Connoisseur of Sludge

11.18.2005 | 4:24 pm

The first time I tried an energy gel, I fell in love. Certainly not with the taste: it was a lemon-lime PowerGel, which tasted like a key-lime pie that had been sitting in the sun too long. And certainly not with the texture, which is somewhere between gelatin and toothpaste.

I fell in love with what it did.

About ten minutes after sucking down a gel, you get a sudden, obvious, wonderfully useful boost of energy. If you’re climbing, you’re able to climb faster. If you’re on the flats, you’re able to put the hammer down. It’s 100 calories of pure energy, a guarantee that you are not going to bonk for the next twenty minutes.

I was hooked.

In the ten years or so that have elapsed, energy gels have been an integral part of my cycling life, mostly for good, sometimes for evil. And I have, without really trying, picked up an absurd amount of knowledge about them: how well they work, how to carry them, tricks for using them, things to watch out for.

And now I will share my precious wisdom with you.


Pros and Cons

The benefit of an energy gel is simple and obvious: it gets calories into your system faster than just about any other method, short of an IV. You suck the little packet dry, take a swig of water, and then a few minutes later, you have energy. You can suck one down without stopping or even slowing down. In an endurance race, they’re practically indispensable.

But that little packet of energy has a few "gotchas," too:

  • Slippery Slope: Once you’ve started sucking down energy gels, you don’t get to stop using them until you either finish the ride or get something more substantial to eat. That little packet o’ power is going to drop you back on your butt just about twice as fast as it picked you up. Twenty (or thirty, tops) minutes after you use one energy gel, you’ve got to take another (and then another, and then another), or you’re going to notice your legs have stopped working.
  • Does Not Play Well With Others: Since most energy gels are really nothing more than super-simple carbohydrates (ie, sugar), you wouldn’t think combining them with other foods or drinks would ever pose a problem. And you would be completely — and sometimes, painfully — wrong. The wrong gel, eaten at the same time as the wrong energy bar, washed down by the wrong energy drink, and then nicely shook up on a bike, is a recipe for … ummm… gastric distress. Which ones should you not combine? Everyone seems to react differently to different combinations, so I’m afraid you’ll have to experiment, preferably on a day on which you do not later have pressing social engagements.
  • Tastes Horrible: The very best energy gel in the world would be one that somehow has no taste at all (or, perhaps, one that tastes like chicken). As is, though, no matter what flavor the gel packet advertises, the overwhelming sensation of every single gel is of extraordinary sweetness. And if, over the course of a long endurance ride, you suck down enough of these energy gels, you will stop noticing any flavor other than sweetness. Seriously, I recall riding on the Kokopelli Trail and sucking down a PowerGel, without looking at the wrapper. I then asked myself, "Was that lemon-lime or Strawberry Banana?" I had no idea. It was just sweet. So the next time I sucked one down, I made a point of not looking at it, and tried to tell which flavor it was. I couldn’t. Just sweet. Sickeningly sweet.
  • Loss of Humanity: Once you start using energy gel, you have admitted that you are willing to eat something nasty, just for the calories. You’re no longer eating like a civilized human, you’re feeding a machine. The next step on this path is the consumption of Soylent Green (Assimilation into the Borg Collective is the step after that).

Easy Access

The whole point of using an energy gel is to get calories into you as quickly as possible. You don’t want to stop or slow down. So where do you keep them? Well, that depends on how many you need to carry. I put one under the elastic of each leg of my shorts, with just the tab showing. The gels stay put that way, and I can grab one with one hand, tear it open with my teeth, and suck it down in just a few seconds.

If I’m doing a big ol’ race — 100 miles or so — I’ll get around the whole problem of opening those individual packets ahead of the race by emptying them (you can also buy energy gels in multi-serving packets) into a water bottle. 20 servings — 2000 calories — only fills a water bottle about half full. I’ll then dilute the gel with water and shake, so I can easily squeeze it through the bottle’s valve.

The sad thing is, at about $1.00 / serving, that bottle’s now got $20 worth of "food" in it. For that much money, it ought to taste much, much better.



If you’re going to use single-serve packets (and most of the time, you are), you’ve got a problem right off the bat. What are you going to do with it once you’re done? Well, during a race it seems like most people’s answer is, “Discard it on the trail, as a gift to the locals who live nearby, and the volunteers who will clean up after my selfish piggishness.”

OK, that was harsh. I’m sorry. And actually, I did once see someone who was glad for those discarded gel packets, in what is easily the most disturbing biking anecdote I know. And I’m about to share it with you! Oh boy!

I was in the final 25 miles of the Leadville 100 — I can’t even remember which year. As a cruel practical joke, the organizers have a five mile climb in this section, which is so difficult that most people have to get off and walk big portions of it. It was during this hike-a-bike tour that I first noticed someone about 100 feet ahead of me, stooping down and picking something up. After another twenty feet, he stooped again, and picked something else up.

I was actually feeling pretty good, so was on my bike. Curious, I stepped up my pace. It didn’t take too long before I had nearly caught up with him, since he was pushing his bike. I was going to ask what he had been picking up, when he stopped again, and picked up an empty gel packet.

“What a great guy,” I thought. “He’s picking up other peoples’ litter, even during the race.”

And then I saw him put that gel packet to his lips, trying to squeeze something out of it. He wasn’t doing litter control. He was so far bonked he was scavenging discarded gel packets.

I looked away as I rode by. (Yes, yes, I would have given him one of my own, but I only had one left and that was for me.)

I will pause for a moment for you to let that sink in. Once your heebie-jeebies have subsided, I will continue.

You OK now? Good.

So, there’s a proper technique for putting an empty gel packet back in your jersey pocket (or under your bike shorts elastic, if you’re me): roll it up or fold it up, but start at the mouth of the packet. This keeps gel from dribbling into your jersey pocket, which is good, because since it’s sticky and gross-looking, and you don’t want it on whatever else you’ve got in that pocket.

I guess I should mention I learned this the hard way. Back when gel was new to me, I used it all the time — I’d suck one or two down even during two-hour rides. Once, mid-ride, I asked Dug to take an empty packet — my jersey didn’t have pockets. He took it, and of course by the end of the ride, his jersey was glued to his back.

Until then, I had never thought Dug had it in him to give a cross, schoolmarmish lecture on gel packet etiquette. Turns out, though, he does have it in him.


When Should You Use Gel?

When I first started using gel, I used it practically every ride. I relied on that little rush of energy to get me over the next hill, even during ordinary training rides.

At a buck a pop, that gets kind of expensive — I was spending $10 / week on that goop.

And also, after a while, I started to get really sick of gel, to the point that I’d get a minor gag reflex when I saw a packet.

So, here’s the reasonable course of gel action: don’t use it during your training rides, except when you’re training for a race or big riding event. In that case, you’ve got to find out what kinds of gels you can tolerate — both from taste and intestinal perspectives — and what kinds of food and drink work well with that kind of gel. You don’t want any nasty surprises during the race / event itself.


Oh, I’m Just Getting Started

You know what’s pathetic? I know more — a lot more — about energy gels. Monday, I’ll give a subjective, non-scientific, unfair, and totally non-comprehensive head-to-head retrospective review of gels I have tried.

It promises to be the gooiest blog entry ever.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 4:54 pm

    once i washed my jersey with an open gel packet still in the pocket. i had the throw the jersey away, along with whatever else was in that load of dirty bike clothes. i almost had to throw away the washing machine.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 5:15 pm

    Gels rock!Other delivery methods I’ve seen include the top-bar "Bento Box" accessory, or the poor man’s Bento Box, which is simply a piece of duct tape used to affix the gel by its tab to the frame. This way, you can open it with one hand, and the tab itself is staying put, and not littering the trail.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 5:21 pm

    When I was racing back in the ’70s, we didn’t have energy gels. I used to get glucose tablets at the pharmacy. I think diabetics use them if they need a jolt of blood sugar. The were big horse pills, and I’d carry a handful of them in my jerset pocket. That worked great until one day when it rained. Yecch. What a mess. I had a pocket full of sugar sludge.

  4. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 11.18.2005 | 6:02 pm

    I have never, ever been a sick as I was the day that I did a race using Carb-Boom and CytoMax. It was my first time using CytoMax. It was my last time using Cytomax. There’s a whole blog entry to that story (sometime in the future).I’ve been using the Enervitene Cola gel packs lately. They’re still frighteningly sweet, but they at least have a slight cola taste to them. It’s something different, anyway.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 6:05 pm

    i’m curious if anyone has tried to manufacture thier own gel?some sort of super saturated surgar mixture, with some orange zest or something?

  6. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 6:18 pm

    one problem i have with gels is that if you take in your calories as sludge, you say goodbye to them as sludge. i’m just saying.

  7. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 6:27 pm

    In a previous post (or report) about the Leadville 100 you outlined the gel in the waterbottle strategy. I was training to do the Park City Endurance 100 (90% singletrack, 19,000 vert feet) and as I was having nutrition problems beyond 6 hours I tried it. I can’t say that I’ve never been more sick, but I can say that it would make Bob’s Top 5 List of most humiliating experiences known to mankind.If you think the guy sucking used gels was embarrased, I was stopping about as frequently for a totally different reason.Botched!

  8. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 6:49 pm

    Yup. Sludge in, sludge out. I have the good fortune of hanging around a couple of former D-1 marathoners, who, from time to time, offer nutrition tips at my request. Happily for me, they eschew the use of goo (based on dug’s eloquently stated sludge principle) in favor of 1/2 strength Country-time lemonade, and skittles. It seems that skittles metabolize as quickly as does goo, they have multiple fruitylicious flavors. Furthermore, they don’t exit as, well, you know. A chocolate chip cookie strategically placed in the endurance race food mix is also part of their highly successful strategy.Okay, it’s a husband and wife team, they weigh about 90 lbs. (41 kg, MIKE) apiece, and they are from another planet. But hey.Me, I prefer a big fat mayonnaise-loaded tuna fish sandwich, chased by a Snickers Bar to get me back on track. It’s not quite as easy to handle as goo, but then, it doesn’t return for that "vengful visit" when the riding is done.

  9. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 6:54 pm

    Nathanv–I know a guy that buys Hershey’s chocolate syrup and drinks it straight from the bottle for his gel. Three or four hours of that and…eew.By the way, Fatty…thanks for the watch, all nepotism duly noted (wink). I have broken so many watches that it’s about time someone came up with one that can take a beating. I look forward to it.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 6:58 pm

    Ahhh, gel. Here’s a little gel story for you:It was the third day for the Cat 3 field in the Tour of Willamette. The course for the day is known as "Kill Hill", because after 70 miles of climbing, you finish the day by climbing. This is the sort of race where even the skinny guys get dropped, and I am anything but skinny. So, to make a long story not-so-long, I dangled at the back or slightly off the back for the first two climbs (and 65 miles) of the race, and then started to bonk. (Of course, as those of you who have bonked will know, once you’re aware that you’re starting to bonk, it’s too late to do much about it. In my case, as it turns out, it’s also the point at which brain function starts to deteriorate.) So I promptly grabbed my one remaining PowerGel, grabbed the tab with my teeth, and ripped it off. What I didn’t notice was that it didn’t rip in quite the right spot, and the packet wasn’t actually open. With the final "Kill Hill" looming, and my blood sugar running low, I put the packet in my mouth and squeezed.Nothing happened.I squeezed a little harder. Still nothing.My next course of action, while probably not my stupidest moment, has to rank in the top 5. I decided to take the gell about 5 inches away from my face, so I could see what was wrong as I squeezed as hard as I could.BANG. My mouth was open, so I got a brief taste of that wonderful sweetness. But most of those crucial calories ended up on my face. And my jersey. And my shorts. And my top tube. And (as I discoved a week later, while cleaning my bike) on my rear derailleur.Of course, I was still at the bottom of the hill, and the finish line was at the top. It was a stage race, so I couldn’t miss the time cut, or I would not get to race the next day’s crit, which was my only reasonable shot at glory. I don’t have many clear memories of the next 20 minutes, but I do recall attempting to lick gel from my computer, my heartrate monitor, my forearms, and my top tube. The story does have a happy ending, because I made the time cut, and came back to win the criterium the next day in a massive 50-rider pack sprint. Despite being hindered by several ounces of excess weight in the form of PowerGel on my rear derailleur.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 7:10 pm

    It seems whenever I do an endurance ride, about the only thing I can get down is water and gels. During Lotoja this year, I must have eaten 20+ gel packs. At every feed zone, my support would have a spread of really good food. I could only think of eating a gel.By the way, you should ask Dug or Kenny if they could produce the picture of the other Rick and his trouble with a gel pack during Fall Moab 2 years ago.Have you seen that picture? Very funny stuff.Rick S.

  12. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 7:11 pm

    Gels get old, you’re right; not only because they can be way too thick and sweet to eat during super-hard exertion but who but multiple-bike owning employees of Microsoft can afford them. For long rides, I like Fig Newtons. You need to water them as you eat, but three Fig Newtons gives me me the same 30-minute pickup a gel packet would. I’d get packages of about 20 Newtons for $1 at Wal-Mart (yes, I’m a cheap bugger). One packet would last a week. Do the math.

  13. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 11.18.2005 | 7:45 pm

    dug – seriously, everything was ruined? did you discover the mistake after washing or drying the load of laundry? i wouldn’t think a gel would ruin everything just going through the wash, but after it’s been baked in with the dryer, yeah, i can imagine pretty much total destruction.sanford – i’ve seen people doing that tape-on-the-top-tube trick, but it seems to backfire on really dusty trails.stan – maybe that’s how gel was invented.bgoab – my worst gel experiences have to do with combining with cytomax, too. i get a minor wave of nausea just thinking about the combination.nathan – i’ll actually be talking about my one foray into making my own gel on monday.dug – presuming that’s the case (which i have not found to be true), that would nevertheless be the absolute least of your gastric issues.botched – sorry man. i’m guessing, though, that this happened because you tried this strategy on a race without practicing it in training, right? rule number one of endurance riding: don’t try anything new during the race.rocky – first off, i should say that i would listen with rapt attention to any advice you would give on the subject of being a better technical rider. that said, of all the people in the world i would take endurance riding advice from, you are the absolute last. everybody, please read the karmic black hole entry, and then you will understand why it is important to IGNORE EVERYTHING ROCKY SAID, especially the part of carrying a tuna-and-mayo sandwich with you on an endurance ride. i, by the way, have finished every endurance ride i have ever started.steve – that is a beautiful story. thanks for sharing it, man.rick s – yeah, i’ve seen the picture, but i’m not putting it up here. this is a family site.steve medcroft – i’ve had much worse gastric problems with fig newtons than i’ve ever had with gel. everyone picks their poison, i guess.

  14. Comment by Donald | 11.18.2005 | 8:09 pm

    I have a problem that keeps me from eating solids on a ride so im pretty much stuck with gels and water. the only good part is my bad back only lets me ride about 90 minues so i only have to choke down 2-3 of them. Even then they stil taste almost the same except chocolate. Warm chocolate gel, ewwwwww.

  15. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 8:31 pm

    Fig Newtons rule. So do Skittles.But the tuna sandwich stuffed in your jersey pocket for several hours blows. Definately will become a science project. You may too.Boz

  16. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 8:37 pm

    i dropped my running shorts on my bedroom floor after a race, and went to go pick them up the next day while cleaning my room. It took hot water and a lot of pulling to get the shorts unstuck from my rug. That was my learning experience on gel disposal etiquette.

  17. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 8:47 pm

    Not a big fan of the goos, me. I prefer energy drinks & real foods. You see the goos just don’t do anything for me. No, I didn’t lose a pancreas in a terrible street luge accident, it’s that I’m a very heavily built guy – nose tackle/fullback build. Yeah, I’m pretty fat now having returned to riding only about 4 months ago, but I’ve lifted weights all my adult life. Back when I used to ride a lot, early 90’s, I got down to about 5% body fat. At 215 pounds. I lift *a lot more* now. I’m closer to 270 – well, um, I think you’d call it "marbled" if I was beef, but still an awful lot of muscle mass. I looked up how many calories I burn in an hour. It’s around 400 an hour for a 150 pounder, more like 700 per hour cycling "moderately." (Nearly twice the weight, twice the work, right?) Hmm, I wondered. Where does "profuse sweating, snot dripping, panting, wheezing, and cursing" fit on the chart? Oh yes, cycling "vigorously." That worked out to close to 1500 calories per hour. So when I am in the middle of a long ride and chuck down a gel – it does nothing. The solution is near at hand tho. Nuts. Not acorns, you ninnies. Peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazel, doesn’t matter. Lots of energy in nuts, lots of salt too, they taste awesome on a hot day, and they digest quick enough, but slowly enough too so they give a sustained kick. I’ve had a couple big time bonks where a small bag of the honey roasted peanuts brought me back from the brink singlehandedly. You can also keep sticking in a few every couple minutes pretty much all day long, and the flavor (probably) won’t make you nauseous. Alas, there is a terrible downside. If you are riding hard in strange territory and suddenly encounter a steep hill where you will be at HrMax instantly, and chuffing like Thomas the Tank Engine, your rapid inhaling of totally unchewed nuts will tend to lodge them in the lungs. I’ve never had tuberculosis before, but I imagine the coughing is similar, along with the urge to just give up and die. This could be really bad on fast, highly technical, bumpy singletrack. Similarly, if it is really really hot out, you need to increase the water intake otherwise the salt will dry up your mouth badly.On the plus side, nuts are cheaper; if you have a baggy of them in your jersey they won’t blow up if you fall on them; and if you are ever held hostage by squirrels you will have a bargaining chip. I’ve also found that the spicy peanuts with the red pepper coating do a great job of stopping my asthma attacks. Your mileage may vary here, consult your doctor first. There is one gel that I do like, and that’s the Hammer gels. Their drink is really good too. I notice their site says something about studies showing your body can take up either complex or simple carbs efficiently, but that if you blend them the uptake of both is slowed. This could have something to do with the sugary gels’ up&down effect – they might be blocking your uptake of that banana. The Hammer stuff is all complex carbs. Just my 2c worth, not a doctor, don’t play one on TV etc.

  18. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 9:05 pm

    I have never carried an already prepared tuna sandwich with me. If I was going to carry a prepared sandwich, it would, of course, be a Reuben. However, I have carried the fixins along with me. I realize in a race such a thing might not work, unless, of course, someone had one of these already prepared for consumption. As it is, it takes under five minutes to complete the process–that is, to open the waterless bag of tuna, dump in the three packs of mayo and the two packs of relish (all torn open at once), squish and mix in the bag and then dump it all onto some wheat bread. In the face of sure-fire fuel, what’s five minutes here and there?It’s about the only thing that actually sounds attractive to eat when my system is all jiggered from too much output. I haven’t had a bad experience with it, yet.And thank you, Fatty, for the sanctimonious zinger: "i, by the way, have finished every endurance ride i have ever started." Lessee, Leadville 1–dehydration. Nursing tech asked how many gel packs I had consumed because they tend to promote dehydration. I had consumed eight at the point of exit. "Oooo", was the collective response in the room. Leadville 2–broken handlebar. Maybe I could have used goo to fix it. Kokopelli 2–food poisoning. Not even the 20 gels I consumed the 40 miles that I rode could stop the spew.I think that it’s not my food choices that slow me, or stop me. In fact, race experts assert that you should eat what you can eat, because in its simplest form, it’s all the same stuff anyways–glucose. No siree, my problem is that I simply have big sweat glands. Once, I sweated a whole m&m out of my chin.

  19. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 9:51 pm

    i hope you have something to say about the new clif bloks. i got them at my last 24 hour mtb race, but didn’t want to experiment with new products while racing. i’ve used them since, and i’d love to hear what you/others think.

  20. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 10:06 pm

    fatty, what are you, a detective? you want documentation of my washer repair? you want monica’s dress as proof?what’s the matter with you? suddenly you’re a stickler for details, for truth, for absolute veracity?i don’t even know you anymore.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 10:24 pm

    Sure, I knew not to try anything new on race day, but here’s the problem. How many days a week can a person with a busy schedule do an 8 hour ride? For me, that’s one day a week. Thus, by the time I’m in good enough shape to ride in the mountains for 6+ hours, there hasn’t been enough rides to figure out my nutrition.It’s only the high intensity, long duration (6+ hours) rides that I have a problem with. On the road, I can eat hamburgers and pizza and not get sick. On the trails, I can ride hard for 3-4 hours and be fine, past that, and bad things happen.Botched

  22. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 10:32 pm

    Hmm.. Since this is the Fat Cyclist blog, thought that I would point out that consuming pure sugar while exercising is probably not the best way to drop the pounds. Just think how much more Ben and Jerry’s you could eat if you skipped the gels!

  23. Comment by Zed | 11.18.2005 | 11:06 pm

    Allan, I’ve got to point out that NOT eating sugar while participating in cycling is a sure-fire way to have a rotten day. You’ll do worse things relying solely on pure protein, and even worse things relying solely on fat or water. The reason is because your body consumes carbohydrate before it consumes fat or protein, and it has to convert your fat stores back to carbohydrate to use them. Granted, he’s better off with glycogen stores from carb-loading, but a little last-minute sugar won’t hurt anything. Chances are, his body will consume it before it has a chance to store itself as lipids. Eat yer carbs, Atkins folk! Or enjoy your bonk.

  24. Comment by Unknown | 11.18.2005 | 11:22 pm

    Caloi-rider–nicely put. Allan makes an interesting point that only requires one slight modification. If Ben and Jerry’s were to make a version of goo, I would be all over that stuff, just as a snack food. Imagine some Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey flavored goo. Yum. I wonder if they could make a tuna flavored one?

  25. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 11.19.2005 | 12:18 am

    don carter – if you’re only riding 90 minutes, you probably don’t need to use gel anyway.damasta – it’s funny that you mentioned a cute ski hat for wearing on the weekends, because right now i happen to be wearing an EXTREMELY cute ski hat. also, i deleted your comments. sorry. i like to keep the language squeaky clean here, just for future reference. thanks.boz – rocky answered you, so i think we can both heave a big sigh of relief. body temperature+tuna+all day sounded like a trip to the hospital to me, too.mummphry – the really disturbing thing about your comment is that you let a pair of shorts sit on your bedroom floor after a race for longer than ten seconds. i assume you live alone, right?al – i’m right with you on nuts, especially as an antidote to all the sweet energy food i tend to eat during a race. something salty and substantial really hits the spot. rocky – if you can’t be sanctimonious with your brother in law, well, who can you be sanctimonious with? (answer: everyone else). seriously, though, "Once, I sweated a whole m&m out of my chin" was pure gold. i laughed out loud, and that’s not something i often do while reading.dug – you know i’m not interested in truth. i was being the total straight man, setting you up for the comedy spike. i’m thinking that the "schoolmarm" remark knocked you off center.botched – i know exactly the problem you’re suffering from; i’m the same way. if you’re going to do endurance races, though, you’ve got to somehow carve out the time to do endurance rides. eating during an endurance ride/race is an acquired skill, just like anything. sorry to get all preachy. allan / caloi / rocky – i’d answer here, but i’d only take away from the conversation.

  26. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 11.19.2005 | 1:18 am

    My survival tools on the trek to my ultimate demise (the ambulance ride-ride) were proportioned – junk (2) : fruit (1) : water (1). I started each day with 2 large bidons of water. After about 90 minutes (before the water is completely gone) I’d stop for 10 minutes. At each stop until the end of the day I would buy a 1.25 litre (third of a gallon) coke, a mars bar and a pound of seedless grapes. Fill the empty bidon with coke and let the fizz sibside (gently shake for the entire rest stop to avoid a nasty mess when you start bouncing down the road again), finish the bottle of coke and mars bar. Strip all the grapes off the stem and knot the bag on the centre of the bars then scratch a small hole to pluck the grapes out individually. Top up the water bidon and away. You are then mobile with a quarter gallon of water, quarter gallon of coke and a pound of grapes. That is perfect for about 2 hours on the road. And it tastes good too.

  27. Comment by Ariane | 11.19.2005 | 1:40 am

    Egad… My stomach just flipped over at the very thought of Cherry Garcia GU. fatty. Something you said reminded me of this crazy adventure I had last week. I was on the bike trail Wednesday night coming home from school, when I saw a cyclist up ahead a ways wreck. ‘Poor guy,’ I thought. And then I saw a snare on a stick, like the kind dog catchers use, come out of the bushes, snare the downed rider by the foot, and drag him back into the brush. Just before the top of his head disappeared, I was able to spot a tranquilizer dart, which I knew by its red feathers, jutting from his neck. Intrigued, I killed my head light and gave chase (from far enough back not to be noticed, naturally). After about an hour of picking my way through the woods in the darkness, we came to a clearing with a van parked in it, into which the cyclist’s two kidnappers threw him. Not to lose them after all that, I locked Hilde to a tree, and climbed up onto the van’s roof, which, happily, was equipped with a luggage rack. Away we drove into the night for what must’ve been at least three hours. Just when I thought I couldn’t hold on any longer– my was face frozen, my knuckles were cracked and bleeding, and I was losing my grip on the rack– we pulled up to the GU factory. I held absolutely still until the men had gone, then, quietly as I could with cleats on my shoes, I went to look for a back entrance.As I sneaked around to the rear of the building, I nearly ran into a factory employee when I rounded a corner, but avoided him by leaping into a trash bin. The man was pushing what looked to be an industrial-sized laundry hamper– full of neon and black lycra garments– towards a near by incinerator. ‘Odd,’ I thought, ‘this certainly doesn’t bode well." As if to underscore my thoughts, a bloody fingerless glove fell from the bin, dryly landing on the asphalt with a scratch, its little reflective logo catching the moonlight; a beacon of warning not to press on. But I had to, I just had to.I hid in a dumpster until he passed, then slipped into the door from which he’d emerged. Once inside, I beheld the vast machinery that produces the little GU packets. Following it from the finished product end to the raw material end, I made a terrible discovery: GU is people! (Duhn Duhn Duhhhhhhn…)

  28. Comment by EricGu | 11.19.2005 | 1:48 am

    Carb-boom Apple cinnamon. Like eating a piece of apple pie. Though since I switched to Accelerade, I’ve only had a couple of gels in the past *year*

  29. Comment by Unknown | 11.19.2005 | 2:11 am

    gels make you fast.

  30. Comment by Unknown | 11.19.2005 | 4:05 am

    Rocky – Huge congrats on your win! Toady – I think you should get some sort of prize for that entry.Fatty – I wonder if peanut butter comes in those little thingys like ketchup and hot sauce, etc., at the fast food joints. Peanuts are great protein. However, protein doesn’t get into the bloodstream as fast as carbos/sugar, so maybe Rocky could produce more M&M’s. Or you could get a lot of those little packets of honey from Kentucky Chucky’s supplier. From what I’m reading here, it can’t be any stickier than the cyclist’s goo packets.dug needs a blog, eh? I know the guy who drives the Celebrity Blog Tour Bus, so I could get him on the itinerary.Hugs,MuMo

  31. Comment by Megan | 11.19.2005 | 6:11 am

    This (somehow) reminded me of something. I was on my highschool cross country team freshman year… dont ask me why. Shortly after I joined, I became hooked on energy bars. They were filling and worked quite efficently the day of a race. It was only until after cross country season was over that I realized what I had been eating for the past 3 months and I’ve never been able to eat another one since. Gross.

  32. Comment by Unknown | 11.19.2005 | 9:09 am

    MuMo–thanks!Fatty–Sanctimony is your density. But hey, you preach a good sermon.Al–the only downside to eating nuts, tasty and satisfying as they are, is that they add to the hillbilly look, what with all of that nut fodder in the gaps in your teeth. When you offer an ingratiating smile to the race volunteers they gasp, cringe, and are forced look away. And should you venture words, said fodder then becomes shrapnel, forcing them to relock the gaze enabling them to shuck and jive to avoid getting any on them. Nuts have got such a nursing home feel to them. Food chunks everywhere. Plus, despite all of the brushing and flossing and rinsing, you still inevitably find a stubborn hunk of nut a couple of days later that has just been fermenting there in the dank, dark recesses. Eeewwwww.

  33. Comment by Unknown | 11.19.2005 | 1:08 pm

    This may be a rumor but I hear that the French are considering testing the riders of the Tour de France for Gel.

  34. Comment by Unknown | 11.19.2005 | 2:07 pm

    Rocky, what exactly *do* you eat on rides? Delightful crumpets and macaroons served on delicate French lace doilies, with Tibetan Orange and Saffron tea served from a fine Dresden bone china watre bottel? Do you carry one of those small Gu bottles filled with lemony water to wash your fingers afterwards? And as for the "Hillbilly Look," those are Men of the Soil. Give them the dignity they have earned. You don’t get teeth like that without a lifetime’s worth of diligent effort. Sure, it’s diligent effort to avoid toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, dentists and flouridated water, but that takes diligence in these days of public health officers and school nurses. Besides, all that stuff about how you look and oral food rockets… Fatty has shown the pictures of you on long rides. Dude, you look like rare roast beef slathered in gravy, except nobody, and I mean *nobody*, would ever slather that much gravy on a piece of roast beef. Rocky, will you never learn? Nobody makes fun of my nuts and gets away with it. Ps: I can make fun of you because other than the bonking, I probably sweat even worse than you, and if I’m having a bit of an asthma day, my face is redder than the Chinese government, and my shallow rapid breathing sounds like a horse in Lamaze class. Volunteers do indeed run, but it’s not from the crunched up cashews rocketing out of my mouth.

  35. Comment by Unknown | 11.19.2005 | 7:07 pm

    Hey…let’s get one thing straight. I might look like roadkill, but my teeth are always fastiously free of extras. And those itsy bits of yours (Al) are, well, so easy to make fun of. This was memorable:"You don’t get teeth like that without a lifetime’s worth of diligent effort. Sure, it’s diligent effort to avoid toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, dentists and flouridated water, but that takes diligence in these days of public health officers and school nurses."

  36. Comment by Chris | 11.20.2005 | 7:01 pm

    I was checking ou tthe photo section. You have a heart rate print out of your daily commute and another of a race. It appears that your commute gives you a more strenuous work out than that race did. Is this true?

  37. Comment by Kelly | 11.20.2005 | 8:07 pm

    So much wonderful information tucked into the nooks and crannies of this blog, yet the image that I will have a nightmare about during my Sunday afternoon nap will be that gross guy picking up gel packets. My personality is way too addictive to start with those packets. I’ve been tempted, but decided against it. I’m sticking with one addiction at a time.Plus, some person would see me on the side of the road licking empty gel packs and then blog about it. It would be awful.Kelly

  38. Comment by Tim | 11.20.2005 | 8:57 pm

    Be wary of where you store your gels: I was doing a mountain bike race on Saturday morning and 3/4 of the way through I hit a fallen tree which flipped me over the handlebars. Other than a very sore hand I picked myself up and carried on. About 20 minutes on I felt something dribbling down my leg – warm and sticky. My first thought was blood so I stopped and took a look… I’d managed to pop 2 sachets of Espresso Love Gu gel and this was now soaking my riding shorts and running down my leg… A most uncomfortable experience to try and finish a race with the Gu solidifying as it dried and sticking my shorts to my leg. Possibly even more than the broken finger that I’m sitting here trying to type with.

  39. Comment by Unknown | 11.20.2005 | 9:24 pm

    Mah bad.


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