You're on a long training ride 30 miles from home, and you finally reach a rural gas station to stop, fill your bottles and sit in the shade for a few minutes.
You step inside, and despite still having a few gels stored in your jersey pockets, you can't help but feel the urge to eat everything in sight—including the week-old hot dogs on rollers and microwave frozen pizzas.
This story, the eternal struggle of a hungry cyclist, is all too familiar to anyone who's spent a decent amount of time on a bike.
While carrying your nutrition is always a good idea, a gas station convenience store isn't a terrible place to look when the urge for real food hits (a.k.a. snacks that aren't a gel or a chew).
Because of this, we listed a handful of cyclist-friendly snacks that can be found in just about any mini mart or convenience store, no matter if you're in downtown Los Angeles or rural Arkansas.
What are your favorite gas station stacks for a mid-ride pick-me-up? Let us know in the comments, below!
Calling all pescatarians! OK, we're kidding, but Swedish Fish is a common "chew" substitute that many cyclists swear by. They're pretty resistant to heat and sweat in your back pocket since they're covered in wax, they're packed with sugar (23 grams per 12 fish) and they're super tasty even when other options don't sound appetizing.
Continuing our "fish" theme, Goldfish crackers are the perfect solution if you're looking for something crunchy and salty. Each cracker is small, so portion control is easy, and a whole handful fits perfectly in a top tube bag or handlebar bag for convenient snacking while on the move. A recommended serving size is 55 pieces, and you'll get 140 calories—20 grams of carbs, five grams of fat and three grams of protein (and 250 mg of sodium).
This isn't your local farmer's market, so bananas can vary in freshness at gas station mini marts. If you come across one that isn't too green or isn't one step away from being mashed into bread, bananas are a clear winner for cyclists who aren't willing to sabotage their diet. They're loaded with simple sugars (14 grams), have potassium to combat cramping (422 mg) and have three grams of gut-friendly dietary fiber.
You won't be saving the second half of this gas station favorite for your ride home, but Snickers (king size, of course) are a super calorie-rich snack and are great for the cyclist who has hit a wall and needs a serious pick-me-up. They're heavy, and you'll likely feel it sit in your stomach at first, but they're also tasty and the mixture of fats (10 grams), salts (110 mg), protein (4 grams) and sugars (24 grams) will keep you going for that last push home.
We've never blind tested this, but Coke straight from a glass bottle simply tastes better. If you can find it, Coke bottled in Mexico is your best option, as it's made with cane sugar (39 grams) instead of high-fructose corn syrup. This makes it easier for your system to digest, helps boosts energy levels more quickly and won't have you feeling gross for the pedal home. The caffeine in a Coke is also an added benefit many cyclists love.
We know this is a bit of a cop out, but gas station mini marts are surprisingly well stocked with sports drinks from name brands like Gatorade, Powerade and Body Armor. These drinks can be dumped into your water bottles, and since they're refrigerated, they'll be pleasantly refreshing (especially on hot days). An average 591 ml Gatorade has 150 calories, 35 grams of sugar, 250 mg of sodium and 65 mg of potassium.
They're not pretty, but raisins have a high nutritional value and are commonly available at most gas stations. Like we mentioned with Goldfish, they're also easy to eat on the bike and come in convenient small boxes that can be stored in a jersey pocket. A one-ounce box of Sunmade Raisins has 90 calories, 22 grams of carbs (20 grams of sugar) and 212 mg of potassium. If raisins aren't available, other dried fruits like dates or apricots will do the trick, and they're loaded with electrolytes, too.
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