What a surprise…I’m still thinking about food

“If you’re not drinking, you should be eating”.  So goes the conventional wisdom for long distance bike events…and who am I to argue with that?  Think about that….if you eat one “product” one every 30-45 mins for 7 hrs a day over 7 days, that’s er…um….ALOT!  (between 60 and 90?).   This means you’ve got to learn to really love energy bars and gels.  There’s so many out there, you need to find the ones that are edible (seems like a basic requirement), taste good (well, as good as they can) and that don’t make you throw up!!    In the interest of research, I’ve been trying loads of different types over the last few weeks (and not just ‘cos I’m greedy), and this is first part of a 2 part review….Part 1, Energy Bars.  I can’t objectively review how much “energy” they give, ‘cos that depends on so many variables…how hydrated you are, how much of your energy store you’ve depleted, how tired you are etc etc, so I’ll concentrate on taste and texture.

Sorry about the state of the Go bar..I ate it

1.  PowerBar Performance 6/10

The “grand daddy” of bars….seems to have been around for ages.   I’ve tried lots of different flavours, but have found that I only really like the Cookies and Cream one….tho’ it’s not for everyone as it is pretty sweet.   They have a good carb content, at about 68% and low fat…but be warned – you might actually use more energy chewing it than you get out of it…they go on and on and on and on.  It’s almost impossible to ride while eating one – if you take a big bite, you can’t breath until you’ve chewed your way through it.

2.  TorqBar 8/10

Easier to eat than the Powerbars….still quite chewy but you can actually get through one while riding…just.  The pineapple and ginger flavour makes them not too sweet, which is good after a day (or week) of bars and gels.  I have to confess that after eating about 2 boxes of these before and during the 09 TransRockies, I struggled to face these again…and I’ve only recently been able to go back to them (I’m sure the stock I’ve got with a Best Before date sometime last year will be fine….what could go wrong?!)

3.  Go Bar 4/10 

Sorry – maybe it’s just the flavour I got (chocolate orange) but I’m not impressed with these.   Tho’ they have similar carb content to Powerbar and Torq, they are incredibly chewy and hard to eat – even more so than the Powerbar.  And as for the taste….yuck.  Really chemically with a nasty bitter aftertaste – I won’t be taking any of these to Canada with me!

4.  Clif Bar 9/10

These are my new favorite.  Great texture and flavour, really easy to eat, and I haven’t yet found one I don’t like..there’s even one like a home made flapjack…really good!

5.  PowerBar Natural Energy 7/10

PowerBar are really pushing this “natural” alternative to the Performance Bar – “Natural Energy”, “Sourced from Natural Ingredients”, “Natural Energy for your muscles”….and do you know what third ingredient is?  Pretzel Sticks!!!  What’s natural about them?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall seeing fields of Pretzel Stick plants waving gently in the wind while the pretzels ripen to perfection?!?!   But..they are pretty good, easy to eat texture and the higher sodium content (nearly double the amount of the Powerbar – the next highest one) is actually pretty good, particularly late in a ride….I find I do start craving salty snacks!

6.  9Bar 4/10

Thanks to the nice folk at 9Bar, I got some samples of these to try, and I have to confess, I’m struggling where to categorize them.  They’re made from mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, sesame and hemp), have a great flavour (some have a carob coating) and a really good texture…easy to eat, and you don’t feel like you’re going to suffocate if you try to ride while eating!  They have a higher calorific value than any of the others, which is good….but they have a really high fat content (40g per 100g – 4 to 5 times more than the others)….1/4 of that is saturated fat too.  I found that they didn’t really agree with me while I was biking…it felt like it was just sort of sitting there!  I think 9Bar are missing a trick here – for me, these are much better as a post ride snack…they’ve got a good amount of protein too.  A low score for an enerby bar, but if it was a recovery snack…9/10!

So, I’ll be taking Clif bars, Torq bars (hopefully I’ll have finished my out of date stock by August and can have some fresh ones) and some Powerbar Natural Energy bars – you really need to take a variety – trust me, you will get sick of them if you only have one type!  I’ll also take some 9Bars, to use towards the end of rides, to start re-building for the next day.

Next time…energy gels (and other assorted substances!)

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14 Responses to What a surprise…I’m still thinking about food

  1. thefitwriter says:

    We need links to places to buy! ;D

    I like the sound of the pretzel ones – yum! *adds to list of things to eat after comp*

  2. evo says:

    spot on….though probably i’d give torq 9 and clif 8. good to see high5 is not worthy of inclusion.
    as for gels, my current favourite is torq rhubarb and custard.

    any thoughts on 100m or 120/130m fork for TR? think i’m going to stick with 100m sids but i have a few reservations.

    • Richard says:

      High5 will feature in the Gels review!! will keep and eye out for the Rhubarb and Custard one..sounds fun!

      Fork-wise, my gut feel would be the 120mm (maybe just cos that’s what I’ll be on!). Would the 100mm get a bit wearing on a long day? (tho maybe your days won’t be as long as mine!). what bike will you be on?

      • evo says:

        high5 gel with caffeine is good for the that extra little kick. but not as good as a double expresso and big slice of choc cake! they should ban gels on TR and replace with compulsory cake and coffee (or tea) breaks.

        riding santa cruz blur XC. it rides v well with 100m on typical peak district 5-6 hr ride. but over 7 days, that all adds up to a big beating for my body. i’ll see how it works out in brecon beacons three dayer.

      • Richard says:

        after 4 or 5 days of rain in TR 09 they did actually manage to get big flasks of coffee to a couple of the feed stations…it was possibly the most welcome thing you could ever imagine!! no cake tho 😦

  3. Shambler says:

    I loooooove Cliff bars – especially the peanut butter ones…….

  4. thefitwriter says:

    If I was to – hypothetically speaking of course – bake you and Mark (TM) some energy bars to try out, what ingredients/flavours might you like? Just supposing. Not that I’m trying to live the high-carb, baked-goods lifestyle vicariously through others or anything. Nope. 😉 Was thinking of trying to come up with a more savoury (or less sweet, anyway) bar somehow?

  5. fatbuddha says:

    I’ve been a fan of Torq bars for a long time and so far nothing has come close to them for eatability on the ride – but I would have to agree that Clif bars push them close but not close enough. The others can go disappear for all I care – try eating a cereal based bar when you have no saliva!!

    Raspberry and Apple Torq is my choice, followed by the Pineapple and Ginger. The only way they could improve the R&A bar is to get rid of the annoying raspberry seeds which stick in the teeth – although it gives you something else to focus on when your arse is aching!!

  6. thefitwriter says:

    Well I’ve just baked your “more-savoury-than-most” bars…you’ll have to let me know what you think! 🙂

  7. Pingback: A lesson in self-control (baking for others) « The fitness industry's copywriter

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