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Gear Review: GU Energy gels

prhimby prhimFeb 7th 2011
Gear Review: GU Energy gels
I was recently supplied with a small sample pack of GU Energy gels by Stonehenge Cycles in Salisbury (www.stronehengecycles.com) and thought I'd do a quick write up on my experiences using them.

The three gels (Chocolate Outrage, Strawberry Banana and Jet Blackberry) were consumed over two training sessions: one long 14-mile training run and one two hour cycle.

Test 1: Training Run

This early morning training run meant there was only time for a very light breakfast before heading out the door into the cold and dark for a two-hour steady training run around Bristol city centre and docks. The plan was to take the first gel at around 50 minutes, the second at 90 minutes.

First up was the Chocolate Outrage. As it was cold, I was wearing reasonable thick gloves and tearing the sachet open took a bit of patience (OK given I was just running at a steady pace, could have been irritating at speed). The first thing I notice was how thick the 'gel' was - thicker than say, peanut butter or nutella would be. The low ambient temperature may have something to do with this, but it was almost like eating the gel, rather than drinking it as I chewed it down. On the plus side, the taste was great, very chocolatey and sweet without being sickly (much nicer than the SIS gels I am used to)

The small size of the GU Energy gel sachet also counts in its favour, as it was comfortable to run with it in hand - which is a good thing as it took me about five minutes to finish the sachet, so thick was the gel. That may again be a good thing?

About ten minutes after finishing the first gel, I did get a little stomach discomfort, but nothing too serious and it could have easily been my lack of breakfast as the gel causing the light cramps. They soon went again, so no real concerns.

Next up, 40 minutes later, was the Strawberry Banana. Same issues opening the sachet - even resorted to trying to use my teeth, but that was no better. Again the taste was great and refreshing, albeit the thick gel took a while to dispense and consume.

Energy levels felt good - it seemed to take around 12-15 minutes for the gels to take effect, but then there was a noticeable increase in energy. I finished the training run feeling good.

Test 2: Bike Session

I was left with a Jet Blackberry for the training ride. Again the plan was to consume about 50-60 minutes into the ride. I stored the sachet in my bento box and getting it out was no problem. However, attempts to rip it open on the move were foiled and I had to pull over and use both hands - perhaps I could have opened it already, perhaps used one of those gel-cartridges on the top tube, or more likely, next time I'd decant the gel into a little gel bottle and add some water to make it less thick.

The taste was again very good and the thickness was probably easier to deal with on the bike than it was when running. The only issue being you can't down a full sachet in one go, so you have to keep it in hand for a few minutes as you chomp through it.

I tried it with a mouthful of drink as well, but the flavours didn't blend all that well!

As with the other gels, there was a definite energy kick around 15 minutes later. My only gripe was that a belch about 20 minutes later left the most disgusting after-taste!

CONCLUSION

These are probably the best-tasting gels I've ever tried, and that alone made them winners for me. However, the thick nature of the gel and tricky opening of the sachet means I'm likely to stick to using them in training and rely on something more fluid and easy opening for race situations (or decant into a gel bottle). I'd definitely recommend stuffing a few in your bento box or pockets for longer training sessions.

So here are the scores on the doors for the GU Energy Gels as supplied by Stonehenge Cycles:

TASTE: 9/10
PRACTICALITY: 6/10 (easier opening would see this rise to 9)
ENERGY HIT: 7/10
 
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