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Food and Nutrition Links

Nuunhttp://www.nuun.com – when our rides got to the 50+ mile mark, we found we always needed a boost. We tried Hammer Gel, some other hydration gels, Gator Ade and so on, but either they didn’t work, or they gave us a "buzz" or a drop, and the Hammer Gel spoiled in the heat, besides being really messy to clean up.

In Wichita KS, we stopped at a small bike shop, and the guy showed us the Nuun tube. It’s really awesome. They are small tablets that dissolve in water quickly and easily and they taste the best of anything we’ve tried. They have several different flavors and when you’re drinking as much as we are, we like to change flavors, though we admit that the berry one is our favorite. We find that if we drink some just as we end a ride, that our recovery is a lot faster. And one big plus is that, when your water is really warm (which it has been for us for months on end), the Nuun tables still taste pretty good.

They’ve apparently become quite popular, but many places still don’t stock them, so you’re best off ordering them online.

Updated notes: We are up to Maine now, and we rode in blistering heat from Florida through North Carolina. We desperately needed electrolyte replacement, and we drank at least 2 24-oz bottles each, daily, of something with electrolytes. Nuun tablets have definitely worked the best of anything we’ve tried, and we’ve now tried at least 4 other types and brands. And it still tastes the best!

Alacerwww.alacer.com – This company makes the well-known EmergenC, what we call our vitamin cocktail. EmergenC comes in little packets that are easy to slip into a pocket, and they mix easily and quickly in 4 oz of water. It’s really tasty and gives 1000 gm of Vitamin C, along with other vitamins and some minerals. It’s wonderful as a quick pick-me-up, and it’s great if you think you’re getting a cold.

Alacer also makes an electrolyte replacement drink. We have a huge stock of that now, as we bought a box of 30, but it’s not got the same taste quality as EmergenC. It’s pretty neutral, and we think it does a good job, but we definitely prefer the Nuun. We recently tried it in only 8 oz of water instead of the liter they recommend, and it wasn’t too bad taste-wise – it was quite reasonable, so we’ll do that from now on. We’ll just get our shot of electrolytes in a much smaller quantity of water (which isn’t a problem as we drink so much water anyway).

ProBarwww.theprobar.com – ProBars are really tasty and we love eating them. They don’t give a buzz or a drop; they are organic bars; and they go down easily and digest easily. The downsides are that they are very expensive (up to $4 a bar) for a daily ride like we’re doing, and with the calories we’re burning, they don’t last long enough to justify the expense. If we had them donated to us, or we had a much bigger budget, they’d definitely be finding their way into our front packs for snacks, and they’d be perfect for the end of the day’s ride when we still need to set up camp before we can cook.

Lärabarwww.larabar.com – These are another great bar. Again – all natural, organic bars – no buzz and no drop, but again, they’re expensive and don’t last long enough to justify the expense. And, if they were donated to us, or we had a bigger budget, they’d make the cut to the short list.

Mona Viewww.monavie.com – Mona Vie is a nutritional drink from the acai berry. We’ve been drinking it since early 2006 and we love the taste and the results. When we were at home and cycling daily, we’d take our morning shot and then head out for a ride. There’d be a battle among the family members as to who got the last bit of it. However, it needs refrigeration, and it’s therefore not suitable for an unsupported ride like we’re doing now. They do have gel packs, but neither Chelsea nor I seem to be able to use them. You may want to use them with other food in your stomach as they can be a little hard to digest on their own on long distance rides.

Whole Foodswww.thewholefoodsmarket.com – A great store that has about everything you can imagine in healthy foods. Their prices tend to be pretty high, but are pretty reasonable on things like EmergenC and the various energy bars. They also tend to be a lot less than other health foods stores, with the exception of the discount chains like Vitamin Shoppe. We use them when we are near one, to stock up on ingredients to make our own trail mix.

Greens Plushttp://www.greensplus.com – We ran across Greens Plus bars several years ago, and had used them on local rides as a form of breakfast. We tried them out on our cross-country ride, but ran out early in the trip, so we tried a lot of other alternatives – nearly every so-called "energy bar" on the shelves, oatmeal, and we even tried cold pizza one morning. Absolutely nothing worked as well as the Greens Bars, so we started tracking down the Whole Foods stores where we could get them, and we’d get several boxes at once. At one point, I finally ordered online from their website and had them shipped to me at a campground!

We found that we could both ride at least 40 miles on only one full bar each – a half a bar before heading out, and another half bar about 15-20 into the day. We’d supplement with trail mix. (see updated notes)

What we liked so much about the Greens Bars is that there was never a "buzz" with them – they have a clean form of energy, and there was never a drop as it wore off. Not only that, but there’s actual nutrition in the bars…what a concept! I have copied here for you the description of the bars from their website.

"We’ve combined organically grown superfoods, soy protein, high energy herbal extracts and a little bit of honey to produce the only cold-processed, alkaline-forming green food bar. The GREENS+® Energy Bar contains no processed sugar, salt, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, synthetic sweeteners, preservatives, or genetically modified foods of any kind. Available in natural and chocolate-coated flavors; delivers low-glycemic carbohydrates, protein and essential fatty acids that supply a steady stream of energy throughout the day."

Updated notes: We have found that Greens Bars may have changed their formulation, as we now find them to taste much more of honey, and to have a bit of a “greasy” feel. We are also finding that they are not lasting us more than about a half hour, and we suspect it’s because we are burning so many more calories this year, pulling 70 lbs of gear. We’ve dropped them from our short list, as they don’t last well in heat either.

Cajun Grocerwww.cajungrocer.com – We just heard about this website that sells cajun-specific foods online so those of us who have fallen in love with it don’t have to be without it – no matter how far away we wander. We LOVE Tony Chacheres Famous Creole Seasoning (we’re bringing a small container with us), and we’ve also tried and liked Tony Chachere’s shrimp fry. Not to mention, the online store sells Tabasco jelly, which we love. We haven’t browsed through the site much yet, but we may buy some of our new favorites online and have them shipped to us on the road.