Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Roctane: Gu's new blackmarket blend, tested!

Here's a little secret: Gu's sponsored athletes like Wendy Ingraham and Michellie Jones have long had an ace up their sleeve; Gu provided them a little sumthin-sumthin, some amplified goods.

What Gu did was create special formulations of their product for their pros, to test with. They called it Roctane and gave it to the athletes in unlabled silver Gu packets with "Hardrock" printed on 'em (after the Hardrock 100-mile ultramarathon, which the designing doctor's daughter was doing, the initial motivation for creating a special blend). No nutritional info, no special flavor, no nothin. Sometimes the stuff tasted ok, sometimes it was horrible. If it was what they wanted the athletes to try to test its effectiveness, the pros became the guinea pigs.

Then, recently, they hit upon a bit of a jackpot with one blend of Roctane. And it's going public.

Holly with Gu styled me with some samples of the super-secret-until-now Roctane at Sea Otter this past weekend, which, for the first time, will be available to the public. It's been Michelle's premium secret stuff for years, and we'll soon be able to get our hands on it.

It's on the market just now because they'd been toying with the flavor for a while. The high citrate levels added a tang to the flavor that was a bit much for many. But once they get the formulation right, it was go time.

The supplement facts look like this: 100 calories, which is standard. 35 milligrams of caffeine, a double dose. 25 grams of carbs, 5 grams of sugar, 65 milligrams of sodium. All good.

The difference comes with some new additives to this high-octane mix. First is Histidine, which Gu says delays energy-sapping build-up. They also add a new OKG amino acid complex, which reduces muscular damage and branch chain amino acids are increased, for added energy and mental acuity.

The higher citrate levels that tweaked the taste actually help speed the conversion of carbs into energy, while delaying the build-up of acid in muscles.

Add belly-settling ginger and the anti-inflammatory chamomile It's gluten, dairy and nut free to boot. And right now it comes in a Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor, with others to come soon.

First taste? Very good in all honesty. The citrate kick-up had me worried it'd be tangy, which can often sour the belly, but it wasn't at all. I've long been a fan of Just Plain Gu for something that my stomach could just digest without dealing with flavor fatigue, but this was very palatable.

First test? Todays' three-hour slog over the mountains from Agoura Hills to Malibu and back was a perfect application. Once at the coast halfway through the ride, and just prior to a loooong 25-minute slog back up the hill to Mulholland and on to Agoura Hills, I had a hit of what is being called the equivalent of crack for endurance athletes.

Well, for not having a lot of bike miles in the bank, I was due to detonate royally on the ascent. And it didn't happen.. held my lines. Descent the other side, I considered rolling off the back, afraid I was going to be sloppy on the switchback and end up in a ditch, but instead I attacked the hell out of the descent, overselling some decreasing radius hairpins and ending up in the opposing lanes.

OK, that was just my fault for going in too hot. But for the work I put in, I was on top of the descent full gas. Normally I might have just backed off and cruised down. Not today.

Sold.... it truly works, better than "stock" Gu for sure. (Wow, it really does sound like underground blackmarket stuff!) I can only imagine what how it fuels when an athlete is, well, fit. I have Alcatraz in a couple months, so I better get on it.

When can you get it? Hold your horses...not till June. With people saying it's as good as it's being hyped, you can expect this to fly off the shelves in its first run. Check gusports.com for more on Roctane.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


You earned it!

2008 Ironman China
4/20/2008, Haikou, Hainan Island, China

1. Belinda Jane Granger 10:08:37
2. Donna Phelan 10:37:11
3. Abigail Bayley 10:43:11
4. Belinda Jane Harrison 10:48:24
5. Brigitte Niederberger 11:07:41
6. Nicole Toepfer 11:08:22
7. Irene Kinnegim 11:12:43
8. Jo King 11:16:58
9. Ute Mueckel 11:20:33
10. Lidia Rekas 11:51:07

Interview: Belinda Granger

There's just a few hours left at Ironman China, so given that it looks like Belinda Granger may take the win (and hopefully my wife and Belinda's TeamTBB teammate Donna Phelan will continue the good TeamTBB juju given that she's in third at the moment), I thought I'd post a video that you'll see in the video clips at right.

The video was taken a couple weeks ago when I spent a week visiting Donna and the rest of the team in Subic Bay, Philippines. I'll be updating the blog in a bit with the story of how this team has been simply kicking ass this year. I've been to triathlon camps like I'm sure you have, but there is NOTHING like this.

Belinda's race has not been a surprise, after seeing her training that week. On the weekend, TeamTBB's stud swimmer, Mathieu O'Halloran, Granger, Phelan and Nicola Spirig took part in the Terry Larrazabal sprint Triathlon just outside Subic. It was Belinda first, and granted, it was a sprint, I'd never seen her turn her legs over like that. So her race in China is no surprise to me. Come Kona, she's a threat to move a few steps up the Top 10 podium closer to Chrissie.

Then again, so are quite a few other team members like Erika Csomor. Like Bella Comerford. I think the dinosaurs of the sport, the classic thinking of taper, of being a slave to your heart rate monitor, is being supplanted. There's a new way of thinking, being delivered by Brett Sutton and served up by this team of supposed misfits.

And that's not counting the athletes recently qualified for Athens after strong performances at World Cup Ishigaki: Reto Hug and Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and Brazilian Mariana Ohata. What can't this team do?

What I really wonder is, when is someone is going to take this team and put a title sponsor on it? Because right now, considering the exposure they'll garner in Kona, this is the most valuable commodity in the sport, and they don't even have an apparel sponsor!

Good job to Belinda and the rest of the squad keeping it rolling...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Zoot Team Ultra Camp, the Ultra Raffle and Where's Waldo, solved!

Last week following 70.3 Oceanside I had a chance to attend the Zoot Team Ultra camp. For the new season, Zoot title sponsors a collection of top age-group talent. The summit gathered the collection of athletes that made it to SoCal together to talk about the team, the sponsors, and what the team can do to help spread the gospel of triathlon to the masses. After an intro by Zoot president Brian Enge (my lane partner at Encinitas YMCA masters, shown at left), Zoot, FuelBelt, Gu and Scott Bicycles explained their product and its use to the team. They even brought in Bob Babbitt (below right), who explained to the athletes the great things that they can do to help grow the sport to local media. As a former writer in newspapers that only understand ball sports, it's a challenge. Bob helped foster the growth of "fringe" sports like triathlon, running, swimming and biking to the local San Diego paper, the Union Tribune increase coverage, and wants to see that same kind of recognition in papers across the country.

Regarding the presentations, you could see the team was taking it all in like a sponge, and it was enlightening for me as well. Zoot product manager Brandt Furgeson took the team through the Zoot shoe line. I wish I'd had a chance to check out the exploded, piece-by-piece version of the Ultra shoe Brandt passed around long ago, in order to really best appreciate what's going on in the shoe, and why. Like the carbon fiber under the arch. While I thought it was merely cosmetic, the carbon extends down the big toe, helping stiffen it through toe-off. While the porous sole and super-fast entry system get the attention, it was great seeing the little stuff inside.

Speaking of the Ultra shoe....

The press is out now about the limited edition Ultra Ali'i edition. In commemoration of their 25th anniversary, Zoot is releasing 1,800 pairs (symbolic in the amount of estimated Kona starters) of the shoe, which has a totally different, absolutely colorful look apart from the stock shoe. Each shoe has the stitched serial number on back.

If that's not enough, Serial No. 1 is up for grabs. Zoot teamed with Trisports.com to raffle off the numero uno shoe, with proceeds going to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. A great idea. But I wonder if that shoe will see the pave or end up in a case? Either way, I love what the industry is doing with limited run stuff, recently with Guru's new run of 25 PK Edition Cronos and now this from Zoot. I dig.

The auction starts April 27 and closes April 30.

Check out my interview with Brian Enge at right as well as one with Zoot product manager Ben Harper (yes, that Ben Harper! No, I kid...), who will give you a video tour of the new Zoot Ultra Ali'i shoe.

And for my Where's Waldo? My friend Kurt nailed it... I've been in Subic Bay, Philippines for the last week, hanging with my wife, Canadian pro Donna Phelan, as well as all the TeamTBB members (save for Ironman World Champ Chrissie Wellington, who was off in Port Macquarie winning Ironman Australia this past weekend.

It's been a wonderful week, not only hanging with the team, but also catching up with my wife, eating fried bananas and checking out monkey on their long ride course in the mountains. Now I get to head back stateside tomorrow to cover Ironman Arizona this weekend, but I will update the blog in a bit about my time in Subic. There's a lot of cool stuff going on, a lot of great people, a stealth training base, a wonderful social program and a masterful, dedicated coach in Brett Sutton that I had massive respect for now, and have even more now. Lots of cool stuff to talk about in the coming days.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Where's Waldo?

I've taken a bit of holiday to see my wife, who's out of country. For those that know her, you know where she is and hence, where I am for the last few days and next few before I head back to Encinitas, then to Tempe to report on Ironman Arizona.

For those that don't, here's a guess test: what pool is this, and what group of athletes? It was taken just two days ago when I got to my destination. I'd love to give some hints, but that might give it away, and I think I'd love to see the guesses before I start revealing some more.

I'll elaborate a bit later, but for now, I'd love to see the guesses...