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Fuel Up And Ride The Hauraki Rail Trail

Riding together as a family is a great way to get children active, and away from devices and screen time.  It’s a social sport they will enjoy throughout their life, and encourages quality family time in the great outdoors.

When we exercise, the food we put into our bodies needs to support the activity.  Without fuelling up properly, we might notice we have less endurance, and feel tired or perhaps even a little bit dizzy.

Depending on the length and route of your ride, it’s important to fuel up the kids (and the big kids) properly.  Some types of food give our muscles an immediate boost of energy, other kinds are stored for use when our body really needs them.

On average we’ll burn 450 - 750 calories per hour while cycling.  So it’s crucial to have energy from the right foods.  Place time and resources on daily nutrition, as improving health and performance lies in what goes into our body from day to day. 


We’ve put together a few quick and easy nutrition tips to keep the whole family happy in the saddle.


Aim for a Balanced Diet

Establish a balanced diet off the bike with a mix of fruit, vegetables, dairy, meats or other protein and whole grains.  Keep processed foods to a minimum to set them up with healthy food habits for life.  Proper nutrition also helps to prevent injury.  When you’re eating the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, you’re less likely to develop fatigue-induced problems.


Hydration is key

Drinking before, during and after cycling is the best way to stay hydrated.  Stop and encourage kids to sip regularly, rather than waiting until they’re thirsty.  Sports drinks are an option during a hard or long ride, but they are high in sugar and could damage young teeth.


Positive Focus

Focus on fitness or skills, and how food can provide energy, or help with recovery.  Calcium builds strong bones, so it’s important for kids to eat calcium-rich foods every day.  You’ll find calcium in dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, dark green leafy vegetables, and almonds.


Avoid a full tummy

If you need to eat a meal before a ride, ideally have it two to four hours before you start.  A full stomach means your body needs to spend energy digesting food, leaving less for the pedals.  Include carbohydrates for energy, and avoid fat and fibre which slow digestion.


Eat frequently

Sports nutrition research suggests eating something 1-2 hours before you hop on your bike.  Then every 20-30 minutes on the bike if you ride longer than one hour.  Eat again within 30-60 minutes when you finish your ride.  Never wait until you’re hungry, as that’s considered too late.


Snacks to pack

Getting kids involved preparing snacks for the bike encourages them to try new foods and feel part of the process.  You could try making fruit and nut balls or muesli bars together that are specifically for your weekend adventures.  Alternatively bananas, trail mix, or a small sandwich are ideal.


Now you’re ready to head out on the Trail with a backpack full of nutritious fuel.  The 197km trail is Grade One (Easiest), and suitable for all fitness levels and cycling abilities.  Although the Trail can be enjoyed as manageable day sections, the trail lends itself to multi-day adventures.

Plan, Prepare & Pack the right gear.  It can make the difference between a fun day out on the trails and a long walk back to the car.  Regardless of the ride length, there are a handful of essentials that should come with you every time you hop on your bike. 

If you want to focus on riding with someone else taking care of the logistics, a guided cycle tour might be for you.  Supported tours have the advantage of providing planning, support, transport, and local knowledge of the Trail and region. 

The Hauraki Rail Trail showcases the best of New Zealand’s landscape, environment, culture and heritage.  No matter how fast or far you want to ride, if you’re ready for an adventure there’s a great option for every rider.


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