According to the Chia Charge website the word Chia comes from the Mayan word for ‘strength’ and messengers could run all day with just a small handful of chia seeds! Apparently Aztec warriors survived on nothing but chia during conquests and Native Americans could march for 24 hours on a teaspoon of chia seeds! Modern day Tarahumara Indians in Mexico still carry chia with them during ultra runs through the desert.
I tried the Ultimate Chia Seed Bundle which is £10 delivered to your door. The bundle contains 1 Chia Charge Cacao & Cranberry Protein Bar, 1 Chia Charge Trail Mix, 1 Honey Trail Mix, 1 Original Flapjack with Sea Salt Flakes, 2 Mini Banana Flapjacks and 200g of Chia Seeds.
The trail mix didn’t make it to a trail, I demolished it as the desk and it was lovely. The seeds have been added successfully to smoothies and used as a breakfast topping and the website blog has lots of recipes to inspire you.
And…… I am now officially addicted to the flapjacks!
I have taken them on rides and counted the minutes until I can eat them! The full size flapjack was enough to fuel an 85km steady endurance ride, I ate it in two pieces, as at 80g and over 350 calories it is a substantial bar. The seeds keep you entertained for at least 30 minutes after eating the bars as they stick in your teeth, but I didn’t mind this as they gradually soften and it gave me something to take the mind of the miles! The bar travels well and didn’t become too hard despite the freezing temperatures.
My favourite is definitely the original flapjack with sea salt flakes, but the banana ones were delicious too and didn’t have that horrible artificial taste you often get with banana flavoured products; probably because there is nothing artificial about them. No flavourings, preservatives or colourings are added to the bars, just real sun dried bananas!
The protein bar is vegan, wheat free and made with cashews, sultanas, cranberries, dates, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cacao powder, goji berries, cacao nibs, cacao butter and sea salt flakes – what’s not to like!?
Tim Taylor the man behind Chia Charge, a food technologist and runner says “It is my belief that food, in particular sports nutrition, should be more than just fuel to keep the body going. Having tried a few sport nutrition and energy products I came to the conclusion that whoever makes these things was at the back of the queue when taste buds were handed out! A few years ago I started developing my own formulations in the kitchen at home. I wanted to create food that tastes delicious and helps you perform, the result of which was Chia Charge”
Chia seeds are 20% protein, 20% omega 3, high in antioxidants and fibre as well as low in sugar. They have a mild, nutty flavour and give a controlled energy release and promote fast recovery.
I have already bought some more of the flapjacks which are perfect fuel with fast acting carbohydrates to give you an immediate burst of energy and more complex carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels. The protein and Omega 3 and 6 will aid recovery and the sea salt flakes will also help electrolyte replacement, but far more importantly they taste amazing!
Chia Charge stockist are listed on the website and include a good variety of running, outdoor and cycling shops as well as Ocado or you can buy direct from the website with free postage over £25.
There is a new, no added sugar, berry flapjack on the way and I would love to try the nut butters.
You can find Chia Charge on YouTube here on Twitter @runningtimt + @chiacharge and like on Facebook
The flapjack really is amazing, I keep eating it!!
10/10 for the original flapjack, definitely addicted
Does What it Says on the pack
10/10 yummy bars, a natural superfood and no rubbish added, great fuel for riding
9/10 a box of 20 is £32 with 3 extra free bars and free postage so comparable to other bars on the market, but the price does go down the more you buy so only £25/box if you buy 5 which is great value
9/10 2 varieties of flapjack with a new one on the way, protein bars, raw seeds, nut butters, trail mix and the option to buy a mixed pack to try everything out
Easy to Eat
8.5/10 although I found far too easy to eat and could eat a whole box they are larger than normal energy bars so I found half was plenty which means faffing around returning the other half to your pocket and they do start to crumble a little once opened. Having said that the mini size is perfect. The bars travelled well and didn’t go hard in the cold.
93% it gets our star buy rating!
Racing Weight Cookbook
Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes
by Matt Fitzgerald & Georgie Fear
Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear have come together to produce ‘The Racing Weight Cookbook for Athletes’. This book is aimed at endurance athletes, giving you the tools and knowledge to improve your diet, to fuel performance for training and racing. It’s all about obtaining your optimal racing weight through healthy eating, within the requirements of your bodies needs. It explains that conventional diets are no good for endurance athletes.
I’ve read the pre cursor to this book ‘Racing Weight: How to get lean for peak performance’ so was really interested to see what this book had to offer.
The book is also very cleverly aimed at different kinds of cooks. Those that can’t cook, those that can cook a little and those of us who love cooking. So even if you love cooking but don’t have time, you can use the ‘can’t cook’ section.
As both a coach and an athlete I was very interested to see if the cookbook would enhance what the first book delivered and it certainly does that.
There is a brief outline about the first book, but there is enough information for you not to need to read it. It’s easy to follow and won’t take you long to get started, a definite plus!
This book is really good for those of us who have never managed to stick to a diet for longer than a few weeks, that’s because it is not a diet book. It gives you lots of tips and tricks to get the energy you need without overeating, tips for swapping foods and best of all, lots of recipes. It looks at how many carbohydrates your body needs, dependant on your weight and the amount of hours you are training for. There is also a handy table that can help you score the quality of the food you are currently eating. It’s very easy to follow, which was great for me as I do tend to get bored very quickly.
I have to say the recipes are amazing and the pictures make the recipes look appetising. I particularly liked the chocolate peanut butter banana shake as a post workout meal. Eating post workout is something I struggle with, but this was a great recipe, easy to make and super quick to drink. Plus and I always think this the seller… it tastes great!! Really, it does!
I’ve also had a go at one of their Granola recipes, wow, honestly I have been bowled over by every recipe I’ve tried.
One thing about recipe books though, which I do dislike, besides the American measures, is the need to buy things that most people don’t have in their store cupboard. So essentially it’s all about planning and shopping.
I pondered over whether a club cyclist would buy a book like this or whether it was specifically aimed at competing athletes. On reflection, everybody who spends quite a lot of time on their bikes would benefit from this book, you don’t need to be competing, just putting the miles in, so maybe the title ‘Racing Weight’ will marginalise sales of this book.
Would I buy it? As a coach? Yes I would, as an athlete? Yes definitely. Would I recommend this book? Without a doubt.
The Racing Weight Cookbook gets a Cycling Shorts Star Buy Rating!
Author: Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear
Published by VeloPress
Available in Paperback
Price: RRP £16.95 or $24.95
I have been testing the full range of energy products from TORQ Fitness for Cycling Shorts. I first came across TORQ products last year, so I was interested to see what their other products were like. Here are my findings…
TORQ are well-known for their varied choice of flavours so it was with some apprehension that I tried the vanilla flavoured energy drink, as I wasn’t convinced that I would like it. How wrong was I? It tastes more like marshmallow, but I was hooked from the first drink. Not too sweet, and it didn’t make me thirsty (there have been many that have over the years), so I take that as a positive. Having said that, would I think the same if I had tested it in the heat of summer? Possibly not, as I am not sure it would go down as well in a warm climate however I think an ice cube in your bottle would keep it cool and solve that problem.
If vanilla is not for you, then don’t despair! They have pink grapefruit, lemon and lime, both of which are really tasty and thirst-quenching, as well as orange and lemon. I have to admit that the orange flavour isn’t for me (it seemed to have a bit of a weird aftertaste that I couldn’t get used to) but others would probably disagree!
For a breakdown of their flavoured energy drink go to: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy
The other amazing energy drink that TORQ do is their natural organic flavour. This has proved to be a lifesaver over the winter, as I have had it in my tea (yes, that’s right, in tea) as a top up of energy for those longer back to back training rides. It also means that if you’re not keen on flavoured energy drinks and would prefer to use cordial, then TORQ energy is the answer there too.
More information can be found about the Energy Organic here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy-organic
In a word, I guess you can say that they cater for everyone!
I have had TORQ gels before, and the first thing that occurred to me was that TORQ have changed the design of the wrapper to make them easier to open on the move. The texture is also great – some gels can be too thin and watery whereas others can be too thick and similar to wallpaper paste – so TORQ have obviously been doing their homework as to what works best. In addition, like the energy drinks, they have combined maltodextrin with fructose so that they work super fast, which means that you can keep going longer!
The first gel that we tried was the banoffee flavoured version. Having overdosed on bananas as a child, I’m not overly keen on anything vaguely banana-related, so I was fully expecting not to like this flavour. Good news for people who aren’t too keen on bananas – the after taste was one of caramel not bananas!
Rhubarb and Custard flavour is one that seems to have a Marmite opinion when you talk to people about them – some love it others loathe it. I am in the “love it” camp – it’s really sweet, which won’t appeal to some people, and you do need a drink after it, but there’s no vile after-taste!
Another hot favourite was raspberry ripple – again very sweet, which won’t appeal to some, but TORQ have obviously worked hard on the flavouring of these gels so at least you know that it actually tastes like it says on the wrapper, and not something random. Top job all round, I’d say!
By the way, did I mention that all of their gels are dairy and wheat free and are suitable for vegans too?
The technology and science behind the gels can be found in more detail here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-gel
The beauty of the TORQ energy bars is the high moisture content – some energy bars need a pint cup of tea with them, but these energy bars are really easy to eat on the bike – you don’t feel as if you’re expending more energy chewing the bar than riding the bike, which is always a bonus!
These bars come in a variety of flavours, from mango to apple and raspberry to pineapple and ginger. I particularly liked the latter, as it sounded a bit weird but in actual fact you could even taste the ginger!
The only downside of these bars (sort of) is that they are foil-wrapped to preserve their moisture and keep them fresh (which is a good thing) but it means that they can be difficult to unwrap with gloves on. In a race situation though, the ideal would be to have them unwrapped in your back pocket, in bite-sized chunks, so that you don’t need to worry about it. Problem solved!
More information on the bars can be found here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-bar
All TORQ Energy, including the natural flavour, comes in three different pack sizes – 500g costs £13.99, 1.5kg costs £27.99 and 3kg costs £47.99. The flavoured energy also comes in a box of 20 sachets, which costs £27.40. Don’t worry if you want to try before you buy too, there is also a sample box of five flavours which costs £17.40.
Gels without the added guarana (i.e. all flavours except Forest Fruits and Banoffee) retail at £1.45 per gel, with the guarana gels retailing at £1.75 per gel. However, if you buy a box of 20, then they cost £1.37 and £1.66 each instead, so a box would cost £27.40 for those without guarana and £33.20 for those with guarana. Not cheap, but bearing in mind all TORQ products are made with Fair Trade ingredients, they are punching above their weight, given that they are very competitive with other brands. If you want to try before you buy a box, you can also purchase a sample pack of 12 gels for £18 and you can also buy a box of mixed flavours. At the moment, TORQ are also doing a deal whereby you can buy two boxes of gels without guarana for £52, so you can swap flavours!
With the exception of the Organic Mango which retails at £1.65 each and £37.40 for a box of 24, the other bars retail at £1.45 each and £32.88 for a box of 24. Again there is the option of multiple boxes and mix and match for those of you wanting to try before you invest in a box of 24 which you may not like.
Free postage and packaging
Now this may seem like a foregone conclusion nowadays, but some of TORQ’s competitors do charge postage and packaging, so I think this is a bonus!
So, what do I give the products as marks out of 100?
Taste – 92% (it would have been higher but I wasn’t convinced with the Orange flavour)
Price – 90% (competitively priced, with different quantities to suit different budgets)
Value for money – 95% (the larger quantities work out to be really cost-effective, if you can afford it)
Overall – 92 out of 100 – it gets our Star Buy Award!
- TORQ Gels
Taste – 95% (all really tasty and can’t really fault them)
Price – 85% (competitively priced, but may prove to be an expensive luxury for some)
Value for money – 90% (the science and thinking behind the energy gels increases their value in my opinion)
Overall – 90 out of 100 – another Star Buy Award!
Taste – 80% (tasty but some can seem similar to others, the texture is great though)
Price – 85% (again, competitive but could be seen as expensive for some)
Value for money – 85% (a lot of thought has gone into the products, which is what you are paying for)
Overall – 83 out of 100
Classic Cycling Race Routes
The Toughest 52 European Challenges
by Chris Sidwells
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Published: 15th October 2013
AA Publishing in association with Garmin
An inspiring book to read and then to ride… if you dare!
This inspiring hardback book presents a selection of the most challenging and rewarding routes for road and racing cyclists. From the South Downs Epic and Tour of the Peak in the UK, to Paris-Roubaix in France and Tour of Flanders in Belgium, from Gruyere Cycling Tour in Switzerland and Tour of Lombardy in Italy to the San Sebastian Classic in Spain, this book is the ultimate motivation for cyclists who want to push themselves to the next level.
The fifty-two classic European cycling routes – one ride for each week of the year – selected to appear in this weighty A4 hard backed tome of well over two-hundred pages cater for the aspiring and experienced cyclist as well as those more romantically inclined, inspired as they are by the epic routes raced by the legends of the sport.
Experience an example… The Retro Ronde.The routes have derived their inspiration from the many professional races as well as the ever growing mass-participation events, the cyclosportives. Indeed the twenty-four routes that cover the UK and Ireland are exclusively ‘sportive in scope. I’m ashamed to report that I have ridden only one … but can vouch for the books accuracy; I was indeed Flat Out in the Fens! Several of the European events feature in the World Cycling Tour: an age group series in which participants have the chance to qualify for and compete in an age-group final. You, yes you, could become a World Champion!
Route 34, pp148-150, covers the outstanding Retro Ronde*
I rode this in 2013 and am happy to state without hyperbole that it is my absolute favourite cycling experience, second to none – full review coming soon to Cycling Shorts (Ed. I promise!)
Here I am… climbing ‘The Wall’ Retro Ronde 2013
In the book the route distance is correctly stated as 100 km (I managed 112 km but did get myself lost taking in a few extra Heligen!) but the total climbing was very different to my experience. The book states 525 m however I managed 1200 m. To be fair to the author the organisers fine tune their route each year – and I did do the extra cobbled climbs! All the other information is accurate and succeeds in conveying the flavour of the experience. For experience the Retro Ronde certainly is! I shall be back every year – or as long as the old bike, and even older legs will allow. If you do plan on riding try to make a long weekend of it. The ‘Crit’, ahem, racing on the Saturday is wholly authentic yet rather tongue in cheek, and well worth the entry fee of €5!
Posing for the official photo at the start… the atmosphere was the best I have experienced.
So how does this fine book present the information?
The book in a nutshell …
- 52 European cyclosportive and Grand Tour routes
- Full-colour route maps with directions and elevation profiles
- Advice on ride strategies and techniques
- Tips on training, appropriate clothing, nutrition and fitness
- All routes are available to download for your GPS cycling computer
- Routes cover the UK & Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
The author suggests the reader takes two possible approaches, both of which allow them to make full use of the route information. The first, and Sidwells strongly suggests this as the most preferable avenue, is to take part in the official event for each route (if there is one) as, and I can only concur with him in this respect, …
“…the atmosphere and camaraderie of these events, where thousands of like-minded souls take part, all enjoying doing something they love, is incredible.”
Additionally, there is also more than enough information within the book to allow you to ride each route, or your own variation of it, independently of the official event and at any time of year. Words to the wise… check before you leave that roads are open!
Each route is clearly described and supported with often fascinating background information along with tantalising titbits of history; and who amongst us hasn’t unleashed the inner child and ridden a classic imagining the spectres of the greats; Coppi, Bobbet, Garin, et al, riding alongside?
There are maps and directions for each route, including profiles that clearly indicate where each hill is located along with rather useful yet often unsettling detail on how long and steep they are! The ever useful height gain is also presented.
In the words of the author, Chris Sidwells, “Enjoy the book, use it for planning and setting objectives, but above all get out and ride these routes. They represent some of the finest cycling experiences you could ever have.”
Classic Cycling Routes in a little more detail …
The introduction is extensive and covers three very important pre-ride requisites: Basic equipment – your bike, creating a training plan, and challenge-ride nutrition. There is a lot of very useful information here ranging from how to best use a GPS device (by Garmin) to the basics of creating a training plan.
The two-hundred pages devoted to the fifty two Race Routes traverse Europe through seven countries but with the majority set in the UK and Ireland.
The UK & Ireland section contains twenty-four routes, as listed below:
The Fred Whitton Challenge
The Ryedale Rumble
Etape du Dales
The Cheshire Cat
Tour of the Peak
The Shropshire Mynd
Flat Out in the Fens
Hell of the North Cotswolds
The Ups and Downs
The New Forest Epic
The South Downs Epic
The Tour of Wessex
The Exmoor Beast
The Dartmore Classic
The Dragon Ride
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
Tour of Sligo
Malin to Mizen
Megève Mont Blanc
Cinglés du Ventoux
Etape du Tour 2010
Tour of Flanders
Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx
The Amstell Gold Race
Gruyére Cycling Tour
Alpenbrevet Platinum Tour
Tour of Lombardy
A Stage of the Tour of Italy
La Leggendaria Charly Gaul
Maratona dles Dolomites
La Pinarello Cycling Marathon
San Sebastian Classic
Val d’Aran Cycling Tour
A Stage of the Vuelta
La Pico del Veleta
Don’t forget… all routes in this book can be downloaded to your Garmin (the Edge 800 in my case) from the AA website.
As the book itself says, ‘the classic race routes selected here are not for the faint-hearted. Based on the best cyclosportive events in Europe and on stages of Grand Tours, they are much more than just pretty rides in the country. The fifty-two routes are serious mental and physical challenges (in the case of the Retro Ronde… the liver is called upon to do its bit too!) that require training and preparation. Yet each is accessible and achieved by many thousands of amateur cyclists each year.
Classic Cycling Race Routes allows you to cycle these rides at any time, either as preparation for the race events, or for the sheer joy and exhilaration of the challenge. For those rides that don’t have a dedicated cyclosportive route, the author has designed a ride a ride to reflect the demands and history of the race.
Each route contains a map with directions and an elevations and an elevation profile, and Chris Sidwells provides an overview combining ride strategy and techniques with the history of the race.
Practical and aspirational, Classic Cycling Race Routes will inspire a new generation of cyclists to push themselves to the extreme. You never know, the next Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish or Sir Bradley Wiggins may well be among them!
One for the rider as well as the reader + GPS routes = 100% Awarded our Star Buy Rating!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.
About the author
Chris Sidwells is an internationally-respected British cycling journalist and author, with nine books on cycling, ranging from biography through fitness and training to bike repair. His Complete Bike Book has been translated into twenty-four languages, and his Bike Repair Manual is about to reach its fifth edition. Tour Climbs and Race for Madmen were best sellers in their genre. His ‘The Official Tour de France Records’ has the backing of Le Tour Itself. Most recently he has published The Long Race for Glory: How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World… the next book to be reviewed on Cycling Shorts. Chris’s words and photographs have graced the pages of Britain’s best-selling cycling magazine Cycling Weekly (indeed he seems to appear in every issue,) and in all issues of Cycle Sport and Cycling Active, along with Cycling Fitness. He has also been published in Men’s Fitness, Cycling Plus, GQ, Running Fitness and the Sunday Times. Phew!
The world’s best sprinter, Mark Cavendish, has joined British endurance nutrition company Science in Sport (SiS) as an Elite Sports Consultant.
The Manx Missile has been using SiS’ range of endurance nutrition products for many years, including when riding as a Junior and Under 23 rider.
More recently, SiS has developed a range of custom products following detailed input from Cavendish. Developed and formulated at SiS’ Innovation Centre in Lancashire, products such as SiS GO Isotonic gels, SiS GO Electrolyte and SiS REGO Rapid Recovery have been shipped out for Cavendish at the world’s toughest races.
In his role as Elite Sports Consultant, Cavendish will work with SiS scientists and academics to provide nutritional insight and hands on experience from his time in the peloton as the fastest man on two wheels.
“I’ve been working with SiS informally for many years now, so I’m delighted to be joining the team officially as an Elite Consultant,” said Mark Cavendish. “SiS is a brand of performance nutrition products that I aim to assist in developing further for all professional and amateur athletes. I believe my insight and attention to detail as a pro racer will only strengthen this incredible brand. I’m super excited about it.”
As part of the three-year consultancy, starting January 2014, Cavendish has also invested in the business. He will become a shareholder of Science in Sport plc and be integral in product development decisions.
Science in Sport has unprecedented usage amongst elite athletes. In addition to Mark Cavendish, SiS has Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, GB Triathlete Helen Jenkins, and Olympic and World Champion cyclist Rebecca Romero MBE as official brand ambassadors.
SiS is also the official sports nutrition supplier to Rapha Condor JLT, Belkin ProCycling, Madison Genesis, Pro Team Astana and Team Katusha; and official Supplier of Sports Drinks and Sports Nutrition to the GB Rowing Teams.
SiS provides nutritional products for preparation, performance and recovery to help endurance athletes perform at their best. For more information, visit http://www.scienceinsport.com.
To coincide with the early mountain stages, Multipower Sportsfood, the sports nutrition partner of the Giro d’Italia, have provided Cycling Shorts with a series of four technical, nutritional and physiological infographics depicting the challenges undertaken when competing in the mountains.
This is the third in the series of four.
The last five editions of the Giro have ended with a final day time trial, although only in 2012 did the race leadership change hands, as Ryder Hesjedal took the maglia rosa away from Joaquim Rodriguez to become the first Canadian Grand Tour winner. The 2013 Giro breaks away from the recent tradition and will end with a road stage from Riese Pio X to the old Roman city of Brescia.
The 2013 Giro features 75.4 kilometres of individual time trialling, which is more than the 2011 and 2012 races combined. 2008 was the last time the race included more kilometres against the clock (80.7km).
Five-time Giro champion Alfredo Binda was the winner of the first time trial in the Giro in 1933. The Italian won the 62-kilometre stage from Bologna to Ferrara en route to the last of his overall wins in the race.
Ever wondered why some riders have energy gels hanging out of their shorts during time trials? Because of the intensity of time trials, the top riders will not have time to take any food from their team cars during the stage. Also, the skinsuits they wear for improved aerodynamic performance will not have any pockets, so putting them under their lyrca is the most convenient place.
Throughout the three weeks of competition (3-26 May) Multipower Sportsfood, is also offering cycle fans the chance to get their hands on a variety of prizes in an easy to enter daily prediction competition. Prizes include signed race jerseys, Giro d’Italia drinks bottles and the ultimate prize of a Cannondale Pro Cycling Super Six EVO Team Edition professional race bike worth £6,499.
To take part in the competition entrants simply need to visit the Multipower website, www.multipower.com/uk/giro , and vote for their stage favourite before the 10km to go marker.