I thought I’d take a couple minutes to jot down some thoughts on food and walk through a typical day of bike camping. First, the food. I’m a firm believer that if I’m going to work that hard riding all day, after breaking camp, and setting up camp in the evening, I should eat well. There’s also the obvious need to replace calories burned on the road or trail so that one can keep moving. My bike, with racks and water, was close to 30 pounds. The gear was 60+ pounds (I didn’t actually weigh it…I was afraid to). When you’re pulling that kind of load, offroad, for 5-7 pedaling hours a day, you burn about 1,000 calories an hour, easily, depending on terrain. My computer showed that I burned close to 60,000 calories in the six days I was on the road. Obviously, that’s impossible to replenish, but I tried to eat as well as I could. For breakfast I either had blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup (purchased while on the road) or instant oatmeal. After about an hour of riding I would usually stop and eat some of the yummy homemade granola bars that my lovely wife, Abbi, had made for me. Lunch was almost always at a restaurant of some kind, and included an icy cold Coke, sandwich of some kind, and chips. In the mid-afternoon I’d try to find an ice cream stand, then pedal on to the campsite and prepare dinner.
I used a variety of sources for meals. One is "The One Pan Gourmet", a book I found at my local bookstore. Another great source is the Backpacker Magazine website (also a great site for gear resources). Dinner recipes included Chicken Cacciatore, Sun-dried tomato and Mushroom Pesto with Orzo, and Lemon Chicken with Angel hair Pasta. I also brought several prepackaged meals. Most are from the Mountain House company. I had Beef Stew, Beef Teriyaki with Rice, and "San Juan Stroganoff". As you can see, I ate well. As it was though, I still struggled to stay fueled up. I tried to drink a sports drink, but it’s hard to stay motivated to mix it when it’s hot and you’re tired. In general, within an hour of eating, I was hungry again.
So, for a day in the life….
8:00 a.m. Wake up with the sun, usually, listen to birds chirping overhead. Get out of tent, get breakfast ingredients out of panniers, boil water, and make coffee and breakfast. While eating, review the day’s route and find stopping points.
8:45 a.m. Clean up from leisurely breakfast and start breaking camp. Coffee is done steeping, is pressed, and I’m sipping it slowly during this process. Pack up most stuff in panniers first, pack sleeping bag, Therm a rest, tent, stove, fuel, pots, pans, etc. After most stuff is packed, use restroom, change into riding clothes, and clean coffee mug/press.
9:30 a.m. With bike packed full of gear, roll out.
10:30 or 11 a.m. Rest stop, eat granola bar, refill bottles
12:30 or 1 (generally 1/2 way into the daily miles) lunch stop. Refill bottles, walk around a bit.
2:00 p.m. Back on the bike.
4:00 p.m. Ice cream/bottle fill stop
6:00 p.m. Stop for the day.
At the campsite, fill bottles (filtering water if necessary), rest for a few, then set up tent and put sleeping bag, Therm-a-rest inside, a well as reading material and such. After tent is all setup, start setting up for dinner…unpack stove, pot, pan, ingredients, etc. Take a few minutes to clean off (shower if possible). Change into street clothes. (I do this after setting up camp because it’s often a hot, dirty, sweaty process and my bike clothes are already nasty. This keeps the street clothes in better shape longer.) Cook dinner, eat, clean up. Pack away any food products back into panniers and seal. Prepare camp for the night by covering panniers, making sure tent rain cover is nearby in case it’s needed in the middle of the night. Spend some time reading, socializing with folks at campsite, etc. Relax, sit by the fire if there is one.
9:30 or 10 p.m., lights out.
Here are a couple pictures of my campsite at Husky Haven. This was a great campground, with rustic facilities at the campground itself but lots of amenities, including potable water, showers, and internet access, at the office 1/4 mile away.