Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I have been toying with the idea of "jersey cookies" for endurance racing for a few months, since I have now been saved twice by oatmeal cookies at aid stations. I don't have the strongest stomach when it comes to eating on the bike, so my nutrition plans have so far revolved around liquid/gel products. Despite being a bit afraid of eating "real food" in races, I ended up eating oatmeal cookies at the last aid stations of both the OC and the Iceman in 2008, when the end was near and the sports drinks were getting nasty.
So when I was preparing for the Ouachita Challenge this year, I strongly considered supplementing my gel with oatmeal cookies cut into quarters and stuffed my jersey pocket for easy access. Not the cleanest thing in the world, but easy to eat without stopping. However, I abandoned the idea after I finished exactly half of the gel that I brought on my last long ride before the race.
Then Jason called me the day before the OC for a pre-race pep talk/nutrition talk. Much to my surprise, he seemed kind of encouraging about my cookie idea, so I planned on picking some up at the rest stops. Unfortunately, they didn't have the same cookies as last year so that was kind of sad. I ended up making it through the race on 2 1/2 of the 5 gel flasks that I had packed, 2 1/2 bananas, 1 sugar cookie, and 1/2 oatmeal cookie I tried to scarf down on Big Brushy when the ugliness hit. The moral of the story is that real food has real value after all, and gel gets somewhat unpalatable after a while.
With that in mind, I'm doing taste testing in preparation for the Lumberjack 100, which is a little over 10 weeks away. I tried Pepperidge Farm Oatmeal Raisin a few months ago when the idea originally struck. They tasted good, but I never actually ate them on the bike because it was the middle of winter and eating cookies takes more manual dexterity than lobster gloves allow. My biggest problem was that despite the "zero grams trans fat" on the label, the word "hydrogenated" still made it's way into the ingredients list.
I really liked the fat-free (more in importantly, hydrogenated-free) cookies in the swag bags at the OC, but the attached card said the minimum order was four dozen. I think four dozen cookies in my freezer would be a really bad thing.
Finally, I noticed Quaker Breakfast Cookies while I was in the grocery store yesterday, and grabbed the box without giving it much of a look. I was under no pretense that they were actually health food or that people should actually eat cookies for breakfast (breakfast is a sensitive subject for me), but I somehow thought they might stack up better than the Pepperidge Farm cookies, which are marketed on deliciousness instead of nutrition. Sadly, when I looked at the nutrition facts on the Quaker Breakfast Cookies, I was shocked. That long column of text in the picture is its ingredient list, and the word "hydrogenated" in there a lot, along with a lot of other big words. It kind of grossed me out that they try market these things as being good for you.
I'm sure I'll find something good soon. I suppose a "dietarily insignificant" dose of hydrogenated-ness isn't terrible, but it would be nice to find a cookie that is tasty, soft, and shelf-stable without it. I'm not sure if that is chemically impossible or not.