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Top 5 foods for cyclists (and why)

Food glorious food! On a cycling holiday you will be spending a good amount of time pedalling, so it is important to think about your fuelling strategy. Our guide and cycling journalist Hannah Reynolds gives hers top five food options to get you going and explains why you should reach for them before, during and after your ride…

1. Beetroot
Often found on the Skedaddle picnic table beetroots are great for more than just turning your wee pink. Regular beetroot juice has been shown to have a remarkable effect on cyclists, it enhances blood flow, increases muscle efficiency and extends your endurance. Drinking beetroot juice can make you faster in a 10km time trial, it may only be by 12 seconds but that is enough to win a medal instead of being a runner-up. Pretty impressive for a root vegetable.

To get the effect you need half a litre of beetroot juice a day, more than most of us would normally choose to consume, so for performance benefits professional athletes have concentrated shots. If you aren’t gunning for an Olympic medal just having beetroot in your salad still has many health benefits including reducing blood pressure and strengthening your gut health.

2. Bananas
Nature’s own energy bars. High in carbohydrate, easy to eat and digest, plus they come in their own handy packaging that doesn’t create waste or damage the environment. Bananas are the number one cycling food. They are perfectly balanced to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat, particularly potassium as well as providing 25g-30g of carbohydrate to supply energy to our cycling muscles.

Bananas are interesting in many ways, their GI (how quickly the sugar in the food absorbs into our blood stream) changes as they ripen. A green banana is more fibrous and has a lower GI, a brown banana has a much higher GI so releases its energy faster. Bananas are good for long rides and eating before a ride as other than the very brown ones they reduce energy steadily over time.

Don’t just eat bananas on your bike, the fibre in bananas called pectin helps to moderate your blood sugar levels and can reduce your appetite, making them a good snack between meals. They also make a great recovery food for after a ride, add them to a smoothie or eat one with a glass of milk.

3. Coffee
Not strictly a food but we can’t ignore the huge benefits, and pleasures, of a pre ride espresso. We all know a coffee helps us get going in the morning and keeps us awake when we are nodding off but when it comes to riding bikes it does even more. It increases alertness, as we know, but it also reduces perception of fatigue and discomfort. We feel less tired and cycling feels easier when we have had a coffee!

Over time our bodies can get used to the amount of caffeine we are using so to get a more effective coffee hit while cycling keeps your espresso habit for pre-ride treats and the café stop.

4. Dates
Dates are the natural fruit equivalent of scoffing Haribo or eating gels. They are incredibly sweet as they are 80% sugar so they fill your mouth with the sweet sticky sensation we sometimes crave and provide the carbohydrates you need for cycling. But unlike eating sugary sweets they also pack a high number of nutrients for good health. As with bananas they are high in potassium, also magnesium and copper which help to maintain a healthy nervous system and blood pressure.

The sugar in dates is usually glucose, fructose and traces of sucrose and maltose providing you get a quick burst of energy and also a slow release over an extended period of time. They are great for satisfying a sweet tooth when not cycling as the fibre in Medjool dates slows the rate at which the carbs can be digested, so you avoid spikes in blood sugar levels and energy remains more constant. You only need one or two dates at a time as they are so intensely sweet and energy dense.

5. Ice-cream (yes really)
After cycling, particularly if you are on a long trip and need to cycle again the next day, you need the right foods to help your body recover. The two priorities are carbohydrate and protein. There has been a lot of noise about why chocolate milk is the ultimate recovery drink, it contains a three-to-one ratio of carbohydrate grams to protein grams which appears to quickly replenish your body’s energy stores, as well as potassium, calcium and vitamin D. Chocolate milk is easy to digest ( for those who normally eat dairy) and it contains exactly the right balance of fast-absorbing proteins from the milk, such as whey protein for muscle growth and repair, and slow-absorbing proteins such as casein which gives your body protein building blocks to keep repairing over time.

However, these facts also apply to that holiday favourite – ice-cream – and what better way to round off a day in the saddle than licking a lovely big cone of your favourite flavour. Ice-cream slips down easily, even if you are feeling hot and tired at the end of the day, and helps give your body the fuel it needs without making you feel uncomfortably full.

Our travel expert puts a new spin on Sardinia

New travel consultant and self-proclaimed ‘proper leisure cyclist’, Ruth Long, already has a Skedaddle holiday under her wheels! Having joined us for cycling fun Sardiniawe wanted to get her top travel advice for exploring this Italian island on two wheels:

1. Learn some basic Italian; the Italians love it when people make the effort to speak their language, and they especially appreciate it in Sardinia. You’ll stay in some super rustic villages, so greeting the locals with a Buongiorno or Buonasera is an absolute must and often rewarded with free coffees or glasses of prosecco…

2. Cycling in Sardinia can be undulating, but your climbs will always be rewarded with the most amazing views of crystal clear waters. It’s worth keeping that in mind when you’re pedallin’ up that hill!

3. Be sure to take your swimming costume and a mini quick-dry sports towel on your day’s cycling; you’ll cycle past so many hidden bays whose beaches are empty; not stopping for a swim seems criminal!

4. Make sure you explore the local areas! It’s tempting to stay in your hotels as they’re so fantastic, but there are lots of coastal wonders worth getting out to see and local flavours to taste.

5. Stay hydrated! One of my favourite things about Italy, and Sardinia is no exception, is that every village, no matter how tiny, will have somewhere you can get a great coffee, and fill up your water. During our ride we were never short on refreshments; just look for the main square (la piazza) or ask for il bar!

One more thought…
A Skedaddle cycling holiday in Sardinia allows you to see so much more than your average holiday would: you’ll stay in rustic Italian villages, you’ll taste delicious, authentic food, cooked and served the Italian way, and you’ll cycle through places that you’d typically never see. Traveling by bike is the best way to see how the locals live!

Feeling inspired? Ruth cycled our Island Flavours holiday in Sardinia.

Spain: 6 wonders for the wheels

With over 30 cycling holidays (and counting!) alongside a Skedaddle base, Spain is a destination we’re proud to call home! Here’s our 6 wonders of Spain, best experienced when exploring on two wheels:

1. Camino de Santiago
The ultimate pilgrimage is renowned worldwide and offers an ancient journey packed full of timeless, cultural sites.

2. Sierras
Literally translated as ‘mountains with jagged peaks’, Spain’s flat, dry plains are complimented by these dramatic, lofty playgrounds.

3. Endless empty roads
Being one of the largest countries in Europe means Spain is a destination with lots of space! Cyclists can expect some blissfully unspoilt riding.

4. Seville
Crowned Lonely Planet’s number 1 city in their prestigious ‘Best in Travel 2018’ list, this thriving so-called ‘city of bicycles’ is a must see.

5. The Asturian Coast
This unspoilt stretch of coast in the North of Spain boasts a treasure trove of delights! Get ready for white sandy coves and theatrical rocky features.

6. Paella
A dish with ancient roots, paella is a fantastic community dish associated with fun and fiesta. It’s also a great crowd pleaser for a group of hungry cyclists…

Eager to explore on two wheels? Take a look at our extensive range of cycling holidays in Spain by clicking here.