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3,000 Miles Down

A rare photo of the All Seasons Cyclist without snow on the ground!

A rare photo of the All Seasons Cyclist without snow on the ground!

A few months ago I mentioned that the first 1,000 miles of the year are the hardest—at the time I didn’t know how difficult the second 1,000 miles was going to be! My first 1,000 miles for this year were all in the snow, while the second 1,000 miles seemed to be all going into a strong headwind (I live in the Chicago area). Fortunately, the third 1,000 miles proved to be a lot easier and this morning I passed the 3,000 mile mark for the year. For the past several years I have averaged a little over 6,000 miles of cycling per year. Last year I was just one short bike ride away from 5,000 miles because I had to take some time off the bike due to surgery (and then I was rather slow for a while during recovery). The brutal winter we had this year has put me seriously behind my normal schedule and it is rather doubtful that I will hit 6,000 miles this year.

A visit from the Puncture Fairy

A visit from the Puncture Fairy

This morning I rode with a friend of mine, Anna, and she had a visit from the Puncture Fairy about 50 miles into our ride. I am not sure what Anna did to tick off the Puncture Fairy, but she double-flatted today!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey From Tribesports

Several months ago the folks from Tribesports asked me to review one of their new cycling jerseys. I warned them at the time that it would be a while before I could review a summer cycling jersey since the Chicago area was in the middle of their worst winter in recorded history. Warm weather has finally arrived (about three months late) and I’ve now had a chance to ride several hundred miles while wearing this jersey. Here’s the bottom line: If you want a sharp-looking, professional quality men’s cycling jersey at a great price, then head over to Tribesports and order one today. If you need a bit more information before placing your order, then continue reading this article!

Men's Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey

Out of the more than 400 product reviews I’ve written in the past few years I’ve never used photos supplied by the manufacturer before. However, today I am going to use them because this jersey is so beautiful that the review deserved better photos than I could take (black clothing is really hard to photograph). The Tribsports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey is incredibly well designed—in fact, I believe it even exceeds that of a top-end Pearl Izumi jersey. This jersey is designed for warm weather cycling and has breathable moisture wicking fabric that pulls moisture away from your skin for quick evaporation, along with ample ventilation under the arm pits to keep your cool. The fabric is a 4-way stretch material (88% polyester, 12% spandex), and is given an antibacterial coating during the manufacturing process to help keep odors down.

Tribesports Men's Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey

This premium jersey has several nice touches that separate it from most of the jerseys you will find at your local sporting goods store. First, the two rear cargo pockets are noticeably deeper than any of the other jerseys I own (8″ deep by 5″ wide). In addition, there is a 5″ deep zippered pocket on top of the right rear pocket. A silicon rear hem grip will keep the tail of the jersey in place (and it works extremely well). There is also 360 degree reflective piping to help cars see you in low-light situations (but don’t forget to put a trail light on your bike as well!).

This jersey is available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL). I believe this jersey is true to size, but slightly tighter than a standard Pearl Izumi jersey, so if you are on the borderline between two sizes I’d go up not down in size. I own over 60 cycling jerseys (yes, I am a collector) and the Tribesports jersey than is more comfortable than his one costs nearly twice as much!

Tribesports Men's Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports is a fairly new company (just three years old), and they only sell through their website. They do not have any retail outlets, television ads, or celebrity endorsements. As a result, their overhead is lower than most other sporting goods manufacturers and they pass the savings on to their customers.

The only thing I did not like about this jersey is that the primary color is black. Black fabric absorbs heat, so I would never wear it when the temperature was in the 90’s (and that’s not been a problem this year). Also, while riding on the road I prefer to wear hi-vis yellow jerseys for easier visibility.

The Tribsports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey retails for $80, but if your “join the tribe” you get a 15% discount off all listed prices. The membership is free and it took me less than one minute to join (all they need is your name, address, phone number, and email address). So, with the discount this beautiful jersey can be yours for only $68, and Tribesports offers free shipping on all orders over $65.

 

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RFLKT iPhone Powered Bike Computer

Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Bike Computer

Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Bike Computer

If you were to ask me to name my favorite cycling product of all-time, without any hesitation I would tell you about Cyclemeter by Abvio. I’ve used this iPhone app to record my last 20,000 miles or so of cycling. It is the most user-friendly iPhone cycling app you will find and it is easy to customize to suit your needs. It’s not that Cyclemeter is just better than the other cycling GPS apps, but it is so far advanced beyond the other apps that it doesn’t even belong in the same class. In all seriousness, it is worth buying an Apple iPhone if for no other reason than to use this app! I’d rather have the Cyclemeter/iPhone combination than any Garmin computer on the market. This iPhone app is only $4.99 and is available for download via iTunes.

Since I carry my iPhone in my back jersey pocket I am not able to see “real-time” statistics (speed, distance, cadence, heart rate, etc.). As a result, I’ve always had a second bike computer mounted on my handlebars so I could read it as I was cycling. Fortunately, Wahoo Fitness has recently introduced the RFLKT iPhone Powered Bike Computer and it is now one of my top two favorite cycling products of all time!

The RFLKT wirelessly reflects the information that is on your iPhone (hence the name) and displays that information on a compact unit that easily mounts on your handlebars or stem. What makes this bike computer so amazing is that it is completely customizable—you get to choose exactly what is displayed on every screen (and you can create a lot of screens), and you also get to choose the font size (from small to very large).

The RFLKT measures 2.4” long by 1.6” wide by 0.5” thick and weighs only two-ounces. It is powered by a replaceable coin cell battery and the wireless connectivity is made through a Bluetooth 4.0 connection to your iPhone. This computer has several mounting options, including quarter turn, so it is perfect for road bikes, mountain bikes, and cyclocross. I’ve used it in pouring rain and in temps as low as -12F and it hasn’t missed a beat!

The Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Bike Computer retails for $100 and is worth every cent! Wahoo Fitness also has cadence meters and heart rate monitors that tie into the Cyclemeter app (there are other apps available for use with the RFLKT unit, but I’d stick with Cyclemeter).

Note: In the photo above you will notice that my average speed for that bike ride was under 11 MPH. I was riding through 5″ of fresh snow on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley Fat Bike and anything over 8 MPH in deep snow is pretty good!

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Product Reviews

 

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Top Five Cycling Products Of 2013

This year I’ve penned over 100 product reviews and today I would like to make mention of my top five favorite cycling products of 2013. It was hard for me to narrow this list down to just five items, but I did follow a couple of guidelines. This list is for cycling products that I reviewed this year, though not all of them were introduced this year. In addition, I limited myself to one winning product per manufacturer. If you click on the links below they will take you to the complete review for the product mentioned.

BikeLoot Box For July

BikeLoot

BikeLoot is a box of five to seven cycling related products that are mailed to subscribers every month (like carb gels, bars, hydration, and maintenance products). Most of the products are just samples of products you’ve probably have never heard of before. BikeLoot has several great advantages. First, you don’t have to buy a whole box of a product and the hope that you will like it once it arrives—you can try the sample from the BikeLoot box and if you like it you can order more, and if you don’t like you haven’t wasted any money. Second, you will be sampling products that most cyclists aren’t even going to hear about for another year or so! And third, the BikeLoot box also offers substantial discount codes for some of the products in the box.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

I’ve spent a lot of money buying tires for my Fat Bike, but the best investment I’ve ever made in a set of tires was the 45NRTH Hüsker Dü. This is the tire that ought to come standard on every Fat Bike! The Hüsker Dü tires will give you a great grip in adverse conditions while still providing less rolling resistance on pavement or packed trails. These tires have a thread count of 120 tpi (threads per inch). Higher tpi tires are usually lighter, more supple and more expensive.

Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

High Quality Aluminum Construction

Lezyne makes some of the best bicycle hand pumps in the world, but the Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump is in a class all by itself. I bought this pump for my Surly Necromancer Pugsley—a Fat Bike with massive 4″ wide tires. Fat Bike tires usually run at very low pressure (10 to 15 psi on off-road trails; 5 to 7 psi on sand or snow), but they do require a high volume of air. Most bicycle hand pumps are designed to work the other way around (high pressure, low volume) and they would take forever to fill up a Fat Bike tire. A high volume pump like this one will fill your tires is 30% less time than most other pumps. The Lezyne Alloy Drive pump is made with CNC-machined aluminum construction, which makes it very durable and extremely lightweight—just 4.5 ounces (128 g) without the frame mount. This pump has a flex hose with a threaded Presta connection on one end and a threaded Schrader connection on the other.

Showers Pass CloudCover Dry Wallet For iPhone

Showers Pass CloudCover Dry Wallet For iPhone

I take my iPhone with me on every ride—in rain, snow, mud, sand or beautiful sunshine and the best case I’ve found so far is the Showers Pass CloudCover iPhone Case for the iPhone 4 or iPhone 5. One of the features I like best about the CloudCover case is that you can still use the iPhone camera without having to take the phone out of the case. I’ve experimented with this option several times and still cannot believe how well it works! As long as you are photographing in bright sunlight it is nearly impossible to tell that the phone was in the case when you took the photo.

Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool

Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool

Out of the dozens of bicycle multi-tools I own, the Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool has to be my favorite! Here is a breakdown of the seventeen tools in the Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool: Eight Allen keys (8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, and 1.5mm), one 10m open wrench, four spoke wrenches (3.23, 3.3, 3.45, 3.96mm), a chain break tool with two chain retainers, two Torx drivers (T25, T30), CO² Inflator head, and both a Philips and flat head screwdriver. This tool has a full metal body and is 2.75″ long, 1.5″ wide, and .75″ tall. This products weighs an even 4.0 ounces (114g). The chain tool on the Serfas ST-17i is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a cycling multi-tool. The biggest selling point for the Serfas ST-17i is the CO² inflator head (Presta valve only) that is built into the mini-tool.

 
 

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Picky Bars: All Natural Training Snacks (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Picky Bars All Natural Training Snacks

Picky Bars: All Natural Training Snacks

I am always on the lookout for new nutritional products that I can take with me on long bike rides. As a distance cyclist I often burn over 5,000 calories on a ride and I try to consume around 300 calories per hour while riding. There are a lot of great carb gels on the market, but after a couple of hours on the bike I crave real food—but I need food that is all-natural and easy to digest. A few months ago I reviewed BikeLoot, a subscription service that sends a box of five to seven cycling related products to your home every month. In a recent shipment of loot they included a sample of Picky Bars and just one bite was all it took for me to want more!

Picky Bars are made from all-natural ingredients, such as: organic dates, hazelnut butter, organic almonds, cranberries, organic sunflower butter, sunflower seeds, honey, organic apricots, organic cashews, organic walnuts, organic peanut butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and rice protein powder. These bars are fairly small (2″ x 3″ x 1/2″), but are packed with flavor! Each bar has 200 calories or less and has a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio (28g carbohydrate and 7g protein). These bars are also gluten and dairy free, and contain less than 1% soy content.

Picky Bars are available in five flavors and come in boxes of ten. I ordered 20 bars so I could try several of each flavor (they only had four flavors available when I placed my order). The four flavors I tried were: Lauren’s Mega Nuts, Need For Seed, All-In Almond, and Smooth Caffeinator. The first three flavors were absolutely fantastic, and Lauren’s Mega Nuts was my favorite. As the name implies, Smooth Caffeinator has caffeine—25mg to be exact (about as much as 1/3 of a cup of coffee). I am not a coffee drinker, so I would not order the Smooth Caffeinator again because it does have a mild coffee flavor. However, I gave a stack of the Smooth Caffeinator bars to a friend of mine who does like coffee and he said they were great! The folks at Picky Bars have recently introduced a new flavor, temporarily known as Runner’s High, but I have not had a chance to try these out yet.

While these bars are not 100% Paleo approved (due to the use of peanut butter), I have no trouble recommending them to any athlete. I do need to point out that when the temperature is in the 90’s (32 Celsius) these bars are a bit messy (mainly because of the fat from the nut butters).

Picky Bars retail for $23 for a box of ten and are available from the Picky Bars website or Amazon.com. The average cost for carbohydrate gel is over $1.50 a package, but they usually only offer 100 calories per package. Since Picky Bars provide 200 calories per package they actually are a better buy! I’ve only done this for three products over the past few years, but I have to put Picky Bars on the Highly Recommended List—if you are an athlete you really need to buy a box of these bars!

 
 

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The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Cordain and Friel

The Paleo Diet for Athletes

The Paleo Diet for Athletes

Unless you have lived under a rock for the past few years, you have probably heard about the Paleo Diet (“the caveman diet”). The diet purports to emulate the diet that our ancient ancestors had—a lot of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts, but no refined sugar, grains, legumes or dairy products. For the past couple of years a friend of mine has encouraged me to try the diet out, but diet’s restriction on carbohydrates pretty much ruled it out for me—I am a distance cyclist and on long rides my muscle glycogen stores would be depleted before I got halfway through my ride. However, while browsing on Amazon.com a few months ago I found a book titled, The Paleo Diet For Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula For Peak Athletic Performance, by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel (Rodale Books; revised edition; September 2012). If you are an athlete and have either started or are considering starting the Paleo Diet you really need this book!

The entire Paleo Diet is summed up in just one paragraph from the book: “The fundamental dietary principles of the Paleo Diet for Athletes is simplicity itself: unrestricted consumption of fresh meats, poultry, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Foods that are not part of the modern-day Paleolithic fare include cereal grains, dairy products, high-glycemic fruits and vegetables, legumes, alcohol, salty foods, processed meats, refined sugars, and nearly all processed foods.”

While I disagree with Cordain and Friel on the origin and development of mankind, I sincerely appreciate this book. The first third of the book deals with the nutritional requirements of athletes and this section alone is worth the price of the book! This is absolutely the best treatment of the nutritional requirements for athletes I’ve ever seen—especially for endurance athletes. The second section of the book discusses the authors views of the development of our stone age ancestors (interesting reading, but we all have different views on this matter). The last section of the book give 80 Paleo “energy-packed” recipes—again, interesting reading but there are better Paleo cookbooks on the market.

Thirteen years ago, before I started cycling, I was morbidly obese and in terrible health. In hindsight I realize that the majority of my problems came from a poor diet and lifestyle. At that time I held elected public office and served on the board of directors for nearly a dozen civic groups, which meant I seldom found time for a real meal, and never had time for either proper exercise or sleep. My road to recovery started with the Atkins Diet and cycling—then I gradually withdrew from public life and started focusing more on my health.

While I’ve basically followed the Atkins Diet for thirteen years, I couldn’t follow their guidelines while cycling because a low-carb diet just isn’t compatible with endurance sports like distance cycling. The Paleo Diet is more of a “sensible carb” diet than a “low carb” diet. In fact, The Paleo Diet For Athletes has convinced me to consume more carbs during and after a long bike ride than I had before! Switching from the Atkins Diet to the Paleo Diet was not a problem at all for me—basically I just had to give up dairy products and cereal grains. The surgeon who repaired my esophagus back in June had already told me I needed to give up dairy products, and I’ve always felt uncomfortable after eating cereal grains anyway. So, switching to the Paleo Diet was really easy for me and the food tastes so much better!

The biggest difference between the normal Paleo Diet and the Paleo Diet For Athletes is the use of carb gels before, during and after exercise. As the author states on page seven of the book, “Perhaps the most important refinement made to my original Paleo Diet was Joe’s recognition that consumption of starches and simple sugars was necessary and useful only during exercise and in the immediate postexercise period.” In my case, for example, they would recommend that I consume a 100-calorie pack of carb gel 10 minutes before my bike ride, then 300 calories of gels and/or sports drinks per hour during the ride, followed by 600 calories of carbohydrates within 30 minutes after the ride (along with protein powder). The amount of carbs gels you need will vary depending on your weight and the length and intensity of your exercise.

I realize that some people would never try the Paleo Diet because it involves the consumption of red meat. If you are a vegetarian due to religious beliefs I can accept that without any problem. If you are a vegetarian because you think that makes you morally superior to the rest of us, well, you have my sympathy. If you are a member of PETA please feel free to stop by my office and I’ll grab a crayon and big piece of construction paper so I can explain the facts of life to you in a way you can understand (hint: human beings are carnivores and we have eight incisors for a reason—and it’s not so we can tear into pieces of tofu).

In case you can’t tell, I really like the Paleo Diet For Athletes! Like most men, I would rather die than count calories or have to measure my food before every meal. On the Paleo Diet I’m eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, along with a sensible portion of animal-based protein (red meat, fish, turkey, chicken, etc.) at every meal. It seems like I am never hungry and my weight is still dropping and energy levels are increasing.

The Paleo Diet For Athletes retails for $16 in paperback, and Amazon.com has it for $13 (or $9 for the Kindle version). As I mentioned above, if you are an athlete you need to read the section of this book on the nutritional requirements of athletes, even if you don’t follow the Paleo Diet.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Book Reviews, Sports Nutrition

 

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Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt For Summer Sports

One of the nice things about living between Chicago and Milwaukee is that our summers are usually pretty mild. However, last summer was one of the hottest on record and there were many days I had to go riding at 5:00 in the morning just to avoid the heat. This year has not been as hot, but the humidity has been unbearable. As a result, I have looked at ways to stay cool while cycling in hot weather and one of my favorite “discoveries” has been the Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt.

Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt

Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt

The Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt is a base layer—an extremely lightweight sleeveless shirt that you wear under your regular cycling jersey (or running jersey if you are so inclined). The shirt is made of 95% Polyester and 5% Lycra and woven into a lightweight mesh. Since the shirt is slightly “puffy” it forms a thin airspace between your skin and your jersey and Craft claims that this shirt will make you feel 6 degrees cooler than you would otherwise feel.

Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt

Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt Base Layer

How well does the Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt work? Well, while you are moving it is incredible, but if you stand still in the direct sunlight for very long you will begin to heat up (so keep moving). The idea behind this product is that if you wick moisture away from the skin and then run air over it the process of evaporation will cool your skin down. This shirt has flat seam contour construction that reduces chaffing and the fabric resists odors (but when you get home your regular jersey will still stink).

Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt

Close-up Of The Mesh On The Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt

The first time I wore this base layer was on a day when the temperature was in the 90’s (33 degrees Celsius) and the humidity was around 85%—it felt like I was riding directly into a hair dryer that was set on high. I wasn’t sure if the shirt was doing anything for me until I stopped at a rest area—after a quick “nature break” I got back on the bike and it felt like the temperature dropped by several degrees! If you unzip your jersey about halfway it will scoop in a lot of air and make the process of evaporation cool you down a noticeable amount. When I got back from my ride I immediately ordered a second shirt so I would always have a clean one to wear!

The Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Shirt comes in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL) and appears to be true to size. This shirt retails for $45, but I was able to get mime from Amazon.com for under $39. Craft also offers this shirt in a style made for women.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Product Reviews

 

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Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

I always suggest that cyclists buy their gloves one size larger than what feels comfortable when they are trying them on at the bike shop. In the winter you need a larger glove because the extra air space in a full-finger glove provides a micro-climate of warm air that will keep your hands warm (tight gloves in winter will also reduce the circulation in your hands and make them very cold). On hot and humid days you need larger gloves because after a few hours on the bike your hands will swell and the fabric in the gloves will be soaked with sweat and the gloves will be very difficult to get off your hands. Fortunately, Serfas has the RX Short Finger Gloves that are not only easy to remove (even when totally saturated with sweat), but also provide a very comfortable grip! While I’ve bought at least six pairs of these gloves in the past five or six years, the folks at Serfas were kind enough to send me a new pair for review (I needed a new pair for the photographs—no one wants to see my well-worn gloves).

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

Serfas RX Short Finger Gloves were designed by physicians to reduce the pressure on the nerves and arteries in the hands and they succeeded in their goal! As far as I am concerned the gel padding in these gloves is perfect. I know a few cyclists who prefer gloves with little or no padding, but I ride over a lot of rough roads and without gel padding my hands will start to cramp after a few hours on the bike.

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

“Easy Off Loops” on the Serfas RX Gloves

One of the coolest things about these gloves is the “Easy Off Loop” that allows you to slide the gloves off easily, even when they are soaking wet from a long ride in the rain. The Serfas RX Short Finger Gloves are machine washable and I have been able to get nearly 2,000 miles of use with every pair. These gloves also have two pieces of reflective piping on the fingers—if you are riding at night and use hand signals for your turns the headlights of cars behind you will reflect off of this piping and make it easier for motorists to see you.

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

Note The Reflective Piping On The Fingers

I’ve gone riding with these gloves when the temperature was over 100 degrees (with a heat index of over 115 degrees Fahrenheit) and these gloves never made me feel like they were heating up my hands. In fact, my hands are cooler with these gloves than just about any other glove I’ve tried. I use these gloves with both road and mountain bikes, and in sunny weather or rain.

Serfas Men’s RX Short Finger Gloves are available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL) and come in four colors (Black, White, Blue or Red). Serfas Women’s RX Short Finger Gloves are available in four sizes (S, M, L, XS) and come in either Black or White. These gloves retail for $29 and I buy mine from the local bike shop, but they are also available from the Serfas website and from Amazon.com.

One last thought: If you live in an area with high humidity you really need at least two pairs of cycling gloves so you can wear one pair while the other is drying out.

 

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Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Protein Bars

At the moment I have over 40 boxes of carbohydrate gels, chews, blocks and bars in the kitchen cabinet (out of the goodness of her heart my wife gave me one cabinet to call my own). You can save a lot of money by buying in bulk and I usually order six or more boxes at a time—and since I use 30 to 40 packs a week they don’t have time to expire. While I use several different brands of carbohydrate gels, the majority of the boxes in my cabinet are from Honey Stinger—I take some of their products with me on every single ride I take! A few weeks ago the folks at Honey Stinger were kind enough to send me a few samples of two of their new flavors and I thought this would be a perfect time to tell you about some of their products.

Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Protein Bars

Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Protein Bars

One of the new flavors they’ve introduced is the Cherry Cola Honey Stinger Energy Chews. At first, I was a bit hesitant to try this flavor because the Cherry Cola flavor is hard to achieve—several companies have tried cola flavors but most of them have been rather disappointing. However, Honey Stinger hit the mark with this one. Even if you were blindfolded, just one bite and you would know what the flavor was supposed to be. The individual  “chews” are fairly small (about the size of a stack of three nickles) and are 95% to 100% organic. There are ten pieces per package and one package has 160 calorie and has 39 grams of carbohydrates, 100% of the RDA of vitamin C, and a small dose of electrolytes. These chews are gluten-free, dairy free and contain no trans-fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Honey Stinger sells these energy chews in several other flavors, including Cherry Blossom (my favorite), Orange Blossom, Fruit Smoothie, and Pomegranate Passion Fruit, and Lime-Ade. The Cherry Cola and the Lime-Ade flavors have 30mg of caffeine per serving.

While I keep several brands of carbohydrate products on my shelves, you will only find one brand of protein bars there for after a ride—Honey Stinger Protein Bars! Cyclists often eat protein bars immediately after a ride to aid in muscle recovery. The problem is that most protein bars are simply dreadful! However, the Honey Stinger Protein Bars are so delicious you will find yourself craving them—and they contain 10g of whey protein per bar. When I am running late in the morning I eat these bars for breakfast, and they are my favorite snack at the movies. One warning: the chocolate layer on the outside of these bars has a low melting point, so don’t leave them in a hot car or the chocolate will melt (it will still taste good though).

The Honey Stinger Protein Bars are available in five flavors: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Dark Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta, and their newest flavor, a caffeinated Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry. I am not a coffee drinker so the Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry didn’t really appeal to me—I tried it and it has a mild coffee flavor that would not be my first choice. I gave a bar to two coffee drinkers and they both loved it. So, if you are not a coffee drinker, try the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond bar—it is simply awesome (and the only flavor I buy anymore).

The ingredients for each of these protein bars varies slightly, so I will just give the ingredients list for the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond: Semisweet Dark Chocolate [Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin, and Vanilla]; Organic Honey; Whey Protein Isolate; Almond Butter; Dried Sour Cherries (Cherries, Apple Juice, Sunflower Oil); Almonds; Vitamins & Minerals [Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit C), Alpha-tocopherol Acetate (Vit E), Biotin, Zinc Oxide, Niacin, Ferrous Fumarate (Iron), Molybdenum Glycinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper, Manganese, Beta Carotene (Vit A), Selenium, Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Chromium, Cyanocobolamin (B12), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide]; and Natural Flavor.

Honey Stinger also makes two of my other favorite cycling products, the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels (I love the Acai & Pomegranate flavor) and the Honey Stinger Organic Waffles (chocolate is my favorite here). I am not a tofu-eating vegetarian. However, when given a choice, I will choose organic food every time. This is especially true when it comes to the food I eat while cycling. I’ve found that natural ingredients are easily digested and quickly absorbed into the body. Energy gels that contain a lot of chemicals make me feel uncomfortable while cycling.

Honey Stinger products are available in many sporting good stores, such as R.E.I., Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority and from the Honey Stinger website. I’ve also purchased them at several grocery stores, but they often do not carry all the flavors. Bon appetit.

 

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Cat-Ears Wind Noise Reduction For Cyclists (Product Review and Giveaway)

Cycling on windy days can be a challenge for even the most dedicated of cyclists. A strong headwind will make your legs think you are climbing Alpe d’Huez during a stage of the Tour de France. Cross winds make it difficult to keep your bike upright—sometimes you have to lean into the wind so much to keep you bike upright it can rattle your nerves. Regardless of what direction the wind is coming from you are going to have difficulty hearing anything because of the noise the wind creates—conversing with fellow riders or hearing cars coming up behind you is extremely difficult. The folks at Cat-Ears created a neat little device that attaches to the straps of your bike helmet to reduce wind noise—and two lucky readers are going to win a pair of Cat-Ears to try out for themselves.

Cat-Ears Wind Noise Reduction For Cyclists

Cat-Ears—Wind Noise Reduction For Cyclists

A few weeks ago I was watching The Tour of California on TV. During the fourth stage of the race one of the announcers said that they were experiencing “incredible winds” of up to 25 KPH (15 MPH). I nearly fell over laughing! I live north of Chicago (“The Windy City”) and ride in stronger winds than that several days a week. As a result, I am always looking for products that will help me ride on windy days.

Cat-Ears are one of the coolest, albeit strangest looking, products I’ve ever reviewed. They are made of small pieces of faux fur and polyester fleece. Cat-Ears wrap around the straps of your helmet and are held in place by a small piece of Velcro. Cat-Ears got their name because they were designed after the pieces of fur in the ears of a normal house cat. When properly attached to your helmet Cat-Ears disrupt the flow of air around your ears and allow you to hear a lot better on windy days. When riding at very low speeds (12 MPH or below) you probably won’t notice any difference when using Cat-Ears, but the faster you ride the more effective they are.

Close-up of Cat-Ears

Close-up of Cat-Ears

Cat-Ears is based in Boulder, Colorado and all of their products are made in the U.S.A. (I always love it when I can say that about a product). After writing about a new product I am often asked, “Do they ship to my country?” According to the folks at Cat-Ears, about 20% of their business is international and they have shipped products to: Spain, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Taiwan, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovenia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Austria, New Zealand, Italy, and Romania. If you would like to order a pair of Cat-Ears for yourself you can visit the Cat-Ears website—they retail for around $14 to $16 a pair and come in Black, White or Grey.

The folks at Cat-Ears gave me a few extra sets of their product to give away, so if you would like a chance to win a pair of them then leave a comment below telling me why you need them. I have a pair of white Cat-Ears for a female cyclist and a black pair for a male cyclist. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, June 14, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose the two winners based solely on my mood at the time (humor is highly encouraged). If you don’t need this product yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winners via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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