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Avoid GI Distress, Cramping, and Bonking – A Fueling Strategy
Backed by Research

Nutrition Research /by Robert Kunz

Endurance athletes often struggle with fueling strategies. Balancing the consumption of calories, electrolytes and water can be difficult, and many athletes use a concoction of different products from different companies to try and maximize the consumption of carbohydrates, electrolytes and water. They may be doing everything right, but many times are still left with gastric distress, cramping or the dreaded bonk.

The issue is that our digestive systems do not work in silos—they must absorb calorie, electrolytes and water concurrently while an athlete is racing. The simple act of adding a gel or electrolyte capsules to a fueling plan can be enough to throw the body’s osmolar balance off, which in turn slows gastric emptying and absorption of all nutrients.

A newly published study shows electrolyte consumption during exercise stimulates hydration and therefore enhances performance. EFS-PRO was designed to maximize hydration through its exclusive ‘Optimal Absorption Technology’ which shuttles water, electrolytes and other essential nutrients through the digestive system more efficiently creating a positive influence on total hydration status.

Optimal Hydration Technology

‘Optimal Absorption Technology’ shuttles water, electrolytes and other essential nutrients through the digestive system more efficiently…

L-Alanyl L-Glutamine – unique to EFS-PRO, it’s been clinically proven to significantly improve absorption of water and electrolytes in humans under exercise stress and mild dehydration. This special dipeptide amino acid is a highly-soluble, water-stable source of glutamine that has been shown to improve endurance performance through its positive influence on hydration. One key mechanism of action is its ability to shuttle water and micronutrients through the digestive system.

In a study done in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, L-Alanyl L-Glutamine and water were administered to college students with induced dehydration of -2.5% while a second group used only water. The group using L-Alanyl L-Glutamine showed a dramatic improvement in their hydration status as well as their serum sodium levels. This group also significantly improved their endurance performance in a treadmill exercise (2).

Cyclic dextrin – a super low osmolality (150mOsm) carbohydrate source that has been clinically proven to have the fastest gastric emptying time of any carbohydrate. (4) This low-osmolality and superior gastric emptying time means athletes can be assured what they drink goes directly to working muscles. This also means EFS-PRO can be mixed at stronger concentrations and still be absorbed properly. In a published clinical study done on competitive swimmers, those using cyclic cluster dextrin significantly improved swimming time over swimmers using other carbohydrate sources. (3)

New Electrolyte Study

In a 2015 study in the Medicine and Science in Sports Journal, researchers investigated the effects of electrolyte supplementation on ˝ Ironman performance. Previous studies in both lab settings and field tests have reviewed the effectiveness of electrolyte supplementation with varied results. Lab studies control fluid intake and match with fluid losses making the correlation with electrolyte content and performance hard to confirm. In field studies, variables like fitness, experience and carbohydrate intake were not held constant (1).

This study took place in a real life ˝ Ironman race, allowing athletes to monitor their own fluid consumption. The study matched subjects on fitness level, age and anthropometric data. The most important alignment was done by matching previous best times in 70.3 race performance. Both the control group and electrolyte supplementation group had previous bests of 301 minutes (5 hours) and had similar training loads of 8km swimming, 180km cycling and 35km running each week. This allowed researchers to see what the performance differences might be following the race.

The study by Del Cosso, et al. used two groups of 13 subjects where both groups were similar in age, fitness level, amount of training and best race performance. The control group was given 12 capsules to be used at specific times throughout the race and did not know they contained only cellulose. The test group was also blindly given 12 capsules that were filled with 2580mg sodium, 3979mg chloride, 756mg potassium and 132mg magnesium. Athletes then consumed their regular fueling plan during the race including drinks that contained additional electrolytes.

*The study made no claims on the consumption of calcium.

Results of the study showed that the group consuming the electrolyte capsules completed the ˝ Ironman at an average race time of 307 minutes (5 hours – 7 min). The control group took 333 minutes (5 hours – 33 min), making the electrolyte group 26 minutes (8%) faster than the control group.

It’s important to note that muscle contraction strength, blood osmolality, serum electrolyte concentrations and carbohydrate intake did not significantly vary between the two groups. The electrolyte group did, however, ingest 400ml (13.5oz) more fluid than the control group even though both groups were asked to simply fuel/drink as they saw fit.

The researchers theorize that the ingestion of electrolytes may create a change in osmotic stimulus that further creates thirst. This may be why the electrolyte group ingested 13.5oz more fluid than the control group in this study.


EFS-PRO is a technologically advanced drink designed to push the absorption of electrolytes, fuel and water through the digestive system. Through its low osmolality, high electrolyte system, aided by L-Alanyl L-Glutamine,EFS-PRO ensures everything you drink goes directly to the working muscles.


J. Del Cosso et. al.; Effects of oral salt supplementation on physical performance during a half-ironman: A randomized controlled trial. Medicine & Science in Sports. 2015.

Hoffman JR, et al. Examination of the efficacy of acute L-Alanyl L-Glutamine ingestion during hydration stress in endurance exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 7:8, 2010

Int J of Sports Med, 26: 314-319, 2005
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 63: 2045-2052 , 1999

Takii, H; Fluids containing a highly branched cyclic dextrin influence Gastric Emptying rate. Int Journal of Sports Medicine; 2005; 26: 314-319.

First Endurance EFS:

The Most “Potent” Sports Drink

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com






















EFS from First Endurance contains the highest concentration of electrolytes of any sports drink.

There are few absolutes in sports nutrition except this is one: First Endurance EFS has more electrolytes per serving than any sports drink.

You use a sports drink during training and racing for three reasons: Hydration, calories and electrolytes. While the principles of sports nutrition are simple, the practice is more complex. Some athletes make it so complex they use a “cocktail” of products during an event that is logistically complex and stressful to the digestive system.

If one nutritional product could combine purposes and replace the need for three or four additional products it would simplify race logistics, reduce the amount of products you need to buy, mix and carry and avoid problems with product interaction and gastric distress. First Endurance EFS is a candidate for that multi-role nutritional product. It provides enough electrolytes to replace electrolyte supplementation and delivers adequate calories and fluid to almost completely reduce the need for other calorie sources.

Using EFS from First Endurance may replace the need for additional electrolyte supplementation during hot events.


No nutritional review is complete without a disclaimer of sorts, although not the one you may expect. The doctrine that “no nutritional product works for everyone” may be one of the greatest cop-outs of the popular endurance sports culture. A better relative truth may be “You can train your gastro-intestinal system to use any product during physical stress”. While this doctrine eschews popular lore it becomes closer to consensus as athletes become more experienced- and faster. Gastric distress is a common limiter in long distance endurance events among newer athletes. Much of it can be attributed to a lack of digestive acclimation under stress.

You can train your digestive system to perform under stress and train it to specific products. Like every metabolic process, digestion is adaptive. If your race preparation includes an emphasis on nutritional adaptation to specific products under race-like stress and duration you will adapt. It’s a personal question as to whether you prefer to adapt to a given nutritional doctrine, or you prefer to find a set of nutritional products that work without adaptation, a laborious and random process. Your best nutritional doctrine may be somewhere between those two extremes, leaning toward adaptation as finishing time becomes a greater priority to just finishing.

First Endurance EFS is also sold in a highly viscous energy gel that can be diluted in a water bottle or taken straight during an event.


In a survey of nutritional products a light bulb appears over First Endurance EFS. You could nearly do an entire long distance race using mostly this product with only minor additional supplementation. That notion is logistically elegant. Less bottles, less concoctions, less to keep track of during an event.

Another advantage to EFS is its variable concentration. Fluid and caloric needs change with weather. As it gets hotter athletes need more fluid and generally tolerate lower concentrations of carbohydrate in sports drinks. As it gets colder they will use more calories to maintain body temperature and require less fluid relative to hot conditions. Knowing that, the best sports drink would be “modular” and have a variable electrolyte concentration depending on how it is diluted. First Endurance EFS is “modular” since it can be diluted to a lower carbohydrate and electrolyte concentration by simply adding water on the fly. Athletes can mix a “master bottle” of EFS at high concentration in a regular over sized bottle carried on their downtube and squirt that into a TorHans handlebar mounted aerodynamic hydration system filled with water from aid station bottles and tossed back into the aid station.

First Endurance also added malic acid to EFS. Found naturally in foods like apples, malic acid is attributed to assist recovery after aerobic exercise. Studies also suggest malic acid reduces muscle soreness and fatigue during aerobic exercise.

Another endurance component of EFS is AjiPure’s Amino Acid Blend. Each single scoop serving provides2,000 milligrams of amino acids L-Glutamine, Leucine, Iso Leucine and Valine. AjiPure is the world’s largest supplier of amino acids and has a background in endurance sports. The benefits of amino acids in an endurance drink include enhanced glucose replacement and better immune function.

There is a strong argument to using the nutritional products served in aid stations at your “A” races. You carry less fluid on your bike, reducing weight and streamlining logistics. You paid for the aid stations so you may as well use them. First Endurance EFS still figures into the mix since it can be used during ultra-distance training in addition to the products used in the aid station of your “A” race which may not be as readily available in your area. You can also carry enough EFS on your bike in concentrated form to easily get through a 70.3 distance event while only taking water at aid stations for dilution.

First Endurance EFS is worth understanding and experimenting with because of its modular mixing capability and its high electrolyte content, especially if you are using capsules to supplement electrolytes. Incorporating EFS into your nutrition plan may allow you to go farther with less products even faster. That potential benefit is worth exploring.

Review: Jamis Bossanova

By Karl Rosengarth

When asked to describe the idea behind the Bosanova, Greg Webber, the vice president of product development at Jamis, had this to say: “Our Pacific Northwest retailers had been asking us for a rain bike: steel-framed, disc-brake equipped, drop-bar road bike (with fenders) for foul weather commuting and/or training that would retail for less than $1,500.” To make a long story short, Jamis mated the touring/ adventure geometry of their Aurora with their racier Quest model and begat the Bosanova.

I found that the resultant all-around geometry worked well, considering the bike’s versatile intentions. The Bosanova felt stable and held its line through high-speed corners. Still, it dodged potholes and responded quickly when pressed. Yes, a bike can be responsive without being twitchy-fast.

Fitting/adjusting the stem height was a breeze, thanks to the NVO adjustable threadless system, which replaces the typical spacer stack with a special shim that slips over the steerer tube, and uses a stem that’s sized to fit over the shim. Simply loosen the stem bolt, slide the stem up/down on the shim to the desired height, and retighten.

Adorning the double-butted chromoly frame are painted-to-match steel fenders and Avid BB-5 cable-actuated disc brakes. From my first rainy-day commute, I fell in love with the stopping power of the disc brakes. The fenders covered enough of the wheels to deflect the vast majority of spray, though my piggies did get a wee, wee wet on the way home.

Jamis positioned the rear fender and rack eyelets such that they don’t interfere with the disc brake caliper. I easily mounted a rear rack with no special adapters required. The chainstays proved long enough to provide heel clearance for my 14”-wide rear panniers. With loaded rear panniers, the Bosanova felt stable and predictable. I noticed some flex at the bottom bracket, but it was minor and I’d have no concerns about touring on the Bosanova. Overall, the Bosanova rode with the resilient and lively feeling that I’ve come to associate with a chromoly steel bike.

The carbon fiber fork has eyelets at the dropouts and mid-leg. I didn’t mount a front rack, but Jamis told me that the load limit for the fork is 30-35kgs. On rough roads, I noticed some fore-aft fork-leg flex, which helped absorb some road vibration and soften the ride.

The mostly-Shimano-Tiagra drivetrain came with a 12-30-tooth cassette and sported a FSA Vero triple crankset with PowerDrive BB (50/39/30-tooth). The triple crank contributed to the bike’s versatility, and I loved having the lower gears whenever hauling a load. Gear changes were smooth and reliable, albeit not as crisp/ quick as higher-end Shimano 2x10 offerings.

On the recreational end of the spectrum, I enjoyed the bike’s smooth, comfortable ride during multi-hour jaunts on both paved and unpaved country roads. It was a snap to slam that adjustable stem down and get into a more aggressive position when I felt like hammering out a training ride.

The Vittoria Randonneur Cross 700x28c tires offered plenty of grip over hard and soft surfaces, and rolled plenty fast. I mounted 38mm tires and found ample frame/fork clearance, with just enough fender clearance to do the trick. Jamis told me that, without fenders, the bike will fit tires as wide as 42mm.

If you’re looking for an affordable, utilitarian road bike that’s versatile enough to serve as your everyday commuter, and stands ready to emerge from a nearby phone-booth and tackle a weekend filled with adventure, then the Bosanova deserves to be on your short list.
Vital stats

Price: $1,275
Weight: 27.2lbs.
Sizes Available: 48, 51, 54, 56 (tested), 58, 61cm

The Issue of Cramping

By Jeb Stewart MS, PES 

We get a lot of athletes who come to us with cramping issues these days so I figured I'd share my thoughts and experience on this subject. Even if you are not currently dealing with the issue of cramping, these simple tips might simply help you get more out of your training and racing, as well as improve your overall health and well-being. 

In my 12+ years of experience working with athletes I have noticed several common threads in cases where people are plagued with cramps. These predispositions include: 

1) Nutrition (electrolyte imbalances specifically) 
2) Lack of specific endurance (whether aerobic or anaerobic) 
3) Poor flexibility 
4) Combinations of any of the above 

To address nutritionally, eat a large spectrum of fruits and vegetables to make sure you are getting in the proper nutrients that provide electrolytes. Adding just one or two doesn't typically help since vitamins and minerals work in synergy with one another, which is why a food-based approach should be implemented first. If this isn't enough, then you may need to supplement. When doing so, s
upplement with a broad spectrum of electrolytes. Adding just one can impair performance. So find an electrolyte supplement that has it all. Two that I have used with success include Endurolytes and Thermolyte caps. 

Also, be sure to limit processed and high sodium foods. Taking in too much sodium causes the body to excrete sodium at high levels in an attempt to balance the system. You can always tell the athletes who take in too much sodium in their diet by the white crust on the helmet straps, jerseys and mouths. As always, cleaner eating leads to better performance. 

Specific Endurance
Always have at least 1 hour more of endurance, or 25% more specific intensity in your legs than you need. If your races are 3 hours, then you likely need to be able to ride 4, with the actual time that you will be racing to be done at a similar intensity, made up of similar types of efforts. If your efforts at shorter and harder, such as a 20 min time trial effort or 8 min hard swim, then make sure you can do at least 25% more at race paced intensity. This can be accomplished with shorter interval workouts that include repeats of similar duration and intensity to what you experience in races and of longer race-simulation rides such as training rides w/ friends or group rides. Getting in at least 1 long ride a week in training is a good idea if you are road racing. Not as necessary if you're racing 'cross, MTB or crits unless your base is lacking.  

On average, those who cramp often tend to have poor flexibility. If your flexibility is lacking, then simply address this by statically stretching your legs 3-5 x per week, hitting all of the major muscles and holding each for 30 seconds at the end ROM, while relaxing and breathing deeply. Use a foam roller on your legs just as often prior to stretching them after your rides. Yoga and massage are also great modalities for improving your muscle function, flexibility and to facilitate better recovery from hard training. 

Mixed Bag 
If you have a combination of any of these, then it looks like you've got your work cut out for you. Not to worry though, as time and diligence will get you there. 

There are some cases where none of the above will help. These cases are rare and often require medical help. To seek the appropriate help, contact a sports medicine specialist or a sports nutritionist. They will be able to guide you in the right direction. 

Give these things a try in the order they are listed in. Hopefully they will help, whether it's overcoming your cramping issues or simply enhancing your performance. Happy training and racing! 

5 Things Every Endurance Athlete

Should Know

by Mike Fogarty on July 2, 2012 in Nutrition Research, Race Results

Endurance nutrition is often the difference between a great race and a DNF. Below are five of the most popular questions we get at First Endurance.

If you have any questions that are not answered here, just drop us a note at research@firstendurance, use our twitter feed or the First Endurance facebook page.

1. Is there an optimal percentage to shoot for of calories consumed vs. calories burned during a workout?

Trying to consume the calories you burn during a workout is something that is often misunderstood. During a workout you only need to focus on replacing the glycogen you burn. Glycogen is your stored carbohydrates and typically an athlete will have approximately 2-2.5 hours of stored glycogen in their muscles and liver. Regardless of what you consume, your body will transform it into working glucose-which is your working energy. In other words, if you consume maltodextrin OR protein while exercising, your body will convert it into glucose. While exercising you burn a combination of carbohydrates and fat. At a slow pace it’s mostly fat and at a pace near or above your aerobic threshold it’s mostly carbohydrates. By knowing this, you can ‘guestimate’ how much you need to replace. If you want to know exactly how much you need to replace you can undergo a substrate utilization test.

A) In slow-paced workouts mean you burn primarily fat and hence do not need to replace too many carbohydrates. For a 150lb athlete this may mean 50-100 calories/hour

B) For faster-paced workouts you burn more glycogen and, therefore, need to replace these. For a 150lb athlete this may mean 250-350 calories/hour.

2. What’s special about the carbohydrate-blend used in the EFS Liquid Shot and EFS Sports Drink.

This is a great question and is vitally important to endurance performance! You have about 2 to 2.5 hours worth of stored glycogen reserves. Once you run out of this stored glycogen, you bonk. In fact, when your stored glycogen gets low, your performance starts to suffer. Regardless of the distance you train or race, your body physiology works the same. You must replace the carbohydrate calories you use in order to sustain a high level of performance. Replacing these consistently and rapidly means your body does NOT need to tap into its stored glycogen.

The First Endurance EFS drink mix and EFS Liquid Shots use a combination of maltodextrin, sucrose and glucose, all of which are high-glycemic. All three sources are absorbed very quickly so that your working muscles get their carbohydrates from an external source (by ingestion) instead of using up your stored glycogen. This means you’ll continue to have energy for workouts or races that are one-hour long or even up to thirty-hours long without bonking. It’s slow burning foods or carbohydrates that actually cause a bonk in long-distance racing. When you consume a slow burning fuel, your body must utilize its stored glycogen, which means you body has to start using stored glycogen reserves. This is OFTEN misunderstood. It also important to understand that maltodextrin, a high-glycemic carbohydrate, has very fast absorption.

Using three high-glycemic carbohydrate sources is also critical because carbohydrates are absorbed in different areas of the digestive system. Consuming three sources at one time means you can absorb all three concurrently in different areas of your digestive system. This results in an ability to consume more carbohydrates/hour and is much easier on the stomach.

3. How far into a workout would you recommend using EFS Liquid Shot? Would it be in conjunction with the EFS drink?

EFS Liquid Shot was designed to be used in conjunction with the EFS drink. We suggest using the EFS drink as the source for the first 200-calories per hour and the EFS Liquid Shot for any additional calories. So for long-distance racing where an athlete might require 300-calories per hour, it’s ideal to use 200-calories of EFS drink and 100-calories of the EFS Liquid Shot.

It’s also important to note that EFS drinks were formulated with 1160 mg of electrolytes/serving, more than any other drink mix on the market. In addition, the EFS liquid shot delivers over 1500mg of electrolytes per flask. So if an athlete uses more calories per hour, they’ll also be receiving additional electrolytes per hour as well. This was done intentionally to eliminate the need for electrolyte pills, drops, etc… With the EFS drink and EFS Liquid Shot combo, you can train and race with confidence knowing you don’t have to worry about cramping or dehydration.

It’s also valuable to know that the EFS liquid shot goes into full solution in water. It’s easy to pour the liquid shot into a water bottle, top it off with water for a drink of almost any calorie needs you may have. This is great for long distance mountain bike races, and in situations where you don’t feel comfortable taking your hands off the bars for very long. A lot of the professional riders we work with use it during Flanders and Paris-Roubaiux

4. Would PreRace be saved for the hardest workouts and race days or taken prior to every ride?

PreRace is definitely not a product to be used every day. For maximum benefits, it’s best to use PreRace as a potent training supplement. It allows you to push that intense workout past what you would normally be able to handle. Doing this causes a natural adaptation to this pace and intensity and makes for a potent training effect that can be replicated on race day. We recommend using PreRace 1-2X per week and on race day.

5. Can you explain how Ultragen works and what it does?

Ultragen is a complete recovery drink designed specifically for endurance athletes, formulated using only peak performing ingredients of the highest quality. Ultragen’s many components are designed to work synergistically in order to fully maximize recovery, providing the right nutrients to the right place at the right time.

The Carbohydrate Catalyst: Ultragen’s nutrient delivery is driven primarily by carbohydrates. Glucose (also known as Dextrose), with a glycemic index over 100, is the fastest absorbed sugar available and accounts for all of the carbohydrates found in Ultragen. This fast absorption is critical to delivering nutrients to exhausted muscles during the well-documented 30-minute window of opportunity following exercise. Ultragen’s 60g of fast-absorbing glucose also creates a catalyst which drives other recovery nutrients like protein, glutamine, branched-chain amino acids, vitamins and minerals into the exhausted muscle.

Time-response Proteins: Ultragen is formulated using a unique time-responsive protein matrix to maximize absorption through the entire spectrum of recovery time. Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH) is a pre-digested, small molecular weight complete protein and the fastest protein absorbed due to its small size and pre-digested peptide chains. Ion exchange Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is also a low molecular weight protein, absorbed more slowly than WPH. Milk Protein Isolate (MPI), fully absorbable due to the unique quality of its isolate (which removes carbohydrates and fats), is absorbed more slowly than both WPH and WPI. Combining these three proteins allows the faster WPH and WPI to be absorbed during that critical first 30 minutes, and the slower MPI to remain and deliver the appropriate building blocks for slower processes.

L-Glutamine: Intense physical exercise drains Glutamine stores faster than the body can replenish them. When this occurs, the body breaks down muscles and becomes catabolic. Research indicates that 6g of Glutamine supports glycogen and protein synthesis and increases nitrogen retention better than carbohydrate/protein drinks alone. Ultragen is formulated with 6 grams of Glutamine and is one of the only endurance recovery products on the market that includes this essential anabolic and anticatabolic ingredient.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): Considered the building blocks of the body, BCAAs are important for muscle growth & recuperation. In addition to building cells and repairing muscle tissue, BCAAs form antibodies that combat invading bacteria & viruses. Your body cannot manufacture its own BCAAs so they must be supplied through your diet and supplementation routine.

Cortisol Modulation: Excess cortisol levels have been shown to suppress the immune system, increase the risk of upper respiratory infections and depress levels of testosterone. In addition, excessive cortisol levels can put the body in a catabolic state- where it breaks down muscle and store fat. Ultragen offers a synergistic blend of vitamins, minerals, co-factors, glutamine and BCAA’s specifically designed to modulate the damaging effects of cortisol brought on by intense endurance training.

Antioxidants: Training regimens for athletes cause more oxidative stress than in the average individual. In fact, studies have shown that endurance and strength training athletes produce more free radicals than sedentary individuals. This oxidative stress not only causes damage to cells and DNA, it may also limit aerobic capacity. Antioxidant supplementation helps maintain the integrity of cell membranes, allowing oxygen to be carried more efficiently and effectively to the working muscles. Damage to membranes may compromise the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity, negatively affecting aerobic performance. Antioxidants like vitamin C also have powerful immune enhancing properties, beneficial because intense exercise may cause a suppressed immune system in athletes. For example, an intense aerobic bout may produce phlegm and coughing that lasts a few hours or a few days. Vitamin C may help combat this suppressed immune function allowing an athlete to train at a higher-level day in and day out. Ultragen contains 800% RDA of vitamin C and 1250% RDA of vitamin E to help further support recovery.

Essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes: – Athletes, especially endurance athletes, need higher levels of specific vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to help restore energy levels, fight free-radicals and maintain a healthy immune system. Ultragen provides the high-potency vitamins, minerals and electrolytes your body requires to maximize recovery.

dznuts for Men:
The mission statement of DZ Laboratories is "Maintenance"

dznuts: Why choose it over others?
• Layers up on the surface of your skin with just the
  right amount of slickness.
• Eliminate chaffing, the precursor of saddle sores
• Anti-inflammatory action soothes irritated skin
• Wound healing actives heal existing saddle sores.
• Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial reduces chance of  



Bliss for Women: 
Scientifically formulated for women's sensitive skin by female cyclists

Bliss for  Women: What's  the Difference?
 • Anti-bacterial: pre/probiotics complex reduces the
  chance of infection and encourages beneficial skin
  flora growth
• Anti-inflamatory: decreases itching, prickling and
• Wound-healing: strengthens natural biological skin
  defenses and promotes healing in previously 
  damaged skin.
• Anti-chaffing: moisture absorbing polymers isolate
  excess moisture, protecting delicate skin against the
  chamois. Slight Tingle 

 Jamis Xenith Elite

A bike that costs $2,000 may indeed be twice as good as one priced at $1,000. But as with just about any product, at some point the gains in performance or quality no longer track equally with increases in cost: You have to pay a lot more to reap ever-smaller improvements. With bicycles, we consider five grand to be the point of diminishing returns.

For that price you can buy a bike like the Jamis Xenith Elite, which gives you most of the performance of the Jamis Xenith Elite bicycle available from Citrus Park Cyclery in Tampa Floridacompany's flagship Xenith SL. The differences include the use of a lower-modulus carbon fiber on the less-costly model (though both bikes come from the same mold). Also, instead of Shimano C35 tubulars, you get American Classic 420 Aero 3 wheels and a slightly less expensive (and marginally heavier) Ritchey cockpit. And the Elite weighs about 1.75 pounds more than the SL. The difference in cost: $4,500—or about the price of a whole other Elite.

Is it worth it?

Based on my experience, in terms of pure performance, the Elite is plenty of bike for most of us. As much as I stomped this Jamis up the climbs outside Boulder, Colorado, I never felt it lack for frame stiffness. On descents, the moderate, stage-race geometry (matching 73-degree head and seat angles, a 43mm rake, and a 967mm wheelbase) offered perfectly mannered, neutral handling that will keep up with you in a crit, but still let you sit up to remove a layer without winding up in a ditch. On dirt-road sections it was stiff enough to remind me it was a race bike, but never beat me up.

It was as much bike as I will ever need. That's not to say it's as much bike as I could ever appreciate—that's where the value of the most expensive models kicks in. For some of us, the ability to experience the subtleties of how a road feels, or extremely nuanced gains in performance or handling, are worth a bigger cash outlay. And it's true that, as much as I liked the Elite, as much as it was up to whatever challenge I threw at it, and as happy as I would be riding it for years, I wasn't completely satisfied.

The American Classic 420 Aero 3 wheels, for instance, are reasonably light, but the lateral stiffness, especially in the rear, didn't quite match that of the frame. The brand has nicely balanced and tensioned wheels, but the 420 rim is relatively narrow (19mm), which creates a tire profile that led to what I interpreted as a slight squirminess under hard pedaling—a softness I didn't find on the bike with wheels from American Classic or Shimano that use wider rims. Also, I wish I'd been able to get full Gore housing, instead of Jagwire over Gore cables, and a braze-on front derailleur (because I like them and feel they lead to crisper shifting).

Those are nitpicks, highlighted here solely to illustrate that, as silly as it might sound, even $5,000 can lead to compromises—though maybe only if you're thinking about what 10 grand gets you. The Xenith Elite is a superb race bike. If you want to spend more, you won't have to justify it to me. I get it. But dollar for dollar, the Xenith Elite is enough bike to satisfy nearly any cyclist.—Joe Lindsey

BUY IT IF You're an actuarial type who tries to maximize cost/benefit ratios

How To Fuel for Long Distance Racing

The Beauty of Simplicity

By Justin Park-Professional Triathlete

If you are inclined to read all of the books, articles and additional forms of print media out there, you will quickly discover that the concept of endurance performance nutrition is a complex and often difficult to understand topic.

How many calories do I need per hour?

Should I consume my calories in liquid, gel or solid form? Or a combination of all three?

Am I a heavy sweater? How much water do I need to stay hydrated?

Do I need to supplement with additional electrolytes, such as sodium?

How many grams of carbohydrates do I need per hour?

Should I also consume protein during exercise?

I have a sensitive stomach, so how do I go about fueling without the added risk of gastro-intestinal distress?

Just listing these types of questions can often overwhelm athletes and leave them frustrated and confused before they even begin to determine what fueling strategy works best for them. Yet I am here to tell you that endurance performance nutrition does not have to be this complex.

In fact, it can be incredibly simple.

For those that don’t know, over the better part of the last year and a half I have suffered from an unknown medical problem that confounded my doctors for many months. Strange symptoms – such as elevated thyroid stress hormone, atrial fibrillation (and subsequent cardioversion…an electric shock I don’t wish upon anyone) and rapid but largely unexplained weight loss – left physicians wondering where to start, much less how to combat the illness. And as you can imagine, this type of problem dramatically affected my training and racing performance.

After months and months of frustration and my own recurrent emotional struggles of whether to continue my pursuit of professional triathlon, doctors finally determined the cause of my issues. Simply put, I had been suffering from an infection that severely compromised the health of my digestive system and had been doing so for several YEARS. All of those symptoms that, at first glance, appear not to have anything to do with the health (or lack thereof) of the gut were largely just long-term effects of my body slowly falling apart due to the duration of the infection.

Think of it in this way: Severe infection of the digestive system compromises the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Lack of nutrient absorption compromises the body’s ability to recover from strenuous activity (such as 25-30 hours of training per week) and maintain the overall health of all other systems of the body (cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous, etc.). Long-term inability to sustain health leads to the gradual deterioration of other parts of the body – in my case, thyroid, heart, and so on.

As my doctor aptly put it, “If you drive for years with incredibly low oil levels in your engine, eventually other parts of the engine are going to stop working.”

Tremendously thankful to finally have an answer, I nevertheless remained incredibly daunted by not only the level of destruction I had done to my body but also the amount of treatment that would be necessary to restore my overall health. After all, bringing the body back to a respectable level of health was one thing. Getting it back to the level of performance to compete with some of the best athletes on the planet was an entirely different thing.

But so began the task of ridding my body of infection and restoring me to full health. As you can imagine, much of the treatment focused on the digestive system and overall recovery of the gut – a process that was both painful and unpleasant. Yet, slowly but surely, my situation started to improve. I was able to resume some light training but not permitted to complete anything of such duration so as to require fueling for sustainability. At that point in time, trying to get my body to both exercise (regardless of intensity) and try to digest nutrition would prove a futile task.

Believe it or not, those restrictions existed as recently as early January 2012. Over the next several weeks, I was gradually able to extend the duration of my training, supplementing with nutrition only to the barest extent necessary. Finally, my health (although far from fully restored) was going to be repaired sufficiently enough for me to handle the heavier volume of a training camp in Tucson, Arizona in mid-February.

Nevertheless, my digestive system would still be severely compromised. Therefore, doctors informed me that any nutrition I utilized during exercise would have to be, in their words, “as simple as possible.” Just hearing my doctors say that – um, a simple nutrition plan? – almost made me laugh at them on the spot. Given that they controlled the dosages of my medications, however, I felt that to be a somewhat inane response. So I kept my mouth shut.

So what did I find at my training camp? Low and behold…and I can’t believe I am even saying this…performance nutrition is incredibly simple. No guesswork, no over-thinking and no problems. All I needed was the First Endurance line of nutrition.

Keep in mind, with the slow return of my gut health, I was only in the early stages of again starting to absorb calories and nutrients in my training. And as a larger triathlete (6ft 3in and 170lbs) with the added difficulty of having a high metabolism, the idea of dialing in my nutrition (especially at this point in time) had seemed somewhat of a fleeting concept.

But perhaps the simplicity of it all is best revealed through one sample day of volume during the camp: a brutal 6-hour 30-minute training day consisting of a 5-hour 15-minute bike, a 30-minute transition run off the bike, and a 45-minute light aerobic swim to finish off the day.

Believe it or not, I completed the entire day of training using only First Endurance’s EFS Electrolyte Drink (fruit punch flavor) and EFS Liquid Shot (vanilla flavor). I had a solid and substantial breakfast in the morning before beginning the day’s training and then fueled my way through all of the workouts with only those two products. No over-thinking, no additional supplementation of electrolytes, and no worries. To top it off, I felt almost as good at the end of the day as I did before the workouts even started.

Incredibly simple nutrition, and incredibly effective. With my calorie needs and a truly compromised digestive system, you would never think it could be that easy. But it is.

Now, imagine how easy fueling can be for an athlete with a normal digestive system.

Cold Weather Riding - Bring It On!

by Jeb Stewart MS

"Embrace the weather rather than fight it, and dress accordingly." ~Jeremiah Bishop, Trek MTB Pro

  In Florida our weather is so good most of the time that we often aren't prepared mentally or physically when the temperature drops. In much of the rest of the country, riding in the cold is simply a fact of life that must be dealt with for 6 months out of the year. So, when it does get cold, we often get caught off guard, and many times, either don't enjoy our riding or don't ride at all. Where ever you live, there's a much better way that will allow you to not only ride, but to enjoy it.

Citrus Park Cyclery in Tampa is hear to help you get the best performance and the most fun out of your bicycleFor starters, it's a mind set. If we fight anything in life, it only strengthens. If we embrace it, it becomes our friend. One of the most famous and successful mountain bike pros in the country, Jeremiah Bishop, once told me while I was living in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia where we often rode in the snow, to embrace the weather instead of fighting it, and to dress appropriately. I have not had a hard time in the cold ever since. 

From a few years in the Blue Ridge, followed by a few in Portland, Oregon, I quickly learned to dress in layers. Layers keep you warm and you can peel them off as you warm-up along the way. Start with a good base layer underneath, whether long sleeve or short. It also helps to have a good long sleeve jersey with a little warmth to it. Invest in a good set of gloves and toe warmers or booties. Toe warmers are nice because they are not so cumbersome and they are all you need down to around 50 degrees. 

If your hands or feet get cold, it can get ugly quick, so keep your core and your extremities warm and you will be good to go. Follow with a wind vest to keep your chest warm while getting going and to keep in your pocket if the temps drop again and you are all sweaty. Be sure to invest in a decent set of arm and leg warmers. I wear them any time it's under 65 degrees as I like to start out warm instead of cold, and then undress as I go. Finish with a cycling cap, beanie or ear warmers to keep your head warm when it goes below 50.

When it is cold your body burns more calories to help keep you warm. This is a benefit to those who are trying to lose weight, but keep in mind you need to replace them at a slightly higher rate, even though you may be keeping the intensity lower during this time. Also, when you aren't sweating as much you tend not to drink very often. This can backfire as well, catching you in a state of dehydration before you know it. You are still losing water, but it is just getting evaporated more quickly due to the lower humidity. Keep drinking like normal so you don't short circuit the system before the end of the ride. Some other tricks of the trade include using warming oil on your legs as a pre-ride warm-up that lasts as you go along. I use it when I know the leg warmers will need to come off or when I know I won't be putting them on at all, but it's still chilly. It's also a nice way to step out into the cold and be ok with it from the gun. 

Like I said in the beginning, embrace the cold weather, and you will benefit from the work that you do this winter a whole lot more. The better prepared you are for it, and the less you fight it, the more you can focus on your training and enjoy the ride. After all, isn't that why we are doing this to begin with? And remember, riding in the cold makes you strong and helps you appreciate the nicer weather, so harden up and go out there and get in your miles. You will be glad you did when it warms up again and chilly days are but a distant memory. 

Implement these techniques during your upcoming cold days in the saddle and you will have a much more enjoyable and successful experience.

Happy riding!

The Benefits of Biking

Biking is a low impact activity which can salvage your joints. It burns anywhere from 300 to 800 calories per hour (depending on the intensity of the ride) and can be a fun family activity.

The right fit of your bike is important to avoid potential orthopedic-related injuries to your knees, low back or neck. Remember, a helmet is recommended for anyone riding a bike and is the law for young children.

If your goals are cardiovascular in nature, the duration of your ride should be anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, three to five days a week. the intensity of theCitrus Park Cyclery in Tampa is here to help you and your family get the maximum benefit from cycling exercise should vary from 60 to 80 percent of your heart rate maximum ( a rough
estimate of your heart rate maximum is determined by subtracting your age from 220).

For those new to the sport, begin conservatively and progress the intensity by no more than 10 percent per week. Your breathing should not be labored, you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. It is also recommended that individuals consult with a physician prior to initiating a biking program.

Remember to bring plenty of water and have fun!


Endurance athletes put a large emphasis on their training programs, their equipment and their nutrition to assure they reach their goals.  First Endurance consults with hundreds of these athletes primarily on nutrition and how to best fuel your body for long distance racing.  Through these consultations with beginners, veterans, elite amateurs and professionals it is quite clear that carbohydrates and how they should be used is vastly misunderstood.

Much of what is misunderstood is likely driven by the media’s generalization of nutrition topics.   Often you hear ‘eating too much sugar makes you fat and is bad for you.’   Furthermore clinical data performed on the general population is often extrapolated to endurance trained athletes, who do not fit this category.    This has lead to some misunderstanding and misconceptions about carbohydrates.  Below are the four most common.

#1 Misconception: Sugars are high glycemic* so they give a sugar high then crash.

Citrus Park Cyclery is here to help you with the special nutritional needs cyclists experience

Generalizing all sugars into the category of high glycemic is false.   Some sugars are high glycemic, some are moderate and some are low.    Foods also have a glycemic index and many have been measured.  The only way to truly know what a foods glycemic index is, is to look it up or have it measured.

Below you will find the glycemic index of the more common sugars:

Glucose Scale 0-100

Glucose                                                     99 ± 3

Maltodextrin                                               85 ± 15

Sucrose                                                     68 ± 5

agave nectar                                                30 ± 5

Fructose                                                    20 ± 5

#2 Misconception:  Complex Carbohydrates like Maltodextrin are slow burning

This is one of the most common misconceptions and is also directly related to misconception #1 & #4.   Maltodextrin is one of the highest glycemic index carbohydrates available.  Its because its high glycemic load that it actually works so well as a primary carbohydrate in many energy drinks.   More specific its because it has a low osmolarity and is absorbed quickly that it works so well while exercising.

#3 Misconception:  Sugar is bad for my health.

Citrus Park Cyclery is here to help you with the special nutritional needs cyclists experienceWhat this should state is: Highly refined (empty calorie) high glycemic sugar during rest is bad for my health.   Consider that fruits and vegetables and grains are primarily sugar, would one state that adding more vegetables, fruits and whole grain to one’s diet is bad?  No.   Unfortunately many consumers forget that these highly nutritious foods are almost all sugar.   Sugar (as glucose) is the primary fuel that your body and brain runs on.   Glycogen is our stored energy source and glucose is our circulating energy source.  ALL nutrients, including fat or fiber ultimately get broken down into glucose so your body can run efficiently.  Trying to eliminate sugar is like trying to run your car without gas.

So what is bad about sugar?   Consuming a high glycemic highly refined food when you are hungry causes a sugar high, strong insulin response, then a sugar crash.  This ultimately can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.  This also causes consumers to eat more because with each sugar crash they crave more food.

Example#1: taking a couple hand fulls of Rice Chex (GI=89), a short time later you feel emptiness (due to the sugar crash) and repeat the cycle.  This leads to numerous health problems like insulin resistance, diabetes and weight gain.   Lets be clear here that it was not sugar that is the culprit, but a high glycemic choice while at rest**.   Now if you added some protein or fat to that snack choice, like nuts or an avocado you have effectively reduced the glycemic index and will not get the sugar high/sugar crash result.

Example #2:  You choose to have a piece of gluten free wheat bread (GI=90).  Sugar high, sugar crash..repeat.   Most don’t associate gluten free wheat bread as being a bad choice, but then again most don’t clearly understand the implications of glycemic index.  Add a bit of peanut butter to the bread which is primarily protein and fat and you have reduced the glycemic index and hence stabilized blood sugar.

In these examples you can clearly see that its not the sugar that is the culprit in bad health, but the high glycemic choice.  In both examples you can consume the same amount of sugar, but greatly improve its effect on your health by eliminating the effects of a high glycemic cycle.

#4 Misconception: Since I am doing a long race, I should consume slow burning carbohydrates

In the opening paragraph we stated that clinical data on the general population does not extrapolate to endurance Citrus Park Cyclery is here to help you with the special nutritional needs cyclists experienceathletes.   From the misconception #3 you should have learned that high glycemic foods result in a sugar high and sugar crash.  This is true in all situations EXCEPT when you are exercising and immediately following.    Many athletes have taken what they learn from the media and have concerned themselves with consuming sugar and hence opted for a more sustained energy flow coming from maltodextrin (a complex carbohydrate).    This is wrong on three counts.

1)    When you are exercising your insulin is blunted.  Meaning, that when you are exercising and you consume a high glycemic food, you do not get a strong insulin response and hence you do not get a sugar crash.   Your body is very smart and it clearly understands that when you are exercising you want to use the food or drink you consume to fuel your muscles.  If insulin kicked in, the food or fuel you consumed would not get to the working muscle.

2)    Athletes tend to choose maltodextrin, which is a good choice, but do so for the wrong reasons.  As you learned from misconception #1 maltodextrin is actually high glycemic not low glycemic.   Hence maltodextrin is a good choice because it is fast absorbing, not because it’s slow absorbing.


3)    Looking for that low glycemic, slow sustained energy will actually cause you to bonk prematurely.   Some even consider using some fat because they are going long. Understand that we all have about two hours of stored glycogen.  Once this runs out, we bonk.  If you consume a slow absorbing/low glycemic food while exercising you are forcing your body to rely on its stored glycogen.   The entire goal of fueling for long endurance racing is to spare your muscle glycogen.  In other words do what you can to hold on to that stored glycogen.  The best way to do this, outside of appropriate pace and training, is to consume primarily fast absorbing carbohydrates to fuel your exercise.  This will allow you to immediately use what you consume for the working muscle, so you can spare your stored muscle glycogen.?


The act of consuming slow nutrients can also cause gastric distress.  Consider that slow absorbing nutrients spend a lot of time in the digestive system.  Doing this while exercising simply backs up the digestive system and does not allow for those fast nutrients to get absorbed.  Often athletes cannot understand why they bonked when they consumed a large amount of calories.  The simple answer is that they likely consumed slow calories that did not absorb before their glycogen ran out.  And often you feel this through considerable stomach discomfort.


*Glycemic index is the measure of your blood sugar response following the consumption of food.  High glycemic foods result in a sugar high.  Low glycemic foods are absorbed more slowly and result in a steady blood sugar response.   Adding fat, protein or fiber to any food effectively reduces its glycemic index.   Though there are two scales used, the more common scale measures glycemic index from 0 to 100.

**While at rest your insulin works efficiently to bring high circulating glucose down. While exercising the body wants the high circulating blood glucose to be driven to the working muscles as fuel.   Hence, while exercising insulin is blunted, so eating a high glycemic food does NOT result in a sugar crash.

?Resent research has proved that during exercise carbohydrates can be absorbed concurrently in multiple channels.   Consuming several carbohydrate sources will allow the endurance athlete to better absorb the fuel needed to sustain endurance activity.

♥Running photo courtesy of Eric Wynn photography

The Cracker Barrel

This is not an article about a southern style restaurant (even though Cracker Barrel is among the limited number of restaurants serving good green vegetables.) This is about American folklore, the kind that is memorialized in Norman Rockwell paintings. According to tradition, cracker barrels sat in the middle of General Stores with chairs situated around the barrel. Town folk would congregate around the cracker barrel to socialize, share information, debate current issues, gossip about those not present etc. The General Store served the needs of the community for goods and services, from horse blankets to ribbons for the hair. The cracker barrel contributed to fulfilling communication and social needs.

It came to mind as I looked at the painting that our local bike shop, the LBS, plays a somewhat similar role in the cycling community. They supply us with everything we need for cycling. Many of us received advice that helped us match the first bike or more likely the first "serious" bike which we purchased with the type and amount of riding we planned. The LBS probably fitted the bike to us. This was a critical first step because it matched the bike with our needs. That match enabled us to enjoy and grow in the sport vs. becoming frustrated and quitting because we thought the bike and cycling didn't work for us.

As we used that first bike, the LBS likely kept it in good operating condition for us and supplied us with accessories and clothing that added to our enjoyment of riding. People in the shop gave advice as to what would work well for us based of their knowledge of cycling and of us as customers. As we mature in the sport the LBS provides us with equipment that helps us ride further, faster, more comfortably and in style. They use the knowledge they have to help us and invest their money in inventory so that we can touch, try on and try out the items that interest us.

I love hanging out at the bike shop. I learn new tips and tricks about my bike and about riding. I hear about events that are upcoming, rides I might want to participate in and pick-up local gossip about who won what and who sat up, even if it is just on the Wednesday night group ride. The work stand or the sales counter has replaced the cracker barrel in the cycling community. The owners and employees in my LBS are usually tolerant of me spending some time there in part because I am a customer. But I am not making them wealthy so I also believe it is also because they are cyclists themselves and enjoy sharing news, information and gossip about our community just as folks did in the General Store.

Some shops also put on events that are sales motivated or sometimes just fun social events with the goal of meeting new prospective customers. last week Village Bikes in Sarasota served coffee and bagels at 9AM at a Tour de France opening day viewing party at the shop. The Facebook invitation challenged us to "Let the trash talking begin." How fun is that?

I don't get any of this from online retailers. Although I have nothing against them I worry that they threaten a part of the cycling community that I love. Even more importantly by being a threat to the LBS it threatens part of our cycling way of life and the support system for us all, especially beginning and newer cyclists. Online retailers can sell products for less because their operating costs are less. They don't provide all the services that the LBS provides and that we sometimes take for granted. I don't want to see the LBS go the way of the General Store with us fending for ourselves in the Lowes and Home Depots of cycling. I don't want to have to use a GPS to find the bicycle tires in a huge box store. I want someone to hand the tire to me after making sure that it is the best tire for me and to mount it on my wheel if needed. Support your Local Bike Shops. They are vital to your community.

As a newcomer to American folklore, I am left with one nagging question. Didn't those crackers get kind of stale sitting in those barrels?

Darren Dowling
Florida Cycling Magazine
July 7, 2011 Issue 47 / Vol. 2



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Updated 04/20/2017