I am officially the worst gel eater of all time. On the bike. I am so terrible–consistently–that it really amazes me. I’m a normally competent cyclist. Raced for 48 years, i.e., I’m old. Really, really old–OK, that might be it, but I digress. I TEACH people how to handle their bikes. I was THE lead-out guy for my Cat I/II team sprinter in SoCal during my glory days. Still train my a$$ off. Decent FTP. Decent power. But gels? Unobtainium. First, I can’t get them open. I bite, tear (two hands?) but they almost always tear the wrong way. Then they get out all over something. GEL ON HANDS OR BIKE IS LIKE A DEATH SENTENCE. Ruins the rest of the ride, for sure. Holy crap, that stuff is really sticky! I try to get it down without killing myself but almost always have to do some strange maneuver to get it working. I almost ride off the road or into the opposite lane. I’ve tried squeezing them with my hand. Works sometimes. But when I try to get the remaining calories out of the pack, it spills again or I veer dangerously into a bush of poison oak. Seriously? I am getting in some monster hours (and gains!) during COVID. Apart from the tragedy of the virus, its been awesome for my riding! I do lots of long solo endurance rides. Gels are part of my caloric replacement strategy–start with Maurten or SIS 320 bottles (two) then transition to SIS/Maurten gels, and Clif Blocks and Clif Soothie bars for about 70-90 calories per hour. But the gels haunt me. It’s like they’re taunting me. “I dare you to eat me without spooging on your leg!” Sure, I’m old. Sure I’m a cyclist, meaning I don’t have fine motor skills. Sure I’m trying to stay alive on a roadway where the drivers are trying to kill me softly with their iPhones. But does gel eating have to be this mysterious, calamitous, and full of drama? When will I actually go into the ditch because of a gel malfunction? How much gel tonnage must I wash off my bike after rides for me to get blessed relief from the god of gels? How many watts am I compromising with gel in my running gear? These are questions that matter and take on massive societal implications. I’m not even asking for help, although I know many of you will attempt it. I’m just yelling to the universe about the bad fortune of being the worst gel eater. Of all time. Why me? Why me?
I agree, I can’t do a gel and race. I switched to shot blocks. I lick them and stick them to my top tube. Sounds gross because it is. But, it works.
They’re actually quite a poor delivery method, for sure. The only way to even get it all out is rolling it, which is very hard to do while biking hard. The Clif Shots have a nice little tab keeper so it stays as one piece even after opened.
It’s part of why I switched to liquid all-up.
Since we’re on the topic of Shot bloks: I freaking LOVE Skratch chews. Taste great, but more importantly they’re not as gummy; easier to chew and eat while working hard / with a dry mouth.
But I can’t do a gel and ride a solo endurance ride–forgot a race or hard group ride! I am the worst gel eater of all time. I forgot. Have I made that point yet? Where are my pants?
Post of the year!
switch to rice cakes?
This is why i love clif bloks. They are super easy to eat, and accomplish everything the gels did for me. If i’m on a super long ride (5+ hours) i’ll bring some gels along just to add variety (and because they dont take up much space), but i’ll always prefer bloks if i have both on me.
Dude you’re not alone. A couple times I even went through the effort to pre-cut a notch before my ride and still couldn’t get it to open easily. I guess I’m trying bloks next.
Not sure if I am supposed to feel amused by this post… … but being a messy eater, even I’ve managed to master gulping gels.
You just need to practice it when not under a stress in a race.
In any case, gels are bound to cause a mess all around you, so that’s normal. You should see the state of pro athlete bikes after a race. It is truly a disgusting sight.
Buy some Hammer gel. You can put it in a flask with a pop top, and carries 5 servings. Just carry it upside down in your back pocket so it’s ready to flow out the top when you need some.
I personally find Hammer gels revolting. I do however, like the idea of carrying gels in a squishy flask.
I believe, Adam Hansen does that.
Damn that was entertaining.
I completely agree with you and I thought I was the only one. Not to mention, where do you put your empties? Back pocket so everything you own gets covered in a sticky mess? Under the grippers on your bibs? No wonder trails are littered with those wrappers they are as bad as the gels themselves.
I have for the most part, due to many of the factors you describe, gone away from gels completely. When I must I try to use one of these:
YES. The empties–thanks for reminding me, my friend. Put them into your back pocket and what do you get? GEL spooge in the pockets that doesn’t come out in the wash because it has other places to go. Gels have some sort of special high-speed nanotechnological capacity for stickiness. But they also have devious migratory skills. Have you noticed no matter if you get the tiniest speck on your fingers that it NEVER comes off? It just multiplies and migrates. Gets on handlebars, hoods, top tube, back pockets, other hands, face, gonads. Not sure how it matriculates to the gonads, but it signs up, gets enrolled and shows up and pulls hairs. It’s got gel resettlement skills that a border wall could not stop. The main place it finds itself is on my right glute where it disrupts laminar airflow and robs watts. That’s where I wipe my hands. Goes something like this: gel on fingers and gloves, lick sticky fingers, wipe on right glute, put back on handlebar, get more gel on handlebar AND SHIFT LEVERS. GOD-FEARING, NEVER DID ANYTHING TO HURT YOU SHIFT LEVERS. No matter how much you lick and wipe, lick and wipe, it still ends up all over other stuff. BOTTLES. It has magical bottle redeployment skills. Once on the bottle, it lies in wait and sneaks around to the bottle cage where it turns into nuclear slime. I found gel on the bottom of my frame after a ride and had to deploy the blowtorch. Worms on the bottom of the frame? I get that. Gel? WTFO? GELS ARE MY ARCH-ENEMY, my nemesis, my ruination. I am the worst gel eater in history…
I favor SIS and Maurten and “eat” (portions of) them on every ride. Eat them on the trainer, too. Gets in my fans, socks, door knobs to the pain cave, mangles my KICKR power meter accuracy, changes magnetic north, and increases the over wattage of over-unders.
You deserve an award.
After eating gel, don’t lick fingers. First wash it out of your mouth/lips with a drink. Then lick away.
Empty gels. You stick them in the pockets of whoever is in front of you. Duh!
Maybe it will get on the other person’s gonads. That’s a thought…
I used to do that with banana skins. Best thing after riding away with your mate’s bike during the pee stop.
I’m surprised we haven’t heard of someone squirting a gel on another person’s chain during a race.
I mean Hammer Apple Cinnamon tastes like mom’s apple pie and is available in bulk to put in a five serving flask. Perfect.
If nothing else, I use the hammer flasks for regular gels too. I fit six SIS isotonic gels in two flasks for my last 70.3. Made it so much easier than dealing with the packets.
I wish SIS sold gel in bulk packages the way Gu and Hammer do.
You guys are funny. Of course, putting my gels into a flask SEEMS like a solution. But think about it. That still means I’d need to open them with my teeth or hands and somehow pour them into the flask without getting goo all over everything and requiring several days of washing it out of crevices. I’d still have to throw away the empties, which is fraught with peril. The flask would get gel on it, and where would I put that without spreading “extra” gel all over my bike? REMEMBER, GONADS ARE AT STAKE HERE…when you’re the worst gel eater of all time.
I classify gels into two categories. One are gelatinous, not yet hardened Jello gels. Jel-gels. J-gels. Like Maurten and SIS. They don’t require water to be taken with them. The second type are the frosting gels. Fro-gels. F…yougels. I call them that because, well, they are actually cake frosting. Betty Crocker frosting. Fro-gels are gross, require extra water, and generally taste awful. (They do respond to licking, though, and clean up nice.) Not happening. J-gels are the right thing to take on the bike, but they have, er, other properties, which as I’ve alluded to, have some sort of nuclear nanotechnology underpinning their molecular structure which allows them to jump around and migrate in diabolical ways.