While we may not really ride to eat, being able to double the USDA recommended daily caloric intake is great incentive to get in an extra ride or tack on a few miles to your favorite route. There’s nothing more rewarding than feeding your face after emptying yourself of fuel. While we all have our favorites and go-to’s, there are a few undisputed and universal post-ride champion choices. These delicious gems have little to do with proper nutritional choices for athletes, but are rather about satisfying the primitive urge to stuff yourself after a hard day’s work.
Burrito—Whether veggie, machaca, carne asada, or carnitas, the double-wrapped two-hander holds down a place dear to every cyclist’s stomach. The Meal You Can Hold has everything your body needs; beans and rice for complete protein and easily-accessible carbs, veggies for fiber and anti-oxidants, cheese for energy from slow-metaboloizing fat—as if there needs to be a justification for cheese—and flavor enhancing hot sauce. The burrito, and it’s illegitimate offspring the “wrap,” is simple to make at home, doesn’t require much waiting if you are eating out, and comes with an added bonus of it’s own insider sub-culture. When traveling, knowing the locations of favorite Mexican restaurants along the way creates instant street cred with your companions, and guiding non-locals to the best burrito in your town is a gastronomic gift worth more than gold.
Beer, for responsible members of the legal drinking age cohort—Actually, beer is full of empty calories, so any carbohydrates do nothing to restock or provide energy to your muscles after a ride. Also, studies have shown that alcohol has detrimental effects on athletic performance. Of course, we all know that alcohol causes impaired judgement and makes traveling by any method other than walking dangerous and potentially deadly. So why include beer on the list? Well, for some, the acquired taste of a carbonated, cold, malted beverage is just what the (witch) doctor ordered after an intense, hot, sweaty, ride. I’m talking meals-in-a-bottle type beer—either super dark or super hoppy—not clear colored “lawnmower beer” that might as well be fizzy water. Dark beer’s anti-oxidant profile might even help mop up some of that lactic acid floating around your blood (citation needed), but don’t think that if one is good, more is better. Too much alcohol will not only hinder your recovery from today’s ride, but might ruin tomorrow’s as well. Enjoy your after-ride beer—just one—and then drink a tall glass of water and eat a burrito.
Burger—The thought of a lusty, half-pound, medium-cooked burger on a fresh-baked bun stacked with bacon, blue cheese, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes should be enough to pull you through any ride, no matter how far into the red zone you put yourself. Protein, carbs, anti-oxidants, trace minerals, and fat—everything your body is screaming for after a hard workout—is present in the above example. Like burritos, a good burger restaurant is a valuable resource, and should be freely shared and enjoyed with old friends and new whenever you need a meal that will provide energy for days to come.
Pasta Carbonara—Savory, substantial, and oh-so-delicious, this is another meal that will keep on giving long after the last bite has been swallowed. Cheese, pancetta, butter, and eggs provide protein and long-term energy, while pasta provides an easily digested and high-quality glycogen source. Did I mention cheese and pancetta? What else do you need, besides a nice glass of prosecco?
Fish Tacos—OK, fish tacos might actually be a sound choice for a post-ride meal that will help your body rebuild muscle and restock it’s energy stores, deep fried batter not withstanding. Fish is loaded with easily-digestible protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, along with critical vitamins and minerals. Add some avocado slices for even more omegas and vitamins, some cabbage for fiber and water absorption, and top it all off with some hot sauce, because you have to. My current favorite is Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce, form Oregon.