Day 20: A moveable feast

Day 20: A moveable feast

Two of the biggest questions I get on this tour are how many calories do I burn, and what do I eat to make up for it? The truth is the answer to the former is complicated, and the answer to the latter is probably not something you want to hear. But, here goes nothing.

If learning about my diet isn’t your cup of tea scroll down for a summary of today’s ride.

A plate with two eggs, two slices toast, three strips of bacon, and home fries served diner-style with a cup of black coffee
Second breakfast

Calorie burn estimates are notoriously bad. I use the Garmin Forerunner 235 for my sports, which gives me really good data for my run training. It claims I burn about 5,000 calories per day, just shy of 2,000 resting and the remainder from cycling. Strava claims the cycling burns about 2,000-2,500 per day. A sampling of online calculators puts it somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 for a man my size. None of those account for the ~25 kg of gear I’m hauling. So, I have no clue. When I try to estimate and count calories I come in around 3,000 per day.

Today my best guess is that I consumed about 4,000 calories. And I feel overfull. Second breakfast, a slice of cheesecake, and two cans of beer were all oddities that likely added 2,500 calories and I avoided about 750 calories in typical snacks, plus it was a somewhat shorter day than typical. At the start of the trip I was eating with a running mindset, taking supplements and snacks by the hour, and always felt too full. I’m not racing out here!

As for what I eat, I warned you that you don’t want to know. Today featured:

  • 4 cups coffee (normally I have 2!)
  • 1 packet instant oatmeal
  • Small handful raisins
  • Small handful sliced almonds
  • Two slices rye toast
  • Two eggs
  • Three strips bacon
  • Modest portion hash browns
  • 2 packets peanut butter
  • 2 packets jam
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cappuccino
  • 1 chicken salad sandwich
  • 1 side fries with mayo
  • 1 orange juice (small)
  • 1 slice cheesecake (way too rich for my taste)
  • 1 packet Knorr sidekicks
  • 2 beer

Typically supper is either side kicks or “ramen” (Mr Noodles, Ichiban, etc.) and a can of tuna or chicken.

Tomorrow’s meal plan is:

  • Oatmeal, raisins, almonds
  • Coffee
  • 1 bagel with thick layer of peanut butter and jam
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Sandwich with bread roll, sliced chicken, tomato, 1/2 avocado, cheese
  • Likely a Clif Bar in the afternoon
  • Probably a coffee along the way
  • Mr Noodles
  • Can of tuna
  • Cheese & pepperoni pack from a gas station
  • Handful of trail mix
  • Let’s be honest I’ll buy an unhealthy snack somewhere

I’m always looking for ideas for evening meals that can be obtained anywhere in rural Canada and cooked in a 750 mL pot with minimal effort and no more than 10 minutes of run time on the stove. Use the comments below to share ideas! Currently my pack has about 3x more food than I would like, though it could be two days before I see a real grocery store again so I stocked up on bread and meat. Shopping at a grocery store allows me to buy two bread rolls at a time instead of a giant bag.

In summary, it takes a lot of food to ride a bike, I try to be reasonably nutritious but don’t always succeed, and eating when you feel hungry is the best strategy.

The ride

Now that you know what I eat and why dieticians probably won’t use me as a poster boy for healthy travelling, it’s a great time to talk about today’s rather uneventful ride. I left the campsite at about 7:45, which was ok, and headed up the road. The road has hills once again. A long straight road with a hill and trees on either side


Immediately I felt hungry, and knew I needed a bread roll to smear peanut butter on. Soon I arrived at a pair of gas stations, neither of which had bread rolls but one of which had a diner. Diner breakfast it was. Between two eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, peanut butter, and jam I knew I was ready to hit the road. My next stop, after about 50 km, was Falcon Lake, where I stopped for a coffee and some groceries. At this point my breaks were too long, and with the slightly late start I wondered if I would make it to Vermillion Bay. Sixteen kilometres past Falcon Lake is the Ontario / Manitoba, but not the eastern / central time zone border. That will come closer to Thunder Bay. Considering Thunder Bay feels left out of Ontario’s political scene I can’t imagine what the folks an hour behind them think.

Next, I pushed for Kenora, another 50 kilometres. There, I decided my best option was Tim Horton’s, and had a sandwich for lunch. I was wrong. Kenora has a real downtown after the one I stopped in, so I dipped in to a decent-looking cafe and after salivating over the menu of paninis I had a coffee and cheesecake. At this point it was 3 pm, and Vermillion Bay was at least four hours away. I had been contending with a headwind on the way in to Kenora and decided to pull the plug. I went to two full-size grocery stores and finally found my beloved bread rolls, but forgot my small cans of tuna. My campsite was 20 kilometres out of town, but it was nearly 30 degrees and I passed a brew pub and decided the patio needed an extra body on it. Finally, I rolled in to the last campsite before Vermillion Bay, a decently-quiet spot sheltered among the trees where I sat down for supper and some introspection.

A glass of beer on a picnic table
Not coffee

The last few days have been tough mentally, not hitting my target distance for three of four days. I wondered a lot today if I should have taken a day off in Winnipeg. With two short days after leaving the city it’s unlikely I will make it to Ottawa for the Canada Day fireworks. Physically I feel great, but the hot afternoon sun and the desire to have a relaxing supper trump the desire to crank an extra 50 kilometres. Tomorrow I need to crack the whip. The only camping options are Vermillion Bay (80 km), Ignace (230 km), or the side of the road. My plan is to get up early and hope the wind is in my favour. With my snacks packed there should be no long lunch or snack breaks to order food. Ignace is the goal. Let’s see what happens.

Today’s lesson: sometimes plans fall apart but beer is always there for you.

Today’s distance: 136.3 km

Cumulative distance: 2,733.5 km

Today’s climb: 585 m

A map showing today’s route
Today’s route

2 thoughts on “Day 20: A moveable feast

  1. I love reading what you eat! Because I think I’d be tempted to convince myself I needed more than that!

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