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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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Favorite Embrocation Cream: DZ Nuts InHeat

DZ Nuts InHeat Low Heat Embrocation Cream

DZ Nuts InHeat

According to the calendar the first day of spring arrived last week—but it is hard to tell because of all the snow and ice on the ground where I live. On cool mornings cyclists in my area of the country have to decide whether to put on knickers, leg warmers or knee warmers for our morning rides. A few years ago I started applying DZ Nuts InHeat Low Heat Embrocation Cream to my legs before riding in cool weather and have been very happy with the results.

If you are not familiar with embrocation creams here is the Reader’s Digest version: they are creams that contain vasodilators and when rubbed onto your body they warm up the skin and underlying muscles. These creams also create a weather-proof barrier that protects your skin from the elements, like rain and sleet. The DZ-Nuts Website says their cream was “developed and tested on the European roads by Garmin Transitions and Columbia HTC professional cycling teams to be an essential training and racing tool.” For many male cyclists embrocation creams are the main reason we shave our legs. Warning: Never shave your legs on the same day you use an embrocation cream!

If you have never used an embrocation cream before you are probably wondering how this product works. About 15 minutes before you go out for a ride on brisk day you massage this cream into the exposed areas of your legs. It will take several minutes for you to feel the cream working, but once it does you will feel the warmth and be able to ride for several hours in cool weather without having your legs cramp up from the cold.

When your ride is finished you will be pleasantry surprised that the cream did not pick up road grime as you might have expected. I’ve used this cream on long off-road rides on dusty trails and haven’t had much dust stick to my legs.

It has been my experience that the greatest amount of heat is felt once your ride is finished. While you are riding in cool weather you don’t really feel the cream working, but then again, you aren’t feeling the cool air on your legs either. Once you put your bike up and go inside you can feel your legs getting warmer and this will keep your muscles from getting tight after a ride. The DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream washes off easily with just soap and water, but you can still feel it a bit even after you are out of the shower. My advice: When you get into the shower try to wash off the cream with soap and cool water—hot water opens up the pores of your skin and makes this cream heat up again.

Second Warning: Make sure you put this cream on your legs after you put your cycling shorts on! If you put the cream on your legs first and then pull your cycling shorts up some of the cream will stick to your chamois. This cream has capsicum in it (think red-hot chili peppers and police pepper spray). If the capsicum comes in contact with your nether regions you are going to experience a level of pain that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay never even dreamed about (I speak from experience—and a very painful one at that).

DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream comes in three strengths (low, medium and high). The low heat cream is good for rides down to around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit). I’ve not used the other creams because when temperature gets down in the 40’s I really prefer tights. A six-ounce tube of DZ Nuts InHeat retails for around $22 and you should be able to get 15 or 20 rides out of a single tube.

In case you were wondering, the “DZ” in DZNuts is for cycling legend David Zabriskie.

 

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Nair Shower Power For Men (II)

Nair Shower Power For Men Hair Remover

Nair Shower Power For Men

I wrote this article two years ago, but since spring is finally here I thought it was worth reprinting since a lot of guys will be doing some manscaping real soon…

Sorry ladies, but this product review is not for you. There is nothing in this post that would be of the least bit of interest to you. Please do yourself a favor and skip this post and come back next week.

OK guys, now that the ladies are out of the room, let me tell you how lucky we are. Guys often joke about the reason their wife or girlfriend is in a bad mood. I have decided that female mood swings have nothing to do with hormones—they are just ticked off by the fact they have to shave their legs!

I’ve been cycling for ten years and had never thought about shaving my legs until this year. There are many reasons cyclists shave their legs, such as making your legs easier to massage, easier clean-up when you crash, and sometimes just to make your muscles pop. I decided to shave my legs so I could use embrocation creams when I ride in the rain or in cold weather (I like the DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream).

My legs are about as hairy as Bigfoot, so I trimmed them with a body groomer first. The very thought of shaving my legs with a razor conjured up images of the bloody shower scene in Scarface. So, I decided to skip the razor and take the easy route with Nair Shower Power For Men. This is a chemical product (like lye) that you apply to your legs, wait a few minutes, and then wash off the chemicals (and your leg hair) in the shower. The directions are easy to follow and if you follow them correctly most of your leg hair will be gone. However, along with the hair you are also going to lose a layer of skin and have chemical burns that make you look like you’ve worked in a damaged Japanese nuclear reactor. In addition, the next day you will probably have red bumps all over your legs due to ingrown hairs.

A 5.1 ounce tube of Nair Shower Power For Men sells for around $10 and is good for about two applications. I’ve used this product twice and will not be trying it again.

After talking with other cyclists I decided to try another product, Nair For Men Body Cream. This product is about half the price of Nair Shower Power For Men and is a bit easier on your skin, but still nothing I would recommend—too many ingrown hairs.

Finally, I decided to just shave my legs with a disposable razor. However, since I did not want ingrown hairs I shaved them with a Bump Fighter Razor, a product usually used by African-American men to prevent ingrown facial hairs. This product worked like a charm! The Bump Fighter Razor is not sold everywhere—I found mine at a local CVS Drugstore and then ordered the refills from Amazon.com. In addition to being a great razor the Bump Fighter Razor is a lot cheaper than Gillette Mach 3 razors and gives a better shave and I haven’t had an ingrown hair since I started using them.

 

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eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short

A couple of months ago the folks at eCyclingstore.com sent me two pieces of cycling wear for review. Last month I reviewed their Criterium Cycling Jersey and I still think it is one of the best buys in a cycling jersey you will find anywhere. Today I am going to review another great buy—their eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short. These are men’s cycling shorts, but eCyclingstore.com has similar shorts for women.

eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short

eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short

The eCycle Men’s Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short is made from 82% nylon and 18% Lycra with 8-panel construction for a great fit. These shorts have a 9.5″ inseam and an elastic gripper cuff on the hem to keep the shorts in place. Since these shorts look like nearly every other pair of cycling shorts on the market I decided not to show the traditional photo of the shorts. Instead, I’d like to call attention to the chamois since this is what really matters to most of us.

When the package containing these shorts arrived at my house my wife was in my office when I opened it. She took one look at the chamois on these shorts and said, “I bet you are going to hate these shorts.” My lovely wife is not a cyclist, but she is a marvelous soigneur—she graciously washes all of my cycling clothing and is very familiar with cycling gear (am I a lucky guy or what?). The reason my wife thought I wouldn’t like these shorts is because the chamois is fairly thin. In fact, when I saw the chamois for the first time I thought the same thing she did. However, looks can be very deceiving!

The Millennium Short has a four-piece Italian made anti-bacterial chamois. As you can see in the photograph above, this multi-level chamois puts extra padding in the areas where you need it the most—your sit-bones. When I try out new cycling shorts I always start by going on a short ride (25 to 30 miles) just to make sure the chamois is not going to give me any trouble. These shorts passed my first test, so on the second ride with them I went out for 62 miles and they functioned flawlessly. In fact, the best thing I can tell you about them is that I forgot I was riding in new shorts! This chamois far exceeded my expectations. In the sense of full disclosure I need to point out two things: I didn’t have a chance to try these shorts out on a Century ride (100 miles), nor was I able to use them when the temperature was over 90 degrees (but I have no reason to doubt that they would hold up well).

The eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short is true to advertised size, but not all sizes are always available on the eCyclingstore Website. Since not all manufacturers define their sizes the same way, it is important that you consult the eCyclingstore sizing guide before placing your order. These cycling shorts retail for $60, but they are currently on sale for only $25 (an incredible deal).

These cycling shorts, along with many of other styles, are available from the eCyclingstore.com Website. These folks have a large selection of cycling shorts, jerseys, shoes and accessories and many of them are offered at discount prices. They offer a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” that you won’t find at most other places (“If you are unhappy with any purchase from eCyclingstore.com, just let us know within 30 days of your purchase and we’ll refund, exchange, or credit your purchase.”). They also offer free shipping on orders over $50.

 
 

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