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Some Bikes are Special

Some bikes are just special, but not for the reasons you may think. They may not be made of the latest and greatest material and they may not have the newest, best components. Sometimes, certain bikes just fit right and just ride right, and you and that bike do rides that you remember, unlike other bikes that you’ve ridden. Bikes like this join you on adventures.
IMG_0654My Davidson custom steel bike is just such a bike. It was built in 1998 with Reynolds 853/753, and originally was painted navy blue with white panels outlined in orange pinstripes with the Davidson lettering in orange. The original fork was a Look carbon fork painted to match (and that fork was noodly as hell). I’ve ridden this bike a lot. More miles than any other bike I’ve ever owned.

This bike bears the scars of being ridden. I cracked the rear stay and had to have it replaced which is why it is has a different paint job now. At that time, I replaced the fork and it was painted to match as well. This is the bike I was riding when I was car doored and I separated my shoulder and fractured part of my shoulder blade. The bike was okay, but the fork took a hit and needed to be replaced, so now it sports the bare carbon model shown. The paint bears countless scratches from times when I dropped the chain, or that time when I snapped my chain and went down really hard, or that time when my wheels came out from under me in a wet corner on a descent.

I’ve ridden this bike on more double centuries than any other I’ve owned. It’s surprisingly comfortable for rides of that distance. I’ve done countless brevets on this bike, riding through the day and into the night and into the next morning. One night on a brevet, I nearly fell asleep while riding this bike, and after a short nap (off the bike in an old schoolhouse), I remember shivering so hard from the cold I could barely keep the bike on the road. Later, we rode near a farm that had what appeared to be camels in it’s pasture. To this day, I’m not sure if that was real or the result of so many hours on the bike.

I’ve commuted on this bike and I’ve even raced it a few times. I’ve dodged turkeys and pygmy goats on this bike. I’ve been chased by cows and countless dogs on this bike. One morning I had a squirrel hit my wheel and, thankfully, bounce off. This is the bike I was riding the day before I proposed to my wife (while carrying the engagement ring because I didn’t want to leave it at the hotel). This is the bike I was riding on the morning of 9/11/2001 when I learned of the attacks. You could say this bike and I have a history together.

Sometimes, I scavenge this poor bike for parts for my other bikes, and I hang the partially assembled bike from a hook and leave it there. Sometimes for a year or more. The downside to being a cyclist is that newer bikes always come along that seem to promise this wonder ride quality. More stiff, more compliant, less weight….Then, something makes me put the Davidson back together and ride it. Every time that happens, I wonder why I stopped riding it. It rides so nicely. It fits me so well. It brings back the memories of all the other great rides we’ve done together. Well, it’s back together now, and I plan on riding it for a while. It may not always be my daily rider, but I’ll never get rid of it, either. Too many memories.

New Cycling Kit

As some of your may know, our good friend and graphics guru, Jon Grant, lost his son, Auggie, to leukemia. If you have followed my company’s goings on, you are likely aware of our previous efforts to help Jon and his family raise money to help pay for the hospital costs associated with Auggie’s treatment.CureSearch

Now, we continue to try to help raise money for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. This year, we’ve decided it was time to put together designs for a new jersey and matching bib shortsJersey_Bib_Shorts_NAVY2222, and of course, I asked Jon to start putting some ideas together. We decided to go for a lighter blue color style with navy and orange accents. The result, we think, is a very nice looking jersey. As we finished up the jersey, I asked Jon to develop designs for bib shorts to go with it. We also placed the CureSearch for Children’s Cancer logo on the left sleeve, along with the words “For Auggie”.

One thing everyone should know about Auggie is that he most wanted to be a super hero, and he wanted everyone to be one with him. Auggie would run around with his cape flowing in the breeze, fighting crime. If you had the pleasure of meeting Auggie in person, there was a good chance that he would hand you a cape and urge you to come help him fight. Even in the hospital, he would sing the theme song from The Avengers television series. We are asking you to buy our cape, in jersey and bibs form, and help us to fight children’s cancer. We are donating $10 for each garment sold to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Buy a jersey and bibshorts and we donate $20.

Please, join us in this fight!

The kit is available by pre-order through Squadra only and purchases must be made my July 10th. See the link here: http://synapticcycles.ridesquadra.com

Gift Ideas for Cyclists

December 5, 2014Joe BartoeProducts

New Synaptic PosterWe just added a new header to our online store for December called “Gift Ideas.” This is a great place to look around for unique gifts for the cyclists in your life.

Some of the items include our own merchandise, such as the “Enjoy your ride” poster to the left as well as some of our own t-shirts and jerseys.

We went through our entire inventory of products and have reduced our prices on many of them to provide greater values for our customers. Additionally, anything you purchase in the store (except bicycles) includes FREE SHIPPING!

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We’ve reduced the prices on our t-shirts and on all of the SockGuy products in stock. Our t-shirts are now available in 3 different colors (Navy, Ash, or Black) and 2 choices of print color (Orange or Light Blue).

The shirts are made by American Apparel and are printed using water-based inks. Once washed, you can’t even feel the artwork. And the shirts themselves are soft to the touch and fit great!

CAFreedomSGXWe’ve been long-time users and supporters of the SockGuy products. We really love their stuff. All the socks in our store are the SGX model, which are thin and provide an incredible compression fit that leaves your feet feeling great all day long. We even wear these off the bike! Other items we carry from SockGuy include arm warmers, shoe covers, and base layers. We use each and every product we sell, and we wouldn’t sell it if we didn’t love it!CAMPY_RD_gsSM_medium

Other fun stuff in our store includes matted prints of bicycle parts. These were hand-drawn by Jon Grant, our graphics guy, and each one has its own story, according to Jon. Each part was beautifully rendered in black ink on white paper, and each print was offset printed in dense, black ink on white, acid-free, Bristol cover. These can be found in the “Bicycle Art” portion of our shop. We sell 9 of these matted prints and when placed in a frame and hung on the wall, they are stunning and would be a great addition to your bicycle-related art collection!

MAFAC_gsSM_mediumOther items in our shop include beer glasses, bottle openers, tools and more. Please, take a look around at our gift ideas for cyclists. If You’re looking for something specific that isn’t listed, give us a call at (949)374-6079. If we can find it for you, we will! If you are looking to rent a road bike in Los Angeles or San Diego/Orange County please contact us as well!

 

Meet Greg Donovan-Los Angeles Area Road Bike Rentals

June 17, 2014Joe BartoeNews

We recently opened up our service area to provide Los Angeles area road bike rentals. Just like our shop that serves Orange County and San Diego County, our new shop offers free delivery and pick up of your bike rentals within our regular service area. Our LA area rental store’s service area is centered in Santa Monica and extends outward in an approximate 30 mile radius.

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Greg Donovan with one of the Cayo Evo 2.0 bikes from the rental fleet.

Greg Donovan is the co-owner of our LA road bike rental shop, and we thought it might be worthwhile to introduce him to you. On the left is a picture of Greg posing with one of the brand new Focus Cayo Evo 2.0 bikes in his fleet.

Greg, age 23, is an Atlanta, Georgia transplant to Irvine, California. He has been an avid athlete since his youth participating in many sports and activities including baseball, cross country, basketball, football, roller hockey, snow-boarding, surfing, mountain biking, and motocross. Greg’s current athletic endeavors are focused on triathlon competitions, setting his sights on competing in a half-Ironman distance this year (2014) and a full Ironman in 2015.

Greg has a keen interest in the bicycle business, recently teaming up with Joe Bartoe of Synaptic Cycles to expand the road bike rental business. In preparation for this endeavor, he wanted to brush up on his mechanical skills and recently completed a course in bicycle maintenance at United Bicycle Institute in Oregon. He’s also been working with Joe, learning the business and how to set up bikes for customers. Greg looks forward to serving other avid cyclists who have the desire to experience the beautiful California scenery on two wheels.

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Focus Cayo Evo 2.0 with Shimano Ultegra DI2.

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Volagi Liscio 2 with DI2 and hydraulic disc brakes.

The new fleet at our Los Angeles shop contains a number of Shimano DI2 bikes from both Focus and Volagi. The Focus bikes are all Cayo Evo 2.0 with full Ultegra DI2. He also has a number of brand new Volagi Liscio 2 bikes with full Ultegra DI2 and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Other offerings are Volagi Liscio 2 bikes with brand new Ultegra 11 and TRP Hy/Rd disc brakes. All the bikes in the fleet are incredible riding bikes, ready for your Southern California riding adventures.

Pricing for rentals are the same at both the LA area and the San Diego/Orange County Stores. We offer the same level of service and the same experience at both shops so please do not hesitate to contact Greg and set up your rental if you’ll be staying in the greater Los Angeles area.

We are really excited about opening up our service area so we can better serve more of Southern California, and we are especially excited to bring Greg into the  business! Please, help us to welcome Greg and help him to establish his shop’s presence in the greater Los Angeles area. Greg can be reached at (310)925-3969. Give him a call to reserve a bike when you’re in town!

Custom Wheelsets For Sale

June 10, 2014Joe BartoeNews, Products
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Pacenti SL23 Wheelset laced to DT Swiss 240S hubset. Tires are Hutchinson Sector 28 tubeless clincher.

It goes without saying that cyclists come in many shapes and sizes and strengths. A 135 pound climber probably doesn’t need the strength of a wheel built for 220 pound sprinter. And now, with the advent of the off-the-rack wheelsets, we have to be careful of weight limits when purchasing our equipment. It makes sense to have a wheelset built for you and your riding style rather than buying a set that is designed to work for “most people”. For that reason, we are going to start offering custom wheelsets for sale. As part of this process, we are building up some wheels for our rental fleet that customers can demo when they rent one of our bikes, or on their own bikes, if they choose.

Why offer custom wheelsets? There are a ton of benefits to custom-built wheels. Here’s a partial list:

  1. You help design it!!
  2. The wheels are built to fit your needs and riding style!
  3. You can go to any bike shop and get it trued or repaired! We’ll even supply extra spokes and nipples!
  4. Lifetime guarantee for trueness and spoke replacement!

We will be offering only aluminum rims on our wheelsets, initially. We are not enamored with carbon rims for everyday riding for reasons that we’ll get into in another post. Our current favorite is the Pacenti SL23. It is a 24mm wide rim that is tubeless clincher compatible, and it is available in 20, 24, 28, and 32 hole drillings. Weighing in at 450g per rim, it is lighter than comparable rims, and we find that it builds up into a light, strong wheelset. We can also build wheels with rims from DT Swiss, HED, Velocity, and Stan’s.

Shown above is one our first wheelsets. It features DT Swiss 240S hubs laced 2 cross to the Pacenti SL23 rims (24 hole front/28 hole rear), using Wheelsmith double-butted spokes. Total weight of the wheelset (minus tires and skewers) was just over 1500g. We’ve mounted up the new tubeless clincher from Hutchinson, the Sector 28, and have been riding the heck out of them ever since. We now have well over 700 miles on this set and they ride great and have stayed perfectly straight from the start. The price of the wheelset decribed here would be $1100 and would include skewers and rim tape.

Building a custom wheelset is a personal thing, and it’s the best bang for your your buck as far as upgrades for your bike. If you’re considering a new custom set of wheels, give us a call at (949)374-6079. We’ll walk you through the process to ensure that you are getting the wheelset that meets your needs. And the best part is you get to pick your own: hubs, spokes (silver or black), nipples, colors, rims (style and color), and lacing pattern! If you are interested in testing out some our custom wheel builds contact us today!

Bike Rentals-Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties

Since we started our business, we have gotten calls for bike rentals in the greater Los Angeles area. Up until now, we have had to charge an additional fee for serving those areas. It was simply too long a drive and too far outside our normal service area to serve without charging for the extra time and mileage.

We are extremely excited to announce that as of the week of May 26th, 2014, we have officially begun to serve the greater Los Angeles area, along with our other service areas of Orange and San Diego Counties. In doing so, we will offer our same great service, along with FREE delivery and pick up within our normal standard service area. Our new service area will be an approximate 30 mile radius from Santa Monica.

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2013 Focus Cayo Evo 2.0-Ultegra DI2

To reserve your bike or contact us, check out our designated Los Angeles page. If you use our fillable forms, simply use the pull down menu to specify the area you are interested in. Otherwise, feel free to call us directly. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. We’ll gladly direct you if you’re not sure about what area to choose from the menu!

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Volagi Liscio 2-Ultegra 11

Greg Donovan will be the day to day manager/owner of Synaptic Cycles Bicycle Rentals in Los Angeles. He has been working hard behind the scenes to learn the business and get set up and ready to go. He will be starting out with incredible road bikes from Focus and Volagi. His Focus offerings will be the Focus Cayo Evo 2.0 with full Ultegra DI2 drivetrain. Additionally, he’ll have several Volagi Liscio 2 bikes with Ultegra 11 speed mechanical or DI2.

Greg approached me around the end of 2013 with a desire to partner up in the Synaptic Cycles venture. He was a former customer and a great guy so I though it would be worth exploring. Since then, he has worked with me to see how I go about the day to day business, attended the United Bicycle Institute courses to learn more about bike mechanics, and shown a willingness and desire to serve customers in a way that our customers have come to expect.

Along with individual bike rentals, Greg will be offering group and corporate event services, just like in our original service area of Orange County and San Diego County. Please, help me welcome Greg to the Synaptic Cycles family and get in touch with him about your bike rental needs in the greater Los Angeles area!

 

San Diego County Bike Rides

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Riding along the coast in Carlsbad.

As someone who runs a high-end road bike rental company, I am often asked where to ride while my customers are in town. For some areas, this is a very easy question to answer while other areas pose problems. Not all areas have large numbers of rides easily accessible from the hotel where a customer is staying. Fortunately, most of San Diego County, especially the north county, has thousands of bike rides that are accessible from your doorstep.

One local club, the North County Cycle Club (NCCC), rides the roads of the north county of San Diego all the time with occasional trips up to south Orange County through Camp Pendleton. Someone with the club has put together an incredible resource for cyclists that allows you to search for San Diego County bike rides based upon your start site. It can be found here: http://bike.fullcommitment.net/.

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Camp Pendleton. Watch out for tanks!

The best part of this link is that it provides you with a map of San Diego County with potential start sites highlighted in red. Click on the red dot and you can see a list of rides from that spot. Click on the ride link and you’ll find a small map of the ride. Click on the “view full route” link and you’ll get a larger map and printable cue sheet.

Other resources for rides can be found here: http://socalcycling.com/training-rides/. Here, you’ll find a list of regularly scheduled training or group rides that are a lot of fun, especially if you want to find a more competitive ride.

Having grown up in the north county of San Diego, I can be a bit biased. I feel that for the sheer number and variety of bike rides, it’s pretty difficult to beat this are for riding on the road. Though some roads are high traffic, there are plenty of wide bike lanes, and it’s pretty easy to find lower traffic areas to ride, as well.

Fundraiser to help others get on bikes…

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100 brand new bikes built up and ready for the “Christmas at the Club”.

Two years ago, the company helped out with a fundraiser for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Santa Ana. Every year, the club has a “Christmas at the Club” event where local kids can come and choose a gift for Christmas. The company had helped in securing and building 100 bikes for the giveaway. My oldest son, Quinn, and I volunteered to help out during the event. Once everything was set up in the gym, our job was to greet the kids at the door and help them in choosing their one gift. This was important because the club doesn’t allow the parents to go in with the kids. They don’t want the parents influencing their choices.

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Don, on of our volunteer mechanics, building up one of the boys bikes.

When we arrived early that morning, we were surprised to see the line of kids waiting at the door. We were pretty certain that many of them had been there overnight, hoping to get the best pick of what was inside. As the kids waited at the door, you could see them straining to see what was inside. I was amazed at how patiently they waited their turn.  Very few of the first 100 or so kids through the door looked at the other toys in the gym, instead they went straight to the bicycles.

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Doug, another of the volunteers, puts the finishing touches on one of the girls bikes.

The second kid I greeted at the door was a 12 year old boy. I can’t remember his name, but I remember his face and his demeanor. He didn’t smile much. He was very serious and a bit stoic. He came inside and, like most of the others, went straight to the bikes. Oddly, he chose a nice purple girls bike with glittery tassels coming out the handlebar grips and a princess faceplate attached to the handlebars. He sat on it, smiling and checking it over, and I wasn’t sure what to think. I told him that we have plenty of boys bikes still available, but he just shook his head. “That’s okay.” he said, “I’m getting this for my sister. She’s going to love it!” It just blew me away that a kid, with a chance to pick only one gift for himself, chose something for his sister. We had a lot of fun that day, but this is my only REAL memory of that day.

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Setting up the gym and laying out the toys by age group.

Historically, there had always been a number of bikes given away at the event, but the number of bikes donated for gifts had begun to dwindle over the years. A friend of ours, Bobby Schwartz, had been involved with the event and had decided he wanted to increase the number of bikes for the kids that year. Bobby had a target of 100 bikes and we helped to set him up with someone who could get boys and girls bikes for the event and managed to get some other donated items to go with them. Bobby even found someone to donate 100 brand new helmets to go with the bikes. Together, we also managed to put together a group of volunteers who showed up the week before the event and helped unpackage and build the bikes. Above, you can see what 100 newly built bikes looks like.

By now, you know I’m going to ask for money. This is a fundraiser that is a complete no-brainer.This is a fundraiser to help others get on bikes! Donations go directly toward the purchase of bikes for kids at the Boys and Girls  Club of Santa Ana. Any extra money will be donated directly to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana to support its community programs. Please, go to the fundraiser page and support this great program. Any amount you can afford to give will be gladly accepted. The fundraiser page can be found here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/BobbySchwarz/bikes-for-bucks.

Sock Guy SGX Socks Review

We occasionally run into products that we just plain love. Every product from the Sock Guy that we’ve tried thus far has been fantastic. Here, we wanted to give you a quickie Sock Guy SGX socks review.SGXrasta

According to the Sock Guy website:

“SGX socks are designed with the elite athlete in mind and feature our exclusive Elite Performance Formula. The new SGX sock line provides a compression fit, performance ribbing, enhanced ventilation and a reduced friction profile. These socks feel great, look great, and with SockGuy’s signature Stretch-to-Fit sizing and reinforced toe & heel, SGX socks perform like no other. Guaranteed to be the most comfortable performance socks you’ll ever wear.”

While we’re not sure what they mean by “elite athlete”, we can honestly say that these socks are great for the non-elite among us, as well.

First and foremost, the material is thin without feeling flimsy. Since many cyclists do not like thick, bulky socks, this is a good thing. The second thing you notice about the fit of these socks is the compression fit. They don’t feel constricting, just a bit of compression. They simply feel great on your foot. You can feel the nice, even compression over your entire foot. CAFreedomSGX

Though the effects of compression on your foot might be debatable, the one effect that it has here is that it gives these socks an exceptionally close fit to the foot. There’s not much chance that this sock will bunch up and create hot spots during exercise. Additionally, the toe seams lie flat and don’t irritate or rub like some socks can. This is especially important for me as a scar on the top of my foot seems to get irritated easily for poorly placed toe seams.

Sock Guy indicates that these socks have enhanced ventilation and reduced friction profiles. This does seem to be the case. I wear these socks on a daily basis while riding, running, coaching soccer, running errand3whiteblues, you name it. I have done a lot while wearing these socks and have yet to develop a blister while wearing them or have my foot be clammy upon removal of the sock. They do everything that the company has indicated and more!

While just making a sock that has all these characteristics would be quite the feat (no pun intended!), Sock Guy offers their socks in a number of different flavors. They have an incredible array of designs and offer their socks in a broad range of cuff lengths, from no cuff to 3″ to 5″ and all the way up to knee high. So, if these socks become your favorites, you’ll have plenty to choose from!

We offer these socks in our online shop (http://synaptic-cycles-shop.myshopify.com/collections/cycling-clothing) so you may think we’re a bit biased, but that’s not the case. If you see us out and about, we will generally be wearing these socks (except with flip flops, not a good look!). We love them or we wouldn’t sell them. Give them a try. We think they’ll become your favorites, too. If you’d like to see other options made available, let us know and we’ll see if we can get some in stock. If you’re not interested in socks, and just want to hop onto a bike in OC/San Diego or Los Angeles, please contact us ASAP!

Thoughts on Hydration While Cycling….

A recent heat spell while coaching my kids soccer team got me thinking about hydration issues, and led to thoughts on hydration while cycling. As most soccer parents know, parents often “thoughtfully” bring gatorade to games and practice so their kids can stay hydrated. Most days, this is not much of a problem unless it gets hot and the kids sweat a lot more than usual during practices and games. I kept finding that my sons would get home after practices and games and would start complaining of headaches and sometimes a bit of nausea. It seemed that they were drinking plenty at practice and games, but it still wasn’t enough.

I was able to put a stop to a lot of this after putting a lot of thought into my own hydration issues while cycling. Cycling in the heat for long periods of time can deplete you over time as you sweat. Unfortunately, it’s not just water that’s lost. It’s electrolytes, as well. So, how do you deal with this?

First and foremost, you have to hydrate BEFORE you exercise. This does not mean that you should chug a gallon of water immediately before you go out and exercise. It means that you should be be drinking enough throughout the day, every day, to keep yourself adequately hydrated. Think of this as pre-hydration. Just drink enough water throughout the day and many of the issues with dehydration can be avoided.

Now, when you’re working pretty hard, you sweat. Sweat is salty. Your sweat contains the electrolytes sodium and potassium. A liter of sweat contains a whopping 800 mg of sodium (~50% of your daily intake of sodium), but less that 150-200 mg of potassium (~2.5% of your daily intake). Over the course of an hour of exercise, you can sweat a liter or more. Now, consider what happens when exercising for several hours. You’re losing a lot of water and a lot of sodium, and over time a lot of potassium.

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Gatorade doesn’t contain enough sodium to properly replace the amount of sodium you lose while from sweating during exercise.

Now, let’s take a look at the staple of sports hydration everywhere, Gatorade. In an 8 oz. serving of gatorade, in addition to water, you get 110 mg of sodium and 30 mg of potassium. You also get some sugar and some nice dye. Is this enough? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a sports drink  should contain 125-175 mg of sodium / 8 fl. oz. and 20-48 mg of potassium / 8 fl. oz.

Gatorade gets you close, but not close enough. There’s more than enough potassium in Gatorade, but the levels of sodium are not high enough to replenish the amount of sodium that’s being lost. This is especially true when you consider that many people dilute their gatorade with water because it’s too sweet to drink while riding your bike. So, if you use gatorade for hydration, you might want to dilute it so it’s drinkable and then add some table salt to up the sodium content.

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Camelbak Elixir has 140 mg of Sodium and 23.3 mg of Potassium per 8 oz. serving.

 

During long days on the bike, I have experimented with several electrolyte replacement methods. A few electrolyte replacement drinks that have worked quite well for me are Nuun and Camelbak Elixir. Both have enough sodium and potassium to satisfy the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations. As a side benefit, they also have no real caloric content, which allows me to better regulate caloric uptake while riding.

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Nuun contains 172 mg of Sodium and 38.8 mg of Potassium per 8 oz. serving.

Now, everyone is different. Some people sweat less than others. Some people’s sweat contains more or less electrolytes than others, so your experiences might differ. I know several people who do just fine with diluted Gatorade without adding salt. This post is really aimed at people who are more sensitive to hydration differences and especially to those who deplete themselves of electrolytes during exercise.

So, back to my kids soccer exploits. I put my own findings to the test for them. Making them drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially the few hours leading up to their practices and games helps out a lot. I also give them a 24 oz. water bottle of Nuun to take with them and drink during these times. I also make sure they hydrate with more water for several hours afterward. When I keep them on top of their hydration, they avoid the post-game dehydration headaches and feel better during their games, as well.

As I started working on this post, I came acoss a great write up on Hydration Myths written by John Hughes. John Hughes is the former director of the UltraMarathon Cycling Association and editor of UltraCycling, and he has been certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a personal trainer and by USA Cycling as a coach. Much of what I spoke about is supported by what he wrote. You can read his article here.

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Synaptic Cycles Inc.