I've been in quite a few "raccoon-food" situations over the years... I'm not the most dsciplined eater on a ride, but I find that my body can pretty much digest anything if the need is there. Probably my go-to-oh-my-god-im-bonking gas station combo is chocolate milk and a pop tart. I know milk sounds like a terrible idea (thanks Ron Burgandy), but chocolate milk is an amazing recovery drink and does well enough during a long ride too. I can't stomach power bars anymore, but I can almost always eat a pop tart.
Bonus beta for cyclist who actually plan their food: I have yet to get sick of Bobo's oat bars... they're also vegan and gluten free, which admittedly doesn't appeal to me, but hey why not?
A half gallon of Blue Bunny ice cream.
But the guilt allows me that only once a week or so. Luckily a summer TransAmerica ride takes about 3 months.
On the other days, a bag of frozen peas, left out for 20 minutes to partially thaw. No kidding -- it's as good as Blue Bunny on a hot day.
After powering through about 17 miles of tough single track in summer heat and conquering the tallest climb brown county has to offer, I realized that I was completely out of food.
I had bonked, desperate for anything to shove down my throat to make it the 10 miles back to the car when much to my surprise, I noticed a beautifully colored packet someone had dropped in the upper dirt parking.
I stood there contemplating, while that sleek JET BlackBerry GU lable enticed me, stirring at my ravenous hunger.
A DECISION had to be made, surely I would die without it, and it having escaped the fate of being crushed by all the tires, both car and bipedal that sought to spread its contents onto the earth, it must have been some fateful luck that it had survived, so that I may survive as well......
Without any further hesitation at the top of hesitation point, I opened the mysterious parking lot goo and shot its contents into my desperately needing mouth. I have yet to taste anything as simultaneously disgusting and nourishing to this day, but it was exactly what I needed, or so I thought. I knew what I had done was a mistake from the very moment I swallowed it, it had been cooked in the sun possibly for weeks, but the reality of the consequences did not set in until about halfway back to the car.
There is an old adage about whether or not a bear sh!ts in the woods, and suppose now the same can be said of mountain bikers who eat mysterious food found cooking in the sun for indescript lengths of time in a parking lot literally named hesitation point. The irony was strong that day.
While mountain biking some trails in Western PA, I hooked up with two college students that really pushed my endurance. Great fun, but getting tapped and very hungry, I pulled out a Gel pack and Power Bar. They pulled out freaking gorgeous deli made sandwiches. I actually considered tying them to a tree and eating their sandwiches in front of them. LOL!
This isn't quite answering your question, but the food that gives me the most energy is usually the beer I know is waiting for me at the end of the ride... that always makes it easier to make a few more pedal strokes!
This is not an impromptu choice as much as a normal energy food choice as was recommended to me by my friend, Mike Beeman, who has completed 40+ consecutive Boston Marathons. Smarties. Each one is pure sugar with a little bit of citric acid. They have about 50 cal. for each roll. I'll take out a handful and start popping one after the first 10 miles and hit another one every 5 miles after until I run out.
Dirty Kanza 2016... it was HOT and shade trees out in rural Kansas are sparse. Somewhere between miles 100-150, I recall being in a group of 4 other riders baking out on the prairie when we happened upon 5 trees along a fence line spaced about 200 yards apart. Each one of us occupied the shade of a single tree to get some relief.
It just so happened that the tree I had chosen was bearing fruit... imagine a 20-30' tree completely covered in what looks like blackberries in all stages of ripening. I reached up and grabbed a handful of what looked like the most ripe and touched one of them to my tongue. Tasted like a blend of blueberry and blackberry. I scarfed down about two handfuls and they.were.amazing. Gave me a little sugar pep for the last 75 or so miles that year and that was a LONG day in the saddle.
I'd been fighting flats for hours between the first and second stopping towns and had nearly pulled the plug on the whole thing, but pedaled on... rolled in to the finish around 1am.