How we fuel four famished bike bodies



8 Proven Shortcuts To A Healthy Pregnancy

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When we stop for groceries on a family cycling tour, the whole store knows it. After biking, camping and running wild in wide open spaces for a few days, our feral boys charge through the aisles like they’ve been licking moss off rocks on a deserted island for a month, ecstatically shouting out the names of every item in sight. All those calories going out into pedalling must come back in, and they are eager participants in our family meal plan.

By the numbers: an average day of our family food intake

• 1 three-litre pot of oatmeal, with 2 apples, 2 mangoes, 20 dates and 1 cup of pumpkin seeds
• 4 bananas
• 4 protein bars (our NZ faves are “One Square Meal” super bars)
• 4 plums
• 4 oranges
• 8 carrots
• 1 cucumber
• 2 bell peppers
• 2 avocados

• 1 package of hummus
• 8-16 peanut butter / jam rice cake sandwiches
• 1.5 pounds of gorp (souped-up trail mix)
• 1 basket of fries / 2 triple-scoop ice cream cones / whatever we can find at the local cafes
• 1 stop worth of fresh fruit from roadside stands / “honesty boxes”
• 1 three-litre pot of gluten-free pasta with 2 heads of broccoli, 4 tomatoes, and a package of marinated tofu
• 12-16 litres of water
• Plus a snack pig-out by Ed after bedtime if there’s a camp store (exact quantities too embarrassing to list here… though it is rumoured that Ed did purchase EIGHTY spring rolls on a recent binge)

imageOver the years we’ve found that if Joce does the shopping, she comes out with 30 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables, a big bag of nuts and one box of pasta. If Ed heads in, it’s 30 pounds of pasta, potato chips and powdered donuts. So Joce ends up doing the shopping.

Our big challenge is getting enough fuel for four very active pedallers to avoid bonking (running out of glycogen) before the next grocery stop (every 2-3 days), while having enough room to fit it all in our panniers, and managing to stay healthy on this epic six-month bike marathon. As our boys have gotten older, we’ve added a spare 15-litre dry bag to pack on top of our already heaping racks, knowing that the extra weight will abate as we gorge.

As we teach the boys French en route, our first phrase to learn was “J’ai faim,” because they’re by far the most-heard words while pedalling (we soon added “très” and “beaucoup”). Our heaping breakfasts last only minutes on the road before Sitka starts asking about lunch. They’re not the only insatiable ones – Ed is often caught hovering over the boys’ meals wondering if they’re full yet so he can snag the leftovers.

We’ve been lucky in NZ to generally match our home diet of vegan / vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-glycemic options (can you tell one of us just graduated as a naturopathic doctor?), though we’ve learned to be flexible when our rumbling bellies insist (or very generous new friends offer intriguing local delicacies).

imageFortunately for Ed, who tends to lose 10 pounds the minute he puts on bike shorts, and even more as he cycles, these food offers happen strikingly often in New Zealand. Ed has temporarily put aside decades of vegetarianism to become our designated family gratitude eater: freshly caught snapper; home-grown ground venison; a mammoth package of fish, chips and sausages; and heaps of assorted, doughy desserts. We’ve also been treated to delicious vegetarian dishes – curries, lentil loaves and filling salads – for the whole family to enjoy.

So the kids, despite their reports of constant hunger, are gaining height/weight and thriving on a steady (and substantial) diet of greens, plums, oats and gorp. Given their endless stores of energy that get them bounding about in full-on play mode even after a full day’s ride, we’ll continue letting them loose in grocery stores to help pick out the next load of cycle-family fare. Watch out, shoppers!


  1. Robin says:

    Mike and I just read this aloud together, loving the whole thing!!

  2. Brenda says:

    Such an enjoyable read! I can totally see and enjoy eighty spring rolls as an evening treat on such a bike trip! Thank you for sharing yourselves, your personalities and your adventures with us! This is soooo very special and fun!

  3. Mark Thomson says:

    Funny – the difference between a meal and a snack is you don’t cook a meal. I can recommend almost any of the locally produced olive oils…great for a quick shot… add it to an avocado and make a Texas turtle… oh yes!! Cheers Mark

  4. JUNE RATTEW says:

    . Sounds like you 4 are getting lots to eat. It tires me out reading all about your trip makes me tired and I have to have a
    nap. Happy to hear you are all well and enjoying your trip

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8 Proven Shortcuts To A Healthy Pregnancy

it's free!
Protecting your personal information is of utmost importance to me