Friday Group Ride #135

I’m not sure when it finally happened, but sometime in the last 18 months, maybe less, I ate my last PowerBar. It wasn’t a conscious decision; I just stopped buying them and at some point ate the last of my stock. Gradually, over several trips to the store, I realized that I just couldn’t stomach the idea of eating another ounce of the textural equivalent to edible Play-Doh.

The only significant detail in this anecdote is that I seem to have lasted longer than most. A few weeks ago I asked around just to see who among my friends were still eating PowerBars and I couldn’t find a single devotee. Everyone I spoke to said it was a product that was part of their past, kinda like 8-speed drivetrains.

I have to admit, I spent the better part of 10 years with my head more or less down to new nutrition products. Most of what I ate and drank was confined to Clif Bars, the aforementioned PowerBars and Gatorade. The reasons were simple: All three products were/are readily available, are reasonably inexpensive as energy foods go and, not insignificantly, due to my familiarity with them, they were pretty easy to digest. This season that changed. Part of the change was a search for new options as my local Trader Joe’s carried fewer and fewer varieties of Clif Bar, and part of the change was the fact that any number of nutrition companies embraced RKP as never before, and sent me samples of products I’d never tried, some I’d never even thought to try.

The exception to this was the gradual trickle into my diet that gels made. Four or five years ago I noticed that during ultra-intense rides/events and at altitude I was having trouble digesting bars, particularly Clif Bars, so I began purchasing gels more frequently.

The upshot is that I’ve learned two things: 1) I’ve heard from a number of friends that as they have aged, their stomachs are a bit pickier about what they can eat during a really hard ride. 2) Whether you want to stick with rapidly digestible gels and chews or want something that has the taste and texture of actual food, the bike world is full of options now. The incredible diversity of options—and but a few are shown above—is a striking departure from where things were just over 20 years ago when your choices were either chocolate or malt-nut PowerBars.

I use those boxes to hold other bars and gels now. And yes, I bore easily; I need a lot of different flavors to choose from.

The folks at Honey Stinger would love it for me to review their products. I’m not sure there’s much to actually review. I love their chews, especially the Lime flavor and while I like their waffles, they don’t travel well. For me the real point to the post is to note that we have so many more options available to us. Dude, I can remember walking into convenience stores and choosing between Pop Tarts and Little Debbie snack cakes. We’ve come a long way.

Further to my reluctance to engage in a review of products, there’s a lot of competing formulations out there. I’m not well-enough-versed in the science to make any determination about whose blend works best. I can say that when it comes to gels, the two that provide the best kick for me are Gu Roctane and Accelerade. My favorite chews are Clif’s Shot Bloks, but that has a bit to do with the packaging; they are simply easier to remove from the wrapper as I ride.

What’s most significant for me within the energy food market are lightning rods behind Clif and Gu, Gary Erickson and Brian Vaughn, respectively. To the degree that there’s a real story to chase in the future, it would be going for a ride with these guys. An interesting aside, both companies are based in the original earthy-crunchy Mecca—the Bay Area. Erickson of Clif has chased an ever more natural, more organic approach, while still offering cutting-edge calorie uptake options like the Clif Shots and Shot Bloks. Vaughn has chased a slightly different direction, pursuing what strikes me as an ultimate human performance approach. Nothing seems to make this guy happier than seeing someone like sponsored athlete Rebecca Rusch break a record at Leadville.

There’s something about True Believers, capital T, capital B, that I really dig. I don’t doubt that PowerBar employs folks who swear by their product, but Erickson and Vaughn seem to epitomize the very athletic lifestyle their products cater to. Objective correlative: Last year at the Sea Otter Classic gran fondo I rode much of the day with Erickson. I noticed three tubes of Shot Bloks protruding from his left pocket. The tops of the plastic on all three tubes had been cleanly snipped away with scissors—ready to go.

So this week’s question is a simple one: what are you eating on the bike these days? We’ll even take it a bit further: Have you sworn off any particular energy foods? And, is there anything that makes you think twice before experimenting?

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  1. Tobin H

    My sweetie makes me bars with an oat/granola bottom, a thick layer of dark chocolate, and a variety of fruits and nuts on top. I call them Bonk-Busters, because no matter how you’re feeling before hand, one of those will have you pedaling through the second half of that double with a smile.

  2. Eric

    I was never able to tolerate PowerBars and, while gels certainly work and are easy to digest (Hammer has been my favourite since it isn’t as sickeningly sweet as some of the others), I tend to prefer either solid food or straight liquids on a ride. I really like Larabar as their products are made of simple, natural ingredients, and they are easy to eat on the bike, but these days I make my own (some dried tart cherries, some dates and raw almonds is all it takes).

  3. MikeG

    I have not been riding as many miles lately, so it has been less of an issue for me recently, but these days I typically drink Skratch, and carry a Clif Bar or two. Our local grocery store carries lots of flavors so I can easily mix things up. If I am planning a longer, intense ride, I will mix up one bottle of Hammer Perpeteum so I can get some calories down quicker. However, the Perpeteum does not travel/taste good for long in the summer heat here in Phoenix, AZ!

  4. michael

    Honey Stinger chews work best for me when the going gets tough.

    Skratch Labs energy drink is the first and only that doesn’t make me puke, regardless of ride type, duration or intensity.

    Everything and anything home-made rice-cake for long, slow rides.

    oh and a little bit of homemade mexican food for post-ride 😉

  5. Billy

    I’ve been a fan of NUUN for the last 4 years. Generally the perfect amount of flavor, presumably contains stuff my body needs, comes in easy-to-use tablet form, and sugar free because I’m a messy drinker and it doesn’t get my bike or me all sticky.
    Because I put out a lot of salt, I love the margarita flavored Shot Bloks. Easy to eat, as with all the Bloks.
    As for gels, I’ve migrated towards Power Gels lately because they are more runny and easier for me to get down without draining half a bottle of water. I’m thinking of making my own gels with honey and agave syrup, though.
    I do a mix of bars: Luna, Clif, Pro Bar, and home made. Thinking I’ll do more of the latter.

  6. Mark S

    I have done a couple of things:
    before – I have tried to eat better, keeping an eye on balance and hydration.
    during – I have also moved away from Powerbars and gone to GU(espresso love) and Sport Beans (which you did not mention). I have never liked Cliff bards – to granolaly, although I don’t mind their gels(Mocha). One thing a friend got me on as well is to was to keep up my salt intake on hotter rides.
    after – I have been trying to eat a good recovery meal in the post-20 minute window.

  7. dvgmacdonald

    I eat a lot of Honey Stinger Waffles. I just like something that looks & tastes like real food when I’m out there. If I had time to ride more than I do, I’d probably go back to making my own bars. It was affordable, and they tasted better than most of the pre-packaged stuff. In a pinch, I’ll go for a clif bar, but I’m never that crazy about them.

  8. michael ghitelman

    I’m with you on the Power Bars. They remind of something from my childhood called Turkish Taffee. Not turkish nor taffee, it came in strange colors and was hard as a rock to chew. They were the dentists’ best friend.
    I have been eating ProBar Fruition Bars; low in fat and they seem to provide a shot of sugar without lingering in my mouth or stomach.
    Best of all are Energy Oatsnacks which are a satisfying meal at the 30-40 mile break. Problem is they are only available in Germany (Europe?) and the guy will not ship them to the USA (we’ve called him on the phone, no luck).
    If you’re in Europe give them a try.

  9. Ransom

    I’ve been digging Dr. Will bars, which are pretty heavily nut-and-seed biased and about the tastiest bars I’ve tried. I still kinda miss Powerbars in a funny way, but for a long time now I’ve only enjoyed them when I Really Needed them (also, besides the malt-nut, I was a big fan of the berry, which I haven’t seen for a long time).

    I also eat the clif Mojo bars. Both those and the Dr. Will bars we keep around for general emergency food besides bringing them on rides.

    I should try gels, maybe. They just sound unappealing…

  10. Bikelink

    Recently switched to Scratch for fluids (Heed-> Cytomax (easier to drink but sweet)-> Scratch (less sweet = good, more salt for possible benefit).

    GU packets vs. flasks of Hammer gel (latter less viscous and easier to suck out of flasks).

    Cliff Bars cut into thirds for long winter rides (mtn or road).

    Moved away from solid food (pb&j sandwiches, cliff bars when riding hard, more towards gel (easy to eat/digest during LT level efforts).

  11. Les Borean

    I use a product not intended for athletics or cycling, but it works well for me. That is:


    Happened to see them at Costco, and thought, “Hmmmm….” These are PB&J enclosed in a pita-like thingie made of plain white bread, about 3.5″ in diameter, completely sealed so I don’t end up with PB&J on the handlebars, and each is in an individual plastic wrapper. Also sold at Ralphs.

    Designed as a quick snack for kids who hate bread crust, and with parents who don’t give a hoot about what kind of junk they stuff their kids with. It’s quintessential junk food fer-sherr, but great for a ride: Easy to digest fluffy white bread; that, plus sugar for carb intake, PB for some protein and potassium. Only drawback is that they are larger than something like Accel Gels, which I also use.

  12. A Stray Velo

    Clif Bars + Scratch Drink Mix

    Clif Bars have a lot of protein which can make them a bit hard to digest but I found that if I just eat the bar in 4 smaller pieces over an hour then I have no issues with them. I like Clif a lot as a company as well and I think they have a good handle on what they are doing.

    Scratch Drink Mix is by far one of the best products to come to the market in recent years. This stuff really works. Allen Lim knows a lot about nutrition, plus he’s a pretty cool guy so again another company I like to support.

    The combination of the two has really been a game changer for me this year as I’ve focused more on nutrition and training versus buying the newest, latest and greatest parts for my bike.

  13. Jeff B

    Good lord, Padraig, that’s an incredible amount of sugar!

    Also, I couldn’t stomach PowerBars in the 90s and heard they changed recipes, but I never gave them the benefit of the doubt.

    I quite enjoy Bonk Breakers.

    Lastly, I love Gary and Clif and all they stand for. I believe them when they say they’re a company built on ethics. I just wish the product they make for people to use while exercising would stop being thought of as a snack.

  14. Justin

    +1 for Skratch Labs. Their Exercise Drink mix is amazing, and the pineapple flavor is divine. They also have an everyday hydration mix intended to replace sodas. It’s a bit salty, but not bad.

    The ClifBar Gary’s Panforte flavor is something to behold. So good. But, I prefer to make my own ricecakes (thanks Allen Lim, AGAIN) or energy bars.

    For chewies, I go with Honey Stinger (the pink lemonade flavor is great) or ClifBar (the package is better). For gooeys I go with Clif or Gu.

    It is great there are so many more choices and the science of hydration and nutrition is so much more advanced now.

  15. Boy_Howdy

    Start the day with a Cliff bar and a glass of First Endurance Ultragen recovery drink. Yeah, it’s a recovery drink and I drink it before the ride but a) it has both protein and some salts and b) it comes in cappuccino flavor which is nice in the morning.

    On the road it’s Jelly Belly Sport Beans and Honey Stingers. Gu if needed for longer rides, and additional Cliffs bar for epic ones. Nuun in the bottles because I leach salt like you wouldn’t believe.

    If I have a long drive back from the start of the ride, a bag of Cliff Shot Roks for some post-ride protein.

  16. Vince

    For training rides I eat real food if at all possible

    Boiled potatoes with olive oil, salt & parmesan

    Rice cakes with chicken apple sausage, egg, brown sugar and soy sauce

    Croissant with cream cheese, ham and jam

    Croissant with speculoos and banana

    I’ll keep a gel in my pocket for emergencies.

  17. M Hottie

    I have been making my own bars for about a year. Puffed rice cereal, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, honey, wheat germ and brown sugar. easy to remember ingredients. easier than remmebering what’s in any commercial energy bar.

  18. peter lin

    For the last 2 months I’ve been experimenting with Clif Shot gel Mocha flavor. Compared to the other Gel’s, clif shot is acceptable. I don’t like sugary foods, so most of the other gels I’ve tried tasted much too sweet. The mocha tastes like a cup of mocha, so that seems to go down easily. In terms of actual performance, I’ve noticed I eat more regularly on rides and have increased my mph average. It’s so much easier to digest while riding, since my bike handling is horrible. The only downside is the packaging of clif shot gels could be improved. The edges of the packaging can scratch the inside of your mouth if you’re careless or fighting to hold the wheel of the guy in front, praying you can wheel suck a little more and maybe recover a little bit.

    for more casual rides, clif bar white chocolate and toffee are my favorite. powerbars never agreed with me.

  19. Harris

    Eric/Billy: I also digProbars and Larabar types; I go for a Probar Superfood Slam bar (about 400 cal) on a longer ride and break it in pieces along the way.

    And Nuuns. Love the Nuuns.

  20. A-Trav

    Real food/home-made bars, rule over all the synthetic crap. And save your 5Hour bottles to put a couple of double shots of espresso in, if you need the ‘feen. Ultimate all-day ride bonk-breaker: Blend a banana, couple spoons of peanut butter and chocolate syrup. I put this in one of those plastic food tubes used for camping. Never found anything that worked better near the end of a long day.

  21. Michael

    Dates when we have them around the house. They are compact, easy carry, easy to chew. Plus you get to see how far you can spit the pits. Other than those, Gu and Gu Chomps, and then the old stand-by Clif bars, mostly I suppose because they are so easy to get, you can pick them up just about anywhere. Some of the others, like Honey Stinger and Jelly Belly Sport Beans, taste good but are not as readily available, so I don’t have them around as often.

  22. dstan58

    Long rides? I do like Lim’s rice cakes.For shorter rides, raisins. Over the last 32 years, I swear I have tried every food product invented. And this is what it has come to. Dried up grapes.

  23. Wsquared

    Clif Bars (white chocolate). I’ll eat a Power bar if that’s all they’ve got when I stop. When its really hot, sometimes I’ll do Power bars just because they dont melt into goo. I switched to power Gel in this summer’s heat from Clif gel because it’s saltier. I like the Stinger Waffles, but they are relatively low sodium. Tried the Stinger energy bars. Tasted good but led to wicked farts. Lots of soy I think. YMMV

    It the summer, I’ll also do an occasional Pay Day bar. Salty with peanuts, protein & carbs and they hold up in heat. In the winter when chocolate won’t melt, I’ll sometimes take a Snickers or Chunky as a fatty energy comfort food when I’m out shivering.

  24. armybikerider

    I still like and prefer Powerbars (chocolate and oatmeal rasin) for anything over 50 miles or hard longer efforts. I’ve tried Cliff Bars but they weren’t as easy for me to eat on the bike (I prefer them off the bike), along with a few other brands of bars and gels. I prefer the chocolate coated bars due to my sweet tooth, but in the summer they turn into a mess.

    Natural foods like the recipes posted above sound delicious and something that I’ll have to cook up when I have the time!

  25. Hobbanero

    Bonk Breaker bars, which seem more like real food, and Osmo Active Hudration mix in the bottle. I will use Clif Blocks for a short event or at the end of a long ride, but gels make me unhappy after a few hours.

  26. Hautacam

    I eat whatever. More real food than sports food, though some of each. But not Powerbars. Haven’t eaten one in years. Hit my life quota on them about a decade ago. Clif bars shortly thereafter.

    However, three (yes, THREE) of my bikes still have 8-speed drivetrains. And they work just fine, thank you.

    These days it seems the motor is the weak link in my setup, not the drivetrain. Not due to the fuel, in case you’re wondering.

  27. Alan Canfield

    I’m a big fan of Hammer products. Not to sweet and well-balanced.

    Perpetuem solids answered my need for easy fuel on long rides but I still need some real food like PB&J, bananas, cookies, or whatever the store or aid station has.

    I once swore off Gatorade but their switch to real sugar makes it easier to drink. Still, I prefer Heed.

  28. Alan

    Skratch labs is great, not too sweet.

    Braaap bars are easy to digest, full of energy, and the chocolate chip =AWESOME

    Lim rice cakes, peanut butter in bread, and ham + tomato sandwiches for long rides.

  29. Michael Schlitzer

    I stay away from Heed. They had it at a century I did once and I took some. Felt like crap and wound up throwing up a few miles down the road. Now I ride centuries with my own Cytomax, 1 Clif Bar, 2 Gu, and a pack of Bloks. If I can, I eat some fig newtons at the rest stops and I’m good to go. It’s like a curmudgeonly science at this point in my life: I don’t want to try anything else!

  30. Chas

    I love the size and variety of Lara bars plus they are gluten free. Granted they do require some advanced chewing but worth it in the end. I also like the Watermelon Sport Beans as they have a kick of caffeine in them…I store them in an old Mento’s gum tube – it is about the same size as Nuun roll but the with a flip top lid – so I just flip it open, eat a few and then close it back up.

  31. gregAP

    +1 to the guys to who said dates and raisins. I take dried figs and apricots.
    none of that chunder-bar plastic putty crap for me.

  32. dirt roader

    Eat real food. I moved from just bars to making a fully dressed sandwich and back it up, depending on the length of my ride in hours, with ‘Raw Food Bars’ and Gu gels to help with tough sections and keep my energy topped up. A good can of beer is sweet at lunch out on the trail/gravel too. Nothing beats actual food just like what we all look for at the end of a good ride.

  33. Running Cyclist

    Sodium. I sweat profusely and sodium is the solution for all my needs. How do I get it? GU Brew mixed with water, GU Roctane gel and Gatorlytes mixed in with the GU Brew. 780mg of sodium a rip in the Gatorlytes. If it’s not high in sodium, I don’t bother with it.

    1. Author

      Hey, thanks for all the amazing comments. I’m impressed at how many of you can stick with real food. I just can’t process it quickly enough on hard rides. I’m envious, honestly.

  34. Tim

    Those steamed potatoes(I bring a fork!) with olive oil, salt & pepper, the rice & apricot bars(pepper!), apples, bananas(indeed), almond butter sandwiches. Accelerade mixed with Vita Coco for the potassium.

    I ate too many Power Bars way back when, and it seemed like my body didn’t recognize them as food anymore. Now that I don’t eat them too often, one will stand me right back up, so I hold that as an ace. Gu is fine for short rides, but at 100 calories each, you have to eat a *lot* to stay together on a long ride. Cytomax every now and again, especially if I know it’s going to be hot out.

  35. Gary

    Skratch Labs Exercise drink, as with several other folks I’ve found this the easiest to take in, no post ride stomach bomb and seems to help with cramping. Hey, Powerbars are great, when it’s warm you can stick them to your stem and consume as needed. Cheers.

  36. Mike

    Endurolytes and water or an electrolyte tablet in the bottle, then unprocessed food for the most part. Somewhere in the past couple of years I realized my nemesis (calf cramps) were beaten back by the Endurolytes. Then it’s plums, bananas, figs, and dates. The plums can be bulky but are like rocket fuel for me, as good or better than any gel.

  37. tinytim

    The only bars that I eat are Lara bars, (the ones that only have like 5 ingredients), probars and mainly clif mojo bars. Mojo bars are the way to go. You can always find them in whole foods or an similar store for 99 cents. The coconut chocolate pairs well with a nice glass of milk at the end of a ride. I really like Allen Lim’s approach to performance food; eat whole foods that taste good. Most of my rides I simply cut up an apple, mix some juice 50/50 with water a little salt and a hard boiled egg. This whole “sports meal” cost 1 dollar. Lim’s rice cakes are also a good way to go, especially the pancetta and egg recipie. Good topic to write about Padraig!

  38. DavidA

    I like gu Roctane gels and eat rice krispies snack bars. also make small jam and whipped honey on white bread sandwiches for long rides. rasberry Jam and nutella together is the bomb. jam and cream cheese too. bananas cut in half. Sometimes canned peaches or pears in a zip-lock bag when the weather is cooler. I also use SPORTS CONTROL which is a product from Belgium bars and gels and recovery sticks.

  39. Jim Couch

    Mostly Hammer products – Perpetuem & Gels during rides. Recoverite and their recovery bars afterwards. Hammer Fizz and Enduralytes work great for hydration. Also like NUUN for hydration.

    When GU first came out i tried it and it worked well. Ever since then i have pretty much quit eating solid food for hard rides, gels and drinks just plain work better for me.

    I tend to stick with foods with natural ingredients as my stomach tolerates them best. There are a lot of good products out there these days, it is worth trying some and seeing what works for you.

  40. owl

    Wow, malt nut Power Bars, I didn’t know they were still around. Probably ate my weight in those on Moab trips during the early 90s.

    What about packaging? Almost all of these products are individually packaged in non-recyclable materials. To that end, over the last few years, I’ve been seeking out bulk products and/or making my own on bike energy and nutrition.

    For hydration my most recent favorite recipe is fresh citrus, water, and salt – squeeze one each orange, lemon, & lime into large bottle with water and add 1/8 teaspoon salt. The packaging goes into my compost. If you like the waffles like me, look for Shady Maple Farms organic stroopwafels. In Colorado I get them at Vitamin Cottage, but they’re available online. They come in 8pks and are priced about .25-.50/waffle less than Honey Stinger’s. Take 1 or 2 out and put them in a reusable ziploc. Box goes into the recycle bin.

  41. TFT

    Recently a friend introduced me to sushi rolls sold at that lil convenience store on Topanga. After some 6k of climbing and consuming my fare share of Hammer products, Bonk Breakers, gels, etc. The sushi roll was absolutely amazing.

    It’s now become habit to prepare a roll or two of my own before longer rides. Sticky rice, cream cheese, a strip of bacon and a carrot slice for crunch seems to do me a lot better.

    There’s only so much mylar-packaged food you can take.

  42. Kirk

    Big fan of Clifbar products. Love Gary’s Panforte. Cherry Almond is second favorite. Have one about halfway through a ride. Will occasionally consume a gel if ride exceeds 100 km. Clifbar Cherry Cola with caffeine gel is the standby. I normally ride with a bottle of water and a bottle of Accelerade. Just ordered some Skratch labs product.

    Back in the late 80’s our cycling team received a product sponsorship from Powerbar. Seemed like we had a never ending supply Thought they were nasty back then. Still do. I remember during the winter sticking the Powerbar inside my jersey in a vain effort to keep them from becoming hard as rock during cold rides. Once Clifbar hit the market, never bought another Powerbar.

  43. John

    I was given Alan Lim’s cookbook, and have started making my own energy bars. For gels, I use Enervit exclusively. I find the are the best tasting, and have a nice consistency. For races I use a Cheerpack in the last 40km. Works wonders.

  44. Bongo

    I’ve found that I prefer real food as much as possible. I eat a half of a Peanut-butter, honey and banana on whole grain sandwich about every 30 miles and supplement that with trail mix, Honey Stinger waffles (not the chocolate) and fig newtons.

  45. SWells

    “Malt-nut” Power Bars! Seriously, those things were horrendous.

    I ride so infrequently, I’m able to make a big deal of it. I’ll pack a few, small ham & cheese “half” sandwiches, but I pack ’em nice & tight as if I’m receiving them from my imaginary mussette that I picked up in my imaginary feed-zone from my imaginary soigneur a couple hours into my ride. Fig Newton’s (or more specifically, the generic one’s from the bread store) are a staple during workouts. I’ve even started carrying a few on my longer runs (yes, I said run)…cheaper’n gels. Also, I never leave on a ride without a banana and/or peach/plum in my jersey pocket.

  46. Boroboonie

    Clif shot blocks in margherita flavor for extremely long rides. They pack in the sodium and help kill cramps for me. Otherwise any whole food. If I have to use a gel then I prefer the newer endurox 4:1 gels. They taste great and you don’t have to drink as much water with them as you have to with thicker gels like GU brand.

    Power what? Those things are still back in the early 90s with I-Rock Z-28s neon hats and Yes’ Big Generator!

  47. Clark

    To those who make Lim energy bars, did you have trouble with the consistency? The couple times I’ve made them, they end up falling apart pretty easily when I try to eat them. Any suggestions?

  48. Scott

    @Clark are you sure you are using the correct rice?
    I found the first couple of time I made them they consistency was not good like you said. Then I made them using a quality sushi rice and they hold together nicely now.

  49. Clark

    @Scott, I’ve been using Calrose, which I understand to be sticky but not a true sushi rice. Is that what you were using before switching to sushi rice?

  50. Tominalbanay

    When the choices were only PowerBar and ClifBars, I ate a LOT of fig newtons! Now, with young kids at home, my longest rides are pretty short. 2-3 hours and my normal ride is my 60-70 minute ride to work in the morning. I don’t eat on the bike much. I have had a box of ClifBars now for about 4 months. I think I’ve eaten two.

  51. George

    I got my first job when I was a BMX-obsessed 8th grader, working as an all-around shop helper and gopher at Wheelworks in Belmont, MA (great job, by the way – $6/hr was a lot of money for a 14 year old in 1988). I think that was the first and last time I had a Powerbar. I’m sure they’ve improved since then, but nowadays I generally head out with a couple of GU gels and a simple, no-nonsense PBJ on whole wheat. The suck in the gels about 1.5 hrs in, followed by the sandwich an hour later, usually washed down with some powdered Gatorade prepared about 1/4 diluted.

  52. peter lin

    @Clark, regular short grain rice and sushi rice are quite different. Calrose short gain is only a little bit sticky. Sushi rice is much more sticky and is used to make rice balls throughout asia. If you can’t find sushi rice in bulk, one trick is to soak short grain rice for 30-60 minutes before cooking. That will make it more sticky, though still not as sticky as sushi rice.

  53. Full Monte

    Yep, energy bars will bind and constrict in my gut. It must be the 45+ years of wear and tear on my system that makes energy bars turn to concrete in my large intestine.

    Instead, I’ve gone the “real food” route. Orange wedges. Peanut butter. Banana. Cheese slices. Baby carrots. Anything that has fiber and a bit of energy or protein. It’s not as convenient, and requires a bit of pre-planning and pre-ride prep, but the price of a grab-and-go energy bar is just too steep (in future discomfort) for this rider.

  54. Andy

    I make my own – organic bananas, molasses, honey & peanut butter. If the bananas are really ripe it looks and flows like baby poop, so my friends call it Pu. Works on the Philly Livestrong century, so I believe in it.

  55. Greg

    Clif Bars (cut into cubes and stuffed in bento box).
    Brown rice syrup in gel flask with large bore spout.
    Plain water (can’t stand sports drinks if not ice cold)
    Endurolytes or Salt Stick capsules
    Flour tortillas rolled with turkey, cheddar, spinach and brown mustard

  56. brookef

    Been very happy with Clif products, but for rides longer than 60 miles or over 5,000 feet of climbing am supplementing with home-made chocolate spice nut biscotti made with cocoa nibs, and small (small!) red or gold baked or boiled potatoes rolled in salt. The biscotti are the perfect shape for the jersey pocket and I can spice them up with ginger, chili, or whatever, as well as boost the salt. The potatoes are a little more problematic on the bike but great at scenic overlooks…but taste best on Ridgecrest in Marin…

    And for quick and dirty at the convenience store or vending machine: Corn-nuts and Coke!

  57. BobGade

    PB, bananas and raw honey on whole grain bread. 1 sandwich cut up into 4 pieces and indivdually wrapped in aluminum foil will usually get me through a moderated to high intensity 4 hour ride. (OF course I have a big bowl of oatmeal and fruit(and chia seed!) and an egg beforehand.) I always have a gel or some gel blocks for emergencies. Plain water only. On especially hot days, I will stop to buy some salted peanuts for the calories and the sodium.
    I try to avoid most store bought energy foods due to their packaging, the fact that they are often not made locally, and the presence of ingredients that have come from the industrial food chain.

  58. Randall

    +1 on the saltstick. I like to mix gatorade on the weak side, and on long (50 mile+) rides, I wasn’t getting enough electrolytes to prevent cramping. They also are great to carry if you have to get H2O at a gas station.

  59. peter lin

    Thanks to all the people that suggested skratch. I just got some and tried it. Wow, talk about a refreshing drink for rides. I’m never buying another gatorade, ever!

  60. Ed W

    The big food markets here put PowerBars on sale every so often, I stock up when they do, can get them for about 1/3 the price of any other product.

    Just eat them and don’t spend time thinking about it.

  61. hoshie99

    I have ramped my time on the bike and, as I have done so, noticed I don’t tolerate the gels as well anymore.

    Basically, I’ll use some form of energy drink in one bottle, plain water in another and a granola bar or peanut butter sandwich in my jersey pocket.

    If they ride is hot and over 60 miles, I’ll also bring a salt tablet which seems to help me.

    For recovery, I try to mix protein and carbs – a smoothie with plenty of fruit, soy milk and some whey or soy protein.

    I have definitely experimented with my fair share of products and am finding a few energy drinks work for me and real food whether a banana, a small sandwich, or a granola bar is what I do best with.

    That’s it-


  62. Hoshie99

    Padraig, I guess to answer your question directly, I am open to new things so have been experimental in the past. That being said, for food products, the ingredients and the taste are primary as well as the claimed function.

    HAmmer to me was a company I was interested in. I tried Heed and Perpetuem for a bit. Their ingredients and claimed function were both straightforward and well thought out. I still use Heed today for hydration at times, but food substitutes in the bottle don’t work as well for me.

  63. firwave

    I’ve started making my own energy bars (the best can be found on Georgia Gould’s website). They’re cheaper and taste great. When hot, I love Clif Bloks. Lemon-lime but I think that flavor has been discontinued. Also lemon-lime Gu gels are a staple that I mix in with real food on long events. Also making my own recovery drinks to save money.

  64. slowslob

    A little love for PowerBar! I always remember PD as the first of the sports bars, and they were such an improvement over carrying fig bars, or anything. they didn’t mess up your jersey by leaking and getting sticky stuff all over you during a ride. The MaltNut is a pretty dry, but I remember the Berry flavor they came out with as being one of my first true loves. I do a lot Cliff Bars now, mostly because they are cheap and convenient at Walmart and Trader Joes. But try the PowerBalls, those are my new favorite, though I am not a big fan of the packaging. As for gels, I mostly look for something with some caffeine. And for any ride over 5 hours, sorry, but I got to have some real food and MickeyD’s never let me down!

  65. Biff

    Just tried GU Electrolyte drink mix (raspberry) on a whim after seeing it near the cash register at a local sports store. We’ve always used Gatorade powder purchased cheap cheap cheap from the local supermarket. I always figured the more expensive drink mixes were just more expensive sugar, but the maltodextrin in the GU is WAY less syrupy sweet tasting and I so found it much easier to swallow on a hard ride/trainer session (and the flavour is nicer too, more mild and natural tasting). It’s at least double the price of Gatorade, but honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Gatorade now.

  66. Matthew Wikswo

    Does anyone out there know, reliably and accurately, what people ate when they did long rides and raced bikes BEFORE ~1986, when Powerbars first appeared? I gather some people used to ride hard back at least as far as the 1960s, maybe even earlier?

  67. Bill K

    i’ve tried Allen Lim’s concoctions and like them a lot. although i still consume Clifbars when i don’t have the time to make any rice the night before a ride. i also take along Clifshots…and like others here, never got used to the Powerbar consistency and taste. i mix SkratchLab hydration mix in my water bottles. i still have some GU gels left.

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