It has been a regular question on the way the last past four month, and Cedric’s grandma main source of worries (surprisingly), and because food is fairly similar in both NZ and Australia, we’ll make a short post about our bellys’ contents.
Nothing very new for fellow bicycle-touring readers. And definitely a luxury diet compared with the twice-daily raw “Sadza” meals with Olivier in southern Africa… although we are also looking forward to get cheap street meals in SE Asia.
So first, shopping in Australia and NZ is very simple, every town of a few thousand people has a medium size supermarket, and every town with a few hundred people has a small groceries store. The names differ, but we have rarely had to carry more than 2 days of food in our bicycle. Only exceptions were the west coast in NZ – but mostly because we decided to go into a road closed to traffic due to the cyclone, and in the center of the South Island mostly to try to not spend too much in remote but touristy shops (and price surges).
Food being one of our biggest expense (and an important one!) we actually do not really try to save money there. Being stinky or pretty is not going to affect your next day’s ride much, but not enough or the wrong food definitely will!
Our life has been rhythmed by almost daily visits at Countdown, New World (large supermarkets) or Four Square (small ones) in NZ, and Woolworth and Coles (large supermarket), IGA (smaller ones) or Aldi (European products!) in Australia.
Main difference between NZ and Australia? Australia is half the price of NZ for pretty much anything (we thought it would be the exact opposite last year). From meat to vegetables, drinks or basically anything, it’s always a lot cheaper in Australia (which does not mean that Australia is cheap though!). The reason is simple, like for lots of things there is no competition in NZ – most of the shops, no matter their name, are owned by the same group. Prices are fairly similar to western Europe in Australia.
Our “clever” tachometer tells us that we burn on average between 2000 and 3000kCal daily while cycling, added to the standard 2000kCal, it means we need to get 5000kCal daily to not turn into cycling zombies. We effectively never count calories, we just eat whenever we need to!
Our day starts usually around 6:30/7:00am (when the sun warms up the tent) – with the usual milk powder mixed with oatmeal and honey. A pack of ¾ kg of oatmeal lasts 3 days.
We start riding at about 9am, and we usually get between one and two snacks before lunch (mostly depending on our lunch time, and about every 1h30). That’s usually simply a granola bar.
Lunch – we try to have ridden more than half of the day – at best 2/3 of the day as we tend to get less fresh muscles when restarting after the 30min to 1h (and up to 3h) lunch break. Lunch is usually cold, and most of the time a hummus sandwich. Hummus in NZ and Australia has a wider meaning than the middle-east hummus – it’s found in every supermarket and simply means a vegetable-based spread. You can get guacamole hummus, beets hummus, etc. If feeling inventive, the hummus sandwich will get some tomatoes, cucumber, cheese… or vegemite! The lunch is supplemented by nuts, M&Ms or similar, fresh fruits or whatever is quickly reachable in the panniers. We have eaten tons of avocadoes since we are in Australia, we now get 10 avocadoes for 4€ when we could hardly get one in NZ for that price. We have been getting some take-away food times for some lunches – either to get an extra fat burger/fries meal or for some variety in some slightly larger towns (Asian restaurants are very good for that). The afternoon ride is usually difficult the first kilometers (hard cold legs), and hardcore when directly attacking steep hills in Tasmania – and the stomach does not seem to enjoy being full of fries when going uphill, we have tested and failed!
Depending on the difficulty of the day, the outside temperature, the number of kilometers, etc. we sometimes get a magic energy booster called Coca-Cola (or any other brand as usually cheaper and after some blind-tests – undetectable). A 1,5l bottle translates into a sugar/caffeine/water boost of 20km. Perfect to push until the end of the day. To all shinny-lycra-road-cyclists, stop getting your weird supplement with electrolyte-stuff-blablabla and try that instead, it’s amazing! (yes, we are making fun of the very special road-biker human-specie when they pass us – we could write a separate blog post about them).
A lightweight alternative to Coke is to get some powder juice – different flavors and self intensity adjustment. It for sure does not taste like fresh juice (or does not taste like there is any fruit whatsoever in it), but it tastes pretty good after a day riding, and makes us re-hydrate quickly (with sugar in bonus!).
Another good technique to get quickly altogether water, sugar, a snack – and if needed warmth – is to make a hot chocolate! Powder milk, chocolate powder and hot water: it takes 2min to prepare and it’s awesome.
The sunset is at about 5:30pm, which means we try to not cycle after 5pm – and it gets completely dark after 6pm since March. Evening dinner is always warm, no matter what! Cedric almost exclusively cooks dinner, while Cassie prepares the nest. The base of the dinner has to be some type of carbohydrates – we have tried a few different sorts, but the very best is definitely pasta (whatever color or shape, but Italian pasta, the Asian noodles are quickly filling, but Cedric gets hungry 1h later again). Rice is not energetic enough (we haven’t tried cooking fancy fried-rice meals) – it would be fine in the evening, but we feel a lack of energy the next day. Potatoes and sweet potatoes would also work, but it’s just more complicated to buy, carry, clean, cook, etc. The pasta then usually gets a can of soup, stew, dry sauce/soup mix, and usually something grilled: frequently onions, but also zucchinis, eggplants, mushrooms, and for feast days an addition of eggs, or for very special days salmon, lamb, or anything that can cook well enough (i.e. it needs to be thin and can be cooked without having to play much with utensils) with olive oil or coconut oil on a super-hot multifuel stove and a very bad pan! That’s then all mixed together and served in our indestructible metal bowls that look like dog bowls.
Yes, I also have neither shaved in 4 months, nor seen a hairdresser in 7 months… and have not used a comb in decades! I’ll soon start to look like Moises (or Santa for Christmas 2018), and probably start a style trend for the 2020s!
Exemple of the dinner on the 30th of April (today): sweet potatoes, zucchinis and beef stir fried, 400g of pasta for both of us, and a whole package of premix Indian sauce.
We then usually spend the evening reading until 9 or 10pm which is late enough for Cedric to start getting hungry before sleeping again. 9pm is thus usually night-snack time, with either 1/5 of a bar of dark chocolate (it does not melt during the day), or cookies or nuts.
We may eat one of these someday! (We actually tried Kangaroo meat at Scott&Helen’s place near Manly! It’s very lean and tastes pretty good 🙂 )