Category Archives: Health And Hygiene

Nutrition, chamois creams, performance products, and pain-relieving ointments for cyclists.

ReplaceSR Electrolyte Tablets Winner


The winner is “lectrichead”

We recently held a contest to give away six bottles of Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets to some lucky reader. The rules for the contest were simple: just pick a number between 500 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section for the review. The contest ended at midnight on Friday, October 30, 2015. The winning number for this contest was 876 and the entry closest to that number was given by “lectrichead”, or, as he is known to his family, Marc, who guessed 874.

Marc describes himself as a “middle-aged web site designer, who has always had an interest in biking but through years of sitting at my job I gained some weight and got pretty out of shape, and my biking decreased over time. Until one day my wife and I decided to lose weight and get healthy, and now I bike like crazy, as much as as far as I can possibly go and my interest in biking increases exponentially as time goes by, it seems. I also cross-train also. I live in northern New York, nearly as far north as you can go without falling into the St. Lawrence and reaching Canada.” You can follow his articles at the Random Bits & Bytes Blog.

Random Number GeneratorFor your information, we used a random number generator to select a number between 500 and 1,000 and that is how 876 was selected as the winning number. Apparently a few folks did not read the directions since they entered numbers that were outside the range of the contest. In addition, I normally word the rules to state that the winning number has to be the number closest to, but not over, the number selected by the random number generator.


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Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets (Product Review and Giveaway)

Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets

Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets

For the past couple of months I have been using ReplaceSR (Sustained Release) Electrolyte Tablets on my bike rides. I haven’t taken a bike ride in over twelve years without consuming some form of added electrolytes—usually in the carbohydrate drink mix I use (I make my own). However, having the electrolytes in a sustained release tablet opens up a whole new world! The folks at Endurance Products sent me a rather large supply of their new product, ReplaceSR, for me to sample and I still have six unopened bottles of the tablets I am going to give away to some lucky reader (see the details at the end of this article).

ReplaceSR is a 4 to 6 hour sustained release electrolyte tablet designed for cyclists, triathletes and other endurance athletes. If your normal bike ride is under 90 minutes you don’t need this product. Each tablet contains five active ingredients: Sodium (175mg), Potassium (65 mg), Chloride (211 mg), Phosphorus (103 mg), and Magnesium (10 mg). The ReplaceSR tablets are about the size of a regular Tylenol tablet.

The manufacturer suggests that you take one to three ReplaceSR tablets with a full glass of water thirty minutes before beginning to exercise. I realize those directions are not too precise, so I just took one tablet for a short ride (two to three hours), two tablets for a medium ride (three to four hours), and three tablets for a longer rides (four to six hours). If you are interested is a detailed study of the science behind ReplaceSR, I would strongly suggest you read this article on boosting performance in endurance athletes.

Separating my electrolytes from my liquid intake was rather liberating. For years I’ve timed my liquid intake to match my presumed electrolyte losses during a bike ride. In my case that meant 20-ounces of a carb drink for every hour on the bike. Unfortunately, that meant that sometimes I was drinking when I wasn’t thirsty and on really hot days I was so thirsty that I was consuming far more electrolytes than needed. With ReplaceSR I was able to drink plain water when I wanted and get my carbohydrates from my gels. For distance cyclists like myself, you know it is a lot easier to find a bottle of water on the road than a decent carb drink!

While most people associate electrolyte loss with sweating on hot and humid day days, winter sports have the same effect. I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and normally ride all winter long. When the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit I switch from my normal carb drinks to hot tea and honey. I pour boiling hot tea into a Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Water Bottle and then add a generous amount of honey for my carbohydrates. While this process keeps my drinks from freezing, hot tea and honey offer no electrolytes! Now with ReplaceSR I will be able ride all winter without worrying about electrolyte loss! By the way, I only ride in temperatures down to -20 Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius). I am not like those crazy folks up in Minnesota who will ride in temps down to -50 Fahrenheit (-45 Celsius).

ReplaceSR tablets come in three package sizes. The cheapest way to buy them is in a bottle of 90 tablets for only $20. However, they also come in a 20 tablet bottle for $10. They also have a new 3-tablet convenience packet—it is 72 tablets but they are packaged in sets of 3, and this package retails for for $24. You can order this product directly from the Endurance Products Company website.

To enter the contest for six free bottles of ReplaceSR (20 tablets per bottle) all you have to do is pick a number between 500 and 1,000 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, October 30, 2015. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one guesses the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get the six bottles of ReplaceSR. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail.


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Meet The Dog That Saved Our Son’s Life

Hearing Ear Service Dog

Derby the Wonder Dog!

It has been eight months since I last posted anything on this blog. As I explained at the time, our oldest son was seriously ill and could not be left alone, so I did what any parent would do—I gave up cycling, blogging and a lot of other things to make sure that either my wife or I could be with our son at all times.

Though he only looks like a student in junior high school, our son is now 36 years old. He was born with multiple birth defects as a result of German Measles (Rubella). Before he was born someone with German Measles got near my wife during her second trimester and our son was born with all of the normal problems that accompany congenital rubella syndrome (deafness, partial blindness, heart abnormalities, developmental delay and a host of other conditions). Last August his health took a serious turn for the worse and he gave up on living—he got down to 98 pounds and was refusing to eat. By the way, if you are one of those people who think that vaccines were concocted by pharmaceutical companies just to fleece people out of their money, let me say this kindly, you are a profound idiot.

My last post was on September 5, 2014—that was the day after we adopted a black Labrador Retriever named Derby. The dog was only nine months old when we adopted him, but this canine has truly saved our son’s life! Derby, like most Labrador Retrievers, was a “high energy” dog when we brought him home and I knew he was going to be a handful. We hired a dog trainer to get him under control, and after a few lessons we decided to pay to have him trained as a Service Dog (a “hearing ear dog” in our case). Last month Derby finished his training and now accompanies our son everywhere. This dog is the reason our son gets out of bed in the morning and is his closest friend.

Derby is such a wonderful companion and faithful friend that we now feel comfortable leaving our son in his care. As a result, the first week of April I was able to ride a bicycle for the first time in over six months! The first few rides were short and slow, but I have worked my way back up to medium-length rides (50 to 60 miles each) a few times a week. Hopefully, I will be able to go on longer rides real soon.

Going back to the bike shop after such a long absence seemed strange, but I felt at home within a few minutes. Hopefully I will be able to resume writing product reviews in June.

Take care and ride safely!


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Making Your Own Carbohydrate Gels

Ingredients For Making Your Own Carbohydrate Gels

Ingredients For Making Your Own Carbohydrate Gels

Last a fall I was out on a long bike ride with a friend of mine when he asked me how much money I spent a month on the carbohydrate gels I use. It was a question I really hadn’t thought much about before, but after doing a few quick calculations in my head I was shocked. Most of the carbohydrate gels I use are organic (a word usually synonymous with expensive), and during most of the year I go through 30 packs a week which comes out to $180 a month (I am so glad my wife never looks at the American Express statements). After I got home I decided to see if I could find a way to cut my expenses by creating my own carb gels, and at the end of this article you will find a few recipes that I have used. However, before we get to the recipes I need to explain how to choose your ingredients (if you want to experiment on your own).

I am a distance cyclist and except for my winter rides in the snow I seldom take a ride of under two hours. On long rides I normally burn between 900 and 1,000 calories an hour (based on my weight and speed). As a result, I try to consume 300 calories an hour (including 60 grams of carbohydrates). I get 100 calories an hour from my sports hydration mix and the other 200 calories from carb gels (and bananas when available). Most commercial carb gels offer a mixture of both simple and complex carbs and have 100 calories, along with 20 to 30 grams of carbs, and cost anywhere from $1.20 to $3.00 per package. Store-bought energy gels also have about 45mg sodium and 35mg potassium per serving. Simple carbs give a quick shot of energy, while complex carbs provide a slower release of energy. If your gel is composed entirely of simple carbs you will feel a quick rush of energy, followed by a sinking feeling a few minutes later.

You can make your own carbohydrate gels with just a few inexpensive ingredients—and it will only cost you around .30¢ per serving! As a bonus, your gels will always be fresh and free from unwanted chemicals. Here is a quick breakdown of the main ingredients that I use in my gels…

Brown Rice Syrup has 65 calories per tablespoon (21g) and 16 grams of carbohydrates. Brown rice syrup has a Glycemic Index of 25 and is composed of about 50% complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. I buy Now Foods Organic Brown Rice Syrup from a local grocery store (it’s in their health food department) and it sells for under $5 for a 16-ounce container.

Raw Honey is a 100% simple sugar and has a Glycemic Index of 58. Honey has 64 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 17 grams of carbohydrates. Simple sugars can elevate your blood sugar very quickly, so you don’t want to take too much at one time. By the way, make sure you buy raw honey and not the processed garbage that comes in the cute bear containers.

Light Agave Nectar has 60 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 16 grams of carbohydrates, with a Glycemic Index of 11. Maple Syrup has 53 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 13 grams of carbohydrates, with a Glycemic Index of 54. Blackstrap Molasses has 45 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 11g of carbohydrates, along with 15mg of sodium and 500mg of potassium. Blackstrap molasses has a Glycemic Index of 55. Since blackstrap molasses has a strong flavor you should probably start with just a bit of it and work your way up!

Now for the recipes—I wish I could take credit for all of these, but most of them are recipes that I’ve cobbled together from other cyclists. However, the first recipe is mostly mine and it is my favorite!

Blue Ribbon Butterscotch Candy

Mix 8 tablespoons brown rice syrup, 2 tablespoons light agave nectar, 1 tablespoon warm water, 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 tablespoon Morton Lite Salt Mixture, and about 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt. This mixture provides about 100 calories per 1.5 tablespoon. A ¼ teaspoon of Morton Lite Salt Mixture has 290mg sodium and 350mg potassium (I use this as an easy way to get potassium into my gels). This is my favorite homemade gel—and as the name implies, it tastes like butterscotch candy (and is highly addictive).

Honey GOO Recipe

This recipe comes from HomeGOO, a company that sells incredibly low-priced flasks for carb gels. Mix 4 ounces of raw honey, one tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses, 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. This recipe will approximately fill a 6-ounce flask.

Down And Dirty

I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but it is very easy to make and has a mild taste. Mix 3/4 cup of brown rice syrup, 1/2 cup of agave nectar, 1/2 cup of raw honey, and 1/2 tsp of sea salt.

Finding A Flask

HomeGOO sells two different reusable flasks. The five-ounce Goo Flask is a 5.5 inch tall BPA free plastic container with a leak proof, push-pull valve. The flexible six-ounce Goo Flask is made from ultra-lightweight BPA free plastic and collapses as you consume the gel. It also has a push/pull drink spout with removable cap, though the cap really isn’t necessary. These bottles are easy to wash by hand and are dishwasher safe.

HomeGOO Flexible Reusable GOO Flask

HomeGOO Flexible, Reusable GOO Flask

HomeGOO sells the five ounce flask for only .99¢, which means that if you only used in one time you still saved money over the cost of buying prepackaged gels. The six-ounce flask sells for $3 and should last a very long time. If you are into endurance sports you owe it to yourself to try these flasks!


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Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Imagine if a pharmaceutical company introduced a drug that promised to cut your chances of contracting all diseases (including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease) by at least 80%? I imagine you would immediately have four questions: How much does it cost? What are the side effects? How can I get a prescription? And, How can I invest in the company? While such a drug is not available, you can achieve an incredible 80% reduction in your chance of developing a devastating disease by making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Disease Proof, a new book by preventive medicine specialist Dr. David Katz, provides a road map for making the diet and lifestyle changes that will “add years to life, and life to years.”

David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, is a remarkable physician. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. According to his website, Dr. Katz “helped develop and found one of the nation’s first combined residency training programs in Internal Medicine & Preventive Medicine, and formerly served as the program’s director. Dr. Katz currently co-directs a one-year post-doctoral residency program in Integrative Medicine at his center in Derby, CT.”

The basic premise of Disease Proof is that you can slash your risk of disease by making just four adjustments to your diet and lifestyle—don’t smoke, eat healthy foods, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. The book begins by analyzing the past 20 years worth of medical research and concludes, “the leading causes of death and disease are largely within our control because they result from what we do or don’t do with our feet, our forks, and our fingers—namely, whether they are physically active, consume a healthy diet, or smoke—on a daily basis.”

While it is true that some diseases are inherited (such as Huntington’s disease, sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis), the truth is that eight out of ten serious illnesses could have been prevented by changes in diet in lifestyle. And the fact is that most medical doctors find that prescribing drugs is a lot easier than instructing patients on how to develop a healthy lifestyle—and I really don’t blame doctors for this sad state of affairs! Thirteen years ago my physical health was horrible—I was morbidly obese and suffered from a multitude of major medical problems. My family practice doctor would load me up with prescription drugs and send me on my way. When I hit my lowest point I decided to turn my life around. I am not a physician, but I do know how to thoroughly research a subject, so I started reading dozens of books on health, exercise and nutrition. Then I went on a healthy diet and started a serious exercise program. The next time I saw my doctor he said I looked fifteen years younger than the last time I was in his office, so I explained what I had done. Before I left his office I asked him, “Why didn’t you tell me to eat healthy and exercise?” He cracked a smile and said, “You know, after telling that to thousands of patients and having them all ignore me I guess I just gave up.” He was probably right—the vast majority of people have to hit bottom before they are willing to even consider changing their diet and lifestyle.

While Disease Proof does discuss DNA, genetics and the Human Genome Project, it is not a difficult book to read (medical jargon is kept to a minimum). “One of the eye-opening revelations provided by the Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003, is that the genes themselves don’t lead to disease. It’s the interaction of certain high-risk genes and unhealthy environmental influences (including poor diet, physical inactivity, and smoking) that combine to trigger disease.” Dr. Katz discusses how diet and exercise can literally change the behavior of our genes and how heart disease, cancer, stoke and diabetes are not really the cause of death, but rather “the results or effects of how people live.”

Over half of the book is spent on nutrition, and while it does not offer a strict Paleo diet, it is what I would call “Paleo friendly”, i.e., eat a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats and skip the pre-packaged garbage that makes up most of the typical American diet. Dr. Katz wisely observed, “The longer the shelf life of a food product (such as neon-orange cheese puffs), the shorter the shelf life of the person who consumes it regularly.”

I realize that most of the readers of this blog are probably already following a fairly healthy lifestyle, but I am certain you have a lot of family members who could use a bit of a nudge towards healthy living—this book would make a wonderful gift for them! The hardcover edition of Disease Proof retails for $26, but is available from for only $17. The Kindle edition sells for $12. This book was published in September of 2013 and was printed by Hudson Street Press (304 pages).


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Convenience Store Cuisine For Cyclists

As a distance cyclist I burn over 1,000 calories an hour while riding and some of my rides last up to seven or eight hours. I normally try to consume 300 calories an hour while riding, so on some rides I consume around 2,500 calories. Most carbohydrate gels provide 80 to 100 calories per package and there is no way I want to carry 20 or more gel packs in my jersey pockets—even if I used a top-tube bag to store some of the packages. In addition, I normally drink 16 to 20 ounces of a hydration mix per hour and carrying seven bottles with me would definitely slow me down! Therefore, I try to plan some of my routes so I can pass by a convenience store or two along the way so I don’t have to carry everything with me (but this is not always possible). So, considering the limited choice of foods available at most convenience stores, what products make the most sense for cyclists?

My friend Randy with two popular products for cyclists!

My friend Randy with two popular products for cyclists!

Bananas. My first choice of food at a convenience store is a simple banana! An average sized banana has 105 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 422 mg of potassium. In addition, bananas are very easy to digest. Unfortunately, very few of the convenience stores in my area sell bananas!

Fig Newton Bars. A single 2-ounce package of Nabisco Fig Newton Bars has 200 calories with 40 grams of carbohydrates. They also provide 220 mg of sodium, 115 mg of sodium and 2 grams of protein. Under normal circumstances I would never eat a Nabisco Fig Newton Bar since they also have white flour and high fructose corn syrup. However, when it comes to convenience store cuisine they are probably the best thing you can find in the store!

Raisins. A handful of raisins is packed with vitamins, electrolytes, anti-oxidants, and minerals—and they are a great source of energy! A one-ounce box of raisins has 84 calories and 22 grams of carbohydrates. They also will give you 210 mg of potassium.

Beef Jerky. Anna, a young lady ride with during the summer, convinced me to start eating beef jerky a couple of years ago on a really long, hot ride. I was hesitant at first, mainly because I thought beef jerky wouldn’t digest as easily as the food I normally eat on a ride. However, a one-ounce package of Jack Link’s Peppered Beef Steak Jerky has 130 calories, along with 26 grams of protein and 1470 mg of sodium. Since there are only 1.5 grams of fat in a package of beef jerky it does not negatively impact digestion while cycling. By the way, I normally try to start consuming a bit of protein about two hours into any bike ride anyway.

Gatorade. When I leave home for a bike ride my water bottles are filled with Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix, a drink mix developed by Allen Lim, PhD, a sport scientist and former coach for a professional cycling team. I try to take enough packages of the Skratch powder with me so I can fill all the water bottles I need on a ride—all I need is a couple of bottles of plain water at the store. However, if you don’t use Skratch then you might want to try Gatorade. A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 130 calories and 34 grams of carbohydrates. Each bottle also has 270 mg of sodium and 80 mg of potassium.

Natural String Cheese. Here is another product that Anna convinced me try during a long bike ride. Personally, I really didn’t like it, but for those of you on a high-protein diet it might be a good choice. A one-ounce stick of Kraft Natural Mozzarella String Cheese has 80 calories and 7 grams of protein.

A shelf full of high fructose corn syrup and chemicals

A shelf full of high fructose corn syrup and chemicals

Whatever convenience store cuisine you decide to buy you need to look at the label first and see if the product is in agreement with your overall health plan. Some of the “healthy looking” bars are simply garbage—they are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and more chemicals than you’ll find in a high school chemistry class!

What’s your favorite package of convenience store cuisine?


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Penguin Brands Sport-Wash

Penguin Brands Sport-Wash for cycling clothing

Penguin Brands Sport-Wash

It doesn’t take a long bike ride to leave your clothes smelling like a locker room. The moisture wicking fabrics used in cycling clothing does a great job at moving moisture away from the body, but they can’t move odor-causing bacteria out with it. The bacteria left on your clothing reproduces incredibly fast and the odor it creates is not easily removed by normal laundry detergents. If you really want to keep your cycling clothing from stinking you need to wash it in Sports-Wash by Penguin Brands, Inc.

Sports-Wash is an unscented, biodegradable laundry detergent that reduces odors and prevents color fading. It is also residue-free and non-allergenic. In addition, it restores the factory-applied Durable Water Repellent (DRW) finish to clothing.

Sports-Wash is also notable for what it does not contain. It contains no bleach, fabric softeners, or scent. I have noticed a slight smell as the clothing is being washed, but it rinses right out and leaves no residue.

Penguin Brands, Inc. claims that Sports-Wash will remove blood and grass stains. Fortunately, I have not had the opportunity to test this claim, so I will have to take their word for it.

My dear wife is kind enough to hand-wash all of my cycling clothing (yes, I am a lucky man). She uses one capful of Sports-Wash per sink full of dirty clothing. Sports-Wash retails for $18 for a 42-ounce bottle. I buy Sports-Wash at a local Dick’s Sporting Goods store, but it is also available on Sports-Wash is more expensive than normal laundry detergent, but your expensive cycling clothing will last a lot longer if you wash it in a quality product like this.


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