Sunday, October 7, 2012

The “Skinny” On Riding Food.

                                                             Image courtesy Red Kite Prayer

I recently read a very good article at Red Kite Prayer about riding food and what we get out of it.  If you have the chance (and you should make the effort), get on over there and check out an excellent site on all-things-cycling.  As for this article, I have used a lot of different products looking for the definitive “Ride Food,” alas, this has thus far proved an elusive process.

While the Red Kite article clearly states the author receives sample products from manufacturers, I do not get the same privilege.  I have to pay for my nutrition, thus I am very specific on what I purchase.  Hey, it’s my own cash we’re dealing with here. 

I do have to agree with the article that Power Bar’s do almost nothing for me.  The nutrition may be sound, but the delivery leaves a lot to be desired.  Basically flavored and fortified Play-Do, it is sticky as heck, and not all that easy on the stomach after awhile (something for us riders north of 40 years-old to consider).

A quick note about sticky, messy fingers.  In ride food, the one thing I do not understand is the use of chocolate in various forms.  Don’t get me wrong, it is good stuff, and just the thing the body needs whilst on a good work out. However, I have yet to reach into my jersey pocket and retrieve a product laced with chocolate which was not a melted mess of goo upon opening.

Bars, bars, and more bars.

We have indeed come a long way, baby, from vitamin and mineral infused play-do, and cellulose based granola bars to actual, edible food bars.  A lot of people swear by Clif Bars, which can indeed be good, however, they may as well be a prime-rib dinner on the bike for me – Just too darn dense.  I reserve these for before and after rides, and as snacks on the go off of the bike.  However, their Builder’s bars completely rock!  Good before, on, and after the ride, and no chocolate in sight.

Another bar I have fallen in love with (again, no chocolate), are Larabar’s.  The Cashew Cookie is the best, and while easy to chew, they are also easy on the stomach, taste great, however, they can be a bit pricey.

Other bars of note: Honey Stinger Protein – Good stuff, but can be a bit hard to chew when in the heat of battle, and can get a little pricey, as well. 

Honey Stinger Waffles - Damn good flavor, rotten travel partner.  While I see the beauty and the science behind the honey-infused goodness, they just do not work well out on the road.  Don’t believe me?  Put some in your jersey/seatbag/Bento Box, and behold all of the crumbled goodness left of your beloved waffle upon opening the package.  I now use them exclusively in the morning with coffee before I leave the house.

Gel blocks - I see these as the manufacturers intended – A bridge between sold bars and semi-liquid gels.  To date, I have tried GU Chomps and Clif Shot Bloks.  Both are very tasty (I love the GU watermelon flavor), and they do the job when a gel just won’t cut it, and sold food is not at hand.

Logical alternatives - A secret weapon I have discovered is so simple, I cannot believe it has been ignored up till now – The Payday Bar.  It is something substantial for your stomach, has sugars and peanuts for protein, tastes good, and the best part, it will not melt even after hours of carrying in your jersey pocket.  I have also heard of personal favorites like various other candy bars, and yes, even the famous Little Debbie Brownie Bar works for some people.

So, what does this all mean?  Well, the body runs on and desires what the body runs on and desires.  Carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and proteins are carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and proteins.  It all boils down to how they are delivered and how they are packaged.  The key is to find something that works for you nutritionally and does not upset your system. 

The rest is just good ‘ol fashioned marketing. 

Don’t believe me?  Nature still makes and packages the best ride food around – The banana.

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