Cycling, eating and drinking go together like fish and chips, tea and biscuits, strawberries and cream or any similar gustatory delight. Witness the hordes of cyclists scoffing scones and cake or beans on toast at any cafe, whether it be a dainty tea shop in a quaint market town or at a more functional establishment in a trail centre.
On a less prosaic note however, we might usefully address the issue of eating on the move, particularly during long drawn out rides. Plenty has been published about the importance of keeping your calories and fluid levels topped up while riding and there are enough articles and books to read or videos to watch that you could spend all your riding time swotting up on theory! Whoever the author and whatever the medium however, the message is just the same: you need to eat and drink unless you want a visit from Mr Bonk.
What to eat and what is right for you?
Given this basic premise, consider this… precisely what should you eat or drink? People tend to fall into two camps. Those that express a preference for home made concoctions and the rest of the world, who rely on commercially available, but more scientifically researched, products.
So which is right for you? Over the years I have noticed that once you start riding over two hours or so, your eating requirements seem to change as the miles tick by. If you are in the saddle for five or six hours, I can guarantee that what tasted ambrosial in the early stages of the ride, will most likely, feel quite unpalatable after five. This is where you need to be smart and structure your feeding schedule accordingly.
Personally, I am receptive to sweeter products earlier in a ride, but less so later on. Given the logistical problems associated with carrying different foodstuffs in your back pockets, I tend to concentrate on eating the most efficacious (long lasting) foods at the sharp end – the first three or four hours and in the latter stages, I’ll try to consume what my body tells me it wants. (On long, hot, days towards the end of a ride, I fantasise about chilled pears but that’s another story!) The only thing for certain is, whatever you want, there will be none for miles!
OK, so far so good but the vast majority of commercially produced ‘sports nutrition products’ do not get on very well with my digestive system. Stomach cramps, wind and sometimes worse, come in waves as my intestines rebel against the things I have been cramming down my throat. Not only is this uncomfortable but it isn’t that efficient (in terms of introducing readily usable calories into my system).
Trial and error over the years has seen me hand over large amounts of cash for all sorts of gels, bars, drink additives etc and to be honest, while many tasted fine, my guts invariably said a resounding “no”!
At this stage, I need to hold my hands up and say that I seem to have so many food intolerances that it is hard to keep track of them. Various forms of sugar or artificial flavouring produce explosive effects so I tend to avoid them where possible. Sometimes however, I can tolerate ingredients that would normally be right at the top of the avoid list, so I have a bit of leeway.
As my quest progressed, I kept coming back to TORQ Fitness products. Initially used as a benchmark to gauge other brands by, ultimately it dawned on me that not only did their products taste good, but they did not cause the internal revolution usually associated with gels, drinks etc. As with most people, I took a while to find my favourite flavours and, in the case of drink additives, which concentration suits me best and to be honest, I have never looked back.
I still fantasise about chilled pears and often take ‘normal’ food with me to supplement the specialist products. The good thing though is that I know that I can rely on TORQ to keep me going through the first few hours and beyond, confident that a closer acquaintance with Mr Bonk will not be on the agenda.
Not only can I wholeheartedly endorse the TORQ range, but keep an eye out for specials, such as the Adnams Pale Ale Shandy gels. Definitely at the less intensely sweet end of the spectrum, these gels are a work of genius. I only hope they find their way into the full time range of flavours.
Last modified: 6th May 2019