Most mountain bike food discussions center around nutrition and trail snacks like Clif Bars, Gu, and Power Shots but honestly – most of us only eat that junk because we need quick, portable energy on the trail. My preferences in the trail snack department generally come down to whatever flavor of Clif Bar I’m not sick of or which Gu I can get down without gagging. But there’s a much tastier type of MTB food I’d like to discuss today: the after ride feast.
We’ve been collecting travel tips from our readers for the past year or two and one of the things we ask mountain bikers is: Where’s the best place to eat near your local trails? According to our (very unscientific) data it appears burgers are by far the #1 after-mountain biking food of choice (unless you count beer – read our MTB beer recommendations). Mudhunny is a big fan of the post-ride burger and she claims eating a burger within 1 hour of riding is great for building muscle due to the high protein content. Whatever – I just love how they taste after a hard ride, especially when they’re piled high with cheese and bacon 😉 The great thing about an after-ride burger tradition is that no matter how far out you are you can probably find a restaurant that serves hamburgers. Or you can bring a grill and cooler and make your own at the trailhead!
Pizza is next up on the list of recommended after-ride eats and, like burgers, you can usually find a pizza joint in even the smallest towns. Pizza can be lighter on the protein side but there’s really no limit to how many slices you can eat after an epic mountain bike ride. If you have some cold pizza left over from the night before, why not stick a slice or two in a zip lock bag and put it in your jersey pocket for an in-ride snack? Sure beats a Clif Bar.
Personally I’m a big fan of combining mountain biking with some good old fashioned BBQ. For some reason BBQ seems to be the official food of the mountains and I’ve found great ‘cue everywhere from the Blue Ridge to the Rockies. A few MTB/BBQ pairings I recommend:
- Arrowhead Park in Macon, GA with JL’s Open Pit BBQ
- Captain Jack’s in Colorado Springs, CO with Front Range BBQ
- Little River in Durham, NC with Hog Heaven
- Bear Creek in Ellijay, GA with Poole’s BBQ
Finally, I gotta give a shout to an up-and-comer in the MTB food world: burritos. The great thing about burritos is they work well for a before- OR after-ride meal. Mudhunny always eats a big burrito before running a marathon and the combination of carbs in the rice and protein in the meat and beans seems to be the perfect fuel for endurance. We’re both HUGE fans of Chipotle and if you’re riding near the front range of Colorado there’s a good chance you can find a Chipotle nearby. It’s no coincidence that Chipotle sponsors a pro cycling team – burritos are a seriously good way to fuel up before or after a bike ride!
To outsiders this list of MTB foods might seem a bit unhealthy or even fattening. Fortunately for us, mountain biking burns calories, improves cadiovascular fitness, and gives most of us a license to eat pretty much whatever we want. So go ahead – eat that triple cheeseburger or 2 pound burrito after your ride – you earned it!