Camp cooking, done right
We love to cook. For us, there is nothing better than settling into a great meal and a few beers after a bike ride. It's part of the complete experience, of getting there by bike, and being in the grand company of nature. Body and mind will thank you. Of course, good food is often an oversight and we've seen plenty of rehydrated-from-a-box meals around the bike-in sites we've visited.
With some simple ingredients, inspiration, and a few simple tips, you'll have memorably delicious eating for the length of your adventure.
1. Eat and Drink Often
Snack, snack, snack! Make it a habit to take in some carb-rich morsels, along with plenty of water, every 30 minutes while you're riding and you'll be able to keep on going. Your body and mind will quit if you don't throw enough easy to use energy at it. It's no fun when you encounter you irritable, "I can't bike much farther" self because you didn't eat or drink enough. You'll also be able to slightly moderate your hulk-like hunger if you fuel well along the ride, leaving you more energy to cook a memorable dinner.
2. Have an Arrival Snack at the Ready
Trust us, you'll never summon the will power to want to cook an awesome fireside dinner if you don't feed the beast when you roll into camp. We alway have an arrival snack (which, nearly always includes a cold 'nuff beer) at the ready while we're setting up camp, so that we actually care about cooking a great meal.
3. Keep your camp kitchen stocked with basic essentials
We've forgotten it all before. Oil. Salt. Pepper. Your Favorite Spices. Pots. Pans. Utensils. A few more things. See our Pedal Inn Kitchen and Pantry Staples for inspiration and a downloadable checklist.
4. Two stoves is are better than one. Use a campfire to grill as often as you can.
Camping cooking is hard because nearly everyone uses one tiny stove (usually a "jet engine" gas type). Some for months at a time, over the course of hundreds of meals! Two (alcohol) stoves makes everything easier by allowing you to multitask. Eat better and faster. It's unconventional (like riding a bike), but it works exceeding well without adding much weight. And stoves aren't expensive (especially if you make your own!). Boiling water for drinks and cooking food at the same time sure is awesome! That said, campfire cooking is king. A lot of our recipes and techniques harness the mesmerizing power of a campfire. Simply wrap your ingredients up in foil ( using an en papillote technique) and you've got a meal in minutes with little or no cleanup.
5. Shop along the way
First thing to keep in mind: biking is not backpacking and there are different considerations. You can more easily cook real food without compromises.
With bike camping, it's usually much easier. You're closer to home, so you can carry more and track down some good local grocery stores along the way to pick up anything unwieldy or forgotten close to camp. We pack and go and track down fresh ingredients along our route. For your convenience we've included grocery store recommendations on our guide to bike camping in the Bay Area.