These days, I use Cytomax as a regular training supplement. I’ve grown particularly fond of the Fresh Apple flavor, which tastes nothing like apples. The flavor has improved since the first time I tried some at the Tour de Hull in 1992. It no longer has the curiously bitter after-taste that only encouraged me to drink more of it. Despite the flavor improvements, I suspect Fresh Apple is not the most popular flavor since it is hard to come by. I’ve tried the Cool Citrus, Pomegranate Berry, Go Grape, Tropical Fruit, and some others I think they’ve stopped making. After a couple of bottles, they all taste the same.
I don’t want to believe that a carbohydrate-electrolyte replacement drink could make such a difference but I’ve lived through enough bonks, crashes and fringales to believe otherwise. Once, at the tail end of a 200km training ride, I got so hungry that I started hallucinating Boboli pizza shells scattered all over Route 3 in Rocky Hill. I tried to pick one up and it blurred right through my fingers.
For years, at the beginning, I drank nothing but water. I was pure. Maybe some tea with sugar or honey on long rides. We used to put a teabag in the cold water and let it steep while riding. Every so often the bag would break and I would gag on mouthful of tea leaves.
Mountain Dew. Essential to the 50-mile criterium. Shake out the carbonation and cut it with some water. I’d save it for the last 1/4 of the race. When the greenish-yellow, high fructose corn syrup double caffeine hit my system, it was like an afterburner kicking in. But I could never get all the carbonation out. By the time I finished the race, the stuff had glazed over my entire seat tube and bottom bracket.
Coffee. Mentioned previously. I would often brew up a pot of Grand Mère for long training rides in France. Not the best call. It dehydrates, the caffeine effect cannot be sustained and it contributed to my coffee addiction. But with some lait concentré sucré it’s amazing. I’ve had repeated arguments with coaches that coffee is NOT a recovery drink. Neither is beer, apparently.
Beer. On rare occasions, a nice cold beer towards the end of a long ride can be a blessing. I once got a hand-up of a can of Gallo beer from the team car while climbing La Eterna in the Tour of Guatemala and it got me to the finish of the stage. I later discovered that 2 or 3 beers could bring the equivalent level of consciousness as a 6-hour bike ride (the treasured “out-of-bike experience”), which would have saved a lot of time. Don’t drink and ride. Seriously.
I’ve tried every other sports drink as well by this point: Gatorade, Powerade, Exceed, Excel, Heed, OptiFuel, etc. I’ve always had a fondness for the Euro ones like Isostar and Enervit, but I keep coming back to Cyto. Some words of caution: always do a test drive before using something in competition and never drink too much of the stuff. At a certain point, the electrolytes supersaturate your system and it becomes CytoLax.