You know that feeling when you’re out in the middle of a strange place, just far enough to get that feeling of being lost – you know in which direction you should go to get back home, but have no idea how far it is. You’ve been riding for some time, the sun is shining warmly on your back, everything is as it should be.
But then you get that sinking feeling in your legs. You can hardly turn the pedals, you start cursing every small bump in the road and the day you bought the bike as well, not to mention the sun for shining so bright and your head for feeling so heavy. You still have 2 hours of riding to get home and there’s not a cafe in sight. You realise you haven’t eaten anything yet. Those scenes from survival shows on National Geographic loom ever closer. Your end could come any minute.
You desperately start searching your back pockets for anything to stuff your face with. There’s something back there. Keys. Phone. Spare tube. Something else. What is it? It’s a miracle! A gift from the gods – an energy bar straight from heaven.
Then you recall your wife saying she was going to make some at home, especially for you to take on your trips. Naturally you forgot and thought nothing of it, preferring the high-end protein bars from the specialist bike shop you were planning to visit to re-stock. But now your wife has saved the day – you sit down at a nice bench in the shade of an old tree and make a mental note to thank her when you get home. You cross your fingers and hope not to forget.
Snacks are a must when I go out riding, especially on longer trips. Your body needs fuel to keep going, just like everything else. Not only that, it’s also a nice excause to stop and rest every once in a while. I’m not a fan of expensive bars with supposed supercharge effects and names like Dragster and BOOOM. I usually take simple fruit-and-youghurt bars or chocolates, never really diverging from the norm to try anything new.
This time, however, I’ve succombed to the trend of making these things at home, so I watched a few Youtube videos, went down to the supermarket and picked up a few things to mix together. My friend Nejc came with me again – he’s improved a lot cyclingwise in the last month. I just hope he won’t get lazy over the winter. He’s also somewhat of a self-styled nutritionist and spared no time giving me advice on what and how I should approach things.
I didn’t follow any strict procedure or recipe. I am also not very good at buying anything marked with the word “Bio”, nor do I spend much time in the kitchen making anything other than sandwitches, scrambled eggs or Nesquik. So in the end I picked up some brown sugar, peanut butter, some kind of rice flakes and a packet of cranberries. I figured we still had some mueslis at home, so I didn’t need anything else. Together with two Kinder Surprises it cost me just over 10€.
Outside I chatted with an older gentleman who was just unlocking what looked like a newish Merida e-bike. Asked him about the range and he said: “oh, about 70-80 kilometers. It’s made for us old folks. Helps you up hills, but you still have to pedal. Weighs about 23 kgs as well.” A lot better than cars, especially in this nice weather, i thought. Wished him a nice ride and turned for home.
There are a lot of different recipes online for such bars, but ultimately you can throw in pretty much anything you want. From oats, sugar, dried fruit, syrups, yoghurt toppings, what have you. I started by warming some sunflower oil in a pot, then added about 200g of brown sugar, a large tablespoon of peanut butter, then 50g of cranberries, 75g of rice flakes, mixed in some syrup, stirred, stirred and stirred, and then added 225g of fruit mueslis. These include everything from oats to dried raisins and other fruits. Stirred some more, then transferred the mix into a baking pot, set the oven to about 180°C and baked for 15 minutes or so.
The thing is to compact everything as much as possible, so it doesn’t break apart after you take it out. I’ve now let it cool down in the fridge and I’ve got my fingers crossed it holds. What remains then is to slice it into smaller chunks and test them on the road. From what I’ve tasted so far, it’s very sweet and perhaps I’ve used a bit too much oil. But for the first time, I think it’s come out quite nicely. I’ll have to report on the outcome and “power-boosting performance” in the following posts, but in the meanwhile, if you’ve been thinking about doing these yourself, I suggest giving it a go. It’s a fun little project and if you pull it off, there will be many happy people wanting to grab a bite.