Everyone has their particular formula for hydration and energy replenishment on the trail. For me, my formula has evolved over time into the following: water in my pack, Heed electrolyte drink in a bottle, and a combination of snacks including Clif Shot Bloks, Hammer Gel, and Honey Stinger waffles.
Now what if I told you that all of that could be replaced with a single drink suitable for use in hydration packs and bottles?
It sounds like the Holy Grail of trail drinks, but Tailwind has managed to create just such a product with their new Endurance Fuel drink mixes.
Tailwind Endurance Fuel originated from necessity. Ten years ago Jeff, an avid endurance racer and the founder of Tailwind, was frustrated with the way his stomach reacted to pretty much any food on race day. In talking with other racers he discovered that most endurance athletes suffered from the same cramps, digestion issues, and overall dissatisfaction with the various energy products on the market at the time. He experimented with a new energy drink for himself and eventually shared it with his fellow endurance racers and even athletes from other disciplines. The end result is one of the best new endurance fuels to hit the market in quite some time.
How Tailwind is Different
The biggest difference with a product like Tailwind is that it is complete; no more gels, no more bloks, no more weird home-made concoctions; just one drink that both hydrates and fuels. The biggest advantage to this setup is that your body receives a steady intake of hydration, energy, and electrolytes as you are depleting them, rather than periodic big hits of electrolytes and carbs that your body has to deal with all at once.
Tailwind’s electrolyte ingredients include sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium combined in amounts that mirror what you sweat out while riding. On the energy side of the equation, Tailwind contains Dextrose and Sucrose. Dextrose is a simple carbohydrate that is absorbed directly into the bloodstream where it can be delivered quickly to your muscles to replenish the energy burned by riding. A small amount of sucrose, which has absorption and energy traits very similar to dextrose, is included to flavor the drink. The end result is a single drink that is not too sweet and is easy on the digestive system, while replenishing the body’s sweat and energy losses at a moderate rate without undue stress on the stomach, even during heavy exertion.
That’s interesting, but does it actually work?
I had become really comfortable with my aforementioned nutrition setup and I was very skeptical of Tailwind’s claims when talking with them at Outerbike. However, since there were free samples and since we were in the hot, dry desert, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.
I tried some in my water bottle, but kept water in my hydration pack. Within a few minutes I was drinking only the Tailwind and not touching my water at all. I ended up completely draining the bottle on one lap of the test course and for the rest of the event I used nothing but Tailwind in my hydration pack for two full days in the Moab desert. Sipping steadily, like I would with plain water, I of course stayed well hydrated, but after hours of hard riding, I realized that I wasn’t particularly hungry. I had not experienced any cramps, no bonking, no hunger … I just felt good and I felt like riding some more. A riding buddy who covered Outerbike with me reported the same results, and also said that he usually has a sensitive stomach while riding and that Tailwind didn’t cause any discomfort whatsoever.
Even though Tailwind is a bit sticky in its fully mixed form, it also dissolves instantly in water. I have been using it regularly in my hydration pack and it comes off with just a quick rinse in clean water, and there is no residual aftertaste if you switch back to water. If your hydration pack has a fold-and-slide closure at the top, you will want to rinse the opening and slide regularly as it will gum up and not close correctly. It’s not a big deal, as it does rinse off easily, it’s just worth noting. (In Moab, by the third refill I couldn’t get my water bladder to close.)
Mixing Tailwind for your ride couldn’t be easier. Consult the side of the package for the recommended mixture, throw in the amount directed via the included scoop, fill with water and give it a couple of shakes … done! It dissolves instantly and thoroughly and the last sip will have the exact same flavor and nutrition as the first.
Tailwind Endurance Fuel has blown me away with its simplicity and effectiveness. It’s so quick and easy to prepare before a ride. On the ride I just drink like I normally would, and I no longer have to purchase and carry a smorgasbord of energy snacks, or pack out the empty wrappers. It’s also awesome that my wife and kids like it just as much as I do, and we regularly use it for family bike rides, hikes, and any other activity where we would normally just take water.
Tailwind comes in three flavors: Mandarin Orange, Lemon, and Berry, as well as an unflavored version that can be mixed into other drinks or used as-is. My favorite is Orange, while my kids prefer Berry.
The mix can be purchased in single-use packets that yield two standard water bottles, a 1.5 lb package good for 25 servings, or a 3 lb, 50 serving size. It’s not a bad idea to start with the single packets in order to sample the different flavors, but I’m pretty sure that you will be buying it in bulk after that!
A 3-pack of the single use size will run you $10.50, while the 25 and 50 serving sizes are $25 and $35 respectively. (the 50 serving pack works out to $0.70 per serving, as opposed to $1.25 or so for traditional energy snacks and $0.90 – $1.50 for off-the-shelf elecrolyte drinks)
Head on over to tailwindnutrition.com and order some. You won’t be disappointed!
Thanks to Jennifer at Tailwind Endurance Fuels for providing samples and technical info!