I've never had a weakness for soda, and honestly I just think most of those NRG drinks are pretty much soda + ginseng/taurine/whatever the fuck, and I just think they all taste terrible. The really high caffeine ones make me feel like shit too - and I can drink coffee/tea.
I try to approach a long day of riding the same way I do hiking, with proper nutrition and hydration. This provides plenty of proper energy way better than any sugar supplement. Drinks that DO work I think are things like Gatorade, and I really like drinking coconut water (drink in moderation, it can give you the shits bigtime if not) for recovery (a pint of it has the potassium of 2+ bananas).
The caveat to the above is that up to now I'm still doing resort riding, so beers and bowls are interspersed with random regularity.
I would only prep for riding the way you do a workout, if it is going to be short session, then I could see the advantages. For a day on the mountain you need a good meal the night before along with being already hydrated, makes more of a difference than anything you do on the day of.
If I don't have herb I guess I can be cranky, but its hard to be that upset when theres snow to slide on.
is it late october yet?