Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS AND PHOTOS: MIKE BLE­WITT

Just like cars need petrol, moun­tain bik­ers need food! I’m happy rid­ing to build hunger for a meal, but on long days out, or for events, you are al­ways go­ing to need to have some­thing on hand. Rid­ing with a ‘hunger flat’ or ‘bonk’ isn’t a whole lot of fun. Your legs feel empty, you are light-headed, and it’s just dif­fi­cult to ride how you want to, or even at all if it gets pretty bad! Thanks to reg­u­lar recipes from Karen Hill and nutri­tion sug­ges­tions via Zoe Wil­son, know­ing what to eat, when to eat, and what we can make at home is all pretty straight­for­ward. But some­times plan­ning ahead doesn’t work. Race days come around and you just need some­thing that is eas­ily por­ta­ble and with a known amount of en­ergy. That’s where pre­pared sports nutri­tion comes in. I re­mem­ber the first time I had a Clif bar, and I was as­tounded that it wasn’t crap. Clif do more than just bars, though, with their Clif Shots (gels) and Bloks (they look like lol­lies, but aren’t re­ally). And the Clif Bars still come in flavours you as­so­ciate with real food. We were sent a box of the Cool Mint Cho­co­late (with a bit of sneaky caf­feine) and they’re still as ed­i­ble as ever. This is for a few rea­sons. One is the use of real in­gre­di­ents, an­other is flavour, and lastly it’s their den­sity. They are moist enough to chew eas­ily, but crumbly enough to break sec­tions off so you’re not chok­ing on them while try­ing to ride. Each bar pro­vides over 1000kj and a whop­ping 44g of car­bo­hy­drates, and 10g of pro­tein. I found these best on longer rides with mates, and they’re cer­tainly more in­de­struc­tible than a sand­wich or a ba­nana!


The Clif Shots are more like your typ­i­cal en­ergy gel – pretty sweet, not as thick as some but not runny like other brands. They’re about right. What I re­ally like is that the tab to pull off is held in place by an­other piece of pack­ag­ing. I al­ways do my best to pocket that tab in a race, and the area un­der my clothes­line is tes­ta­ment to that. But I know I miss some, and I know plenty of other peo­ple do too. This is a small step from Clif to re­duce waste in the out­doors. The new Mocha flavour packs 50mg of caf­feine. Not so much to knock your head off, but enough to make a dif­fer­ence. For a long event, I’d stick to these in the lat­ter half. And I think it’s races or events where these work the best – I’m not in­ter­ested in down­ing a gel when out rid­ing. My den­tist prob­a­bly is. But I do al­ways keep one in my Camel­bak on long rides, as en­ergy gels can give you the rapid en­ergy you need to get up and mov­ing. The Razz and Cho­co­late flavours are caf­feine free, but the Dou­ble Ex­presso has a 100mg hit if that’s your thing.


I’m a sucker for an Allen’s Party Mix. And so it is way too easy to have Clif Bloks dis­ap­pear if they are around the house. But if I’m re­strained, these are ex­cel­lent for long and hard rides, and in events. They’re near on im­pos­si­ble to de­stroy, but easy to eat - in six pieces per pack. Each piece has about 125kj, so if you’re in a long event and work­ing to a nutri­tion plan, it’s a good way to break up your in­take with­out guess­work. Like much of the Clif range, Bloks are made from about 90% or­ganic in­gre­di­ents. The Mar­garita flavour I tried has triple the sodium to other flavours, at 150mg per piece. That makes it great for hot events and to pro­mote drink­ing more. Other flavours have 25mg or 50mg of caf­feine – or none. The Bloks are prob­a­bly my favourite Clif prod­uct. They’re good for the events I do, but also so easy to chuck into a back­pack or pocket for a ride, and they’re not go­ing to be destroyed like a ba­nana if I don’t need them. They’re just a bit easy to snack on! Ei­ther way, if you need some sports nutri­tion that doesn’t have an in­gre­di­ents list that reads like a col­lec­tion of E num­bers, check out the Clif range.

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