Written on 06-May-2011 by WillAC
We cyclists can sleep soundly at night. We are fit and healthy, leave our end of the day stresses behind as we put the hammer down on the way home from work, and we are users of low carbon transport! In fact, many of you might even pick up some organic food on the way home to refuel. In fact, the food you eat to fuel you're cycling has a big impact on the carbon savings versus doing the journey by car - 1 mile of cycling fuelled by a bacon butty or a cheeseburger has a carbon footprint 2-3 times larger (200-260g of CO2) than doing the same mile fuelled by a banana or bowl of cereal (60-90g).
Can we boast the same green credentials on sportive day though? The right food, gels and drink can be critical on the way to getting a decent time or getting through those tough spells when you've hit the wall, so we don't want to get it wrong. There are a whole host of high energy foods on the market - Maxifuel or Science in Sport to name just a couple that you might use. There is also a growing market of ethical lines of sports nutrition. The likes of Mule Bar, Pulsin and Torq for example. But how good are they? Do we concede performance in exchange for an organic or fairtrade option? Can green be high performance too? We at RacingGreen wanted to find out.
To answer the question, we signed up to do an 80 mile sportive in Cambridgeshire in April to try out the ethical brands and compare them with the conventional options. We thought 80 miles and plenty of hills should put them all to the test! Our criteria for judging were practicality, impact on performance, price, taste and environmental credentials. So what did we find? Well as you'd expect the usual suspects came out well on performance practicality - Maxifuel gels gave a great boost, though we found the bars slightly dry. While Mule Bar (the market leader for ethical energy foods who source organic and fairtrade produce) scored very highly on performance, up there with Maxifuel - the official supporter of the British Triathlon Federation. In fact, Mule Bar scoring best on taste grounds with their new range of gels making an instant hit. Torq are a midway option on environmental credentials as they source fairtrtade fruit for their bars, but offer some great flavours on the gels which has real performance impact - banoffee was a particular favourite. Science in Sport offered reliable performance at good value, though no environmental plus points. While Pulsin offer top quality environmental credentials, their packaging slightly let them down on practicality grounds as they were tricky to open on the run. Prices varied, but the ethical options tended to be slightly more expensive, though not break the bank expensive.
Our trials suggest there are some great options on the market already, and more on the way with PowerBar now making bars from "natural ingredients", and Science in Sport offering an organic energy drink mix. So next time you're preparing for your weekend ride, why not give a green option a go? If you do, we'd love to hear from you and keep our reviews up to date! firstname.lastname@example.org