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
A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 4
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Last week’s article was all about training – general advice and more specific tips about women’s racing and how best to prepare for it. I know that at the end of last week’s article, I said that this week would be about race preparation, but unfortunately, you’ll have to wait another week for that as I thought I would concentrate on something that often gets forgotten about – things to practice for when you are racing. So without further ado, here we go:
1) Drinking from your bottle
Ask yourself a question – when you decide that you want a drink whilst out on your bike, what do you do? Do you stop, unclip and then reach down and grab your bottle? If so, the first thing you need to practise is reaching for your bottle whilst on the move, taking a drink and then putting it back, whilst still moving.
This may seem really simple to some people, but the point is that if you don’t put your bottle back in the cage correctly and you subsequently hit a pot hole, I have seen so many bottles take flight, which then means that you have either
2011 Bedford Stage 4 ©www.VeloUK.net (Larry Hickmott)
inadvertently caused a crash behind you, as people swerve to avoid your bottle, or you have to complete the race without any drink – not the best idea!
Whilst I am on bottles, please do not throw your bottle away unless you need to in order to take another bottle on board. And if you absolutely have to throw your bottle, be careful where you throw it as again it could end up in the middle of the bunch, with possible crashes as a result. Carrying an empty bottle won’t make that much difference to the weight of your bike, and unless you are lucky enough to get an unlimited supply of free bottles, if you lose a bottle every race, the cost of replacing them soon adds up, AND you become a litter lout too, so don’t do it.
2) “Clipping in”
So you are on the start line, and the flag is waved to start the race. You look down, check where your feet are and push off, again looking down to clip your other foot in. When you look up again, the rest of the riders have already entered the first bend and you face a chase to get back in contention. And it’s only the first lap.
Again, this might seem simple, but a race can be won or lost, or points gained or lost, on your ability to “clip in” to your pedals quickly. It is easy to practise, and your riding will benefit from it as you will get used to clipping in and out easily, so there’s no more worries then about stopping at junctions, etc. Plus, why use extra energy chasing to get back in the race when you could be up there from the start? It’s a no-brainer for me.
3) Eating on the move
Joaquim Rodriguez having a snack on his bike. ©William Perugini/Shutterstock
This doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) be a problem if you are doing a 30 or 40 minute circuit race as you should be able to survive on a gel just before the start and a bottle with energy drink in it, however, for anybody looking at doing road races, you need to be able to take food on board in order to replenish your energy reserves BEFORE they get depleted.
There are many ways to do this, and you should try different types of food to see what suits you best – some people will tell you to use energy gels, other people will say bananas, others will say sweets or chocolate. I will give you some alternatives, but remember that energy foods can prove quite expensive and sometimes just toast and jam will do (that’s what I used to use in the 1990s!):
My advice would be to shop around, try different things and stick with what works for you, which may not be what your mates tell you! Practice taking them out of your pocket, eating them and putting the wrapper back in your pocket – again no litter bug antics please!
Hmm, now this is something I can tell you about from experience! This can be a bone of contention at ANY race – circuit or road! The first thing you need to practise is adjusting your speed going into the bend/corner – far too many people go into a bend at full pelt, only to realise on the apex of the bend that they have totally miscalculated their speed and brake
Image ©Huw Williams
to avoid going completely out of control. Not at all helpful for the people who are unfortunate enough to be following that person’s wheel.
When approaching the corner, look beyond the bend to see where you are going – do NOT look down at the ground. If you look at where you are going, this will help you to hold your line (which I will explain in a minute).
If you lean in to go around the corner, this helps with fluidity and momentum, make sure you keep your inside pedal (in the UK this will mainly be your left pedal) up, which means that your opposite foot should be at the bottom, with your outside leg straight and your inside leg bent. Also, keep relaxed to help you “flow” around the corner.
When you approach the bend, look first to see where you are going to exit the corner, brake as you approach the bend to reduce your speed, and keep your head up to see where you are going. As you come out of the bend, do not drift to the other side (for example if you are going around a left hand bend do not drift to the right) – this is called “holding your line” – you must bear in mind that you will hopefully be in the middle of a group of riders at this point and any movements that riders to either side of you or behind you aren’t expecting could potentially cause a collision. Even if you think you are on your own, hold your line as there may be other riders coming up behind you.
I think the key to cornering in a group is respect other riders – give them space (not too much though!) and keep an eye on what is ahead.
5) Mutual Respect
One thing you will notice in a race is that people can get a bit annoyed if you do something that they don’t agree with – rightly or wrongly – and it will also get on your nerves if somebody does something to annoy you. But that is a part of racing – it is emotional whether you like it or not, and you are competing for the win essentially. Respect your fellow riders, give them the space that you would expect but don’t let them walk all over you! So, if somebody else who is nothing to do with you, shouts at you to do some work, think about whether it would be of benefit to YOU to work – if you are in a bunch, and your strength lies in sprinting at the end of the race, why would you do any work to help other people who aren’t on your team (you wouldn’t see Mark Cavendish riding at the head of the pro peloton on the last stage of the Tour de France if he thinks he is going to win, would you?)? On the other hand, if you are not a sprinter but would prefer to get in a break and win that way, then it might work in your favour to put the hammer down. Far too often I have seen riders do what their rivals (on a different team) tell them to. But why would you do that? Remember that you are competing – don’t be overwhelmed by riders who are supposedly better than you on paper – you have entered the race for a reason.
Next week, I will be covering race preparation and the final instalment will be what to expect on race day.
In the meantime, keep riding and stay safe!
Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing