Every cyclist knows the nutritional guidance triangle that's exists amongst us. Not only is it deeply intertwined within cycling culture but is embedded in nearly every cyclists psyche, from professional to amateur.
Affectionately known as the three C’s - coffee, carbs and cakes. These are surely the reason why so many of us don lycra and pedal as furiously as we can at any given opportunity. Rewarding ourselves with the consumption of these 'essential' nutrients is justified by the long and sometimes gruelling miles we put in, come rain or shine.
The majority of routes I plan will include an obligatory coffee stop break. Whether a meeting point at the beginning of a ride, a convenient half-way destination point, or a well earned cup of ‘the good stuff’ to finish, a café is sure to feature somewhere along the road.
Carbs on the other hand are there to fuel the mind and body both pre, during and after.
Traditionally, carb-loading was seen as the only way to get through your bike ride, no matter how long or short. Even now, if you look through Twitter feeds of those riders about to attempt a Sportive, you will see them post the obligatory picture of their carb laden meal the night before. Pasta, rice, potatoes and bread are all deemed as the go-to foods for endurance events.
The same applies to gels stuffed in the back pouch of most cyclists’ jerseys as well as all the empty packets littered along the most popular/travelled routes. For the food snobs amongst us and for those who detest the thought of putting all those chemicals in our systems there are alternatives. For example, the mighty banana is, and always will remain, the easy fuel of choice. Free from chemicals and a natural way of re-energising the body, it even comes in its very own packaging. Mother nature thought of everything.
For longer rides, a banana or two is not always sufficient and riders often want something more filling to provide a more sustained energy release. Consequently, cyclists have turned to more substantial foods with the likes of Malt Loaf being one of the most popular. Indeed, I remember one of my first Sportives where the cyclist in front of me had an entire loaf stuffed in his jersey pocket. Over the past year I have been researching various recipes for snacks that I can take on my ride. The reasons are two-fold;
1. I love cooking
2. I like to know exactly what I am putting into my body
Not that I am particularly against the likes of Malt Loaf or Jaffa Cakes, but when you read the list of ingredients, it harks back to the days of GCSE chemistry.
I have tried and tested numerous recipes and below is one of my favourites (courtesy of http://veggiedesserts.co.uk). I ended up making about 20 energy balls and always take a couple on my rides that last longer than two/three hours.
For the energy balls:
§ 125g (1 ½ cups) rolled oats
§ 200g (1 cup) cooked sweet potato, mashed (about 1 large potato)
§ 125g (½ cup) nut butter
§ Large pinch of fresh ginger, grated
§ 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
§ ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
§ 1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder or vanilla protein powder
1. Blitz all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until combined. If your blender isn’t high-speed, pulse the oats first to make them a bit finer, then add the remaining ingredients, or combine by hand. Roll into teaspoon-sized balls, then store in the refrigerator or freezer.
I love cooking so for me this is a labour of love. But, if you have the time (and inclination), I strongly recommend giving these a go. You can tweak the ingredients to your own taste preferences and then take them on your cycle ride happy in the knowledge that these little hand-crafted balls of energy will help get you to your final destination. Time consuming? Yes. But in my opinion, it is worth it.
Thank you James for sharing this delicacy with us. We hope to see you soon on the road.
SD Team would like to advise all SaddleDrunkers & non to get in touch with us if you would like to your share experiences & any advise with others.