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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Meals On Wheels

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

No matter what kind of touring you do, somewhere in your planning you have to consider what you are going to eat on your trip. If you have a great deal of money to spend, riding from one restaurant to another might be a great option. I unfortunately do not possess such wealth and worse yet I like to eat something hot occasionally. That means I have to be able to prepare meals on my way and be able to at least sometimes heat something up.

Most self-contained touring cyclists I've met carry a single burner backpacker stove. When riding by myself, I did the same. It is limited, but riding solo, I would never recommend carrying something bigger or heavier.

There are three main choices available: White gas, propane/butane and multi-fuel. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. White gas works better in colder weather; propane/butane is easier to set up and use; and multi-fuel stoves are easier to find fuel for in less developed areas of the world.

My little stove used white gas or naphtha as many people here call it. I heated up a lot of cans of stew and chili with that little thing. Some of my meals were even made from scratch. Chopped up potatoes, vegetables and corned beef. With patience I could prepare quite a repertoire, but I don't have a lot of patience while trying to get to a destination. I ended up eating a lot of prepackaged foods.

Then I got married and somehow or other ended up with a whole gang of children. Riding with that small multitude made my poor little stove so inadequate. We did a couple of group tours with it. Making an adequate meal for everyone took too long. We ate meals in instalments. When the vegetables were done, you had to eat them. If you waited till the rest of the meal was ready they ended up cold. The impatient line up for everything from breakfast eggs to multiple cans of stew had us considering other options.

We went to Canadian Tire and bought a lightweight double burner propane stove and a package of lightweight disposable propane cylinders. I got to carry the stove on our next tour but the rest of the kitchen got split up between the rest of our troop of riders. In reality I didn't have to carry more weight than I had before. Frankly I loved our new meal making set up.

Everything was so easy to set up and put to work, we could stop for a quick hot lunch. We could pick up ingredients en route at discount food stores and whip up meals much like we would at home. We ate better more nutritious meals and spent less money. If you travel in a group, I would recommend going the same route as we did with meal preparations. Two backpacker stoves wouldn't have been as good because they would have made a less stable base to cook on.

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