• Rolla Granola Review

    Rolla Granola was created after a trip to America where the Longden family tried some granola. They loved it and after returning to the UK, they couldn't find any products that were close to what they tried in the States. So in 2014, Robin Longden decided to create his own granola range. 3 years later, their range of granola now includes sugar-free, gluten-free, and paleo options.

    There are currently 16 flavours available at the Rolla Granola Store:

    • It's all about the nuts (Wheat free with nuts, seeds and oats.)
    • Neanderthal nibbles (Vegan & Paleo friendly with sweet potato, cashew and pine nuts)
    • Caveman bite (Vegan & Paleo friendly with raspberry, almond and black pepper)
    • Berry low (Wheat free & Low sugar with pistachio, raspberry and almond)
    • Cashew craze (Vegan Friendly with cashew, macadamia and oats)
    • Energise (Wheat free with macadamia, pistachio and oats)
    • Revive (Wheat free with pistachio, chocolate and oats)
    • Cavemans dream (Gluten free apple, cashew and cinnamon)
    • Zesty caveman (Vegan Friendly & Gluten free with pecan, maple and apple)
    • Skinny walnut (Vegan Friendly & Wheat free with walnut, apricot and hazelnut)
    • Cool raspberry (Vegan Friendly & Gluten free with raspberry and macadamia)
    • Diabetic & Delicious (Wheat free with pistachio, almond and berry)
    • Nuts for chocolate (Vegan Friendly & Wheat free with cashew, raisin and chocolate)
    • Hot raspberry raw (Vegan Friendly & Gluten free with raspberry, macadamia and chili)
    • Pecan and maple twist (Wheat free with pecan, maple and apple)
    • Healthy Hazelnut (Vegan Friendly & Wheat free with hazelnut, date and almond)
    • Awesome Almond (Vegan Friendly & Wheat free with almond, date and cashew)

    My favourite flavour was the Revive multi pack. The multi pack contains twelve 80g packs of the same Revive flavour. Each pack contains 20g of protein, just over 12g of sugar, and just over 18g of fat. Each pack is vegetarian-friendly and contains anti-oxidants which are good for your heart and may also lower your chance of getting some infections and cancer.

    Rolla Granola is a great brand which has granola suitable for everyone, starting from £5. Check out all their flavours here. Rolla Granola is also available from SimplyFresh, sourcedbox, Budgens, and Patridges.

    Review written by Matt Sladden.

    Posted by Guest Reviewer
  • Garmin Edge 1030 Review

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

    The Garmin Edge 1030 is the latest bike computer release by Garmin and offers new features which are very exciting to dedicated cyclists who have been wanting more from their Edge 1000 or 820. This review will look into the device in detail, offering perspective if you're looking to buy a bike computer for the first time or if you're wondering whether it's worth upgrading your current model.

    The first part of this review will be for the benefit of those who have never used a bike computer before and will spend more time covering the basics of the device. If you are already well versed in Garmin's products and just want to know how it differs from your current device, jump to the next section.

    What are the benefits of using a bike computer?

    If you're thinking of buying a bike computer, you're probably already a fairly competent cyclist, or perhaps you've only just got into the sport but have excelled at it quickly. Chances are you already have an activity tracker, fitness tracker, or smart watch as well and track your rides with that. Having a bike computer gives you more metrics and can also be used for navigation which will prove vital when cycling away from home.

    You'll be able to see the gradient of the hill you're climbing in real time and also how many metres to the top which can be motivational if you're struggling.

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

    You can create courses on Garmin Connect and send them to your bike computer which takes the stress out of navigating while cycling and can also spark more creativity for taking new routes rather than just always following the same old roads.

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer Review Sundried

    When paired with other devices such as a chest strap heart rate monitor and power meter pedals, you'll be able to get a whole world of advanced metrics including average power, FTP, and VO2 max.

    What's in the box?

    When you buy your Garmin Edge 1030 bike computer, the main component you need is the device itself. You also get a charger cable which is USB so can plug into your computer/laptop and into a charging port. You also get the bracket and mount that the device sits on which screws on to your handlebars very easily. I did have to remove my bell for it to fit though so if you already have a busy set up with bells and reflectors etc you may have to make some sacrifices. There is also a user manual, but who reads that in reality?

    Setting up your new bike computer

    Even if you're not a techno-whizz, it should be fairly straight forward to set up your device. You will need a Garmin Connect account, but if you've made it this far it's probably safe to assume you already have one. You'll need to pair your phone which is done very easily by following on-screen instructions and is done with Bluetooth. If you want to send courses to your device, you'll also need to set up Garmin Express which is also done by following simple on-screen instructions from your computer or laptop. Once your route is sent to your device, you'll be able to follow it on your ride without any additional devices or sensors/accessories.

    Connect IQ is like the app store for Garmin devices. Anyone can create an app for it, in fact there's over 1,000 online now. You can download apps, widgets, clock faces and more to customise your device. 

    Is it worth replacing my current bike computer with the Edge 1030?

    The Edge 1030 has some really nifty new features which will come as a relief to those who use their bike computer a lot. There will always be features that a device doesn't have that you wish it did, and some of your prayers have been answered with this release.

    Enhanced Group Track and Live Track

    This is probably the most exciting new feature from the Edge 1030. A lot of cyclists find it a pain having to constantly stop to get out their phone to answer a call, or likewise having to stop if someone else on the ride needs to stop to get their phone out. With the Edge 1030 and enhanced Live Track, you can now respond to calls and texts with pre-canned messages. So if your partner texts, you can send a quick response of 'I'm nearly home' or reply to a call from the office saying 'Can't talk now, I'm riding.' 

    Garmin Live Track Group Message Text Call

    The other exciting new feature is enhanced Group Track. If you're connected to your buddies on Garmin Connect, you can tell the others in your ride that you've punctured without having to get your phone out. The message will only be sent within your group and will allow you to quickly and efficiently send a message out.

    Create Courses

    On the Navigation screen, you can drop pins and create a course wherever you are. Although this gives a lot of freedom, the accuracy can be a little off and I found that on a 35-mile route I created, there was 1-mile worth of extra little loops that my device had added in by a slip of the finger or just of its own accord. For instance, my Edge 1030 wanted me to turn right into a station car park and then come straight back out again instead of just cycling past. 

    Trendline Popularity Routing

    The final and most exciting feature of this release is new popularity routing. There are thousands of Garmin users all over the world creating routes and cycling their favourite trails and time trials. The experts at Garmin have taken this feature and put it to use on your device. New Trendline popularity routing uses billions of miles of ride data from Garmin Connect to provide riders with the best road, mountain or gravel routes that are collected from those most travelled by fellow cyclists. Using the improved and revamped Course Creator in Garmin Connect allows cyclists to generate even more bike-friendly routes based on popularity data.

    You can add which way you want to go (ie I want to go into the mountains or not). Popularity routing uses activity from other riders so you can use the best routes that other riders use, so when creating a course your device will send you the way that other cyclists go so you'll have a better route. This also means you can easily find local club rides. 

    Improved Features

    These are the features that you already find on other devices but have been improved for this release. 

    The Edge 1030 shows your training load, fitness, stress etc. visually rather than just metrically. For the Edge 1000, this was buried within a few different menus meaning it was a pain to find, but that's not the case for the 1030 because Garmin understand that people want to see these stats quickly before they ride. You can use your wrist-based heart rate monitor in broadcast mode to get enhanced data, but for stats like FTP you'll need a chest strap, which gives you more accuracy and data anyway. 

    Swipe down for more menus like on a smart phone. These are general device settings rather than user-profile specific, like battery life etc. From here, swipe across for text and call alerts and controls, weather etc. With everything on (GPS, data etc), the battery will last around 20 hours, making it more than capable at lasting for even the longest of rides.

    The pause/stop button has moved from the front of the screen to the bottom to make more space for a bigger screen. What I personally found was that this made it very fiddly and tricky to hit, for example while pausing at a half-way stop on a long ride. On the Edge 1000 the pause button is on the front which I think is a lot more user-friendly. 

    Verdict

    The Garmin Edge 1030 is a top-of-the-line bike computer and for good reason. The experts at Garmin live by their sport and test the devices to get the most for their users. This shows in the intricacy and innovation found in this device. Features that cyclists both amateur and elite will have been waiting for are finally here, meaning your ride can be more accurate and seamless than ever. I'd say it's worth upgrading your current device if you use a bike computer often and especially if you do a lot of long rides with a club or group. If you are a very casual rider, you'll probably be okay with an older model or even just with the basic stats given by a GPS tracking watch. 

    You can buy the Garmin Edge 1030 for £499.99 from the Garmin website or other retailers like Evans Cycles or Rutland Cycling. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Precision Hydration Sweat Testing and Sports Hydration Review

    Hydration Salt Sodium Water

    Precision Hydration is a hydration brand that specialises in sweat testing and sports hydration for serious athletes. It was founded in 2011 by Andy Blow, a keen triathlete, Ironman, and Sports Science graduate. He co-founded the brand with heart surgeon Dr Raj Jutley after meeting him at a sporting event and discovering that his poor sporting performance was mostly down to poor hydration and salt loss. Together they developed the concept of Precision Hydration and now have a strong team behind them.

    Personalised Hydration

    Precision Hydration has provided sports hydration to top class athletes so I was excited to try out their products and see what they had to offer. I took their free online sweat test to see how much sodium I lose when I sweat and they sent me a personalised package based on my results. This is what they do for all their customers as standard which is part of their USP, as Andy and Raj have researched how important it is to consider that different people lose different amounts of sodium when they sweat.

    The results of my sweat test told me that I lose quite a lot of sodium when I sweat, which didn't come as a surprise as I've had large salt crystals form on my neck after a race before! The key things to look out for are stinging eyes when you sweat and white marks on your clothes, these are indicators that you lose a lot of sodium when you sweat. PH sent me 3 boxes of salt sachets, one of their PH 1500 and 2 of the PH 1000 packets. The PH 1500 is the highest they send and was for me to preload before a big race or event. I tested out the products during two big events - the Garmin Ride Out which is a 50-mile advanced bike ride and the Kent Coastal Half Marathon which I did two days later. Both of these events were super tough and I sweated a lot so it was a great chance to test out the hydration support. 

    Water bottle salt supplement hydration racing

    Taste

    In the past, I've taken sodium supplements after ultra endurance events, but only the standard Diarolyte and I had to down it while holding my nose and trying not to gag. Precision Hydration has flavoured the supplements nicely so that it's not a horrendous chore trying to down it before the event. When mixed with 500ml of water (or perhaps more if you'd like it a little weaker) this supplement isn't too bad at all.

    Precision Hydration Sports Supplements

    Performance Benefits

    The PH 1500 sachet is three times stronger than other electrolyte drinks so you know you're getting proper performance benefits and this is more serious than a drink of Lucozade, for example. One of the biggest benefits that Precision Hydration boast is that their supplements can help prevent you getting cramps while you're training and racing. This is obviously a huge benefit, especially when you're trying to perform at your best. It's fast-absorbing and easy on the stomach so you don't feel any negative side effects after taking it. 

    The PH 1000 is designed to be taken with water while you're racing and training to keep your salt levels topped up and to keep you extra hydrated. If you just keep drinking water while you sweat, you'll end up diluting your blood sodium levels and will end up with severe cramping and terrible performance. It could also make you rather ill, so it's definitely worth keeping your electrolytes topped up while you sweat. 

    Products Hydration Sports Water Salt Racing

    Beyond The Products

    Precision Hydration is a really special brand in that they live and breathe their ethos. All the staff behind the products are serious athletes who have undertaken incredible challenges and achieved amazing results. Being co-founded by an Ironman athlete and a heart surgeon means this brand couldn't really go wrong and has a lot of potential to grow and expand into a huge global brand. Using personal experience to create useful products is paramount for success and that's exactly what PH has done. Their tailored advice and hydration solutions are top class and means that their customers really are receiving the best. 

    Take their free sweat test and see for yourself why Precision Hydration is your best option for sports hydration.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • l'Etape du Tour Review

    Tour Du France l'Etape Du Tour Cycling Race Athletes

    l'Étape du Tour is an opportunity for amateur cyclists to ride the same route segments as the pros on the Tour De France and is a fantastic event.

    My ride profile looked like this for the entire event:

    Distance

    4,401.0 km

    Time

    162h 46m

    Elev Gain

    38,572 m

    Rides

    153

     

    Like most people in the UK, I find the hardest thing to train for are long, sustained climbs as they just do not exist in the south of England. Cycling up and down your local hills is great, but they are not as long and you miss out on that constant pressure of a long uphill climb. If you have not cycled up a mountain before, then imagine alternate one-legged squats for an hour. That is very close to how it feels!

    l'Étape du Tour Elevation

    If nothing else, completing this year’s Étape has given me a new level of respect for the pros out there. Not only are they racing the stages and powering up the climbs, they do it for over 3 weeks in a row.

    Cycling The Étape

    Like the previous year, when I set off I rode fast and hard, but this year this stage was straight into a mountain and so I managed to put down my biggest ever sustained Watts for 20 minutes. So it that the best strategy? Ride the hardest you ever have straight out the gate? Probably not, but it felt great overtaking so many riders, especially as I was in the second pen that set-off that day. Riders are put in groups of about 1000 and typically the lower number pens are for riders who have previously proved themselves. So there I am thinking, "well this is great. Look how fast I am.” 

    At the top of that first mountain, there were people there clapping and cheering in true French style. Then it was time for a descent. When it comes to descending you can certainly say I’m an amateur. I did see a few accidents on the way downhill, but it’s mostly people being careless, and I made sure to be courteous and careful while cycling down the mountain. The downhill was manageable and mostly very fun and leads right into the flat section of the course.

    Tour De France L'Étape Du Tour Review Cycling

    Col de Glandon was an epic mountain by all proportions. It went on, and on, and on. No thought about racing up this, and every few minutes I was checking to see if there were any more cogs left that I could drop down to. Unfortunately, no more easy gears are left. I found myself running low on water and because of that I took the opportunity to stop 5 or 10km from the peak for a quick water refill. The food and drink stations are fine; not too overcrowded, the drinking water was not too hot, and there was plenty of food to go round. Some of the riders who started near the back said that there were so many people queuing it took quite a while to get drinks; I guess that is the benefit starting nearer the front. For my quick drink refill I didn’t even get off the bike; there is plenty of staff to help give you water and various other energy-based gels and drinks.

    At the top of the mountain there were so many people clapping and cheering, but I really did feel that if the race had ended at this point I would have been very happy for it to end there.

    The ride went on, the temperature picked up, and it got hotter and hotter. But this is where a Sportif in the United Kingdom and one in France differ. The spectators are amazing, and you will find people getting bottles of river water to throw over your back, non-official drink stations with lines of people handing out ice cold water, and kids singing and dancing with big clapping hands. 

    The last 10 km of this ride was the toughest riding I have ever done. The temperature, the tired legs, and the pure amount of altitude covered. But it levels off for the last few kilometres and it was great to have a sprint finish. Through the finish line there are people there to hand out medals, give you your finish T-shirt, and then it’s time for the pasta party. 

    I’m sure many times during that day I was telling myself never again; it really is a tough challenge. But once you get back to the UK and everyone is exchanging their war stories you find yourself keeping an eye on the official website for next year's tour. I would definitely recommend signing up for this event, but if you do, train hard!

    This is a very well-run event with plenty of marshals, plenty of support, more food and drink stations than you’ll need and everyone will end up with their own story to tell.

    Top Tips To Survive l'Étape du Tour

    • Do not underestimate this event. If you are a weekend warrior and haven’t been training in the week it is going to be tough.
    • Psychologically carrying any extra weight will play mind games with you, but don’t empty your water bottle out too early
    • Try to get accommodation close to the start but even better near the finish.
    • Pay attention to the weather, prepare yourself with appropriate apparel, but also be prepared for it to be the exact opposite of what you expect.

    Posted by Daniel Puddick
  • Fuelling Adventure: Mule Bar Energy Bars Review

    MuleBar Fuel For Adventure Energy Bars Review Sundried

    Mule Bars are produced by Fuel For Adventure Ltd which was created by Alex Smith and Jimmy Docherty back in 2002. Fuel For Adventure retail camping and adventure supplies while Mule Bars are the perfect energy snack for those heading out on their next daring experience.

    Alex and Jimmy were scaling the heights of the Andes mountains when they were shocked by gastric issues. They realised that there was a lack of energy bars on the market which were made from 100% natural ingredients but still tasted amazing. That's when the Mule Bar was born! I got the chance to review lots of their lovely flavours and test them out while on my own adventures.

    Chocolate Orange Mulebar Energy Bar

    Folkestone - Dover Coastal Walk

    This is a 15-mile out-and-back trek along the beautiful southern coast of the UK and the perfect opportunity to try out a Mule Bar and see how it fared for energy, taste, and healthiness. I fuelled this walk with the Chocolate Orange flavour bar which was delicious! The texture is sticky and dense, but it's not so sweet as to give you a sore mouth. The chocolate orange flavour isn't overpowering but is still there enough to make it super tasty. There is roughly 15g of sugar in this bar which means it is not overly unhealthy and will give you a great boost of energy after a tough outing. 

    Liquorice Coconut Mulebar Energy Bar

    Bearbrook 10k

    I ran a 10k race in the beautiful countryside of Aylesbury and used the liquorice and coconut flavour Mule Bar to refuel afterwards. Each Mule Bar has a breakdown of the actual flavours and then a fun nickname, with this one being called Liquorice Allsports flavour. This bar has a delicious liquorice taste which is not too overpowering as well as a great texture from the coconut. The little pieces of liquorice inside were also a very nice surprise!

    Apple Strudel Cinnamon Raisin Mulebar

    Cycling the Camel Trail, Cornwall

    The Camel Trail is an 18-mile cycling trail which follows a disused railway line through the heart of Cornwall. I fuelled for this adventure with the apple raisin and cinnamon Mule Bar. This bar is nicknamed Apple Strudel and was launched in homage to the great Austrian pastry. This bar has a sweet and satisfying flavour with an amazing texture from the apple pieces and the raisins and a subtle cinnamon flavour. Gooey and delicious just like its namesake!

    Lemon Zinger Ginger Mulebar Energy bars

    Kent Coastal Half Marathon

    I fuelled for this half marathon with the Lemon Zinger Mule Bar. I was pretty excited to try this one as I was feeling quite drained after the race and the bright, attractive packaging and fun name gave me a good boost! This bar has a really authentic lemon flavour which has not been over-sweetened. The taste of ginger was light in the background and not too overpowering which it can sometimes be. Great texture with lots of rice crisps to keep it exciting. The sharp, tangy lemon flavour is great to bring you back to life after a tough adventure or draining race and it tasted fantastic!

    Verdict

    Mule Bars are made from natural ingredients and the nutritional value for each bar is surprisingly good considering they do not claim to be high protein or low sugar. The flavours are really fun and keep things interesting; I love that Alex and Jimmy have put so much thought into this brand! It's the perfect snack to have for any event you have coming up and their range also includes energy gels and smaller bars for on-the-go energy. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren