Monday, July 25, 2011

Product Review: Road ID

In 2005 I was training for my first Ironman, and got hit by a car while out for a ride.  I was in aero position, going about 28 mph on a gradual downhill in the bike lane,  and a guy in an opposite left hand turn lane decided to gun it and try to beat me across.  He misjudged.  Before I could even come out of aero position to make a grab for my brakes, I  t-boned his passenger door and flew, bike still attached, over the top of his car.  It was a rather spectacular-looking crash (according to the horrified onlookers).   I was wearing a Road ID, and when the ambulance came, I didn’t have to scour my dazed brain for a phone number.  My husband was called and I got carted off for x-rays. 

Three months later, when my body had healed and my new bike had arrived, I went out again.  I was admittedly white-knuckled, but had to get back in the saddle, literally.  I told my husband I would stay close to home and do laps in a low-traffic area with a very wide bike lane.   It was mid-day on a Sunday, and I was wearing a yellow jersey with a ridiculous blinking light on the back…talk about paranoid.  But sure enough, I was hit again, this time from behind, by a drunk driver who fled the scene (thankfully witnesses got the license plate number).     The police officer said I was so visible I actually attracted the drunk driver, since they tend to drive toward what they are looking at.  Back in the ambulance, once again relying on my Road ID. 

Needless to say, my Road ID is as normal a part of getting dressed as my shoes are.  I never leave home without it.   If you think you don’t need one because you are always cautious in your activities, let my experiences be a lesson.  It has little to do with you and your level of personal safety – you simply cannot control the external factors. 

I got my first Road ID, a wrist Sport version, about nine years ago.   It had my name, emergency contact info, and allergies on it.   I wore it running, biking, swimming, camping – basically it went wherever I went.  It is a comfortable mesh fabric with a Velcro closure and a stainless steel info plate.  It is indestructible - you would think the fabric or Velcro would fail at some point, but it never wore out.  I replaced it only because Road ID kept coming up with great, new product. 

My current Road ID is the wrist Elite, which has a thinner, rubberized band, and a clasp much like a watch.  I tend to wear this sleeker one daily, regardless of whether I’m heading out for groceries or a 20 mile run. 

I happen to prefer the wrist ID, but they offer shoe, ankle, and military-dog-tag styles as well. 

For me, the most significant development for Road ID since I’ve owned it is the Interactive option.  This allows you to put your basic info on the plate, and manage an entire medical and contact profile on a website that can be accessed by emergency personnel.   When this option was introduced, I enrolled immediately (it costs a mere $10 per year).   By wearing this small wristband, I am actually carrying around multiple emergency contacts, my bloodtype, medical history, physicians, treatment preferences, even info about my son in case I’m in a car accident with him.   And I can update it anytime I want, as often as I need to. 

Everybody should own a Road ID because it’s just smart.  In fact, if I were a race director, I would make the Road ID mandatory for participants. 

Lastly, I love the personal aspect of the Company.  As a Road ID customer, you get communication straight from the owners, Ed and Mike Wimmer, a father and son team who founded the company because they genuinely care about the safety of other outdoor enthusiasts.   I try to spend my limited funds with companies that have heart, and this one certainly does. 

The Wrist ID Sport is $19.99, and the Wrist ID Elite is $29.99.    This is a no-brainer, folks.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Elite Racer Interview: Anita Ortiz

As part of the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Preview, Team EverymanTri caught up with Anita Ortiz for an exclusive chat.  Anita was the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Open Women champion in 2008 with partner Katie Mazzia.    She will be returning for the 2011 race with a new partner, Angela Mudge. 
Team EveryManTri:   Why come back to the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run event? 

Anita:  Basically because it’s like a running camp for grown-ups.  If you love to run, what more could you want?  It’s beautiful, the food is awesome, you’re catered to in every possible way, your stuff is transported for you, your tent is set up for you, they thought of everything.  So it’s like easy camping, and the atmosphere and people – oh my gosh, it is so much fun. 

Team EveryManTri:  What is the hardest part of the race for you?

Anita:  Being away from my family.  I love it while I’m there – I love the running, sleeping in the tent, and I love just every part.  But I get homesick for my kids.   My kids are older and they can take care of themselves so I don’t worry about them, but they grow so fast I just hate missing even a single day.   Most of the places we camp don’t have cell service, so it’s like cold turkey.  No kids. 

Team EveryManTri:   Tell me how you and your 2011 teammate came together. 

Anita:  My partner this year is Angela Mudge, she’s from Scotland, and she is totally a badass.  I hope I can hang with her.  We are running as a Salomon team, and we used to actually compete against one another in Mountain Trophy races – well I never competed with her very well because I was always way behind her!  So we both race for Salomon and we wanted to just put together a fun team and make a podium spot.  Even though we’ve been rivals we are friends.  Rivals on the course, friends everywhere else. 

Team EveryManTri:  How would you summarize your training for TransRockies, and do you do any cross-training?

Anita:  I don’t necessarily have to train specifically for TransRockies because I live in the environment [Eagle, Colorado].  So where I normally train, IS TransRockies training.  I don’t have to do anything different than I already do.  As for cross-training, I’m on a stair machine a lot, because that’s good for hill training.   I do some weights too.  Right now my average mileage is anywhere between 90 and 110 miles per week.   It’s a lot, but it’s only because I love to run, not really because I need it for training.

Team EveryMan Tri:  Do you have any training tips for people doing TransRockies for the first time?

Anita:  Definitely spend some time at altitude.  If you don’t live at altitude, it’s good to get up there some and hang out.  Go to Leadville and have lunch and hang out there for a few hours.   Go again a few days later or the next week.  That’s the thing that gets people the most.  The other thing that gets people is the strain of back-to-back hard running.  So train with some back-to-back hard days.   You don’t get the ‘easy’ day in TransRockies.   But honestly, they make it doable for anybody.  It’s really an event  that’s made for advanced people, mid-packers, and just-go-have-fun people. 

Team EveryManTri:   The race-issued duffle bag has limited space in it.  What gets priority – what can’t you live without?

Anita: My blow-up mattress, my Incredible Hulk sheets, and my pillow with the Care Bear pillowcase.  Those go.  Those go to every race.  I have a battery-operated blow-up mattress, luxurious, you’ll hear me in my tent blowing that thing up. 

Team EveryManTri:  Is there anyone you’re looking forward to visiting with at the campfire?

Anita:  Everybody!  I can’t wait!  After doing it for several years, I just can’t wait to see all my friends.  It’s just so social and fun. 

Team EveryManTri:   As an endurance athlete, when things really start to hurt, where does your head go?  How do you mentally push past pain?

Anita: I just don’t let myself even entertain it.  I mean obviously if I’m really in pain it can take control of my body, but I don’ t allow it to win.  The race I just ran, Western States, is a great example.  I had a really tough go of it this year, and I was in pain in every spot you could imagine, and I just kept going.  I didn’t have a great performance, but I didn’t let the pain win. 

Team EveryManTri:   How would your friends describe you?

Anita:  I think they would say I’m determined, stubborn, but also very real.  Like, a lot of people in the town where I live don’t even know I run.  A lot of people I work with in my job don’t even know I run.  I’m pretty down to earth. 

Team EveryManTri:  Who inspires you in running and in life?

Anita:  My parents inspire me in life.  My parents are awesome.  They are wonderful, supportive people who back me in everything I do.  I talk to my mom every day.  In running, there are so many people I look up to it’s hard to pick just one.   Kami Semick is inspirational.  But even more than people you want to beat, the people who I find inspirational are the people who are out there and not winning.   We have a guy that races in our local series, and I think he’s 74 years old, and he goes to every single race.  And he just gets it done.  I find inspiration in the people who are out there doing it and it takes them twice as long as it takes me.  

Team EveryManTri:   You’re from the Denver area, so you’re a Rockies girl at your core!

Anita:  Yea!  The funny thing is that I went to graduate school at Florida State because I wanted to get away from the mountains.  And the cold and the snow.  And I just laugh because that’s what I ended up coming back to.   I mean, you realize what you like when you leave it.  I loved my time in Florida and I look back on that time with fondness, but I was ready to leave. 

Team EveryManTri:   What is a little-known fact about you?  Besides the Incredible Hulk sheets….

Anita:  [laughs]  I can ballroom dance on roller skates.  Is that awesome or what.  I took a class.  Sometimes I like to do just off the wall, whacky things.  Because what the heck, you only live once.   Seriously, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried ballroom dancing on roller skates. 

Team EveryManTri:    TransRockies vs. Western States.  What are the similarities and differences between doing 120 miles in six days and 100 miles in one day?

Anita:  TransRockies is much easier.  Your longest day is like 22 miles, and you’re going faster, but still it makes a huge difference.  And then when you’re finished, you do nothing but pamper yourself the rest of the day!  Western States is just all around grueling.  If I had to pick one over the other it would be hard because they are just so radically different – like apples and oranges – they don’t even belong in the same basket.   Western States has probably a bigger sense of accomplishment at the end, but TransRockies you get a bigger sense of satisfaction because it was so much fun, and you leave there with hundreds of new friends.  I’m still in close contact with people I met four years ago. 

Team EveryManTri:   You have a big family – four kids, right?  How do you do it all?

Anita:  Yea, four kids, husband, three cats, three dogs, a bird…
I’m a really good time manager.  I think people waste a lot of time that they don’t realize they’re wasting.  One CSI: Miami is the same as a six mile run.  So it comes down to which is more important.  I don’t waste a lot of time and I multi-task a lot. 

Team EveryManTri:   So what do you consider ‘downtime’?

Anita:  Running!  Running IS my downtime!  I like my naps, and I teach school, so I take a nap every day in the summer.  Oh if babies only knew how great it is.   

Team EveryManTri:    Is it true that you only need four hours sleep and you go for runs at 3:30am? 

Anita: Yea, well that’s the other thing.  You have to be willing to get up really early so you’re not taking time away from your family or your husband, or your work.  And I’m one of the fortunate ones who doesn’t need a lot of sleep.   My husband says I’m a hummingbird.   Constantly in motion. 

Team EveryManTri:    Do you work out more than once per day?

Anita:  Yes, usually three times.  I’ll do a morning, a lunchtime or right after school, and then an evening something. 

Team EveryManTri:    So you do this early morning run in the dark with a headlamp?  On the mountain trails?  Aren’t you scared?

Anita:  Well you kind of learn not to look around.  Sometimes I sing really loud because I hear noises that are probably mountain lions and bears.  We see them, we see tracks everywhere, I know they’re there.  But what are you going to do, stay home?  No.  Just gotta sing. 

Team EveryManTri:    With your intense training regime, what’s your secret for injury avoidance?

Anita:   When I find it I’ll let you know.  I’m injured all the time.  There’s always something that’s wrong.  But usually it’s minor and I just suck it up and deal with it.  I’m injured because I love to work so hard.  It would be better if I would do a little less.  But pretty much something is always hurting on me.  But that’s life, man, I’m 47 years old, something would always be hurting on me anyways even if I didn’t run.

Team EveryManTri:    Runners are notoriously bad stretchers, do you stretch?  Do yoga?  Anything?

Anita:  No, I don’t stretch.  I feel like if I stretched I would probably hurt myself!  I grew up with a father, who is a doctor, always telling me “you don’t need to stretch, you just need to start slow enough that your muscles get warmed up”.   With ultras it’s easy because you start off slow anyways.  Then  you pick up the pace later. 

Team EveryManTri:    Did you race much in 2010?

Anita:   I did two races, and blew out my knee in the second one.   I had microfracture surgery.   So, no, didn’t race the whole year after that.  I was non-weight-bearing for eight weeks.  They told me I was not going to run ultras ever again.   So I had to show them they were wrong. 

Team EveryManTri:    Is there a race that you have your eye on, that you would love to win?

Anita:  Hardrock.  I was on the waitlist last year, and when my name got to the top of the waitlist it was the day after I had had my knee surgery.  So I had to pass up Hardrock.  And then this year I didn’t get in.  So I’ll try again next year. 
Team EveryManTri:   What is your favorite pre-race meal and post-race treat? 

Anita:  I like having cinnamon toast and coffee pre-race, and post-race I love Enchiritos from Taco Bell.   I have a very good Taco Bell radar, so I can find them wherever I am. 

Team EveryManTri:    You seem like a very family-oriented person.  What’s your favorite family activity?

Anita:  Dinner!  We have family dinner every night.  Command performance.  You don’t often miss a family dinner because I think it’s really important for us to come together, talk, we work out what the next day looks like, who needs rides where, and there’s just something about sharing food together.  I was raised that way, and it’s what I do with my kids. 

Team EveryManTri:    Are your kids runners?  Your husband? 

Anita:  I have two really good runners – one is going to leave and run in college next year, and the other is still in high school running great.  And then I have two soccer players.   The girls that run never indicated that they wanted to become runners,  it just happened.  The other two are very married to soccer.  As long as they’re having fun I don’t care what they do.    My husband is not a runner – he was a basketball player – he doesn’t get the whole running thing.  But he is very supportive.  He is the Director of the Vail Rec District, so he oversees the races in the area.  Kind of ‘all in the family’.  

Anita Ortiz won the 2009 Western States 100, over an hour ahead of second place.  She is a former National Mountain Running Champion, World Mountain Trophy Race Masters Champion, US National Snowshoe and North American Snowshoe Champion. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Product Review: Ryders Hex Photochromic

Welcome to my running environment.  I live in Southern California, and do most of my trail running in the Santa Monica mountains.  While we don't have altitude, we do have a broad spectrum of terrain: gut-busting climbs, technical downhills, rivers, open fields of wildflowers, canopied singletrack, and ridgeline.  More importantly, a single day's trailrun can include all of these, plus the unpradictability of a fog-like marine layer. 
Since I started trail running last year, I have been 'eyewear challenged' because of the ever-changing light conditions.   I tend to look at what others are doing and wearing, and I see that many just take glasses on and off.  I thought there must be a better way. 

Ryders offers a better way.  While interchangable lenses are one way to address varying needs, it is not a practicle solution for environments like mine where light conditions are changing rapidly.  Enter the Photochromic Lens.   Photochromic means "capable of darkening or changing color when exposed to light".  I took the Ryders Hex glasses with the photochromic lens for a test drive on Sunday, when the fog/cloud layer was heavy (see photo).  I knew it would either burn off or I would climb above it, and that light conditions on that day would range from low to very bright.  

image not available
My usual complaint (and the problem I was trying to solve) is that I have my glasses on when the trail is exposed and the sun is present, then duck in and out of densly treed sections and lose the much-needed visibility (sure-footedness is not my strong suit).   So I would either wear glasses and stumble through the low-light areas or tuck them away completely and squint through the sunny ones.  Both options are dangerous in their own ways. 

The Hex took great care of me.  I put them on at the trailhead in the morning, when the light was low, and the lenses remained light enough that the nuances of the trail were readily visible.  As expected, the fog burned off for a period of brightness, and then blew back in late in the run. 

The Hex has 'blade' styling and a super-light frame.  (I looked way faster than I actually am.)  Due to my previously-mentioned clutziness, I tugged on these a bit to see how fragile this waif would be, and got solid feedback.  Like all other Ryders eyewear, the Hex lens is a polycarbonate material that is virtually indestructable, and the frame is a highly durable and flexible Swiss-made thermoplastic.  In other words, Lori-proof.

If grip tends to be an issue for you, the Hex is a great option.  The nose pads and temple tips are Hydrophilic, which means stable in water, so they hang onto your sweaty or fog-wetted face, both of which I had on Sunday.  The design has excellent ventilation, so even though it was foggy on the trail, it wasn't foggy inside my glasses. 

The net-net:  I wore the Hex the entire run and forgot they were even on (which to me is the greatest compliment you can give eyewear).   They stayed put, and just rolled with whatever the day served up.   I wish everything in my life would do that.   

The Ryders Photocromic Hex retails for an amazing $69.99 - that's a whole lot of technology for your buck.   

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Elite Racer Interview - Ross McMahan

As part of the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Preview, Team EverymanTri caught up with Ross McMahan for an exclusive chat.  Ross was the 2010 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Masters Champion (with partner Ted Russell).  He will be returning for the 2011 race with a new partner, Tim Menoher. 

Team EveryManTri:   Why come back to the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run event? 

Ross:  This will actually be my fourth year doing it, and it’s kind of like a running vacation!  It’s one of the most fun races I’ve ever done, and I’ve done all types of races: adventure races, snowshoe races, mountain bike races, but TransRockies is one of the most fun events I’ve been a part of. 

Team EveryManTri:  What do you love most about the race?

Ross:  Seeing parts of Colorado that most people don’t get to see.  Your only access is by foot, and it’s just beautiful countryside and big mountains.   And then, of course, spending time with other people that are so passionate about the same thing that you are.

Team EveryManTri:  What is the hardest part of the race for you?

Ross:  Probably the recovery between each stage. 

Team EveryManTri:   Tell me how you and your 2011 partner [Tim Menoher] came together. 

Ross:  Tim and I ran at rival colleges twenty-something years ago.  So at the Xterra National Championships six years ago we ran into each other, and we kind of became rivals in the Xterra series.   He won it one year, then I won it the next…he started coming out to train at altitude, and he would stay at our house with my family.  We would do some training weeks together, which turned into a regular guy’s week away – we would go out to Moab for a week, or someplace different.   So TransRockies just seemed like a really fun week of running together. 

Team EveryManTri:  How would you summarize your training for TransRockies, and do you do any cross-training?

Ross:  This year I’ve had to do a lot of non-running training.  I’ve had some injuries, and then Tahoe [where I live] has had record snowfall – we’re just now getting on some of the lower trails and we still can’t even get on some of the upper trails above 7,000 feet.    So it’s really been difficult this year in terms of training outside.  I’ve been doing a lot more weight training this year, and a little biking, some swimming, but I carry Nordic skiing and snowshoeing a lot farther into spring and summer than years past due to the snow conditions. 

Team EveryMan Tri:  Do you have any training tips for people doing TransRockies for the first time?

Ross:  It’s extremely important to practice running downhill.   There’s a lot of uphill, but that’s not what makes your legs sore.  It puts a lot of people out of the race because their quads are just fried after the second day, and you just can’t recover from that.  Do a lot of hill repeats, but run hard on the downhill to get your quads ready for 20,000 feet of downhill pounding, and go easy to recover on the uphill. 

Team EveryManTri:   The race-issued duffle bag has limited space in it.  What gets priority – what can’t you live without?

Ross:  Definitely my ThermaRest!   I take LOTS of socks, and then just a couple pairs of shorts and t-shirts and wash them out after my runs and let them dry.   I bring a camp towel, kind of like what the swimmers use,  because it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and I pack a camp pillow because I sleep better with that.    I bring some gels, but really just to get me through the first aid station.   Once you’re into the race everything is really well-stocked.   The meals are really great too.  And sometimes after your run we are close enough to a town that it’s possible to walk in and get lunch.   I bring a recovery mix too.

Team EveryManTri:  Besides [your teammate] Tim, is there anyone you’re looking forward to visiting with at the campfire?

Ross:  Yea definitely – there are a lot of people that I only see a couple of times a year or only at this event.  It’s good to see Adam Chase every year – he and I were teammates two years ago.  I’m looking forward to seeing [my 2010 partner] Ted Russell too.  Salomon takes a good group of runners out, and a lot of us only see each other at this race. 

Team EveryManTri:   As an endurance athlete, when things really start to hurt, where does your head go?  How do you mentally push past pain?

Ross:  In the TransRockies, you just know you’re going to feel bad somewhere during the race – maybe not every stage, but at some point.   You just have to know that if you keep eating, keep drinking, and keep taking salt tablets, it will eventually get better.    You just expect it.  Everybody’s going to hit a low point. 

Team EveryManTri:   How would your friends describe you?

Ross:  I have no idea!  Depends on which friends you’re talking to!   I guess very self-motivated, typically quiet, and pretty laid back. 

Team EveryManTri:  Who inspires you in running and in life?

Ross:  I think two people.  Susan Bradley Cox  is one.  I spent twelve years in Lexington, Kentucky, and Susan was my triathlon coach there.  She’s I think 75 years old, just inducted into the Triathlon Hall of Fame, along with Dave Scott, in Colorado Springs in January.  I went out to hear the induction because she’s been such a big influence in my life.  A great athlete, and a great person.   Most triathlon people would recognize her name - she's won multiple World Championships and still competes at age 75.  The other person would be Ron Hayes, who is another good friend and training partner of mine from Lexington.  We’ve spent a lot of time on the trails.  He came out and did the TransRockies a couple years ago with a friend of his, and it was great to see him.   Ron is a competitive age group athlete, but he’s been kind of a mentor for me. 

Team EveryManTri:   What is a little-known fact about you?

Ross:   Hmmm.  I guess that I used to be a Bourbon taster for my job. 

Team EveryManTri:    You’ve been very involved in both triathlon and trail racing – which would you call your primary passion?

Ross:   Trail running is my primary passion.   I like the competitiveness of racing in triathlon,  but as I’m getting older, I don’t have the speed that I used to, but my endurance seems to be better.   I can go out on a 20-mile run and, unlike in triathlon where your heart rate is pegged for two or three hours,  it’s just enjoyable.  Also, with the family – I have twin 5 year old boys and an 8 month old son – actually our 8 month old son is named Solomon! – the time aspect of having a full-time job and a family, it’s easy to have your running shoes in the car and just jump out for an hour run compared to trying to train for all three sports. 

Team EveryManTri:   What is your favorite distance, both trail and triathlon?

Ross:  I like the half-marathon distance for trail runs.   But I think the stage race – the format of the TransRockies – is my favorite type of event.    For triathlon, I’ve done half Ironman and Ironman distances, but I really like the Xterra distances. 

Team EveryManTri:   I know you have a super-sporty wife [Sarah McMahan] – tell me more about how you two support each other. 

Ross:  I’m lucky.  She understands that I HAVE to go for a run or get a workout in – it’s a big stress release.  It’s tough, but we take turns.  Some days she’ll have the morning shift of training, and I’ll do the afternoon, or visa versa.  We’ve done relays as a team, and we’ll literally hand off the boys at the exchange point.   This weekend I did my long run and finished just before a 5K race was starting – she handed the kids off to me and jumped in the race 30 seconds before the gun went off.   We just try to make things work out so that we can both get our training in and do events. 

Team EveryManTri:   Any other tips for how you manage to juggle the demands of job, family, and training?

Ross: [laughs]  I don’t know that we do it all as well as we should.  It’s crazy, but it’s fun.  We just do the best that we can. 

In 2006 Ross was the Xterra National Champion for the 35-39 age group. In 2008 Ross won the Xterra Fire and Ice award for the fastest combined times from the Xterra Triathlon World Championship and the Xterra Winter World Championship.  He holds numerous course records in Northern California and Nevada.  Ross is a member of the Salomon Trail Running Team, Atlas Snowshoe Team, and an Ambassador for Big Blue Adventure Racing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Product Review: Ryders Solace

Chumley modeling the Solace

Don't let the good looks fool you.  The very fashionably-styled Ryders Solace is not just another pretty face.  For the last couple of weeks they have been my go-to glasses for daily wear, but when I recently took them out for a long run, they brought their A-game. 

The Ryders Solace falls into the company's Casual/Sport Hybrid category, and I clearly understand why.  It boasts a great-looking frame that makes a more designer than athlete statement when you are out and about town.  I have the tortoise frame with a brown lens which is a great compliment to my summer wardrobe.   Sexy, right?

For me, however, the real test of whether eyewear becomes a 'favorite' or not, is how versatile it is.   To be honest, I figured my running regime would prove too much for this fashionista, and fully expected them to take up permanent residence in my car or purse. 
But much to my surprise, during my first run with them, they:
  1. stayed firmly in place - a big deal since I have a narrow face and tend to get the dreaded 'bounce' with many makes.  They are light, and I did not notice any movement at all. 
  2. had awesome coverage - I have a long north/south route and get a lot of sun reflecting in the sides when the the glasses don't 'wrap' well.  The Solace protected me from the side-glare.   
  3. never fogged up - when I get a good, snug fit with great coverage, the by-product is typically 'foggage'.  I never had to pull the Solace down my nose to clear the lens. 
I felt like I had just been on a date with a super-hot guy and discovered he is also a reputable pediatrician. 

Since I have long hair, a minor but very much appreciated feature is the bridge design.  You can see in the above picture that the bridge has flush rubber pads that keep them in place but do not cause a gnarly tangle when you put them on top of your head  (definitely not cool when you have to recruit friends and strangers to remove sunglasses from your hair).

So.  Bottom Line.  Cost.  This might just be my favorite feature of all. 
This incredibly versitle performance eyewear retails for just $39.99.   Crazy, I know.  Considering most of my sporty friends have a pair of high-end sunglasses for every possible occasion, I am feeling fairly smug about now.  With Ryders you don't need to shell out the equivalent of a car payment for a wardrobe of great eye protection.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Product Review: Hydrapak Gel-Bot

I had just enough time yesterday to squeeze in a 10mi tempo run close to home.  It was seriously hot outside, and if it hadn't been for a blessing of a breeze I would have opted for a night run.  I actually like the heat, but I get a claustrophobic feeling when I'm hot and things are sticking to my body, so I go minimalist.   I had no interest in putting on a hydration backpack, and no place to secure my gels, so it was the perfect day to take my new Gel-Bot on its maiden voyage.

The Hydrapak Gel-Bot is a clever way to carry your water and your gel together.  No stashing, no sticking, no trash, nada.  Genious.

This is how it works.  There is an inner chamber (orange in this picture) that holds the gel.  I fit exactly two GU packets in there.  The inner gel chamber then attaches to the lid, and you fill the bottle with water as you normally would (leaving a little room for the displacement when the gel chamber and lid are put back on).  Voila, you're out the door with all you need in one hand.

When the nozzle is pulled open, you get water only.  To get the gel, just leave the nozzle closed, and give the bottle a squeeze while you suck. 

While not readily apparent in the picture, I should also note that the neck of the bottle has two deep notches making it comfortable to grip for extended periods, even for small (female) hands. 

When I first saw this product, I had two areas of skepticism.  (This is where you can tell I'm a mom).  
1)  I thought that I would put two gels in, and actually only be able to get about 1.5 out, due to chamber inefficiency.  In other words, waste. 
2)  I assumed it would be a hassle to clean properly. 

Hydrapak clearly thought through these issues in their design process, because neither issue proved problematic.  You can see to the left there is a (green) pressure plunger that moves up the chamber as you suck out the gel (much like deodorant, except it is happening automatically).  So when you have eaten all of your gel, the plunger is at the top, you have consumed every last drop of it, and it is a piece of cake to wash up from both sides.   Hallelujah.
The Hydrapak Gel-Bot is available in two sizes:  20oz for $13.99, and 24oz for $14.99.

Lori Lyons