What to drink on rides: BioSteel is the shit

Sports drinks are just a necessary evil of endurance sports.

The universal consensus is that on energetic rides of more than an hour, you need water, salt, electrolytes & carbs. And as the rides start to get longer & more intense, inevitably you start fooling around with your drinks.

Like most people, I started out with Gatorade. For a long time I went with one bottle of Gatorade from powder and one bottle of plain water. I was never a big fan of any of its flavours; I found only the orange was bearable. And too much of it started to feel nasty. I was happy to find some alternatives.

Beats Gatorade, good value.
I used Ironman Perform (from the PowerBar people) for a while. It was pretty good;  little more expensive than Gatorade powder ($22, 936 g, 52 servings) but with a much better, milder lemon-lime taste.

Clear winner on taste.
After a couple of tubs of the Ironman I got bored and I tried HoneyMaxx, based on a friend's recommendation. It has a really nice, natural honey flavour, and is easy on the stomach, so you have no problem getting it down for the whole ride. (The Lemon-Lime is better than the orange, IMHO.) It takes a little longer to mix, for what it's worth. Not a big deal. The major downside is it's about twice as expensive as the Ironman ($22; 500g, 20 servings). Apart from that it would be my go-to. And what the hell, you're still paying about a buck a bottle, which isn't bad, and none of it is going to some giant food conglomorate (Nestl├ęs, PepsiCo).

"Dude – you on the Pink?"
Last time I ran out I thought I'd try BioSteel, which a few of the Dark Horse Flyers use, including my cycling guru/DHF stalwart Michael. It's a big deal in the pro hockey community at the moment, and clearly it helps to have Steve Stamkos's salary because holy sticker shock! $64 for a 60-scoop tub! That was a bit too big a hit for stuff I hadn't tasted, so I opted for a $20 box of single-serve packets, just in case I hated it. And I did hate it. It has a sort of obnoxious pink berry-gum taste which was making me feel awful deep into the ride. I was ready to write it off, but gave it another shot, this time mixed weaker. I had made it way too strong the first time; this time the taste was much more manageable. Enough, anyway, to at least use up the rest of the pack I had bought. Then I started to notice a big performance jump. Faster & stronger on hills, more jump all the way through the ride; yesterday I took off from our group about halfway in on a hill and did a solo breakaway to our turn-around point and put a shocking amount of distance between us. And it didn't fry me for the rest of the (90 km) ride, either.

Now, it might be coincidence. Maybe given my training this year this is where I was going to get a performance uptick anyway. But even if the value is just psychological (like: equating that obnoxious flavour with being able to do stuff I couldn't do before), there's something there. Possibly it's the fact that it has no carbs helps; you get the hydration & electrolytes without clogging it up with sugar. Anyway, I use other food to get my on-board carb fuel, so there's no real reason to have it in the drink as well. I'll leave it to you to review the science that goes into the stuff.

One suggestion I haven't tried yet: mix the BioSteel with half water & half cocoanut water. I'll give that a go next. (Grace Brand cocoanut water is the best I've tried.)

Bottom line: the sticker shock is worth it. Until I get a better option, I'm going with the BioSteel.

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