AN ELIXIR TO KEEP THE CRAMPS AWAY

CamelBak Orange Alert Elixir – Electrolyte Powered Hydration Tablets

Pros: Refreshing flavor, Helps maintain electrolyte balance, Encourages hydration

Cons: Expensive,  Sorbital could cause digestive distress

It’s early May and Texas heat is coming. The full-bloom of Texas 120+ temperatures with heat waves rippling up from the road separates the hardy or well-prepared from novices (or fools). It defines who can ride on hot, sunny afternoons.  Necessity often requires riding under less than optimal conditions when fitting rides into work and family schedule. Only the tough and well-conditioned survive summer heat, but don’t expect to have natural, organic supplements and clothing. Nature never intended for us to ride bikes over hot pavement – nature intended for us to snooze in the heat of the day in a shady location.

When it gets really hot…

I use Camelbak’s Elixir tablets and carry a 100-ounce CamelBak. The two help keep me hydrated – it takes more than just water for anyone training or performing at higher levels.

CamelBak’s Elixir Electrolyte Powered Hydration Orange Alert tablets have been my favorite mostly because of flavor and lack of mess. They are sold in plastic tubes with tight-fitting lids and 12 unwrapped tablets. Instructions suggest mixing one tablet in 24-ounces of water. This low-calorie beverage (10 calories per tablet) is sweetened with sorbitol, acesulfame potassium and sucralose.  Electrolytes include 340 mg of sodium and 125 mg of potassium. The flavor is subtle.

Plop, plop, just a little fizz

These resemble Alka Seltzer tablets both in size and how they fizz and self-dissolve in water. The fizz quickly disappears but the flavor remains and I find the flavor and slight caffeine kick encourages my drinking this more than just water. CamelBak recommends dropping these into the hydration-pack bladders. Mine is a 100-ounce reservoir that would require four tablets (I dilute with two tablets and still enjoy the flavor). This doesn’t leave a residue and it’s easy to rinse out – but I prefer mine in a frame-mounted water bottle when riding.

I carry a water bottle as well as the MULE CamelBak. On long, hot rides (35 to 45 miles) on heat-wave distorted surface roads I make it a practice to stop periodically to drink from the bottle and refresh with the CamelBak while riding. This combination tends to work for keeping me hydrated and prevents muscles from cramping, especially later.

Elixir’s Electrolyte Powered Hydration is expensive at $11 per tube of 12 tablets. A single tablet converts a water bottle into an electrolyte-enhanced sports drink (a total of 288 ounces/tube). It’s available in other flavors:  tropical punch (caffeine) and lemon/lime and berry (caffeine-free).

Caution?

Orange Alert is my preferred flavor followed by the berry. Unfortunately for some users, the sorbitol (a nutritive sweetener often found in energy beverages) can also be a mild laxative causing minor gastrointestinal distress if too much is consumed. I’ve never experienced the laxative distress nor have I noticed a greasy mouth feel reported by some.

In addition to enhancing the performance of cyclists and runners, hikers and anyone working in the heat can use these. Rather than carrying the tube in the backpack I’d suggest wrapping tablets in foil to reduce the load. Construction workers working in high heat areas will find these too expensive and will prefer the powder mixes of Gatorade and similar electrolyte hydration beverages. These might be gimmicky, they are definitely overpriced, but they encourage me to drink water and help keep my electrolytes in balance while riding under severe conditions. There might be better, more natural methods, but this complements my needs and I recommend these for anyone who pushes performance in high heat situations.

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