Paean to the lowly onigiri

Onigiri, or rice balls, have got to be about the ultimate biking food. Compact, cheap and readily available with a variety of fillings, onigiri provide upwards of 170 calories in a prepared meal that you can eat one-handed in a couple of minutes.

Lunch on the road
Lunch on the road

A representative of MLB in Japan told me that when Matsui went to play with the Yankees, a chef was hired to make him nothing but … onigiri. Onigiri after practice, onigiri after the game.

I don’t know about you, but if I had a chef whose only responsibility was to make rice balls, I’d expect some pretty spectacular rice balls.

The first thing to note about rice balls is they’re … um … triangular.

Triangles of nutrition
Triangles of nutrition

One variety lets the white rice stick above the nori seaweed paper: a Fujisan rice ball.

Rice balls typically come wrapped in a special cellophane envelope which keeps the nori crisp until it’s time to eat. Unwrap by following the numbers: 1, 2, 3.

Mentaiko: spiced cod roe
Shake: salmon

It’s true that when I’ve been riding frequently, I can get onigirid out. But considering I burn a rice ball’s worth of calories per hour (or thereabouts) when riding, onigiri are hard to beat.

When I took up riding again more than six years ago after a hiatus of a couple of decades, I would ride five or six hours without eating anything. When I finished I’d eat like a pig, but it was obvious I was abusing myself. I’d get throbbing migraine headaches. Once I took up the habit of tanking up on the go, the problem went away.

And so now I wonder: what will we eat on the road from London to Paris?


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2 responses to “Paean to the lowly onigiri”

  1. Joe Avatar

    Took a walk up a mountain in Hokkaido (about 35 years ago!) to get to like onigiri, and I now I love them.

    It appears that the favoured on-the-go food for cyclists going around the world is … Snickers! We’ll do it on croissants et café! 😉

  2. DJ Avatar

    Croissants et café for the win!

    Plus Snickers. French Snickers.

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