet taste and coat the top, but not enough to make it a huge sticky mess and overpower the taste into a sweet mess on the bike. When I eat it, there is just a hint of maple syrup. OMG, I am drooling a little bit just thinking about it.Cycling Rice Cakes-011

I spread the syrup as evenly as possible and let it soak in and cool down.Cycling Rice Cakes-012

When it’s cooled down, the syrup has soaked in and it’s hard to tell I even poured any on it. But the hint of maple syrup can be tasted. When I eat these, they are sticky, but pretty clean to eat. I don’t get my fingers too sticky or anything like that, but these are the messiest ones I make. Check out the book, there’s recipes for fruity ones and other ingredients too.Cycling Rice Cakes-013

I cut them into little cakes and wrap them with foil. Do NOT get the cheap foil. Spring for the heavy-duty, no-stick kind. It will be worth it later. Trust me on that. The cheap foil will rub in your pocket or bag all day and leave a film of grey aluminum on your food or it will just rub a hole into the aluminum. I know this from experience. Get the good foil.

I don’t wrap very well. It shows on gifts and on my rice cakes. The book also shows how they wrap them. I cut them, wrap them tight to help them hold their shape and put them in an airtight container and into the fridge.Cycling Rice Cakes-014

When I make multiple kinds, I label them with a sharpie. This time around I only made these delicious ones. I came up with the recipe using the book and listening to my cravings when I am on the bike. Even with all the ingredients I put in them, the rice base makes it a light tasting meal. The awesome thing it is full of calories and keeps me going and feeling good on the bike. And they are delicious. Once you perfect the water to rice ratio, you will get the perfect stickiness to the rice. Too much water – too mushy. Not enough water – the cakes will crumble when you try to eat them. Cycling Rice Cakes-015

And the last step is to let Suzie lick the pan. I mean, she’s been staring at me the whole time, drooling over the bacon smell. It is the least I can do. Don’t worry the pan goes into the dishwasher after she gets every last morsel licked out.

And for my drink, I have been using Skratch Labs Hydration mix religiously. I love it. It is full of electrolytes and has a very light taste. It tastes like when you put cut up fruit into water and just have a hint of fruitiness to it. It is not full of calories, so you also have to eat, but the cakes, some occasional Gu (especially to get me going at the beginning of a race) and Skratch Labs drink is a winning combination for me. I feel good during and after races and rides now and that is golden. The super-sweet drinks start to make me queasy on hot days and Skratch does not. I love the way it tastes and that is important since I need to keep hydrating.

This combination for me is a winner. I am energized, hydrated and not bloated and gassy like I was here. I keep eating and drinking which keeps me pedaling on long rides. And last weekend I made it 112 miles and felt great. I’m not all back yet, but I am getting there.

Don’t forget about the next Flint Hills Photocycling Tour! Click here to read more. There is still plenty of room available!

Feed Your Monkey!
Eric