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GUforit in Cali

Recently I had an opportunity to go to California as part of the day-job. It’s great to get to work with a bunch of REALLY cool people and with some REALLY cool technology.  It also allows me to get to see some new trails and even do a little sight seeing during my off-hours.

Whenever traveling, it’s tough to get in the biking, but swimming, and especially running is no problema.  I found some cool places to run just outside of Santa Clara overlooking Silicon Valley (pay no attention to the ugly mug, but concentrate on the background).

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I even managed to squeeze in some time to head up to ol’ San Francisco.

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The best part about being in this area, however, was getting to pop in on my longest standing sponsor, GU Energy.  Any of you that know me also know that I seek out sponsorship of products I like, not the other way around.  I’ve had a few offers by sponsors of products that, to put it mildly, I just didn’t like. No thanks.  I have to be able to get behind it.

So, here I am, partnered up with GU since 2008.  So… when I had an opportunity to pop in, I was on it like white on rice.  Heck, after I reached out to Celia, my partner-in-crime at GU, she was ecstatic that I was in town and offered up a one-on-one tour of the facilities with MacKay Gibbs, Director of Manufacturing.

Before I could go back to see where and how the magic is made, I had to get suited up.  How do you like this getup (makes me look like a scientist, looking all official):

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Don’t laugh.  They take their quality control to another level.  After all, this is a food processing facility, so there’s standards that have to met (or in their case, exceeded).  I can’t show you any other pictures inside the facility because their processes, ingredients and other intellectual property are tightly held secrets.  There are many imitators, but there’s only one GU.  If you want to see a sampling of what I got to see first hand, check out this cool vid:

Speaking of quality control, I was absolutely amazed at how much goes into making sure the best possible product gets into your hands.  From the minute the raw ingredients hit their dock to the moment the finished product ships out, it is tested and inspected continuously throughout the process. The guys and gals I met making these products are true professionals that take pride in what they’re making, all while keeping an eagle eye on every packet that goes down the line.  As a bonus, I was handed a Chocolate Outrage packet right off the conveyer while it was still warm.

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I was also equally amazed at how GU cultivates a culture that consists of employees that like sports and racing as much as I do.  I didn’t get a picture of it, but there’s a huge board where employees write their goals, the races they’re doing and when they accomplish them it’s celebrated.  Another bulletin board had countless pictures of them participating in events and races.

My jaw dropped when I got to see their gym and bike storage.  Each employee is encouraged and incented to ride their bikes to work.  Not just a pat on the back incentive, but given extra days off once they accumulate a certain number of commute days.

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It was great to meet all of the staff that not only make great products, but have a real love for sports fueling that passion.

Want to know more about GU Energy and the products they make to fuel your passion?  Then head over to their website and check em out, or hit me up anytime. No matter what you do, there’s a #GUforit.

Running Stuff from a Yoga Store? lululemon Product Review

That was my initial thought.  Back in 2005 or 2006 (if I recall the timeframe correctly), I’d heard of lululemon athletica and checked out some of their clothing when shopping for gifts, specifically, fitness clothing for my wife, Alba.  Back then, they sold predominately yoga clothing for ladies, or at least that’s how I remember.  So, when I won a gift certificate by winning a 5k in Birmingham, Alabama, I almost immediately dismissed it.  Honestly, I did.  Being one not to ignore a good deal on some free clothing, I said to myself, “What the heck?” and went to the store to check it out.

I met up with Alison Hoover, the Assistant Manager at the Summit Birmingham store where she gave me the run-down on the running gear.  I was very surprised to see some amazing pieces that were not limited to just yoga.  She had explained at the race that they had great running gear, and when checking it out at the store, I was amazed that it didn’t look like just your average pair of running shorts or shirts, but, instead, stuff that really had some thought put into it.  It’s apparent that this clothing was designed by athletes that were active in sport and not just big wigs sitting in a corporate office pushing paper around.  Alison helped me pick out some gear, I tried on several things and finally settled on the Metal Vent Tech Hoodie and the Surge Short 3.

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I was super-excited to give them a try and had planned on running in them within a couple of days.  The only stipulation that I had when receiving the free gear was that I needed to provide them with honest product feedback.

I thought that was a good trade.

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Unfortunately, me getting a chance to run in the gear was delayed since I started having issues with my calf.  To my dismay, this delay lasted almost a month.  In the meantime, I did some research on the company, checked out their Continue reading

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers for Athletes

By now you may be scrambling to find gifts for your friend or better half.  If that person is a runner, triathlete or biker, maybe I can give you a few ideas. To the untrained eye, these may seem a bit cheesy, but trust me, if you want to get them something that they need and will actually use, then think about these. Not only are they practical and show that you’ve put some thought into their love of sport, but may even add a few snickers on Christmas morning. You can find most of these at your local running or other sports-oriented store and maybe even online. I’m a firm believer of supporting local shops, so definitely try them first.  (Throughout, I’m referring to your athlete as “him”, but can be very well a “her”).

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1. Anything GU – Most athletes are in need of nutrition and can always use more. So stuff a few Stroopwafels, a few gels, a package of chews or maybe a tube (or two) of GU Drink Tabs into their stocking. The electrolyte tablets bring electrolytes to water with minimal calories (only 10) and something I use EVERY ride and on runs when I carry fluids. If you don’t know what a stroopwafel is, check out this video.  You can even get creative with the nutrition.  On our New Year’s Day run, we break out with Jet Blackberry gel on mini, powdered donuts. Now THAT’s one good jelly donut. www.GUEnergy.com

 

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2. Give them Warmth – If your runner or biker likes training in cold weather, then you cannot go wrong with arm warmers. These gems are great because they can be taken off and stowed easily during those long workouts when you start of in the cold, but the temperature rises as your workout progresses.  These are especially a favorite with ultra runners and even bikers.  Be picky with your choice and don’t go for just any arm warmer.  These arm warmers from Orange Mud are made from bamboo.  Why a bamboo arm warmer? From a sustainability perspective it’s a crazy fast growing plant that requires very little water and no pesticides to “grow like a weed”. When you chop down a bamboo plant, it doesn’t need replanting, rather it simply regrows for continual harvest. The plant is also fantastic for erosion control, and also feeding pandas. Yes, pandas. www.orangemud.com

 

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3. Elastic Shoe Laces – If you have a runner or triathlete that you’re buying for, chances are that they may already be using these handy laces that allow them to get into and out of the shoes without untying. Even if they already have them, they can use an extra pair for when they buy another set of shoes. Not only do you relieve yourself from the hassle of tying, but as you run, especially long runs, your feet tend to swell.  These beauties will stretch as your feet swell, keeping your shoes comfortable but snug.  www.locklaces.com

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4. Socks – Yep, you heard right. The same gift we used to dread getting when we were kids is a cool gift now. Well, they’re cool if you get the right socks. As long as they are for riding, then you can’t go wrong. There’s many to choose from out there, but the best ones come from DeFeet, Sock Guy, Sugoi, and Pearl Izumi to name a few. You score extra points (and laughs) if you get some with a cool saying or picture on them. Can’t settle on the funny ones? Go a little more practical with Merino wool socks from Orange Mud (great this time of year) or compression socks which aid in recovery after a long workout. Want to go with a completely American made sock? Then check out Farm to Feet.

 

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5. Get Grippy – If they’re a biker, ESPECIALLY a mountain-biker, then get them a pair of ESI Grips for their handlebars. They’re the most comfortable grips on the planet. So much so, that I ride without gloves (unless it’s cold). They come in a variety of thickness and colors, but I prefer the “Chunky” ones. On most regular handlebar grips, manufacturers put raised logos, tread patterns and all other kinds of crap that just make them damn uncomfortable. That junk belongs on tires, not handlebar grips. The whole idea of putting something on your handlebars is to 1: improve your grip and 2: keep your hands comfortable. Forget other grips that don’t put these two things FIRST. And if they’re hung up on having their “lock-on” grips, never fear, I used to as well. But the only grips that slip are the poorly made ones. ESI’s grips have their priorities straight and theses puppies won’t move once installed. So get them this gift and they’ll love you for it. www.ESIgrips.com

 

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6. Seal it up – For the mountain bikers in the bunch, there’s a good chance your loved-one is riding on tubeless mountain bike tires. If so, this is a great stocking stuffer. If not, this may motivate them to take advantage of swapping to tubeless and experience all the benefits. For you, if you’re not a mountain biker, this will score major points that you happen to know something about tubeless tires and the need to use sealant. This stuff seals up the tires making it possible to hold air without a tube. The best part is it also acts as an automatic seal should they get a puncture on the trail. Don’t settle for that sealant with some guys name on it. Instead, go with the orange stuff made from NASA technology. One 8 ounce bottle is good for a set of tires, but if you go with the 4 ounce bottle, get two. I’d recommend getting the first bottle with the injector. FYI, I’ll be riding a product review on this soon. www.OrangeSeal.com

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7. Crankbrothers Multitool – You can’t get more handy or practical than a multitool. Necessary for trail-side or road-side repair of bike foul ups and tends to work better than a MacGyver twig and rock combo. Crankbrothers has many to choose from at different price ranges. My favorite is the mutli-17 tool since it comes with a chain tool. It even comes with a lifetime warranty. www.crankbrothers.com

 

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8. Co2 cartridges – If he’s a biker of any sort, having extra Co2 cartridges handy will ensure he has a way to fix a flat. It may take a little bit of snooping to figure out if he needs the threaded or non-threaded type. Just check his current stash (usually in his seat bag or where he keeps the rest of his stuff). If you can’t figure it out, go with threaded. If it’s the wrong type, he can easily swap it out with the right ones at his favorite shop. Go with either 16oz or 20oz. www.GenuineInnovations.com or your local bike shop.

 

If you found this list helpful, please vote for me in the #RunUltraBlogger awards (please scroll all the way down to complete the vote).

RunUltra

If you’re in the Charlotte, NC area, be sure to come check out our 10th Annual New Year’s Day Almost Noon Almost 10k Unorganized Group Trail Run

-Marcus

GU FOR IT

Whatever your athletic goal, there is a GU FOR IT.  Check out this awesome anthem video! For me, this video stirs feelings heading into the 2015 racing season.  Would love to hear what you think.

 

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers for Athletes 2013

Have a loved-one that is a triathlete or biker?  Still scrambling for some stocking stuffer ideas?  To the untrained eye, these may seem a bit cheesy, but trust me, if you want to get them something that they’ll actually need and use, then think about these.  Not only are they practical and show that you’ve put some thought into their love of sport, but it’ll add a few snickers on Christmas morning.  You can find most of these at your local bike, running or other sports-oriented store.  (Throughout, I’m referring to this person as “him”, but can be very well a “her”).

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1.  Anything GU – Most athletes are in need of nutrition and can always use more.  So stuff a few gels, a package of Chomps or maybe a tube (or two) of GU Brew Electrolyte tablets into their stocking.  The electrolyte tablets bring electrolytes to water without extra calories and something I use EVERY ride.  There’s even seasonal gel flavors like Peppermint Stick and Mint Chocolate.  Peanut Butter flavor is a favorite around here.  On our New Year’s Day run, we break out with Jet Blackberry on mini, powdered donuts.  Now THAT’s one good jelly donut.  www.GUEnergy.com

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2. Get Grippy – If they’re a biker, ESPECIALLY a mountain-biker, then get them a pair of ESI Grips for their handlebars.  They’re the most comfortable grips on the planet.  So much so, that I ride without gloves (unless it’s cold).  They come in a variety of thickness, but I prefer the “Chunky” ones.  On most regular handlebar grips, manufacturers put logos, tread patterns and all other kinds of crap that just make them damn uncomfortable.  That junk belongs on tires, not handlebar grips.  The whole idea of putting something on your handlebars is to 1: improve your grip and 2: keep your hands comfortable.  Forget other grips that don’t put these two things FIRST.  And if they’re hung up on having their “lock-on” grips, never fear, I used to as well.  But the only grips that slip are the poorly made ones.  ESI’s grips have their priorities straight and theses puppies won’t move once installed. So get them this gift and they’ll love you for it.  www.ESIgrips.com

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3. Seal it up – For the mountain bikers in the bunch, there’s a good chance your loved-one is riding on tubeless mountain bike tires.  If so, this is a great stocking stuffer.  If not, this may motivate them to take advantage of swapping to tubeless and experience all the benefits.  For you, if you’re not a mountain biker, this will score major points that you happen to know something about tubeless tires and the need to use sealant.  This stuff seals up the tires making it possible to hold air without a tube.  The best part is it also acts as an automatic seal should they get a puncture on the trail.  Don’t settle for that sealant with some guys name on it.  Instead, go with the orange stuff made from NASA technology.  One 8 ounce bottle is good for a set of tires, but if you go with the 4 ounce bottle, get two.  I’d recommend getting the first bottle with the injector.  FYI, I’ll be riding a product review on this soon.   www.OrangeSealCycling.com

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4.  Crankbrothers Multitool  – You can’t get more handy or practical than a multitool.  Necessary for trail-side or road-side repair of bike foul ups and tends to work better than a MacGyver twig and rock combo.  Crankbrothers has many to choose from at different price ranges.  My favorite is the mutli-17 tool since it comes with a chain tool.  It even comes with a lifetime warranty. www.crankbrothers.com

co2

5.  Co2 cartridges – If he’s a biker of any sort, having extra Co2 cartridges handy will ensure he has a way to fix a flat.  It may take a little bit of snooping to figure out if he needs the threaded or non-threaded type.  Just check his current stash (usually in his seat bag or where he keeps the rest of his stuff).  If you can’t figure it out, go with threaded.  If it’s the wrong type, he can easily swap it out with the right ones at his favorite shop.  Go with either 16oz or 20oz.  www.GenuineInnovations.com or your local bike shop.

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6. Socks – Yep, you heard right.  The same gift we used to dread getting when we were kids is a cool gift now.  Well, they’re cool if you get the right socks.  As long as they are for riding, then you can’t go wrong.  There’s many to choose from out there, but the best ones come from Sugoi, Pearl Izumi, DeFeet and  Sock Guy.  You score extra points (and laughs) if you get some with a cool saying or picture on them.  Can’t settle on the funny ones?  Go a little more practical with wool socks (great this time of year) or Sugoi Compression socks which aid in recovery after a long ride.

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7. Yankz Shoe Laces – If you have a runner or triathlete that you’re buying for, chances are that they may already be using these handy laces that allow them to get into and out of the shoes without untying.   Even if they already have them, they can use an extra pair for when they buy another set of shoes.  www.yankz.com

If you’re in the Charlotte, NC area, be sure to come check out our 7th Annual New Year’s Day Almost Noon Almost 10k Unorganized Group Trail Run

-Marcus

Titanium Goodness

Check out the titanium goodness from crankbrothers.  It’s the first part of a new bike build.  Many more posts and pictures to come. 

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Roctane in Drink Form!

Came home from the seeing Jonah at the hospital late last night to find this waiting in the mailbox.

In the past I’ve put Roctane gels in my water bottles so I didn’t have to fumble with the gel packets. Although easy on a road bike, it’s not so while negotiating technical trails on the mountain bike.

Now, the folks over at the GU labs have come out with Roctane specifically to be used as a drink. Can’t wait to give it a whirl. It comes in grape, lemon lime and tropical fruit.

Also in the goodie bag was a new flavor of GU brew electrolyte tabs: pink grapefruit.

More info at http://Roctane.com

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