Just like cars need petrol, mountain bikers need food! I’m happy riding to build hunger for a meal, but on long days out, or for events, you are always going to need to have something on hand. Riding with a ‘hunger flat’ or ‘bonk’ isn’t a whole lot of fun. Your legs feel empty, you are light-headed, and it’s just difficult to ride how you want to, or even at all if it gets pretty bad!

Thanks to regular recipes from Karen Hill and nutrition suggestions via Zoe Wilson, knowing what to eat, when to eat, and what we can make at home is all pretty straightforward. But sometimes planning ahead doesn’t work. Race days come around and you just need something that is easily portable and with a known amount of energy. That’s where prepared sports nutrition comes in.

I remember the first time I had a Clif bar, and I was astounded that it wasn’t crap. Clif do more than just bars, though, with their Clif Shots (gels) and Bloks (they look like lollies, but aren’t really). And the Clif Bars still come in flavours you associate with real food. We were sent a box of the Cool Mint Chocolate (with a bit of sneaky caffeine) and they’re still as edible as ever. This is for a few reasons.

One is the use of real ingredients, another is flavour, and lastly it’s their density. They are moist enough to chew easily, but crumbly enough to break sections off so you’re not choking on them while trying to ride. Each bar provides over 1000kj and a whopping 44g of carbohydrates, and 10g of protein. I found these best on longer rides with mates, and they’re certainly more indestructible than a sandwich or a banana!

In gels we trust

The Clif Shots are more like your typical energy gel – pretty sweet, not as thick as some but not runny like other brands. They’re about right. What I really like is that the tab to pull off is held in place by another piece of packaging. I always do my best to pocket that tab in a race, and the area under my clothesline is testament to that. But I know I miss some, and I know plenty of other people do too.

This is a small step from Clif to reduce waste in the outdoors. The new Mocha flavour packs 50mg of caffeine. Not so much to knock your head off, but enough to make a difference. For a long event, I’d stick to these in the latter half. And I think it’s races or events where these work the best – I’m not interested in downing a gel when out riding. My dentist probably is. But I do always keep one in my Camelbak on long rides, as energy gels can give you the rapid energy you need to get up and moving. The Razz and Chocolate flavours are caffeine free, but the Double Expresso has a 100mg hit if that’s your thing.

Building Bloks

I’m a sucker for an Allen’s Party Mix. And so it is way too easy to have Clif Bloks disappear if they are around the house. But if I’m restrained, these are excellent for long and hard rides, and in events. They’re near on impossible to destroy, but easy to eat - in six pieces per pack. Each piece has about 125kj, so if you’re in a long event and working to a nutrition plan, it’s a good way to break up your intake without guesswork.

Like much of the Clif range, Bloks are made from about 90% organic ingredients. The Margarita flavour I tried has triple the sodium to other flavours, at 150mg per piece. That makes it great for hot events and to promote drinking more. Other flavours have 25mg or 50mg of caffeine – or none.

The Bloks are probably my favourite Clif product. They’re good for the events I do, but also so easy to chuck into a backpack or pocket for a ride, and they’re not going to be destroyed like a banana if I don’t need them. They’re just a bit easy to snack on! Either way, if you need some sports nutrition that doesn’t have an ingredients list that reads like a collection of E numbers, check out the Clif range.

Hits

- A high percentage of organic ingredients

- Options for riding and racing

Misses

- Expensive if just used as snack food

RRP: From $3.50

From: clifbar.com.au