Fuel on $4.50

In my quest to be a thorough bicyclist, I've started paying attention to what a cyclist needs to eat. I'm trying to put together a good recommended diet for a cyclist on a long tour. This is an extension of my diet project (the one that helped me lose 45 lbs), and this knowledge will help me plan for the upcoming Intercity ride.

One of the many challenges of this summer's trip is that there is a budget imposed for trip-supplied food:

Breakfast: $1.10 per rider per meal
Lunch: $1.50 per rider per meal
Dinner: $1.90 per rider per meal.

For a group of 32 cyclists, this means that we are allowed to spend a grand total of $144 - and not a penny more! - on food per day. Now, if you consider how much we eat, this seems like a very small sum of money. A cyclist my size, age, and gender (a 22 y/o male, at 178cm tall, weighing 80kg) needs about 2300 kcal per day when doing almost nothing, plus 35 kcal/mi when riding. For a 70 mile day, to maintain weight, I need to eat 4750 kcal per day! Assuming I'm on the high side of calorie requirements, I'd estimate that our group consumes 140,000 kcal every day.

It is very, very difficult to feed a group of our size for that little money. We buy cheap food - pasta, peanut butter, and the like - and get generic-brand versions to save money. If we're careful, we can just barely feed everyone on this budget with no outside help.

In reality, we have no trouble feeding our group on this budget. In many places, we can get donations of day-old baked goods and deli sandwiches. Our hosts are overwhelmingly kind, and often give us more food than even we are able to eat. Leftovers are a staple of the Bike & Build diet.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is tough on a trip like ours. It's hard enough when you live in New York City, and are able to shop at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. It's darn near impossible when you rely on donated food. Even so, it's not hard to eat well. Avoid the greasiest foods, and remember to eat fresh fruits and vegetables when possible. We as leaders will do our part to keep the supply lines full.

So, remember, if you're ever in a foul mood this summer, you're probably hungry. There is no reason to be upset about anything All you have to do is ride your bicycle.