Love them or hate them, energy gels are essential for endurance cycling and running. Although I’ve been using them for ages I’ve pretty much stuck to one brand…but for the benefit of my loyal reader, I thought I should expand my horizons. So, over the last few weeks of training, I’ve been trying all the different ones I could lay my hands on (or at least that I could lay my hands on in my local bike shops).
I’m not going to bother writing a detailed review of each one, or giving them scores, ‘cos to be honest, with one exception, I found them all pretty revolting. Sure, they all provide an energy boost (typically about 80cal), they’re all about the same price, some have added caffiene (which is good thing – unless you’re training in the evening and want to sleep!), but mostly they’re not exactly pleasant – either taste, or texture, or in some cases…both!!
So, the only one I really like (and would probably eat instead of a bar of chocolate) is the High 5 – but it has to be banana flavoured! The texture is good (not so running that it drips out over your gloves, not so solid that it doesn’t come out at all), and the taste is great – well, great for an artificial banana flavour (apologies to High5 if it contains real mashed banana!).
I use the High 5 Raspberry Plus one too, which has caffiene….it’s OK flavour wise, but runnier than the banana one, and tends to end up dripping out over everything if you eat while riding. Incidentally, I did meet Mr High5 (odd name, don’t you think?) recently and asked why he doesn’t make the banana one with caffiene – Mr High5 told me that caffiene has a really strong, unpleasant taste, so has to be masked in something equally strong but slightly less unpleasant, and the banana flavour wouldn’t work….so there. I’d always wondered, even if you hadn’t!
As for the rest – well, I can just about tolerate the Powerbar ones…though they are a bit thick; MuleBar – bearable; SIS – horrible…both taste and texture, especially the Smart one (caffiene added); and as for the GU one….well, I”m sorry to be harsh, but they are awful….thick like …like…I dunno…glue? No, I know…smooth peanut butter but much worse flavoured…and it sticks to your teeth so you can’t even wash the flavour away!!
I should say at this point, I’m not sponsored by High5 or anything (I wish!). I’m sure you won’t necessarily agree with my tastes, and if there’s any out there I haven’t mentioned, let me know….a change is as good as rest!!
There is one other “product” that I swear by as a treat – Powerbar Ride Shots. Cola flavoured. Like a squishier fruit pastel, but cola flavoured….lovely! Mark™ and I usually had a pack between us every day on TR09, and they made a great treat when things were bad!
One last thought on energy products……make your own! Or better yet, get someone else to make them for you! Mark’s wife, Nic, made us some energy bars for the Dyfi..and they were great….a bunch of different flavours in different bits (some extra savoury, some extra sweet) – sounds weird but worked! Read her blog to see what she put in them (well, at least what she can remember putting in!) and try it yourself!