My go-to food of choice during rides has been food bars such as Nature Valley granola or This Apple Walked into a Bar (from Trader Joe's - similar to Fig Newtons but in a choice of flavors - apple, strawberry, fig, blueberry). Or cookies, banana, etc.
I went on two challenging rides this month led by one of the stronger/faster riders in our group. On the first ride (62 miles), after we finished a long 6-mile climb he rewarded me with my first Gu energy gel -- 'Espresso Love' -- and said "eat this". On the second ride (75 miles), he gave me another one. On both rides, I also took my usual nutrition (food bars) plus a little O.J. in the water.
I expected to feel pretty beaten up after the 75-mile ride; however, I felt amazingly good that night and the next day. I just felt like I had done a lot of something.
It's hard to know for sure if the Gu gels made the difference. Has anyone noticed a difference in your performance on a hard ride with energy gels vs. regular high-carb foods (bars, cookies, candy, etc)? What about candy like the orange-slice gum drops, or gummy bears.
A new product I tried last week is Honey Stinger energy chews -- like gumdrops but not sticky, easy to eat, easy to chew, taste great, and come in a variety of flavors. We found them at a small bike shop in Palisade, Colorado.