My latest box of goodies arrived in the form of chocolate flavoured Clif Shot Gels from www.probikekit.co.uk. I spend a lot of time either running or cycling quite a long way, so tend to survive off of real food quite a lot of the time. If I do find myself doing something shorter though, then I am happy to start using gels. Over the years I have tried many of the available options and a variety of disgusting flavours until I settled on the Clif shots. My criteria for choosing them came down to two pretty simple factors:
- I had to like the taste
- They had to have a great energy to pack size ratio
This straight away ruled out the isotonic gels which are essentially watered down, more palatable gels that are designed to be consumed without additional water. I think isotonic gels probably do have their place, but I haven’t found out what that is yet and I have tried. If you find yourself with a concentrated gel and no water then that is pretty bad planning. If you are cycling or running for long enough to need a gel then you are out for long enough to need to be carrying water too. In a race it should be easy enough to time gel intake with aid stations if running, but if cycling you should have a ready supply of water already on your bike anyway.
I seem to have ranted myself away from the point, so back to the Clif Shot Gels. I have used them in a variety of events for the last two or three years, from cycle sportives to marathons to Ironman racing. They have a little tag so the top stays attached to the packet when you tear it off (thumbs up!), but they are pretty thick when trying to suck them out of the packet. I have no personal issue with that and find the chocolate ones to be like eating slightly runny dark chocolate. They are incredibly moreish and the tastiest gel I have ever eaten, but then again I am also a big fan of chocolate. If I need a caffeine hit then I always have one of the Clif Double Expresso Shots to hand, as they taste pretty good too. The other thing I like about the chocolate flavour is that, while rich, it isn’t acidic. I haven’t tried the citrus flavour, but I find the Razz flavour awfully hard to choke down.
When it comes to Ironman and Half Ironman distance triathlon I squeezed 8 chocolate and 2 expresso Clif Shots into a 750ml bottle, added warm water and agitated it until they dissolved. This meant the bottle held around 3 hours worth of energy. I then marked the bottle off into measured sections and consumed it steadily throughout the race. This was an invaluable strategy as it allowed me to fuel well on the bike before heading into the run without fiddling with packets and it was really easy to measure the correct consumption.
If you fancy buying some yourself then here is where I just got mine from: Pro Bike Kit UK