A note from Fatty: The 2009 Fat Cyclist Jersey pre-order week continues. Click here for details on reserving this seriously sexy jersey for yourself so you don’t have to elbow someone else out of the way to get one when the jerseys arrive.
A couple of weeks ago, a group of us did my favorite road century: the Nebo Loop. It’s got everything: a nice warmup, followed by an incredibly challenging climb — about 18 miles and 5000 feet of climbing, if I remember right. Then a fast, open descent and a 40 mile return on the flats — a good opportunity to talk and work on your paceline skills.
It was really an excellent day. The group was well-matched, the weather cooperated (it didn’t get hot until toward the very end of the ride, and we had a mild tailwind most of the way home), and traffic was minor.
What really stood out for me, though, was my excellent choice in nutrition during the ride.
You see, the day before the ride, I realized I was low on gels and Clif Bars, so I dropped by the local REI on my way home from work (my local bike shop is waaaaay out of the way, so you can all just forget about busting my chops about not going to my LBS to buy Clif Bars).
What’s great about REI is the huge selection of sports nutrition. There must be three aisles full of every conceivable permutation of bar, gel, and powder. I grabbed a cart and started randomly tossing stuff in, thinking maybe I’d stumble onto a great new find.
And then, about halfway through, I ran into that find.
Well, two of those finds, actually:
- PowerBar Gel Blasts. I figured these were PowerBar’s answer to Clif Shot Bloks. Curious, I threw a couple packets of each flavor — Lemon and Cola — into the cart.
- Jelly Belly Sports Beans. I bought a couple packets of pretty much every flavor available.
What I Ate
So, back to the ride. Just before the ride, for some reason I gravitated toward the Sports Beans and Gel Blasts. I think it was because the packets sat flat in my jersey: I’ve got enough extra bulk, thank you, I don’t need stuff in my pockets further tightening my jersey.
And so, partway up the ride, I made two very important discoveries:
- PowerBar Gel Blasts are delicious. Specifically, the Cola Gel Blasts are delicious. They’re the same size as Shot Bloks, sure, but they really taste like cola. And they have exactly the same texture as gummy bears. And they have a cola-flavored liquid center. Kind of like a Tootsie Pop, except Tootsie Pops have a Tootsie Roll in the center, not cola. So I guess actually they’re not very similar at all.
- Jelly Belly Sports Beans are also delicious. You know what Sports Beans taste like? Jelly beans, that’s what.
I wonder if either of these companies really think they’re fooling anybody. Both these things look and taste like candy. And I’m pretty sure they have the same nutritional value, too. Oh, sure, Jelly Belly talks about adding vitamins and electrolytes, but I’m pretty confident that the boost I’m feeling from these is the sensation of pure simple sugar hitting my bloodstream, not the special blend of vitamins and electrolytes.
Anyway, when we descended down Nebo to the Wendy’s / gas station in Nephi, I got myself a children’s burger (had a hard time finding the burger in there to tell the truth) and a Coke Float.
And then I refilled my water bottles with Diet Coke with Lime.
And you know what? I felt great the whole ride.
Here’s an epiphany: Junk food works great as on-bike fuel.
Wave of the Future
So, to recap, I ate candy, ice cream, and drank soda for most of this very intense ride. But I never would have even considered doing this if PowerBar hadn’t packaged up gummy bears in an expensive foil pouch. Or if Jelly Belly hadn’t put a handful of jelly beans in a cellophane wrapper, called them sports beans, and charged me a dollar for them.
And I’ll bet I’m not alone here. I’m betting, in fact, that you too need to have your favorite junk food rebranded and repackaged so that you can eat it on your next bike ride, and still feel good about yourself.
- Sports Coke. Really, this just needs to be regular Coke, but with less — or no — carbonation. In a year or so, they can come out with Sports Coke Lite, which will really be Diet Coke. It should come in Accelerade-ish bottles, with the wide mouth openings, so we can chug it (and more easily pour it down the fronts of our shirts). This is a billion dollar idea.
- Reese’s Sports Peanut Butter Cups. You know what has lots of protein? Peanuts do, that’s what. They should maybe also throw in some rice puffs into the mix so they can claim they’ve got an ideal protein / carbohydrate blend. They should probably also tweak the packaging so it has a straw built in, allowing you to slurp the melted chocolate / peanut butter mess straight into your mouth. By the way, I’ve got a great idea for a commercial for this: A mountain biker is eating a chocolate bar while riding. A roadie is eating from a big tub of peanut butter while riding. At the juncture of the road and trail, they collide, hilariously. Helmets askew and collarbones popping out of their jerseys, they engage in the standard Reese’s advertising pitch, but with a twist: “You’ve got chocolate in my rear derailleur!” Sure-fire winner. I guarantee it.
- Snicker’s Sports Bars. Oh, wait. That’s already been done.
- Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Sport Chunk: Ben & Jerry’s needs to start collaborating with Camelbak to come up with a little freezer I can wear on my back. Because I promise you that during the months of July and August, if I could eat ice cream while riding my bike, there is no price I would not pay. Ben & Jerry’s wouldn’t even have to lie about the ice cream being good for you, really. I think I’d be suspicious of ice cream that’s supposed to be healthy; I’ve tried fat free ice cream before: yech. I want the good stuff; I just need a way to carry it with me.
- Johnsonville Sports Bratwurst: OK, I have no idea how Johnsonville is going to try to convince me that there could possibly be a sports bratwurst. But I’d love to see them try.
Really, this is just the start. I’m guessing there are more than a few of you who wouldn’t be adverse to Budweiser Sports Beer. Or Sports Cheese.
Or — hear me out here — Sports Mayonnaise.
Hey, a man can dream, can’t he?