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Energy Gel Question(6 posts)

Energy Gel QuestionRandyMH
Jul 30, 2001 11:08 AM
About 2 weeks ago I bought a bottle of Hammer Gel. However I was only doing about 1 hour rides (14-18 miles) so by the time I felt like I needed a boost home was near. Well, yesterday I went out for my Sunday morning ride around a local lake. After the first time around I was feeling froggy so I decided to go around again. This would be my longest ride to date (33 miles) 10 more then my previous. Not much to you experienced riders, but an accomplishment for me! Anyway after the first trip around I was about an hour into my ride so I decided to squeeze the trigger on the Hammer Gel. About 5-10 minutes later I was very low on energy, Spinning at about 70 or so rpms and averaging about 12-14 miles an hour. This lasted for about 15 minutes. I slowed even further did some stretches and just relaxed for a minute. All of a sudden I got back on track. I got my spin rate back up to 85-90 and at one point I looked down and was maintaining about 22 mph. My question is did I wait too long to take the gel? How long into a ride should I squeeze first? And how long after each squeeze, should I squeeze again?
depends on how much you're a-squeezin'!Haiku d'état
Jul 30, 2001 11:45 AM
personally i use clif gels and powergels for two purposes:

1. pre-effort boost: before an extended climb, long steady effort, or just prior to the group ride when the hammerheads don't have a warm-up vibe about 'em.

2. pre-bonk bailout: need i say more about this one? the clif gels kick in almost immediately. powergels seem to take a couple minutes. for that "not so fresh" feeling of jitters, but only if you can't attribute it to needing a cold one.

otherwise, i make certain i'm fed and hydrated pre-ride, stay hydrated en route, and have ~350+ calories per hour (clif bars, trail mix, peanut butter sugar cookies...) for rides of 2+ hours. without knowing your physical condition, what kind of power you were exerting, your hydration and feed levels, the environment, the lay of the land, and all those little details, it would be hard to tell ya how much to squeeze (and how often)! listen to your body...good luck!
racing only.ColnagoFE
Jul 30, 2001 11:55 AM
i tend to eat solid foods on training and most group rides. gels are for racing as they are easy to get into your mouth and kick in fast. that said they don't have the long burn time that bars do. in a race i usually hit one after about an hour and then every 30-60 minutes thereafter. Make sure you take em with a lot of water or you'll be sick as a dog afterwards as they will play havoc with your digestive system. For rides less than 1.5 hours I can usually just get by w/ water or Cytomax.
Usually gets into me about 5-10 minutes, but ...Humma Hah
Jul 30, 2001 12:14 PM
... there are several things that will affect how gel hits you.

Did you take it with a big slug of water? It needs water to be taken with it, or it is not absorbed properly. Take it dry and it may actually draw water from your gut (and cause considerable discomfort).

If you are not used to it, or have trouble regulating insulin levels, you might overproduce insulin when taking a big hit. This would cause a blood-sugar low. If it does this consistently, you may need a different source of calories.

If I take it when I'm already starting to get tired, it does kick in like rocket fuel, a positively rejuvinating effect, for me.

I try to take it in smaller doses, about half an ounce at a time, for a more even burn.
re: Energy Gel QuestionWhatever
Jul 30, 2001 9:35 PM
All the posts have relevant comments, I'll just add a few points.
First, how much you need and when you need it can even vary from day to day, so trying to compare your requirements to others here is meaningless. Experiment and listen to your own body.
Second, as you increase your fitness level and endurance, and if you eat and hydrate properly prior to riding and throughout the day, you will be able to go further/faster without needing to eat. I am most of the way back in shape after a five+ year layoff. When I started riding again I needed something on a 90 minute ride, and I would usually take it around 45 minutes. Once I started to bonk at 10 miles/35 minutes. Now I am good for up to two+ hours. If I am going to be out longer than 2 hours, I'll start taking some calories around 1 to 1 1/2 hours into the ride, usually depending on when it is convenient. Point here is "listen to your body." Eat before you feel hungry, drink before you are thirsty, and experiment with not eating a few times to see what it feels like so you know what to avoid.
Third, the different products mentioned here do seem to have different "uptake" rates. My experience is that Powergels come on fast (and that double-caffine Tangerine...it's got a kick!) Hammergel seems to burn more evenly. The effects are subtle, though...I've got to be thinking about it to notice. My current gel of choice is Hammergel because it is cheaper (as opposed to more sophisticated criteria).
Forth...try a banana and some other solid foods. Not as convenient, but way cheaper and work good, too. I read where most of the European pros take regular food instead of "engineered nutrition" in their feed bags.
Effects of prior nutrition -- absolutely!Humma Hah
Jul 31, 2001 5:04 AM
Yes, indeed! I've noticed stunning differences.

Normally, for my usual daily rides in the 25-mile range, I make no special effort to carb-load or eat a high-energy breakfast. Part of my goal is weight loss, so I intentionally "go to the well" a little on each ride. I feel a little drained when I finish, but that's good. If I were pushing to 30-25 miles with no added intake, I'd be pretty wiped out after the ride.

When I do get to do a long, serious ride from home, I have a chance to carb load at dinner the night before, then get a good breakfast. Mac'n'cheese with ground beef the night before, and grits and egg for breakfast work for me. (Some folks like spagetti for dinner, oatmeal for breakfast.) When I am thus prepared, the effects are dramatic, possibly a 2 mph increase in average speed for maybe 50 miles or so.