Culinary Cycling: Tips for Packing the Best Bike Picnic

Tips from The Kitchn

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Food and bikes: is there any better combination? Maybe it's because they both represent slow living, but for me food and bicycles go hand in hand. There's nothing better than riding to the Saturday morning market and filling up your basket or backpack with fresh produce. And on a long ride, what better moment than the one when you find a good vista and take out a well-deserved snack?

Yes, pairing bicycles and food was meant to be.

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I love food and bikes so much that I wrote a whole book about it (called The Culinary Cyclist in case you're interested). This time of year, when it comes to food and bikes, I am all about the picnic.

Some say picnicking is a high summer affair. I tend to disagree. As long as it's not raining you can picnic, you just may need an extra sweater and thermos of something warm to drink. In fact, late summer and early fall are my favorite times to picnic, a way to hold onto those last days of warm weather.

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Picnic Food Tips

1. Pick sturdy foods. The key to a good bike picnic is bringing packable foods that can survive a bumpy journey. For example, fragile lemon tarts aren't quite as bike-friendly as a dense chocolate cake.

2. Go with variety. As with any outdoor eating menu, I think smaller is better, and having an assortment of small dishes makes the food easier to pack as well as more entertaining to eat.

3. Think versatility. An assortment of good cheese and a loaf of bread will always go far. Throw in some fresh basil and an avocado and you've got yourself the fixings for a lovely picnic sandwich. I also love bring along easy-to-pack things like olive tapenade, as it works well as a spread or as a dip for vegetables.

4. Protect fragile purchases. For picnics that are based off of market foods - think a bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables - just be sure to take a few reusable containers with you to the market. That way, your purchases are easily transportable and won't get crushed and bruised during your journey.

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Don't Forget Drinks

You can't have a good picnic without something fun to drink now can you? Beer and wine are easy, just make sure you have an opener with you. If you're in the mood for cocktails, the easiest is to prepare a mixer at home, which you can bring along in a bottle and finish making your drinks on site.

For colder weather rides and meals, invest in a good thermos. That way, you can fill it with whatever you like: coffee, hot chocolate, or maybe even apple cider with a little bourbon?

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Essential Bike Picnic Tools

The first essential thing to remember about a picnic à vélo is that you want to be packing things that are unbreakable. That means investing in good utensils and dishes that are lightweight and reusable but won't get crushed when you pack them.

My personal cycle picnic pack includes:

  • Swiss Army knife
  • reusable cups
  • reusable silverware
  • something to eat out of
  • tea towel for use as a small tablecloth
  • lightweight wooden cheeseboard, perfect for serving and cutting on
  • if room allows, a blanket or sheet is always a worthwhile item to bring along

Bicycle picnics are the perfect blend of exercise, fresh air, relaxation, and simple but good food. These tips will make planning and packing for your next picnic ride a snap!

Do you have any tips for picnic packing for a bike trip?

(Image credits: Dennis Albert Richardson/Shutterstock; Anna Brones)

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