I'm a big fan of real food - but there are times on some bike rides when real food is not an option.
In a race, a sportive or just hanging on to the back of a fast group ride you might not get the opportunity to unwrap a sandwich.
They're also easy to carry so ideal for a charity ride or cycling holiday.
Energy products are a fast, convenient way to refuel on the move.
Refuelling on the bike can bring problems tho'... Be careful.
Be Extra Careful if you are Riding in a Group.
You won't be popular if you cause a crash while faffing with an energy bar. No matter how tasty it is!
Partly unwrap before you set off.
Carry them in easy-to-reach pockets.
Drop to the back of the group if you need to.
Unwrap and Enjoy...
There are a growing number of energy products available from a growing number of manufacturers.
These products are mainly aimed at competitive riders - but they are also a handy way to carry food for long days out on the bike. Or emergency food for a tour.
With any of these products, try them out in training rather than using them for the first time during an event. Not everyone gets on with every formulation.
All of them I have looked at are vegetarian friendly.
Energy bars are the most like real food, usually like a heavy cake or flapjack.
They stash away easily in a pocket or saddlebag. Some are a bit chewy, especially in cold weather and some brands seem to use sawdust as a base. Try a few different types and you'll find something you get on with.
Sports Energy Drinks and Mixes
You can buy sports energy drink ready mixed or as a powder to add to your water bottle.
Some are formulated for use before or during exercise - and some are for recovery after exercise.
They are usually mixes of carbohydrates and fruit sugars with added proteins or electrolytes.
Follow the instructions and don't be tempted to add more powder than recommended - a sure-fire recipe for an upset stomach.
Wash your bottle well - periodically check it for mould-spots if using any sugary drinks.
It's best to use only white or clear drinks bottles so you can spot mould forming.
Energy Gel Shots
Energy gels were the weirdest of the energy products to get my head round. But the truth is that they really do work.
A foil sachet of thin sweet energy packed jelly - just squeeze and swallow - an instant hit of cycling energy...
Watch the Tour de France and you'll see the pro-riders use energy gel shots all the time.
It's not the most pleasant way to get food down - dont savour, just swallow!
Check the blurb to see if you need to drink water with the gel. If it says 'isotonic' on the wrapper then you don't need to drink extra water with it.
Tip - Carry gel shots in your cycling-jersey pocket to keep them warm. I tried my first one on a winter bike-ride, I'd kept it in my saddlebag and it was like cold sweet snot - Yuk!
P.S. Don't forget - its best to eat real food most of the time!