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Monday
Apr122010

Unzip a Banana 

Unzip a Banana was a catch phrase for a British TV ad campaign in the 1960s. To this day I cannot peel a banana without thinking, “Unzip a Banana.”

For cyclists a banana has to be one of the most convenient foods you can carry on a ride. It is the perfect size and shape to fit in your jersey back pocket, and comes with its own bio-degradable wrapper. (Its skin.)

An important source of Potassium, the banana is one of the healthiest fruits. Vitamins and minerals are abundant, offering vitamin A, a full range of B vitamins are present with Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin B6, and of Folic Acid.

There is even vitamin C, with minerals Calcium, Magnesium, with trace amounts of iron and zinc.

About a 100 calories for a small banana to 140 for a large nine inch one, with 36 grams of carbs, it is a good source of energy to take on a ride.

Last Saturday I went on a long ride, 76 miles to be exact. I knew I would need to carry fuel for the trip; my choice was a double-decker sandwich. Three slices of whole grain bread; one layer of butter and cheese, the top layer a sliced banana.

A whapping 600 calories, enough to get me home from the halfway point. I used cheese because it is what was available at the time; I could have substituted jam or peanut butter.

I cut the sandwich in half, and tightly wrapped the two pieces separately in cling-film so they wouldn’t crumble and fall apart in my pocket. Then I placed both halves in a zip-lock bag.

The sweetness and moistness of the banana made the whole thing very easy to eat. It was cheaper than Energy Bars, and packed a lot more fuel. (Calories.) I find some energy bars are either dry and tough to get down, or tend to melt and get sticky.

I always try to keep bananas on hand, but try not to buy too many at once as they tend to ripen and quickly go soft. If they a over ripe they just end up a mushy mess in your pocket when carried individually, and if this is the case then the best way to carry them is in a sandwich as I have just described.

Another little tip; when you peel a banana, start fom the stem end. You will find you get less of those stringy bits that hang from the side of the fruit.

There is a lot more info on the banana on this website. What is your favorite food to carry on a long ride?

 

                     

Reader Comments (15)

Once I took bananas. But they are bulky (filled with a lot of water as well as the other stuff) and heavy. And once a couple got all squashed up in the back of the jersey. These days I go far a SoyJoy bar. Not so dry. Tasty. Two an hour really gives me the energy on an extended ride.

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersabinna

Love that picture of the banana zippers!

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Most rides I take a couple of Clif shots and a Clif Bar. Long long rides I supplement with PBJ and Cytomax in one bottle. H2o in the other. Its rare for me to eat anything though unless the ride goes into the 2 hour range, or I'm fighting headwinds throughout.

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Good advice Dave, I love bananas too. But I disagree about not buying too many at a time, I buy big bunches of them. When they get fully ripe, put them in the freezer. Once you have a good supply of frozen bananas, you can make chocolate chip banana bread which many cyclists consider to be superior even to pie.

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermercator

Bananas for sure, used to do 100 mile time trials on 2 bananas and half a malt loaf and butter! The issue was opening the banana whilst keeping pressure on the pedals but occasionally, if opened in advance, putting the hand in the rear pocket resulted in a handful of mush! Great days

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Wood

Back in the day, before "power bars", I'd carry a banana for fuel as well. Now I prefer to just eat 'em home.

Clif Bars have become my favorite food to carry while riding. The 'Cool Mint Chocolate' flavor rocks, I could live on those. Plus they're easy to carry, made from decent stuff, and taste like real food - well, compared to other bars anyway.

On top of that, cool company as well. I still remember the first Clif bar I ever tasted - donated to our mountain bike trail work party years ago. Clif Bar supports lots of cycling related activities.

I sound like a Clif Bar ad - cool company though. The real deal.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

No doubt that bananas are one of my favorites for energizing my ride, but I have others as well. To beat the bonk on longer trips, I make "Newt Nectar" and instead of the traditional peanut- and raisin-based GORP I mix up a custom blend of dried fruits and nuts/legumes. But the absolute best bonk busters in my arsenal are "Hundred Mile Bars." These are homemade oatmeal bars which are far superior to commercial energy bars, and best of all, they're easy to make and store in the freezer.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTamia Nelson

Tamia,
Thanks for the links to the recipes, those are great. Back in the 1950s there were no "Energy Bars" and my mother would bake me a Bread Pudding made with left over stale bread. (I don't have the recipe.) Or she would bake a rice pudding with raisins added, which I would cut into squares and wrap in grease proof paper.
Dave

April 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Glad you like those recipes, Dave. Ah, bread pudding and rice pudding. Never tried either on a ride, but sounds good. Coincidentally, I just saw an episode of "Pie in the Sky" called "The Mild Bunch," where a bread pudding recipe plays a central role. Strained marmalade spread on bread (which has already been spread with butter) and vanilla sugar were the key ingredients which apparently set this pudding apart. Sounds so good I should give it a try.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTamia Nelson

I like to carry burritos. Usually made with quinoa or rice, cheese, salsa, and some sort of meat. I usually ride with a couple panniers so an msr whisperlite camp stove is usually in there for making hot sandwiches or coffee. When riding in winter there are few things better than a fresh cuppa. I'm allergic to bananas so for rides with lighter gear I carry a black russian rye bread (not the wheat/rye mix), cheese, and some seville orange marmalade.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBujiatang

Back in ancient times I would make a thing called Logan Bread. I found the recipe in The New York Times Natural Food Cookbook. Mind this was the '70s. That stuff was like rocket fuel. It was really very much like a Cliff bar. These days I inhale the bananas at rest stops on big rides but carry a Cliff (I like the Cool Mint too) and maybe a couple of Gu (orange or vanilla) for emergencies. The caffeine zot is like having an angry dog in a packet. Carrot juice is really good fuel too.
-Rob

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRedtaildd

Tamia,
Traditionally there are two types of bread pudding from the UK. The one you are describing is a “Bread and Butter” pudding, where slices of bread are spread with butter, (Jam or marmalade is optional.) then layered in a shallow dish with sugar and raisins between. The dish is then filled with milk and egg custard and baked in an oven.
This was always a cheap and easy, very filling dessert enjoyed by the working classes, but not suitable for carrying while cycling as you would have to eat it from a dish with a spoon.
The other Bread Pudding I mentioned before I believe was similar to your recipe but using crumbled bread instead of the oatmeal.
Dave

April 14, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Thanks for the blog Dave! I've read every one!

Now it's time to contribute. I love Logan bread, especially for hiking/backpacking, so here's the recipe in case anyone is interested. Note, it's meant to have the highest possible calorie content, so it's not exactly diet-friendly!

Logan Bread Recipe

3 cups flour (any mixture of whole wheat and rye)
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 sorghum syrup or maple syrup
(any combination of these four sweeteners totaling one cup works fine)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts or pecans
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots, peaches, etc.)
6 eggs
M &M's or chocolate chips

Beat all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pat down into two greased 5x9 loaf pans. Bake at 275 degrees F for two hours or until a tester comes out clean. The bread will be very heavy and dense. Each loaf weighs 24 ounces.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCranapple

PBJ all the way.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPLS

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