I've decided that caffeine helps my long long rides. I've learned not to chew them so they last a long time. This sustained low amount of sugar and caffeine seems to help me get over the top of hills. Not all flavors have caffeine added.
I buy Clif Shot Bloks by the box from Western Bikeworks, always choosing the Black Cherry flavor due to its caffeine content. A single block from a sleeve goes a long way toward delivering energy to my legs quickly. I've found Shot Bloks are the answer for rides with hill climbs like the Courage Classic I just completed in Colorado that features a day with an 80-mile route with five mountain passes, including the Vail Pass. After fussing with energizer liquids in hard-to-open packages, I'm sold on the Shot Bloks and how easy they are to carry and consume while riding.
This is tailored for a semi quick chew. Yes you do have to chew each block thoroughly but in the name of not getting sticky gu all over the place, this serves the ticket nicely.
If you are a 'Foodie', Clif might not be the right brand for you (they are used to carrying a limited palette). I have noticed that I'm not getting tired of this particular product. Very quickly Clif Bars would carry the same taste (despite the various flavour options). Clif Bloks are not quite the same.
CAUTION to the winds, when they say a flavour contains caffeine, they mean it! Maybe if you live on that particular drug, it will not bother you.
BOTTOM LINE a great way to consume 100 to 200 simple kcals without adding salt (a half or full pack). They should be consumed with water (chew, chew and chew some more Then have some water see directions). REI and other vendors sells them individually so please dont feel the need to buy 18 at once.
For when you need a little pick me up, the flavor could be more robust tho, easy to carry and dispense out of package.
I once tried a sticky mess gel from another brand and Ciif blocks are the way to go.
Gatorade blocks are a pain to deal with while pedaling, you end up smashing them, they don't slide out of the package.
Im a big fan of Clif bars and Blocks
Dreading that 3K foot climb out of the canyon half-way through your ride . . . plan ahead with a few Shot Bloks. Perfect blend of sugar & caffeine to get you to the top. Easy to chew and wash down with a swig of water. But do moderate your dose, these pack a punch.
Of all the flavors, the Margarita is the best in my opinion. I think that they really help get over that little hump when its hot and you need just a little boost to get you home.
These energy gels taste great and do a good job on long rides. I like the boost from the caffeine...especially on windy rides when I need more energy. Before my ride I open the sleeve and tuck in my jersey pocket for easy access. Overall I am pleased with this product...for both taste and performance.