Sports Gels

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There are a lot of chemical ingredients in sports gels.

What do they do for you?

Attention cyclists, unless you have been riding in a fog, you’re probably familiar with using gels to keep you riding. Sports gels like Gu, Hammer, and others offer a blend of carbohydrates and electrolytes that can fuel hours of hard work without tearing up your stomach. But most cyclists aren’t dietitians or foodies and might be confused by the lengthy ingredient list. In its product description, all the gels make various claims that many of these components boost our performance in subtle ways, this article breaks down those ingredients and what they can and can’t do.

The Carbohydrates: Maltodextrin and Fructose

Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate generally produced from a plant base, frequently corn. It’s composed of chains of glucose molecules, and when you eat it, the chains break apart and are absorbed as glucose in the small intestine.

Fructose is a common sugar, also typically refined from corn, and an additional source of carbohydrates and energy. Fructose is absorbed more slowly than glucose, because the liver needs to process fructose before it can be used for energy. Fruits and vegetables naturally contain both fructose and glucose.

When you’re consuming glucose alone, your body maxes out on absorption at about 60 grams per hour, Ryan says. But mixing glucose and fructose lets you double down on carbs, because they each use different pathways in the gut. .

The Electrolytes: Sodium, Calcium, and Potassium Citrates

During a workout, you lose electrolytes during the sweating process. Salts crucial to the electrical communication in the body is supplemented by the major electrolytes – sodium, calcium, and potassium, and they’re critical to rehydration. When you consume a gel, sodium and glucose enter your cells. When this salt and sugar combo concentrates in the cell, water then flows in as well. This process depends on the presence of water in the body, so it’s important to keep a regular hydration during a workout. Water assists the body to digest concentrated carbohydrates more efficiently, which helps maintain a steady flow of energy.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids: Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine

These three amino acids—compounds that form proteins and perform other important roles in the body—make up one third of the essential nine amino acids that our bodies can’t produce. The branched-chain molecules are used in muscle metabolism, which is why performance fuels zero in on these to provide just enough nutrients to offset muscle breakdown. Nutritionists are cautiously skeptical about the timing of ingesting amino acids before or during exercise substantially helps muscle repair. Eating protein after exercise, it seems, is still your best bet for recovery.


Taurine is an amino acid that serves as a neurotransmitter and assists various bodily processes. The liver can produce it, taurine is considered an essential amino acid and not as important to get from the diet. Still, plenty of energy drinks and performance foods list it as an ingredient.

In one recent review of ten studies published in Sports Medicine, a supplement of one to six grams of taurine was correlated with improved endurance performance; this benefit is linked to many physiological processes, such as increasing energy efficiency. The doses in this research—up to six grams a day—are higher than what you’ll find in a single Gel; all the aminos combined in one packet total 1.425 grams. The lower doses found in gels and sports drinks likely aren’t enough to enhance performance.


A non-essential amino acid has the potential to improve sports performance. Beta-alanine helps the body create carnosine, a compound that combats lactic acid buildup in muscle, slowing the onset of fatigue. Gels contains less than the amount known to be performance enhancing.

Green Tea Leaf Extract

This ingredient is a source of caffeine, which also is known to improve performance. Gu has less than you need to be concerned about, but at very high doses, such as those found in some supplements, this extract might create issues with the liver.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides

MCTs, usually processed from coconut or palm kernel oils, are a type of fat. The body burns these shorter-chain chemicals faster for energy than their longer-chain friends, which make up most dietary fats. This had led some researchers to think that MCTs can benefit exercise performance, but the link is still unclear.

So, are gels for you?

For long, grueling workouts, like cycling, the gels can certainly offer a boost and get you through a tough workout. It’s possible to get a lot of the key nutrients in the Gel from whole foods. And some ingredients, like electrolytes, might not be useful unless you’re sweating for three hours or more. But for sports that are harsher on the stomach, like cycling, a gooey fuel is often easier to keep down than other options. The short answer is it depends … really, it’s about your tolerance and digestion. Experiment so you know what works for you and have a plan that balances out properly.

GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel is a high-intensity offering from GU, the original sports energy gel. Designed for extreme and long-duration endurance activities, GU Roctane Energy Gel comes in highly compact, portable, and calorie-dense packets that are loaded with carbohydrates that can be rapidly absorbed. Athletes performing at a high level for hours on end need more from their nutrition, which is why Roctane Energy Gel packs three-times the amino acids and twice the sodium as original GU Energy Gel. These ingredients boost Roctane’s efforts to help decrease muscle damage, promote muscle repair, and maintain water balance. Each packet of GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel contains 100 calories and 1425mg of amino acids.

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Wheelset Comparison

Cycling is a wonderful childhood memory. Back then we did not care about road wheelsets or any other upgrades for that matter. Remembering it being fun and a great way to exercise, it was often a means of transportation. Now fast forward, riding for adults can be a different experience.

While as an adult you may ride a bike for the same reasons as a child, you also have likely come to expect more from your purchases – and can afford to purchase better quality products. This is where an upgrade to the wheelset comes into play. Today road wheelsets vary dramatically in price and quality without clear indications of what makes one better than another. See this comparison to help you get the new upgraded wheelset you need for the upcoming season.

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ROL Race SLR – Alloy Clincher Road Bike Wheelset

Race SLR – Alloy Clincher Road Bike Wheelset

I was in the middle of weight and riding style to feel completly comfortable so I sent an email asking about a recommendation. The suggestion was for the ROL Race SLR wheelset as a replacement. The transformation was incredible. The first thing I noticed was the hubs spin smoother and longer than my stock bontrager wheels. I never realized that the old wheels were so heavy. I save 1.25 lbs rear and .75 front. My climbing performance increased by almost 10%, and the cornering is super crisp and confidence-inspiring. This ROL Race SLR wheelset is highly recommended.

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Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Wheelset

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These Carbon clinchers produce more Speed: Revised rim profile for reduced aerodynamic drag developed by our advanced development team in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

  • Better braking: Zipp’s Show Stopper textured braking surface delivers unrivalled rim braking performance in wet or dry conditions.
  • Lighter Weight: The 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher is 75 grams lighter than its previous iteration.
  • Includes quick-release skewers with a wider more ergonomic handle to provide more leverage for opening and closing. When closed, lever contours neatly with the frame.


The Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher is a versatile, do-it-all wheelset that has been proven on race courses all across the globe. With a new, faster, and more stable rim profile with AeroBalance technology, the 2018 404 Firecrest delivers all the expected versatility in a faster, more stable package. Featuring a depth and shapen proven in all conditions, the 404 Firecrest is an all-around performer and the standard by which all other wheels are measured. Its 58mm rim depth is a classic that has carried athletes to victory in every kind of event and situation – every triathlon distance, breakaways, field sprints and hilly finishes. Bringing in more of their technology, Zipp’s ABLC Sawtooth dimple design helps manage airflow around the rim, contributing to the faster, more stable performance.

At the center of the 404 Firecrest is Zipp’s 77/177 hubset with best-in-class durability, bearing protection with no pre-load adjustment needed. The result is improved stiffness, durability, simplicity and versatility. Optimized flange geometry and spoke hole attachment pattern with Sapim® CX Sprint spokes to optimize torsional and lateral stiffness and robustness.

Each 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher wheel comes with Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads, Zipp Integrated Valve Extender with valve-core wrench, rim tape and improved ergonomic quick release.

Great Wheels!

These wheels are simply superb. Not ultra-lightweight, but they more than make up for it in stiffness, aerodynamics, and ride quality – and they look great on the bike. Amazon sometimes sells these for as low as $1500 – if you see them at that price point, do yourself a favor and upgrade. Highly recommended.

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Zipp 30 Road Wheelset

Here is the review of the Zipp 30 road wheelset.

Road wheelset equals speed, ride quality, and durability. These are the features we look for when researching and testing clincher road wheelsets. Sure, there is a plethora of choices when it comes to picking a set of new hoops, but narrowing down what’s realistic for your personal needs as a cyclist requires a look into what’ll actually benefit your style of riding.

This was the reason Zipp built its new 30 Clincher Road Wheelset. It’s an everyday, do-anything set of wheels for the demanding cyclist who knows that quality should always go hand-in-hand with a solid value. Zipp used its quarter-century of wheel developing experience to build the new 30s from the ground up.

The new wheels were designed with Zipp’s proven aerodynamic principles, using what Zipp calls a ‘hybrid toroidal’ aluminum rim. This means that it bulges out behind the tire for enhanced aerodynamics. The ‘hybrid’ part essentially means Zipp uses different manufacturing methods than with its 101 clinchers, such as parallel brake tracks rather than sloped ones Like Zipp’s other wider-is-better wheel platforms, the 30mm deep rim profile incorporates a relatively wide 21.5mm rim bed for stability, cornering grip, and overall ride comfort. At the heart of the wheelset is its new hub design, which is 10- and 11-speed compatible.

Zipp 30 Wheelset
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Because the overarching theme of the new wheelset emphasizes reliability, Zipp wanted to engineer a hub that was built to take a beating and keep on spinning as smoothly as the day the wheels arrived from the factory. To create such a hub, Zipp formed the shell from ultra-strong and lightweight 7075 T-6 aluminum. Stainless-steel bearings were then housed within the hubs, ensuring years of silky-smooth riding.

Additionally, Zipp built the hubs with a ‘precision set’ design, meaning no pre-load adjustment is required — simply fasten the quick-release skewers and hit the tarmac. To ensure the road wheelset is able to handle the toughest road surfaces, Zipp laced the 30s with legendary Sapim CX-Ray spokes.

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