Things I Like: Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

My first exposure to Skratch Labs’ Exercise Hydration Mix was a trial-by-fire affair. The temperature was 95 degrees, and I was about to begin my 12-mile evening commute. Perfect conditions to test a new hydration product, right? As it turned out, the Skratch Labs mix worked beautifully, and it quickly earned a place on my things-I-like list.

GRAVELBIKE.com Skratch Labs exercise hydration mix

Skratch Lab’s Exercise Hydration Mix has its roots in competitive cycling. Known previously as Secret Drink Mix, it was developed for professional racers who were tired of the bloating and stomach issues caused by regular sports drinks. The unique moniker came about because racers would secretly dump their sponsors’ drink mixes, and replace it with the Skratch Labs powder.

What makes the Exercise Hydration Mix different from other sports or electrolyte drinks? Fewer calories and more electrolytes, for one. The mix doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, and Skratch Labs uses only real fruit–not funky chemicals–for flavoring. The end result is a mix that tastes lighter and cleaner, and is less likely to induce bloating or other GI problems. While Exercise Hydration Mix does contain sugar (9g in an 8-ounce serving), it’s approximately 35% less than regular sports drinks.

GRAVELBIKE.com Skratch Labs exercise hydration mix

If you find yourself diluting sports drinks because the taste is too sweet, then you’ll be right at home with the refreshing, subtle flavor of Exercise Hydration Mix. With previous drink mixes, I found that I would tire of the flavor (and sweetness) as the miles stacked up. Eventually, my liquid intake would drop due to my taste buds’ protest, and I’d begin to suffer the nasty effects of insufficient hydration and electrolyte loss. After switching to Skratch Labs’ mix, however, that’s a thing of the past.

Exercise Hydration Mix gets props because it does exactly what it claims to do. When I drink Skratch Labs, I feel better during and after my rides. My mind is sharper, and at the same time, I’m more relaxed on the bike. Best of all, though, is that I can ride longer and farther when I use Exercise Hydration Mix. Anything that can do that definitely deserves a spot on my things-I-like list.

Skratch Labs’ products are available from select retailers, or directly from the company.

Things I Like: Ritchey Logic Curve Handlebars

I am a creature of habit.  When I find something I like, I tend to stick with it.  It’s that way with saddles, pedals, and drop-style handlebars.  When it comes to the latter, my bar-of-choice is the Ritchey Logic Curve model.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Ritchey Logic Classic Curve Campagnolo Ergopower Centaur Salsa Vaya Jagwire

Ritchey’s Logic Curve bars feature a short reach (73mm) and shallow drop (128mm).  I’ve used 2nd- and 3rd-generation Campagnolo Ergopower levers with the Logic Curve bars, and when set up with the ramps flat, the transition to and from the hoods is pretty much seamless.  Moving to the drops is easy thanks to the double-radius profile.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Ritchey Logic Comp Curve Campagnolo Ergopower Centaur Black Mountain Cycles Jagwire

Ritchey offers the Logic Curve in several models and finishes.  All feature a 31.8mm center section, and no-slip grit at the stem and brake lever mounting surfaces.  Widths range from 38cm to 44cm (measured center/center at the levers).  While some riders may bemoan the lack of cable grooves, I find that it allows for more freedom when positioning the levers and routing the cables.

My Classic Logic Curve bars have been in service for three years, and not once have they slipped or creaked.  Despite swapping my Comp Logic Curve bars between between several bikes and stems, they’re as secure and silent as the first time I installed them.  Both pairs bars have seen lots of bumpy, off-road miles, and I’ve been unable to detect any unwanted flex.

If you’re looking for a versatile, short-and-shallow drop bar that’s also comfortable in the drops, do yourself a favor and check out Ritchey Logic Curve line of handlebars.

Update: Shimano Dura-Ace Bottom Bracket Review

Last May, I posted a one-year review of Shimano’s Dura-Ace SM-BB7900 bottom bracket.  Since then, that original bottom bracket has accumulated an additional 2500-3000 miles.  It’s been ridden in rain and snow, and seen plenty of hard, off-pavement use.  And just like the previous twelve months, I employed a maintenance program that basically amounted to complete and utter neglect.

Eventually, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to check the bottom bracket’s seals and bearings.  Pulling the Vaya’s cranks revealed very little dirt on the external seals (and no uneven wear patterns).  After a quick wipe-down, I checked the bearings for signs of play or roughness.  To my amazement, I wasn’t able to detect any indication that dirt or water had infiltrated either bearing.  By contrast, a comparably priced external bottom bracket from another company became contaminated by water and dirt (and was devoid of lube) in ten months and less than 1000 miles of use.

If my original Dura-Ace bottom bracket lasts another year, it will have cost me just under $1 per-month.  And based on the past two years’ performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if it kept going for at least another couple of years.