Nothing like starting a review off with a confession right? Well I don't know if I am keen on testing food. And of course by food I mean solids, liquids, gasses and goos (plasmas?). Sure it sounds glamorous initially but think about it- taste is about as subjective as anything is going to get. This is why I call BS on restaurant critics as well. I have eaten at joints that were hyped endlessly only to find their ribs underdone and pie filling tasted like sawdust. Of course on the flip side we've all eaten at some greasy spoon with food that, like the International Space Station, is out of this world.
Well performance enhancing food is even harder than me trying to tell you whether or not this juicy angus burger with bacon is delectable (it is, by the way) because just like with taste buds, the way the human body processes chemicals can be quite unique. Take the veteran pot head versus the rookie marijuana toker and how.. oh never mind, you get the idea.
That said, you could imagine how delighted I was to discover that for this issue of Mountain Bike Tales, I'd be charged with the task of penning up a review for Cytomax Energy Drops. I don't know much about Cytomax and I'm never eager to replace the taste of junk food left in my pallet with fruity chemistry from small colored spheres but hey, I'm nothing if not loyal to the publication that converted me from a fringe rider (think cylecross) to an all out mountain biker.
Let's start at the beginning I suppose: taste. I don't know why but when I first received the packet, I was expecting something like a Luden's cough drop, cherry flavor. I was pleasantly surprised to discover these little pearls taste more like candy than they do medicine. In fact they kind of taste like "Dots"- you remember those? If not, think gumdrops but without that layer of sugar coating. Like with most performance enhancing supps, Cytomax offers a gamut of flavors to select from; your tropicals, berry, cherry, tangerine and so on.
So now that I've done the impossible and convinced you that these things are in fact delicious (unless you hate candy of course, in which case then these things are vile); let's talk about their performance enhancing abilities. After some research I discovered that Cytomax works by pumping you up with instant carbohydrates, which sound like trouble if you happen to be on Jenny Craig, but are in fact valuable to a body burning calories in great quantity. In other words, bring on the carbs during a hard workout to prevent bonking.
Cytomax uses what they call ACs in their products, which in addition to reminding us of air conditioning, stands for Advanced Carbohydrate System. The idea here is to check the front lower region of the pack while selecting yours from the display as each is labeled to reflect optimal consumption. Some work best as pre-ride fuel, others pre to during, others still during to post, and naturally you have those formulas designed to be eaten after in those moments where your breath could use something, anything, fruity.
Now here's the part where I'm supposed to tell you I pumped out an extra loop thanks to the energy boost, maximized my wattage output for you roadie-types, or lasted an extra 3.5 hours in bed post ride but the fact of the matter is I experienced no wild surges of energy (and thankfully, no crashes either). Instead, can state with absolute certainty that never once while consuming these little addicting gems during a ride did I bonk out. It's rare that I encounter a product that does exactly what it claims, but I have to confess that these things do seem to do everything advertised and at $2 a pack, they're not much more than a package of Dots.