Words and photo: Julia Revitt
Energy gels and drinks are a volatile topic amongst those in the know. Synthetic gels and drinks versus foods and drink consumed in their natural states. A banana or an energy bar, a bag of nuts or an energy gel and a fresh orange juice or an energy drink - you get the idea.
Energy gels can be very useful as they are compact, easy to digest and deliver what the body needs when the body needs it if you time it correctly. Using science to help you ride faster/longer/harder - cool eh? There’s no denying that an energy gel is more practical to take with you on a ride than a sticky slice of flapjack. Which you prefer is another matter.
Bike Magic sent me a pack of TORQ gels in Raspberry Ripple flavour to test and the results are mixed in my household. The flavour is very strong and the gel tastes very sweet. The flavour is not unpleasant by any stretch, in fact it tastes just like a raspberry ripple and would probably be very nice poured over some vanilla ice cream. I have tried them riding XC and DH in the Alps, hiking in the UK and walking to the shops! The flavour is a bit too intense for me when I’m tired and a bit hot and bothered but on cooler days, when I’m less exhausted, it hits the mark. My other half, who isn’t a fan of gels, found them to be spot on though and just the ticket in the bike park.
The gels themselves deliver their punch through a 2:1 mix of maltodextrin to fructose which means you can absorb 90g of carbohydrate per hour as opposed to 60g with carbohydrate-only energy products. TORQ recommend two to three energy products per hour (gels/bar/drinks) depending on your size and the temperature; hotter days require more drink etc. and smaller riders should only have two units.
TORQ have loads of flavours available and you can buy mixed packs, which is a great idea to help you decide which flavours you like the most.
- Strawberry Yoghurt
- Black Cherry Yoghurt
- Orange & Banana
- Rhubarb & Custard
- Raspberry Ripple
TORQ also have the following flavours with guarana included, which contains 89mg of caffeine (the equivalent of a double espresso) for an extra kick:
- Forest Fruits
I found the gels to be really useful when riding lift access areas. They’re easy to carry when you’re riding light, they give you a burst of energy between runs and the caffeine version will sharpen your reactions. Gels are also great for racing, giving you a constant flow of easy to digest energy - just make sure you train with them before you race to get the quantity and timing right. On a long, hot XC ride though, I would go for a slice of flapjack and water instead as my personal preference.
The TORQ Raspberry Ripple gel has a great, smooth consistency. For those who don’t like gels, this one might change their mind - it’s like eating dessert on the trail. They contain no artificial colourings, flavourings or sweeteners and a suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If you’re still not sure, buy a mixed pack and try them on your next ride - you might just be surprised!
More information: TORQ energy gel