First Impressions: Skratch Labs Matcha + Lemons Exercise Hydration Mix

If you’re a regular reader of GRAVELBIKE, you know that I’m a big fan of Skratch Labs’ Exercise Hydration Mix. I became so enamored of the product that it earned a spot in my Things I Like series of articles. When Boulder-based Skratch Labs introduced their new Matcha + Lemons flavor, I jumped at the chance to try the company’s latest addition.

Skratch Matcha+Lemons

Image courtesy of Skratch Labs

As with the other Exercise Hydration Mix flavors, Skratch Labs’ Matcha + Lemon is lower in sugar and higher in electrolytes than typical sports drinks. Unlike those other flavors, however, Matcha + Lemons contains caffeine (albeit naturally occurring). Additionally, the matcha green tea provides phytonutrients and the amino acid L-theanine. Because the entire leaf is used, matcha green tea offers higher concentrations of antioxidants compared to traditional green teas.

OK, it’s good for you, but how does it taste? It tastes good. Really good. Neither the green tea or the lemons are overpowering. The flavor is distinctive, but at the same time, it’s subtle. Whether you take a small sip or big gulp, there’s no annoying aftertaste. In a word, it tastes clean (probably because it’s made with real food and not chemicals). Even my wife–who is not typically fond of sports drinks–declared the thirst-quenching flavor to be extremely pleasing.

In use, I found the Matcha + Lemons formula to be a tasty complement to Skratch Labs’s other Hydration Mix flavors. I never experienced any gastrointestinal issues, and didn’t tire of the new flavor on longer rides (even after ice cubes had long since melted). Although the Matcha + Lemons mix does contain caffeine (approximately 16 mg per 16 oz serving), it wasn’t enough to make me jittery or cause other unwanted side effects.

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix is available in single-serving packs or resealable one-pound bags. In addition to the Matcha + Limes flavor, the mix is offered in Lemons + Limes, Raspberries, Oranges, Pineapples, and Apples + Cinnamon. All flavors use only real fruit, and contain no artificial colors or preservatives.

Disclosure: Skratch Labs provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

Things I Like: WTB Pure V Saddle

I am an unabashed fan of Selle Anatomica’s saddles. Three of my bikes are fitted with the company’s tensioned-leather saddles. That fourth bike–a rigid 29er–is ridden on much rougher terrain than its stablemates. For technical, off-road riding, my saddle-of-choice is Wilderness Trail Bikes’ (WTB) Pure V Team model.

What makes the Pure V such a capable off-road saddle is that it successfully blends comfort with unobtrusiveness. Measuring 148mm at its widest point, the Pure V is wide enough to offer plenty of comfort, but it’s not so wide that you can’t slide past the side for ultra-steep descents. The saddle’s relatively flat profile (side-to-side) helps support your sit bones, and the center depression (aka, Love Channel) provides soft-tissue relief without negatively impacting the saddle’s structural integrity).

One of the author’s personal WTB Pure V Team saddles. Nearly eight years old, and still in service.

Make no mistake, the Pure V saddle is not just about comfort. Combine the Flex-Tuned shell with the unique fore/aft profile, and the result is an effective platform for climbing or hammering the flats. On long, grinder-style climbs you can push against the raised whale-tail for a little extra leverage. When you’re struggling to keep the front wheel planted on those ultra-steep pitches, the drop nose makes it easy to shift your weight forward without feeling like you’re being skewered.

Over the years, I’ve owned several Pure V Team saddles. The oldest one (pictured above) is close to eight years old. It’s been transferred from bike-to-bike more times than I can remember, and yet, it’s still going strong. The cover and stitching are starting to show their age, but it’s been a part of so many adventures that I simply cannot bring myself to retire the damn thing. At $130 MSRP, it’s more than paid for itself in fun and memories.

Things I Like: Thomson Stems & Seatposts

While it may sound like a cliche, the best components are the ones that you don’t notice. These components are not unremarkable because they don’t meet our expectations, but rather, they excel because they outperform lesser parts that require frequent adjustment and maintenance. For me, nothing epitomizes set-and-forget status like Thomson‘s stems and seatposts.

Stems and seatposts may lack the sex appeal of 11-speed drivetrains or aero wheels, but they’re essential pieces of the bike-fitting puzzle. Many of Thomson’s competitors offer only a handful of sizes. Not Thomson, though. Need a 25.4mm seatpost? They’ve got you covered. With stems that range from 50mm to 130mm in length, chances are there’s one that’s right for your particular setup.

Other companies may offer a similar range of stem lengths and seatpost sizes, but few–if any–can match the reliability and performance of the Georgia-based company’s products. Thomson’s stems and seatposts don’t slip, are easy to adjust, and remain silent without the aid of anti-slip goop or cheater bars. While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, Thomson has elevated the industrial aesthetic to high art. If the monochromatic thing isn’t your style, you can add some bling to your X4 stem with the company’s Dress Up Kit.

Because I spend a significant amount of time evaluating and reviewing components, I place a very high value on parts that don’t require any additional babysitting. Thomson’s stems and seatposts are two items that I can count on to be trouble-free, freeing up more time for enjoying the ride.