There are a few aspects of the cycling world I've never experienced. I've never ridden tubulars, never ridden a fixed gear bike, and up until the Fall Century, never eaten a powerbar.
In cycling circles, the ubiquitous energy bar is hard to avoid but I had up to then been the rarest of cycling oddities, the energy bar virgin. I had succeeded mostly because they really don't resemble food very much, and given the choice, I'd much rather have a turkey sandwich and a bag of chips. Also, while I often ride with the fast crowd, I don't mind getting off my bike for a half hour for a proper feeding. So I usually take the camel approach, ride, ride, ride, until I'm famished and borderline dehydrated, then get a half gallon of gatorade and a big sandwich (don't try this at home).
Over the years, I had acquired quite a stash of these bars, which were given away free at various events. No, I never actually bought one, but cannot pass up a freebie. So there they were, just waiting to be eaten. Despite the fact that some of these bars were probably several years old, freshness was not a concept that applied to power bars. I was sure they would be just as tasteless and rock hard as they were out of the factory.
So, I figured that these things were good for emergencies, e.g., you're out in the middle of darkest Africa without a store 24 in sight, so you wolf one down. Now usually my caloric requirements would be amply satisfied by the two water stops on the ride, but I decided, just in case, I'd pop one of these in my jersey.
Unfortunately, when I hit the first water stop the bananas were pretty green and it seemed like a fair chore to eat one. Also, the merry band I was travelling with seemed to be about to leave, and a good wheelsuck is a terrible thing to waste, so I contented myself with eating a couple of those cheddar cheese flavored styrofoam wafers. I was to regret this.
I had with a great amount of effort fought my way to a pack near the front that was going way faster than I should ever have tried to do if I had any sense. But not having any blood sugar to addle my thinking, this seemed like a good idea. I'll just sit back and suck wheel and life will be sweet. I was hanging on by a thread, but still figured I could last until my next feeding at the second water stop, when all of a sudden, our group realized that we had not seen an arrow for quite some time. We were in fact about four miles off the course, with several hundred more feet of gratuitous climbing. Since we were no longer in a comfortable lead, our lead guy felt like he had to chase, and I of course, followed suit as best I could.
Now I've never been one to do acrobatics while riding, I'm definitely not one of the "look, ma, no hands" crowd. I have a hard enough time staying upright with two hands on the bars. So, I realized if I were to eat this power bar, I would have to come to a stop, and I certainly didn't want to do that.
So I soldiered on, and on, and it was becoming increasingly apparent I was running out of gas. So finally, at the top of a particularly long climb, I said "no mas," stopped the bike and reached for my powerbar. Actually, it was a Cliff bar, but you get the idea. I was surprised to find that it actually wasn't too bad, and, suitably fortified, I was able to press on to the second water stop and attack those green bananas.