The cyclist’s guide to mid-ride gas station snacks
How to un-bonk yourself with the best snacks available
O weary traveller, you’ve ridden far from home and your trip has taken you to unfamiliar places. Your bottles are low and your pockets are empty, but lo! Behold! A gas station and/or countryside convenience store stands proudly at the next intersection!
You pull up and unclip at this oasis —your mouth is watering already as you dream of the cool liquids hitting the back of your throat. As you open the door you’re blasted with the cool air of a pair of somewhat effective fans and you become immediately paralyzed and awe-struck in face of the sublime selection of non-perishable food products and refrigerated beverages.
What will you choose?
HOW will you choose?
Thankfully, your tired mind won’t have to make that decision. We’ve put together a handy completely subjective selection of some of the best (and worst) items you can grab to refuel mid-ride.
Dried or cured meat
Meat-eaters will claim this salty, savoury and satisfying treat is a welcome departure from sugary gels and gummies. Pepperoni sticks, pepperettes and beef jerky are the easiest to find, but if you’re lucky you may stumble upon some prime local cured sausages such as csabai, landjaeger or salumetti (salami sticks). The salt in these meats are good for replenishing your depleted salt stores, and the larger ones will fit nicely in a jersey pocket. They also give you a bit of protein to get a head start on recovery.
Caffeinated, sugary and cold, this drink hits a trifecta of needs. If you’re in Quebec grab a Pepsi, if you don’t like Coke find another soft drink and toss half a 100mg caffeine pill in it for a similar effect.
Candy dime bags
Most exercise-specific gummies are basically just candy with extra salt. If you run out of fuel, the candy snack bags on the counter of the corner store will do just fine as a substitute. Try to avoid sour candy, as the citric acid could irritate your stomach, and go for softer candies— they’re easiest to chew.
You have to be a special level of bonked to consider eating gas station sandwiches. For your own good think about whether there is literally anything else you could eat instead (an oily muffin sealed in a plastic wrapper perhaps?) If you must eat the sandwich, be sure to check the expiry date.
It’s $1 for a single banana but you’re not looking at the price. This is a responsible decision— your coach (or the friend you message when you have cycling questions) would be proud.
On a hot day this might seem like the perfect way to cool off, but it’s important to be considerate of the cyclists you’re riding with. If you’re alone, not in a rush or if everyone is also getting a slush, go for it! If not, be warned that you unquestionably will get a brain freeze as everyone stands around holding their bikes waiting for you to finish your drink.
The salt would theoretically be good but it’s not easy to quickly ram chips into your mouth and hop back on the bike. You also risk covering your sweaty sunblock-y hand in chip dust and oil, and subsequently rubbing that all over your hoods and bars. Bad look.
This is definitely not a toss-the-second-half-in-your-back-pocket-and-keep-riding type of snack. That being said chocolate bars are dense in calories (good!) and can be a great way to rejuvenate your weary body. Pick one you know you’ll be able to finish but won’t make you so full that you get a stomach ache.
Are you lactose intolerant?
Are you pretending you aren’t lactose intolerant?
Do you occasionally get gassy from dairy, but you really just like the look of that Drumstick right now and you’re sure you’ll be fine this time?
If you answered yes to any of these questions unfortunately you aren’t allowed to eat dairy on a ride. Sorry, we don’t make the rules, your body does.
If you’re blessed with a sufficient amount of lactase go for it.
Elixir of life, juice of the gods. Drink long and deeply.