We got our hands on a selection of Cliff Bars to review for you and Sim and Heather took on the taste and energy test.
I had my first taste of CLIF Bars whilst taking part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain last year – the chocolate chip version kept me going from John O’Groats all the way to Glasgow, so when I was asked to review CLIF bars for CyclingShorts, I thought why not?
So, a large selection of CLIF Bars in all different flavours made their way through my door – There was the chocolate chip version which I had tried before, then Crunchy Peanut Butter flavour, followed by Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, then Chocolate Almond Fudge, with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bringing up the rear.
I must say that some of them sounded slightly exotic and I wasn’t convinced that I would like them, but I tried them all anyway (it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!)…
So, what did I think? Well, some of the flavours and the texture of the bars are better than others. For example, whilst the Oatmeal Raisin Walnut version may appeal to some due to the lower calorific content than the others, I found that unfortunately it was a bit disappointing – too dry to have on its own, especially trying to eat it going uphill. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the most exotic-sounding one (in my humble opinion), the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut was in actual fact the best of the bunch, mainly due to the addition of white chocolate pieces compensating for the dry nature of the bars in general. However, the Crunchy Peanut Butter flavour came a close second, as CLIF have worked hard to make that bar more chewy and therefore slightly more moist.
The Chocolate Almond Fudge was a bit disappointing too – I thought that it would be the CLIF Bar version of Bakewell Tart but it just seemed difficult to eat, as did the Chocolate Chip version. The bars really fill a hole and contain on average 245 kcals per bar and provide plenty of slow release energy from the seeds and grains used.
CLIF pride themselves on using wholesome and nutritious ingredients and having no trans fats, hydrogenated fats or high fructose corn syrup. It should be noted though that under UK regulations CLIF Bar cannot state that the bars are organic or contain no transfats.
The wrappers are foil and although this keeps the contents fresh, it can hurt your teeth trying to rip it open (I can’t ride in a group of people non-handed so I have to use my teeth – but don’t tell my dentist!) however if you want weight for your £1, these are definitely substantial bars – you can feel the heft when you pick one up!
So, for marks out of 100, overall I would probably give the CLIF bar range 70% (good start, but some improvements needed) although I would give the White Chocolate Macadamia version 85%.
I confess to being rather skeptical about using Cliff Bars as I have had mixed experiences using energy or nutrition bars when riding, to the point that I have reverted to using trusty old jam and bread on most rides. My experience is that some are gooey and sticky, others sickly and worse still some that encouraged the production of some rather unpleasant gases, which was not good in the bunkhouse when all ten of us had been using the same product with the same effect! So needless to say I was a tad apprehensive when I was among a group of friends taking part in the Manchester 100 who would be testing a range of Cliff Bars. Fortunately we would not all be staying in the same room at the end of the day!
On the day we had four different flavours, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Almond fudge, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut and Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, to test and we split them across the group of Team Parrotti riders. My son plumped for the Chocolate Chip and I tried the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.
Out on the road we were particularly impressed with the ease of opening the packaging and the fact that the bar stayed intact allowing us to nibble on the bar and keep popping it back into our back pockets without making a mess. Which is great if you want to use them for a little pick up as you are riding.
The consistency of the bars is moist but not too gooey and this works really well when riding allowing you to take small bites without the bar falling apart. However you do need a sweet tooth as the bars are very very sweet but then that is not surprising considering nearly a third of the bar is sugar (between 21g – 23g for a 68g bar). This was the general experience of all Team Parrotti riders who tested the bars during our day out at the Manchester 100. We all agreed that the bars are worth carrying as a back up source of energy but we all felt that they are a little too sweet to use as a regular nutrition.
Of the flavours tested the clear favourite was Chocolate Chip with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut a close second. The least favourite was Chocolate Almond fudge which was incredible sweet and rather sickly.
The bottom line has to be ‘would we use Cliff Bars again?’ and the answer is a resounding yes. They provide a good energy boost that be easily nibbled on when needed and they are really easy to digest with no adverse effects (if you know what I mean!).
To learn more about CLIF Bars and their extensive range of products visit their website: www.clifbar.co.uk
Cycling Shorts overall rating for the Cliff Bar Range:
Jody on the track at Manchester
Well with all the excitement of 1 year to go celebrations I thought it was a good idea to update you on my progress and let you know what’s been happening over the last few months.
At the end of my last blog I was off to Glasgow to join over 600 riders, all raising money for Paralympics GB, on day 4 of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. Myself and other members of the GB Para- cycling team (Darren Kenny, David Stone, Terry Byrne, Jon-Allan Butterworth, Helen Scott) rode alongside them for 4 days down to Bath race course. The ride didn’t get off to a great start, for myself Darren and David. We had been competing in Spain at the Para-cycling World Cup, but unfortunately for us our bikes didn’t make it with us to Glasgow! It was only by pit stop 1 that we managed to get hold of our bikes, and we joined the other riders on route to Carlisle Race Course. On each stage we started the ride as the last group off, and throughout the day we’d over take and talk to as many riders as possible. Some would join our train even if it was only for a few minutes just to say they’d rode with us, and others were just happy for the encouragement we gave them as they made their way to the finish line. The 4 days we rode were some of the hardest I’ve had in the saddle, not because of the terrain, or the length of the stage (even though they were the biggest rides I’ve done), it was the shocking weather we had to put up with. And in Chorley on the way to Haydock Park race course, this was possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, let alone ride in I really did wonder what I was doing! It was a shame we couldn’t do the whole RAB, but hopefully our presence through the midsection of the ride helped the moral of the riders as they headed to Land’s End.
Jody - Image ©Copyright British Cycling
National Time Trial Championships
At the start of August I headed down to Worcestershire to take part in round 5 of the Rudy Project Time Trial Series, which also doubled as the Para-Cycling National Championships. The course was changed at the last minute due to road works, into a challenging 13 miles of undulating roads. I rode as fast as possible around the course, trying to maintain as much momentum on the steep rises scattered throughout and managed to finish in 32:52. This was good enough for 4th place, definitely not a course suited to me, but perfect preparation for the World Championship TT the following month.
World Championships – Roskilde Denmark Worlds Day 2 C4 30.6km TT
The road worlds were something I’d never planned to do at the start of the year, but with a few top ten finishes at the world cup, and other events it kind of made sense and I found myself on the plane to Roskilde in Denmark. The first few days of training around the course were wet, and that didn’t give myself or team mates much confidence of a dry race, especially as all the app’s on our iPad’s laptops and phones had it down to be wet. But come the first day of racing the weather had picked up, and managed to stay dry for the duration of the competition. The time trial was first up for me, and I managed to get plenty of useful tips from my team mates who had tackled the course on day one of the championships, however I knew it was going to be tough, as it was a longer TT than I’d previously ridden and also with its undulating nature it was going to involve an element of pacing so I would not overcook it on the first lap. With my coach in the following car shouting words of encouragement on the megaphone I was underway, trying to maintain speed without going too deep into the red, as I came through lap 1 of 2 I was feeling pretty strong, but that feeling soon disappeared as my minute man over took me into turn 1 of the course. I had an idea this was going to happen as he had won the Segovia round of the world cup, so I just wanted to keep him in sight so I could post a reasonable time. However Roberto was quickly pulling away from me, and just as I needed to inject a bit more effort to maintain my speed the first laps efforts began to take their toll. It wasn’t until I was about 3⁄4 of the way through the ride did I get a second wind, but by now the damage was done and it was a matter of surviving to the end. I crossed the line in 45.13, a reasonable time, but only good enough for 12th place, just outside the top ten goal I thought I could do if everything went my way. After the TT I had an easy day, before an early starting road race, at 8am on a Sunday morning. I can’t even remember in my swimming days a start that unreasonably early!
Worlds Day 4 – C4 & C5 road race 75.6km
The goal for the road race was to try to stay in the bunch to the end and then sprint for the finish and see what that would get me. The bunch was the biggest I’d race in all year, 49 riders from the C4 and C5 class. The previous day there had been many crashes in the C1-3 race, and the first lap seemed pretty cautious, with everyone taking care through all the technical sections. By lap 2 the pace had increased and the race was on. However at the end of 4 laps I was still in the race as each break failed to get away. Even though lap 4 was easily the toughest all I had to do was just hold on for one more lap before being able to get involved in a bunch sprint for the finish.
With 2 km’s to go and much to my surprise, I was still there and was starting to think that it might actually be my day. Into the last kilometre the pace picked up again, as I found Jiri Jezek’s wheel and thought it was going to be a good place to sit. But just as I got settled in, there was a touch of wheels from behind, which forced me wide. I managed to stay on Jiri’s wheel, when almost instantly there was another touch of wheels. It was all gettng a bit too close for me and I had images of myself crashing in the last roundabout before the final 300m sprint. I had been watching the C1-3 race the previous day which had a crash in exactly the same place and didn’t want this to happen to me. I know the possibility of crashing shouldn’t affect me, but with the road being such a minor focus for me, I took the decision to back out of the sprint. As I moved to the side, I watched the finish in front of me, and sure enough there was a crash at the roundabout. I will never know if I would have been caught up in it had I continued to sprint, but I kind of regret not going for it, especially as I know I have more speed than any of the riders in the bunch. Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) in that sprint I developed a conscience and that voice in my head said it wasn’t worth the risk. I know it was for a podium place at a world championship, but I have to look at the bigger picture and that is London. Therefore, starting my track season injured probably wouldn’t be the best idea. I’m a trackie who loves riding my bike as fast as possible around a velodrome and I want to show the world just how fast I can go in less than a year, but in order to do that I need to stay injury free.
The road season for me has been a good experience, and although I didn’t score anymore qualification points for London at the World Championships, I’ve come away with an increased endurance base that I can now work into my track season.
Jody & Girlfriend Christina At The Beach
Outside of training and racing, I have been quite busy off the bike. I can’t tell you everything yet, as a lot of things haven’t been announced yet, however one project I can tell you about was collaboration between Channel 4 and Sainsbury’s. They have made a series of ten ninety second films, each one focussing on a different Paralympic athlete. My film was to be the last in the series and involved 2 days of filming. The first day was to capture me in my training environment, so they came to the velodrome with some very fancy HD cameras, lighting and a bunch of ideas. It was pretty enjoyable riding with cameras mounted to my bike, and to the motorbike I was chasing, it was all good fun, and the little clips I could see it was looking pretty cool too. With all the filming at the velodrome done, the second day of filming was to capture me outside of my training environment relaxing with friends and family. First venue was Hunstanton beach. Originally they’d planned on filming me fly my power kite, and being dragged through the sand, however it was pretty obvious that wasn’t going to happen as there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air! In the end they decided to film me walking hand in hand on the sand with Christina, my girlfriend, and then skimming some stones on the calm sea. After getting the shots they wanted it was off to my uncles, where we had planned a bit of a get together with members of my family. We played a little golf, and then a game of cricket before having something to eat, all in front of the cameras. After all the filming they had one piece left to do, and that was to film my mum. She was going to be the voiceover for the film, and as such I wasn’t allowed to hear what she said until I saw the finished film.
I’m pleased with the final film, and think the voice over from my mum is almost poetic. If you didn’t catch it you can see the film on my website by clicking here.
Next stop for me is a trip to the London velodrome, where I shall be riding with the Para-cycling squad for 3 sessions to learn the ins and outs of the new track before next year’s Paralympics.
Catch you all next month.
Piacenza, Gippingen & Segovia
by Jody Cundy
Once I was back from Sydney, I had a few weeks of training to prepare for the next trip away, in which I would be racing 3 weekends back to back in Piacenza, Gippingen and Segovia. Training took a racing focus once I returned home, and I started to introduce some intensity in training, by adding a 10mile TT and crit race to my weekly sessions. This way, I could replicate the kind of riding I’d experienced in Sydney, and hopefully that would better prepare me for future road races.
Piacenza in Italy was the first stop of my little road trip and I was joined by Jon-Allan Butterworth to represent Para-T at the P1 event, the team’s first road race.
First up was a 58km 26lap crit around the town of Castel San Giovanni, and from the off, it was a fast race. With C4s and C5s racing at the same time, the attacks were going right from the first pedal stroke. Having learnt my lessons from Sydney, I tried to stay near the front of the race, and although a few went off the front I managed to stay in quite a select group of strong riders. I was feeling pretty good even though I was on my limit, but then, with a few mistimed accelerations and an increase in pace on the front the group started to get away. With a few laps on my own I was joined by a few riders who had been dropped earlier on and I worked with those guys until the end of the race. There was some confusion on the final lap of the race as the lead riders who’d broke away passed us on the start finish straight, effectively ending the race without our group sprinting for position, unfortunately I was pipped on the line and finished 7th. However, I was feeling good about my form and looking forward to the pan flat short 11km time trial the following the day. I managed to post a 14:26 which was good enough for 5th place and just 45seconds outside the winner Jiri Jezek. With my 5th place in the TT I managed to move up to 6th overall and score a few more valuable points for London.
Jody on the road - Image ©Copyright Christian Kelkel
After Piacenza it was a 6hr road transfer to the Black Forest where we were going to be based for the Gippingen P1 event. Although the race was in Switzerland, we based ourselves in Germany just across the border, as the roads to cycle on were perfect, offering 5 days of beautiful rides and some good rolling terrain. Gippingen started with a 16.2km TT around a hilly 8.1km loop. The first half of the loop went uphill, the middle was flat and then it went downhill to the finish. With the first lap done, I was feeling good about how things were going, and then my minuteman caught me at the foot of the climb for the 2nd lap. I wasn’t too fazed by this as he’d finished 2nd in the last 2 time trials I’d raced, so I knew he was strong. But going up the hill for the 2nd time, I lost all my momentum and it wasn’t until the flat section that I could find my rhythm again, by then the damage was done. I came across the line in 23.20, not a bad time but only good enough for 10th place.
The road race the following day was a tough affair and to be honest, I didn’t feature in the race at all. It was one of those days where my head and legs really didn’t want to do the same thing, and as we went up the 2nd part of the stepped 178m climb for the first time the race just rode away from me as I struggled to keep up, my legs really weren’t working well! I think 6 races in 13days might have been 1 too many for me, but I kept on and used the rest of the race as a training ride for the World Cup. I crossed the line in a lowly 17th place, one from last.
Segovia World Cup round 2
Jody - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After the event in Gippingen I left my Para-T team to join the GB setup as we headed to Segovia.
The first 2 days of training we were greeted by torrential rain, but as the racing approached the weather picked up. First race up was the TT, a 21km race on a flat loop around the town of Valverde del Majano. It was going to be a quick race and I was hoping that the few easy days I’d had on the bike after the P1 events had been kind on my legs. Rolling down the start ramp and through the technical exit out of the town I quickly settled into a smooth fast rhythm and was relieved that my legs were feeling like mine again! With the long straight open roads the wind was going to play a big factor in the race, but with no real tailwind sections to speak of it was a tough ride. About half way through the 21km’s I had a bit of a disaster as my back went into spasm, and I could no longer maintain my aero position down on my ski’s of my TT bike, for the next 2minuntes or so I was struggling to hold my position while trying to release my back, all the time I could feel the seconds slipping away. Thankfully the pain and spasm subsided and I could get back to tiding the bike at speed. The last section of the race was the fastest as it made its way downhill into the town. I crossed the line in 28:06, not a bad time, but only good enough for 9thplace, at least it was a few more points in the bag.
￼The road race was 4 laps of a pretty boring 18.1km loop with the only interesting points being a small section on cobbles and a gentle rise after the start finish line for approx 2km. With the course being so flat I was feeling confident about my chances in the race, all I needed to do was stay upright and in the bunch. However with strong crosswinds on at least 12km of the course, positioning was going to be all important. As we raced through the first lap I was feeling good, my legs were feeling pretty good. Crossing the finish line the speed of the peloton increased as we went up the 2km rise, and with the 33°C heat searing down
I start I found myself struggling at the back of the bunch. Over the top of the rise I was about 50m off the back. Turning into the crosswind I put in a massive effort to get back on, eventually all the attacks failed to break clear, the bunch slowed enough for me to join again, however it wasn’t long until the attacks started again, and after the effort earlier I was spent, and watched the bunch drift off into the distance. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one, and after a few minutes of chasing the bunch it was clear that my chances of a bunch sprint had gone, but I was now joined by 3 other riders and we worked together to minimise the effects of the wind.
After doing our even share of working on the front, going into the last 3km I noticed there was a reluctance for anyone to come to the front. However as I knew the race was essentially over for me I was happy to lead into the last kilometre. Surprise surprise I was jumped by 2 of the riders I was with, I quickly accelerated onto their wheels, taking the last left hander I moved into 2nd, and waited to make my move, 250m to go and I got out of the saddle and applied my track speed and powered by. In the end I finished 50m clear of the riders I was with, if only I could have stayed in the peloton as I had the speed for the victory, especially as the race ended in a bunch sprint, instead I crossed the line in 14th, outside the important points.
With the Segovia World Cup done, I headed to Glasgow to do four stages in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain before getting back to my normal training programme and daily routine. Almost a little boring after all the travelling and racing this month, but it’s good to not live out of a bag or move hotel every week. Also it’s probably not for long, as there is more racing and exciting things to come.
Catch you soon,
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel