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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 04-09-11, 04:27 PM   #1
v70cat
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Gels seem to work better

I have been doing a series of group training rides and have been hurting/tired after the ride.

Today was really tough 72 miles and a number of hills.

Well today I ate a couple of espresso gels instead of cliff bars and after the ride I feel so much better. I think I am going with gels from now on. I know it is not a controlled experiment and yes I am getting stronger but the difference is like night and day.
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Old 04-09-11, 08:23 PM   #2
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I am soon to start utilizing gels myself for my program. Clif bars normally work very well for me while at my daily job and have seemed to do fine as a snack while riding. However, last weekend a friend and myself had just completed 35 miles and had stopped to chat about 10 minutes before we parted ways. While we chatted for probably 10 minutes I ate a Clif bar and then when I started to pedal back home my legs weren't feeling very strong. I don't know if the Clif bar had an ill effect on my system or what as I was feeling pretty good before we stopped. By the way, bananas have always worked well for me with no negatives at all. I will say that I still like the Clif bars very much and think they area great product but I may have to use them as a pre or post training ride food source only. I'm thinking I need to stick with bananas,gels and gatorade while in the saddle......at least during my training rides.
This episode from last weekend may have nothing to do with the Clif bar. My legs may have just decided they had had enough for the day. LOL Live and learn.

Last edited by Disciple1; 04-09-11 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 04-09-11, 08:59 PM   #3
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Espresso gels contain caffeine. That's what made you feel better, not the gel.
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Old 04-10-11, 12:17 AM   #4
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No, it is the gel, but the caffeine also helps. I always carry a small flask of gel and a Cliff bar on my normal rides up to 60 miles with 3000 feet of climbing. If I ride slow all I need is water. If I go with friends who claim to have barely ridden at all in the last 3 months, were out partying until 3 last night, and in addition were sick at home from work all last week, I will need both as the pace is going to be fast and I will be going through calories faster than they can be replaced. For me, bananas are useless while riding. They are heavy/bulky and the amount of potassium and calories one bannana contains is almost irrelevent. Watch a pro stage race, if you see someone in the peloton eating a banana while actually racing let me know.

Last edited by ALANB58; 04-10-11 at 12:20 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 04-10-11, 07:03 AM   #5
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...For me, bananas are useless while riding. They are heavy/bulky and the amount of potassium and calories one bannana contains is almost irrelevent. Watch a pro stage race, if you see someone in the peloton eating a banana while actually racing let me know.
$hit, I go on 50+milers just to eat the bananas (and apples, prunes, cherries, etc). Fruits taste their best at the top of the mountain
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Old 04-10-11, 08:08 AM   #6
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Gels with and without caffeine work better than food for me after a certain point.
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Old 04-10-11, 09:14 AM   #7
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I am sure the caffeine helped but I was getting caffeine in the form of coffee with lunch on the previous rides, so I would not say that it was a change in the control group. The real change was the gel and more intake of it. I guess I could of gotten the same benefit with cliff bars but the gel is quicker to eat and my body seems to process it quicker. I did a second series of hills and was hurting ate a gel and within 15+/- minutes felt like I had gotten a second wind. I have done that before and already know the benefit but the fact that I felt fine after the ride was the big plus. I also feel good today and will do a short 30+/- mile ride.
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Old 04-10-11, 11:34 AM   #8
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Watch a pro stage race, if you see someone in the peloton eating a banana while actually racing let me know.
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Old 04-10-11, 02:43 PM   #9
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Don't fit well in my food bag and I don't have a sag wagon like the pro's.
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Old 04-10-11, 02:44 PM   #10
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Old 04-10-11, 03:32 PM   #11
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Caffeinated or not, gels do work. Despite sucking on one for 50 minutes, I was saved during an ironman race because of it. I think gels are nasty but if nasty doesn't kill me, it must be good.
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Old 04-10-11, 11:58 PM   #12
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v70cat: "I am sure the caffeine helped but I was getting caffeine in the form of coffee with lunch on the previous rides"

Gels certainly help me and I don't know how I'd ride without now that I use them regularly, but I wouldn't discount the effect of the caffeine.

My stomach can only tolerate a limited amount of caffeine. Normally I have two cups of coffee in the morning and that is it for the day and then I ride my bike. But I make (and experiment with) my own sports drinks and gels and I wanted to try adding some caffeine to the sports drink to see what it would do. So on a couple of mornings I have only had a single cup of coffee and added roughly a cup's equivalent of caffeine to my sports drink and it made a very noticeable difference. I definitely had more power and felt better. I assume that consuming the caffeine continually while riding, as opposed to before riding, makes a big difference.

I keep meaning to experiment more with it but I just can't resist my two cups of coffee in the morning.
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Old 04-11-11, 05:52 AM   #13
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I agree that caffeine helps with energy but the things that I noticed most was the lack of soreness and having energy after the ride.
Maybe it is just the fact that the gels provide quicker intake of nutrition?

With regard to caffeine I tolerate without problems and always purchase my gels with caffeine. The Cliff espresso tastes ok and Accelerade Gel Chocolate with Caffeine actually tastes good.
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Old 04-11-11, 11:09 AM   #14
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A gel is just calories. It's not different from any other kind of calories, except that gels usually work quicker and are gone quicker than solid food. A gel every 20 minutes would have to be my sched, and I'm not about to do that. As the OP points out, gels do work quickly, so if you're down and a hill is coming, a gel will really help, as long as the hill isn't too long for the calories it contains. 2 gels is fewer calories than 2 Clif bars, so it's unlikely to be the cause of improved recovery or ride-long performance. You're just in better condition now, and the caffeine helped a lot more than you credit. Caffeine changes your body's energy pathways so that you burn less glycogen for the same effort. It's a proven effect and very noticeable. The real effect of caffeine on athletes has very little to do with getting hyped up. It's about your body chemistry.

Try Starbuck's Via for all-day fun. It dissolves in cold water and tastes good. When I use it, I put a 1/2 packet in a water bottle.
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Old 04-11-11, 08:03 PM   #15
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Try Roctane.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:13 AM   #16
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Is Roctane any different than the other gels?
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Old 04-12-11, 12:46 PM   #17
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Haven't tried the gels, but fig newtons work really well for me.
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Old 04-12-11, 05:22 PM   #18
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Is Roctane any different than the other gels?
yeah, it's a double dose.

It also has amino acids that help you recover.

downside is it tastes slightly worse than the worst cough syrup you ever imagined.

but it will make your *ss fly.
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Old 04-12-11, 07:48 PM   #19
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This thread points out a calorie is not a calorie. 2 1/2 gels to 1 Cliff Bar approx 250 calories not the same. Cliff Bar have 5 grams of fiber is going to have slow absorption, gels it is like mainlining.
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Old 04-12-11, 08:45 PM   #20
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I just tried a gel the other day- Clif Raspberry. Kinda gross, but I have some others to try as well. I like the Clof Shot Blocks, but the gel texture was just kind of funky...
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Old 04-13-11, 07:43 AM   #21
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Why get a gel that taste bad?

Almost all the coffee gels taste ok. They have caffeine which seems like a plus.
Accelerade Gel Chocolate actually taste good. Can anyone else suggest a good tasting gel?

I don't like blocks they stick to my teeth and the taste is not that great.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:28 AM   #22
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It's a matter of taste, so try a bunch out until you find some that work for you. I like Hammer Espresso, Raspberry, and Montana Huckleberry, but hate Orange and Apple Cinnamon. I love Clif Mocha and most coffee-flavored things, although I did once throw up an espresso gel, and it took me a long time before I was able to eat them again.
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Old 04-13-11, 04:27 PM   #23
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I just wish I could find a good tasting sports drink, I have tried a few of the Accelerade flavors and none of them where great.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:29 AM   #24
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I like gels also for during the ride,they help alot.But i like the cliff bars before i ride..seems to help too
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Old 04-14-11, 12:49 PM   #25
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I just wish I could find a good tasting sports drink, I have tried a few of the Accelerade flavors and none of them where great.
Lemon lime Cytomax isn't too bad. Melon HEED is OK. Some people like Champion's Revenge.
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