Back-pocket food to eat on the go in a long sportive usually falls into one or two categories - bars and gels. (I’m not counting the other high-tech stuff like bananas, fig-rolls and oat-cakes.) Shot Bloks come somewhere in between: a stick of chewy jelly.
The consistency is like the jelly cubes you add water to for making jelly at kids' parties. Thicker than a gel, but much easier on the teeth (and so quicker to get down) than a cereal-style bar. It tastes a bit like those jelly cubes too. I was testing the strawberry flavour. Sweet, but not unpleasant. A bit like a wine gum. But not as chewy as a wine gum. More like a jelly baby. This is very scientific, isn’t it?
OK, back to some more empirical details. The stick consists of six separate chews, so you can bite off one or two, and put the rest back in your pocket to munch on later. That’s something you can’t easily do with a gel. As well as strawberry, the Bloks come in other flavours including orange, black cherry, margarita and cola.
What’s in the Bloks? Carbohydrate for energy, and electrolytes to replace the ones you lose. According to the wrapper, each 60g stick contain 48g of carbo (of which 24g is sugars), plus 140mg of sodium and 40mg of potassium. Zero protein, zero fibre, zero fat. The main ingredients are brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. The energy value is 836Kj or 200Kcal per stick (or 1392Kj/333Kcal per 100g). On the wrapper, Clif also emphasise the natural and organic nature of their ingredients. (According to the Clif website, some Blok flavours also contain 50mg of caffeine.)
Do they work? Yes. I tested the Shot Bloks on a long training ride. It was cold, wet and wind-against. A real energy-sapping day. The sort you hate, but the sort you know will be worth it when you’re storming up a major climb on a sunny day in a few months time. After about two hours of riding, I was feeling tired. I bit off three Shot Bloks - quick chew and easy swallow - and within a few minutes I felt better. There was definitely a spring in my step as I went up the next hill out of the saddle in the big ring.
Do Shot Bloks work better than any other carbo-electrotyte product on the market? (Or, indeed, better than bananas, fig-rolls and oatcakes?) Who knows. That comes down to a matter of personal trial. As with all energy food, it’s worth trying out Shot Bloks on a training ride, and if they work for you, use 'em for real in a sportive or other event.
A single stick costs between £2 and £2.50, depending where you buy. As with all similar products, you can find special offers in shops and on-line, bringing it down to about £1.75, and you can reduce this further by buying a box of 18.
Any practical downsides? Just one. After the Shot Bloks had been in my back pocket for a couple of hours, my body heat turned them sticky, and the wrapper was hard to get off using teeth and one-hand on the move. Even sitting up and using both hands, it was tricky, and that’s not the sort of thing you want to be doing in a bunch anyway. If you use a tri-bag (or just don’t get as warm as me round the rear pocket area) you won’t have this problem.
Overall, Shot Bloks are not cheap, but I’d recommend giving them a try, especially if you find gels too sickly and bars too much to handle.
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Make and model: Clif Shot Blocks
Size tested: n/a
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
Age: 49 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,