During century and metric century rides, I usually fall on the side of being pleasantly surprised if food is extra tasty or special in any way e.g. I LOVE savory items at rest stops (I max out on too much sugar). I also love when they have watermelon, lots of fruit, pretzels, peanut butter sandwich (no jelly).
When I'm riding unsupported, I'll research a rest stop with a restaurant. What I've learned is that I don't want to load up on heavy items after a ride because I don't want to undo what I did riding. Calorie burn and calorie intake are not equal and I found out the hard way. I no longer consider "earned treats" an excuse to indulge. I'm sure not everyone has experienced this - some people can eat as much and whatever they like. I am no longer in that category so I carefully watch what I eat no matter how little or how much I ride. I'm on a bike nearly every day and consider it my exercise for the day.
A concern came up about post-ride food offerings. I consider those a bonus but to be honest, I don't usually want what they are serving (loads of pasta, high fat foods, lack of fresh veggies, etc.). I tend to scope out a restaurant nearby so I can have a proper meal and won't be bothered if all they have are pork sandwiches. I have realized some organizers LOVE pork sandwiches so much they don't necessarily realize not all of us eat pork and there are a fair amount of vegetarians out there too.
The best finish I've had is when there's ice cream at the end on a hot day and it's just enough to keep me from being hangry before I get to the restaurant. ;-)
So what are your thoughts? Experiences? Food restrictions?
My first North Shore Century (and first actual century) took place on a cool, drizzly day. They had marvelous potato soup at the halfway stop in Kenosha. Best rest-stop food ever and incredibly thoughtful.
I prefer self supported rides and bringing snacky bars, fruit (oranges/apples), and then stopping and eating big meals at restaurants. I'm an introvert and like riding on my own or with one or two friends, the more people and the more organized a ride is, the less of a sense of freedom and adventure I feel (although don't get me wrong, I do get enjoyment out of the organized rides too). I also like going on my own schedule and feeling like I can take my time and eat the big meals I want to eat (I'm a big eater). Just my two cents.
I guess it depends on what kind of ride it is. After a century+ kind of ride, I'd hope there'd be post-ride food because you can barely keep up your calorie intake during that distance. I wouldn't 100% rely on it if I have dietary restrictions, but for immediate replenishment, I'd be very unhappy if there was nothing...