The best snack foods for mountain biking

Are you a regular weekend warrior, a super keen racer, or an occasional rider? If so, you’ve probably got an opinion on the best snack foods for mountain biking. female mountain bike rider with pink jersey and green helmet smilingAnd I’m no different. In this post I’m going to share with you some of my favourite snack foods for mountain biking. These ideas are just as relevant to hiking or any other outdoor activity, so if mountain biking isn’t your thing, read on anyway!

Food for mountain biking can be as simple and easy as you like such as ready packaged snacks available from a grocery store or green grocer, or as intricately planned and prepared as you have time and energy for.

My rapid decision-making “How-To-Choose-Snack-Foods-For-Mountain-Biking” method

If you’re about to head out on a ride you can start by asking yourself:
• What’s in the cupboard?
• What is possible to carry on my bike, in my pocket, or in my hydration pack people on a grassy road verge eating snacks for moutnain biking with bicycles lying down on the grasswithout spoiling?
• What will be easy on my gut?
• What snacks fit with my overall nutrition intake?
• What tastes great?
• What can I buy on the way, during or after my ride?

Ready-made convenience options include muesli bars, protein bars, energy bars, gels, hydration drinks, sweets / lollies, chocolate, fruit, nuts and pre-packaged trail mix.

My super dooper “Plan-Ahead-Because-The-Benefits-Are-Worth-It” method

If you plan ahead you can meet all your dietary requirements for the day without compromising your nutrition and health. Preparing your own snacks makes it easier to satisfy your personal preferences and optimise your ride performance and general health. This takes a little bit of organisation, time and energy, but the benefits are definitely worth it!
• Research snack ideas and recipes online, in mountain bike forums and trail mix packaged in zip lock bagmagazines, blogs and amongst your MTB crowd
• Prepare your shopping list in the days prior to your planned ride, then take your list with you to the shops and purchase the ingredients you need
• Get stuck into some home baking and you’ll be ahead of the pack!
• Package your prepared snacks in lightweight containers or reusable packaging to keep it fresh on your ride – and don’t forget to pack it in your kit before you leave home!

Popular Plan-Ahead snacks for mountain biking include muffins, homemade trail mix, home made energy drinks with all the good stuff and less of the unnecessary additives, protein balls, sandwiches and filled wraps.

My personal all time favourite snack foods for mountain biking are:

• homemade coffee and walnut muffins with added pepitas and sunflower seeds and yummy melt-in-the-mouth crumble mixture sprinkled on topcoffee muffins freshly baked
• homemade carrot muffins chock filled with walnuts and chunks of dark chocolate
• dark chocolate
• fruit – mandarins, apples
• homemade protein balls
• homemade trail mix (almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazel nuts, pecans, cranberries, pepitas, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes ….. and perhaps some more chunks of dark chocolate)

Disclaimer here – I’m not formally trained to give advice about sports nutrition. This post is based on personal opinion and experience. Please consult with a dietitian if you have any dietary or medical concerns that are impacted by nutrition ….. and then get your snack foods for mountain biking sorted and have some fun on the trails!

Daisy Spoke avatar has long curly hair and smiling mouth

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Measuring Progress

Well, this time last week I was feeling quite nervous and under-prepared for Chicks in the Sticks at “Karingal” in Mt Cotton. This was my second foray into Chicks in the Sticks, a women’s specific mountain bike event hosted by RATS Cycling Club south of Brisbane. Last year I put a reasonable degree of effort into my physical and mental preparation for this event. It was my first ever attempt at racing, and when I crossed the finishing line I was pleased I’d had a go. Only I knew what internal obstacles I’d had to overcome to actually register and show up on the day. So the fact that I was there, and finished the event, was very satisfying.

The thing that left me somewhat disappointed was how AWFUL I felt nearly the whole race. On the physical side there were the cramps and nausea right from the start, and mentally I was hypervigilant about the other riders around me and fearful that I’d mess up on the technical features. When I finished I only felt relief, and no great desire to repeat the experience. After some time to reflect I became determined not to give in, not to let this beat me, and I had a strong sense that I needed to go back to Chicks in the Sticks this year with a new goal of finding enjoyment in the process of racing.

Getting ready!

Feeling grossly underprepared this year through a lengthy series of “life events” (you can read about it here), I had little confidence in being able to ride long enough, hard enough and well enough. On arrival last Sunday I could feel my stomach churning and my inner voice telling me all the reasons why I couldn’t, shouldn’t, oughtn’t to be doing this.

This year I had a couple of friends doing Chicks in the Sticks with me and as we

Race face caught by surprise!

walked around the event village and chatted, I could feel myself relaxing and finally looking forward to the race. And then we were off! I found the start of the race less congested than last year which helped me settle into a rhythm much quicker. I monitored my heart rate and slowed down whenever I noticed it getting too high. I sipped water at regular intervals. I was aware of myself in my surroundings and had confidence in my ability to pull to the side and let the faster riders go by without having to stop completely and then take off again. I also had confidence in passing slower riders when it seemed safe, and I chatted with other riders and marshals as we passed each other and joked with the photographers as they randomly appeared out of nowhere to capture that ever-so-flattering race face photo! I chose several B lines even though I knew I could ride the A lines. And I didn’t pay out on myself for my choices.

The Killer Hill!

At the 2 hour mark I was ready to finish the race. The legs were burning and the saddle was making its presence felt. But I kept going for the full 3 hours and made a concerted effort to smile and chat even more. I sang to myself as I climbed the hills, and told myself how awesome I am as I floated over the technical features. I could feel myself riding strongly and confidently. I knew I could do it and it felt good to stay relaxed.

On my second last lap I had a quick stop for more water and felt a bit disturbed when another rider had a nasty fall. It could have been me. It could have been any of us. I rode more mindfully after that, knowing that I was getting tired and this is when accidents are more likely to occur. On my last lap I wriggled my right toes which had been feeling numb through the race and then the cramp struck me! Repeatedly! But I kept going and was able to laugh it off without falling off! Hmmm…. I thought ….. maybe I didn’t get my nutrition and hydration quite right! But I didn’t care. I hadn’t felt nauseous at all so I knew I’d done better than last year!

I breezed past the timer as I finished the race, feeling really good. In fact, elated! Wow that was so much fun! I’d ridden way better than I expected, not freaked out about the logs of death, the stairs, the steep gully, the log rollovers or the other riders. I knew I’d ridden smoothly, was aware of my limits, and had adjusted my riding to keep on keeping on. And best of all, I still had a smile on my face. Not a fake smile – it was a genuine smile from my heart. I’d actually had fun in a race! Who would believe it?

It’s all good!

Progress can be measured in so many different ways. Stats can gauge our outcomes over time, but let’s remember that not everything shows up in the numbers. I’ve made a huge mental shift from 12 months ago even though I hadn’t prepared for this event. Yes, I improved my time over the same distance. But I also rode smoother. I could feel it. There was a sense of flow with my improved skill level which contributed to my confidence as well. And the fact that the element of FUN played a major role on the day says it all for me. If I can have fun at this thing called mountain biking, then I’m definitely dealing with those demons that hold me back in life. That’s what I call progress!

 

Against all Odds: Preparing for “Chicks in the Sticks”

Cool winter days with bright blue skies and a gentle breeze remind me that spring will make its arrival soon. There is excitement in the air as the MTB season continues its wave of races and events across the country.

“Chicks in the Sticks” is an all-female event designed to encourage participation in a friendly and festive atmosphere. I BRAVELY participated last year – it was my first ever MTB event and I surprised lots of people around me by actually having a go! I’m pretty much a scaredy cat on my bike and so this was a really big deal for me – I actually voluntarily registered, paid for and participated in an event with nearly a couple of hundred other people riding repeats of a 6.5 km loop for 3 hours. I actually did it! And although I didn’t get bitten by the “race bug”, I also didn’t want it to stop there. I wanted to learn from my experience by having another go this year and hopefully feel more at ease with the whole scenario.

You can read last year’s blog about my intention to overcome some of my fears about mountain bike events Having a Crack at Chicks in the Sticks

And my reflections on the preparation phase of entering an event Be Prepared to Learn Anything

So earlier this year I enthusiastically registered shortly after bookings opened up for Chicks in the Sticks. I had every intention of training even better than last year. However ….. life happened! In fact, a lot of life has happened over the past few months and I find myself now only 5 days away from the actual event with basically no preparation, less riding than normal, and still fighting off influenza. Cough, cough.

My family, work and community life over the past months has resembled a chaotic mix of medical diagnoses, surgeries, recoveries, visitors (these were the good bits!), sickness, more sickness, drought, broken bikes, short days, frosty mornings, unexpected work commitments, additional family commitments and now influenza! You name it, it seems to have happened in my family in the past few months and limited my capacity to train.

As this event has loomed closer and closer, I’ve definitely had those “couldn’t be bothered” and “I’m not good enough” thoughts that only serve to make me feel bad. They don’t change the reality, the things I don’t have control over. Giving in to those thoughts doesn’t change my sense of commitment or my intention.

The world hasn’t had a conspiracy against me giving my best shot at Chicks in the Sticks. At times I’ve believed it! But no, there is more to it than that. I’m not actually the centre of the universe. No body has pressured me to do this. The rules about training and preparation and participation are all my own invisible creations that only fit in the world of my inner thoughts, not in the real world where family, friends and health are the priority.

So I will bravely make my way round as many laps as I can on Sunday. Every pedal stroke will be a testament to living as true to my values as I’ve been able to in recent times – in the same way that my messy house reflects my attention has been directed towards my family members instead of the material side of life.

Against all odds, I’ll be at Chicks in the Sticks this weekend. My support team, including my own inner-compassionate-self, will be there too, reminding me of my intention to foster an element of fun and playfulness as I ride with up to a couple of hundred other chicks! What a blast!

“Be Prepared” to learn anything!

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Be prepared” – a familiar and valuable motto in life that I first came to know through my involvement in the Guiding and Scouting movements as a young person. Little did I know back then that as an adult I would still be learning lessons based on those 2 simple words.

After signing up for my very first mountain bike event recently, I threw myself into Preparation Phase. I knew I had my work cut out for me to get race-ready. I was worried about being incompetent on the course, exhausted before the end of the event, and scared of the technical sections and the race experience in general. But … I was up for the challenge and immersed myself in a process which smoothed the path and built up layers of skill, excitement and confidence.

mtb-kw

My preparation plan was more than a physical training plan. Sure, it included some much needed skills training and practice, enduran ce training, trialling nutrition options, and ensuring plenty of hydration and sleep in the lead up to the event. However, being aware that my mental preparation was also in dire need of attention (note the above references to being worried and scared!), I had a serious examination of my inner voices, then developed a plan to optimise them. I wanted my head to work for me not against me. My experience with mountain biking so far had highlighted just how critical and limiting I can be towards myself and this was definitely not helpful at all. I needed to find a way to deal with that before I could even get myself onto a race course – literally!

So, my mental preparation plan included:

  • Learning to speak to myself in encouraging ways
  • Developing a growth mind set (the modern term for having an attitude of flexibility, openness, readiness to learn, readiness to ask questions as opposed to a closed mindset in which skills are considered innate)
  • Challenging my urge to perfectly accomplish any task I attempt the first time and to implement my skills in persistence instead
  • Setting a race goal for myself that is aligned with my values and conducive to a constructive mindset
  • Getting out of my comfort zone to ask people questions about the event, technical skills training, physical training tips, nutrition, hydration etc etc
  • Reading forums and articles about women’s cycling, women’s MTB events and races, newbie racing, and dealing with race day nerves.

Actually_I_can[1]

I discovered that:

  • I can, in fact, make choices about which inner voices I listen to
  • I have the capacity to persist, practise, learn and improve
  • People enjoy sharing their knowledge and skills with others
  • I can ask questions, be heard and understood
  • Goals don’t have to be outcomes-based – I can choose to focus on the process and experience instead
  • Just about everyone else has a story to tell about being scared, worried and feeling unprepared for racing

funatthestart

So thanks Baden Powell for giving me such a great childhood foundation to build upon as an adult. I’m inspired to reflect how much I’ve learnt from what seems like a simple process of preparing for a race, but in fact goes well beyond that into all areas of my life. Bring on the next challenge! I’m prepared to discover new, exciting and surprising ways in which I can continue to learn and grow in life!

grapeleavesalwaysgrowinglearning