Distance cycling and other endurance sports burn large amounts of carbohydrates, and for most of us that means ingesting a lot of carbohydrate gels or blocks. Prepackaged carbohydrate gels are manufactured by several companies and I actually enjoy several different brands (like Clif and Honey Stinger), but most gels contain a lot of chemicals that I try to avoid. Until recently I had never considered making my own carbohydrate gel, but when Brian Dinkins, president of HomeGOO, sent me a couple of goo flasks I decided to give it a shot.
HomeGOO sells two different reusable flasks. The five-ounce Goo Flask is a 5.5 inch tall BPA free plastic container with a leak proof, push-pull valve. The flexible six-ounce Goo Flask is made from ultra-lightweight BPA free plastic and collapses as you consume the gel. It also has a push/pull drink spout with removable cap, though the cap really isn’t necessary. These bottles are easy to wash by hand and are dishwasher safe.
A small tag on each bottle has a great recipe for making your own carbohydrate gel. The recipe calls for four ounces of raw honey, one tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses, 1/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, and one or two tablespoons of water. Honey is a perfect source of carbohydrates for cyclists since it has both fructose and sucrose and provides a “slow and steady” release of energy. In case you are unaware, raw honey is not the same thing as the filtered and pasteurized honey that comes in a plastic bear-shaped container at the grocery store (for more information see “What Is Raw Honey?”). Blackstrap molasses not only adds flavor to this recipe, but is a good source of potassium as well. I have found that using warm water when making this recipe helps the ingredients mix smoothly.
In my area of the country raw honey sells for around fifty cents an ounce, which is about half the price of prepackaged gels. In addition, raw honey has nearly twice as many calories per ounce as prepackaged gels, so you will not need as much of it to get the same effect. As an added benefit, homemade gels are all organic and contain no artificial ingredients. Because homemade gels are made of honey and molasses they never have to be refrigerated and they won’t go bad while sitting on the shelf. Whatever you don’t use on one ride can be saved for the next without any problem.
Now let’s go back to the HomeGOO flasks. I’ve used prepackaged carbohydrate gels for about 10 years and wasn’t sure how using a flask would work out. On the first ride I realized these flasks are fantastic! You can pop open the valve with your thumb and get a quick shot of the gel faster than with the prepackaged variety, then close the valve with your thumb and put it back in your jersey pocket. Among my many known weaknesses is the fact that I normally slow down a bit when I consume gels on my bike, but with the HomeGOO flask my cadence didn’t change a bit and I was able to keep one hand on the handlebar (and I didn’t have to use my teeth to open the flask!).
HomeGOO sells the five ounce flask for $3, which means that if you only used in one time you still saved money over the cost of buying prepackaged gels. The six-ounce flask sells for $9 and should last a very long time. If you are into endurance sports you owe it to yourself to try these flasks!