Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chocolate #9

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you an update on the best "energy gel" I've ever tried.

At the beginning of this year the Cycleyouth U23 team was lucky enough to get hooked up with John Sample from Chocolate #9. He graciously hooked us up with quite a few chocolate gels to train and race with. Here is my long-term take on them, using two criteria:

1. Does it work for training?
2. Does it work for racing?

I got my first few Chocolate #9s right before a big training weekend in the Pisgah National Forest. I was excited to have some to take with me on this weekend, because a big weekend in Pisgah involves multiple long, steep uphills, super-sick rocky and rooty trails, hike-a-bike, and killer downhills. All in all, it's easy to bonk here. Nutrition is key to having a good day on the bike here. I was a little concerned about Chocolate #9s key difference from other gels: the low glycemic index agave sweetener. Normally when I take a gel, it is because I am bonking at the end of a ride and need something to spike my blood sugar to get me home. It's the same reason I sometimes carry gummy bears on long rides. I just told myself that I would have to be smarter with my eating. I didn't have anything to worry about. At the top of the 2nd big climb of the day, I opened my first pack of 9. It was a cold day, 45 degrees or so, so the gel was a much thicker consistency than it had been at room temperature. It was amazing. The first slurp was a heavenly sensation of an almost chewy chocolate flavor. It tasted far better than any other gel I have ever used. I dreaded that moment when the packet was empty, but I ate it as fast as I could. I definitely didn't need to worry about the energy boost. I felt strong after eating the gel, without the extreme boost and crash you get from other gels. There are not many products out there that do exactly what you say they do, but it is awesome when something does.

At the first race of the season I loaded up a gel flask with 4 gels and a little bit of water, as I always do with my race gels. I hate using packets during races, as it always ends up as litter on the ground and precious seconds lost trying to get the top open. I just did my thing, took a few shots of gel during the race, and that was that. I didn't feel very strong, but it was more of a leg speed thing and not a nutrition thing. My energy never faded, I just wasn't very fast. It happens sometimes. However, I did notice the one and only thing I had a problem with. Halfway through the race, after going anaerobic up a steep climb I realized I needed to begin eating something, so I broke out the flask and took a shot. The gel tasted awesome, as usual, but I had a hard time swallowing it. It kind closed my throat up the slightest bit, but as soon as I drank a little bit of water it went away. I learned to take my gels on places where I wasn't breathing as hard, and that little problem went away. It's that easy with Chocolate #9.

To cap this review off I would definitely recommend trying some. The organic agave with a dark roast Belgian style cocoa truly make the tastiest gel treat I have ever had. It's a Low fat, vegan, organic, and gives lasting energy. Perfect for riding or racing. Glycemic Index of 46.

For those of you who are locals, I would recommend picking some up at Hampton Trails Bicycle Shop. He is the only local bike shop I know of who carries it.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 70 Calories from fat 10
Total Fat 1g
Saturated fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Sodium 75mg
Total Carbohydrate 15g
Fiber 1g
Sugars 13g
Protein 1g
Iron 6%

Ingredients: Organic Agave, Breakfast Cocoa processed with alkali

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