Posted by: audaxing | June 3, 2010

The Secret Ingredient

When I first started road cycling 50 miles or more I used orange squash or water in my bidons

After a while I read the cycling press and discovered SIS PSP22. This is a long chain polymer glucose powdered drink with flavouring. I used this for a bit but stopped as it was expensive and contains aspartame. Then I tried various alternatives, including Hi5 (which was quite good), the “Powerbar” branded energy drink (stained my plastic bottles purple) and the bulk All Sports “Dynamite”. This is cheap, and is just maltodextrine on it’s own..I still use it.
All these products are mixed with water to give a carbohydrate rich drink that is hopefully easy to digest.

When I started to do really long audax rides (300/400/600 or more) I tried stuff that was supposed to be more sophisticated than a simple carbohydrate supply.  For example, All Sports “Enduro Load” which claimed it contained everything needed, electrolytes, protein, loads of stuff. Just add water. I tried it out on a long, warm 600km. After suffering severe stomach ache at the half way point I decided that it wasn’t for me.

For London-Edinburgh-London in 2005 I was mixing chocolate flavoured protein drink mix with glucose polymer to give a 6:1 carb/protein mix. This seemed to work alright. But the protein mix contained aspartame and this didn’t agree with me 100%.   Another problem was that on hot days the mixture would “go off” and taste very odd after a couple of hours.   I always thought part of the reason this recipe “worked” was that the protein ingredient contained lots of potassium, an important electrolyte.

For Paris-Brest-Paris 2007 I used bulk maltodextrine with a little table salt mixed in. When this ran out I bought a couple of packs of some kind of random sports drink.  PBP was different as the catering at the controls was pretty good.  Also the weather was so rotten that nutrition was the least of your worries….

In 2009 I tried an entirely different approach. I’d noticed that organic orange squash+table salt+ a little extra maltodextrine (maybe 5g a litre) was fairly good for hot weather. Then the Nuun tablet product came on the market. These seemed very convenient. Put 2 in a litre of water, they fizz and then you have a litre of electrolyte rich liquid. It tastes faintly of fruit.  I used them on a couple of very hot long rides and went very well. I’ve since used this kind of electrolyte drink on all kinds of rides and it works well for me.

For energy in a liquid form I altered tactics. If I was feeling hungry or lacking in power then I’d stop and mix up a fresh batch. I’d either use bulk maltodextrine or All Sports Animo Load recovery drink.  Continual use of high carbohydrate drinks does help my energy levels a little, especially in the winter.   But overall regularly drinking electrolyte stuff plus occasional use of carbohydrate drinks seems superior. I feel fresher.

Nuun tablets are, however fantastically expensive. I have switched to Hammer Nutrition Endrolyte electrolyte powder. This comes in a small container with a tiny scoop.

Just adding this to water ( or squash if it is available ) seem to keep me going much better than pure “energy” drinks do.

A container or bag of electrolyte is also less bulky than the multiple bags of carbohydrate  I used to carry.


  1. […] – As well as “fuel” like carbohydrates the body also needs smaller quantities of other substances to make it’s processes run efficiency. In particular sodium, potassium and magnesium are important. I favour drinking water with electrolytes in over energy drinks. Article discussing electrolyte vs energy drinks here […]

  2. […] Electrolytes – The Secret Ingredient […]

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