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The Weatherneck Quick Release Bandana

weatherneck

Over the past five years I’ve pledged money to help bring several new cycling products to market by way of Kickstarter. For those who are not familiar with Kickstarter, it is a “crowd funding” website that allows individuals to pledge money to bring films, music, video games and other creative projects to fruition—those who contribute often get “freebies” such as a sample of the product or a piece of memorabilia. A few of the cycling projects that I’ve helped support turned out to be fantastic products, like the Fix It Sticks by creator Brian Davis (click to see my product review). Brian also invented the BackBottle, a specially designed water bottle that slips into the back pocket of your cycling jersey. His latest project is the Weatherneck, a quick release bandana for outdoor enthusiasts. While I have pledged money to this project, Brian Davis was also kind enough to send me a prerelease version of the Weatherneck to review.

The Weatherneck is a face and neck warmer that is held in place by two powerful magnets. The product is made of a lightweight technical fiber and is not intended to take the place of a full balaclava—the Weatherneck would be the first layer of protection I would use when the temperature drops. The Weatherneck is long enough to cover me from my nose down to about mid-chest level (I tuck mine under my jacket). The fabric is also highly breathable, which is very important to those of us on bikes!

The main reason I love the Weatherneck is that it is very easy to take off—in fact, I can take it off with one hand while riding and stuff it into a jersey pocket without looking (and still have plenty of room left in the pocket). I own at least a dozen balaclavas and face masks and they all force me to stop my ride and remove my helmet and sunglasses to take them off—not so with the Weatherneck!

weatherneck-colors

The Weatherneck will be available in nine different color combinations (the pink one is being worked on). I am really glad Brian is offering such a wide color selection since I always like my kit to match (I haven’t seen any studies on the matter, but I am certain that color-coordinated kit will increase your average speed by at least one mile per hour). The Weatherneck is not just for cyclists—any outdoor enthusiast would like it (runners, skiers, snow boarders, hunters, etc.).

This product is going to retail for $20 each. However, those who back this project on Kickstarter can save a few dollars by buying in bulk. For example, if you pledge $72 you will get four Weathernecks in your choice of colors (with free shipping in the USA; International orders are also available).

 

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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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Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars

On short bike rides (anything under two hours) you are probably just fine with carbohydrate gels and/or energy drinks. However, after two hours of exercise your body needs some protein. It is very rare for me to go on a bike ride that lasts less than two hours and by the time I’ve been riding for three hours I want something that tastes and feels like real food—and Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars fit the bill perfectly. These bars are soft, full of flavor, and taste great. Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars are an all-natural energy and protein bar that are made without dairy, gluten or soy products. These bars are designed for endurance athletes (cyclists, runners, mountain climbers, etc.).

Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars

Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars

Because I am a distance cyclist I sometimes have to consume over 2,500 calories on a ride—and because I like variety I never confine myself to using just one brand of energy product. However, Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars are one of the few “must have” foods I take with me on long rides.

Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars

Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars

Bonk Breaker has two high protein bars (Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Almond Cherry Chunk). Since the Almond Cherry Chunk is my favorite I’ll give you the ingredients list for it. Ingredients: Rice Nectar (Brown Rice, Water), Almond Butter (Almonds, Sea Salt), Organic Gluten Free Oats, Honey, Non-GMO Brown Rice Protein, Bing Cherries, Dark Chocolate Chips (Cocoa, Cocoa Butter, Cane Sugar), Flaxseed Meal, Sea Salt, and Almaretto Flavor.

One 2.2-ounce Almond Cherry Chunk Bonk Breaker High Protein Bar has 245 calories (90 from fat) and has 15 grams of protein. Each bar also contains 140mg of sodium, 100mg of potassium, 24g of carbohydrates and 4g of fiber.

Bonk Breaker High Protein Energy Bars retail for $33 for a box of 12 and if your local bike shop does not have them in stock I am sure they can order them for you. You can also order these bars from the Bonk Breaker Online Store and other online retailers, such as Amazon.com, REI, and Colorado Cyclist. By the way, Bonk Breaker is the official energy, protein and nutritional bar of USA Cycling and the USA Cycling Team.

 

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Road ID iPhone App For Cyclists And Runners

As I was watching the Tour de France last week I saw an interview with Edward Wimmer, one of the co-owners of Road ID (the most essential piece of cycling gear I own). During the interview Wimmer mentioned that Road ID had recently introduced a free iPhone app that would allow your friends or family to track you while you are out on a ride or going for a run. I downloaded the app this past Monday and it has quickly become one of the most important apps on my iPhone!

Road ID iPhone App For Cyclists And Runners

Road ID iPhone App

The Road ID iPhone app is very simple to set up and even easier to use. Once you download the app from the iTunes Store you input your basic information (name, address and email address), then you can select up to five of your contacts who will receive either an email or a text message when you are ready to go ride or run. The contacts you selected with get a brief message telling them that you are going out—and in the message there is a link they can click that will allow them to see exactly where you are at any given moment while you are out (Road ID calls this an eCrumb—an electronic breadcrumb). They can watch you on any smart phone or web browser.

Road ID iPhone App For Cyclists And Runners

Road ID iPhone App Stationary Alert

The Road ID iPhone app also allows you to turn on a stationary alert—if you don’t move for five minutes the app will send an email or text message to your selected contacts warning them that you are not moving. The message does not necessarily mean that you are lying face-down in a ditch somewhere—it just means that you have not moved more than 15 feet or so in the past five minutes. However, one minute before the text message or email goes out the app will sound a loud alarm to warn you so you can cancel the message (the alarm reminds me of a klaxon horn from a WWII battleship). At the moment this stationary alert cannot be adjusted to any other time-frame—it is either set at five minutes or it is turned off entirely. I wish this app offered the ability to change the amount of time before sending the stationary alert because five minutes is not a lot of time if you get stuck behind a few customers buying lottery tickets at the convenience store (personally, I think the lottery is just a tax on people who are really bad at math).

One of the biggest concerns most people are going to have about this app is the impact on the battery life of your iPhone. There is no question that it will drain your battery a bit, but for most people this is not going to be an issue. I’ve gone out for three rides of three hours each (including “standing around” time at stop lights, etc.) and each time I started with a battery that was 100% full. When I got home after three hours the battery had only gone down by 20%—but I was running another app, Abvio Cyclemeter, at the same time! One note: I always turn off the Wi-Fi on my iPhone when heading out for a ride to prolong battery life.

One other feature  the Road ID iPhone app offers is that it allows you to make a personalized Lock Screen—even if your phone is locked emergency responders can see any pertinent information they need and a list of people they can call in case of an emergency.

The Road ID iPhone app just hit the iTunes store on June 13, 2013 and it is still in version 1.0 as of this writing. According to the description on the iTunes store, this app is “compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), and iPad. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.”

As I said earlier, this is one of my favorite apps—I wish it had been available with my sons were teenagers (what parent wouldn’t want to be able to track their kids?).

 
77 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Product Reviews

 

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