The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate the gift of cyclocross, and what better way to whoop it up than to share some ’cross love with others? Our editors have reviewed, tested and hand-picked a plethora of last-minute gift suggestions. Today we bring you an array of nutrition products we’ve reviewed that might just be perfect for you or the cyclocrosser in your life.
Fuel up! Ever since the season started, we’ve been munching and snacking like it’s already the holidays. One popular item for snacking and trail rides has been Clif Bar’s new Crunch granola bars. They have a familiar size and texture, not unlike the Nature Valley bars we grew up on, but new flavors like Chocolate Peanut Butter, Blueberry Crisp and Chocolate White Macadamia make these 70-percent-organic bars an endangered item around deadline time (which is every day). $3.49 for a box of five. More info: www.clifbar.com
Honey Stinger’s new Lance Armstrong-inspired Stinger Waffle is a $1.39, 160-calorie snack that provides carb and fat calories in an organic, easy to bite shape. Flavors include vanilla, honey and strawberry, and they will make any cyclocrosser feel a bit more Belgian when the weather turns crappy and hibernation instincts kick in. The one bummer? They’re not crispy like the fresh waffles we’ve come to love. More info: www.honeystinger.com
Does your cyclocrosser have a Belgian obsession? The athletic chocolate lover in your life will find Chocolate #9’s Belgian-chocolate-based energy gel to-die-for. Sweetened with organic agave syrup and boasting a lower glycemic index that’s more accommodating of diabetics, the gel tastes like a thin chocolate pudding. The holidays and chocolate go hand-in-hand, and we’ve often got this gel in hand before a race or during a ride. More info: www.chocolateenergygel.com
Rather stuff someone’s stockings (and mouth) with real food? Mariani Packing Company’s Honey Bars ($1.29) are filled with fruits, nuts and grains for a sweet, whole-food-based bar with a mix of carbs, protein and fat. Flavors include Granola, Cranberry, Trail Mix and – our favorite – Sesame. They’re not exactly pre-race energy bars, but a nice option for a quick snack during the day or during a ride. More info: www.mariani.com
After so much snacking, a cyclocrosser has got to hydrate, but probably feels guilty from so much snacking (or product testing). Thankfully Ultima Replenisher has a low-calorie, zero sugar, Stevia-sweetened drink mix that packs vitamins and electrolytes without artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors in just 15 calories. It’s enjoyable hot or cold, and nice as a daily supplement or pre-race beverage. It comes in single-serving packets or 30 or 90 serving canisters. It’s the perfect type of drink to have around if you’re not a big water drinker and need to stay hydrated, but want to avoid sugar-heavy sodas or energy drinks. We’re fans. More info: www.ultimareplenisher.com
Call it “The 12 days of Crossmas,” “The Festival of Cyclokkah” … or something similarly themed surrounding Kwanza, Saturnalia, Festivus (or your favorite winter holiday of choice) that we’re not witty enough to make sound cyclocross-related, but the gear-heads at Cyclocross Magazine have been busy digging through piles of bike stuff to bring you some great gift ideas. Most recommendations are at the stocking-stuffer-end of the spectrum, so we won’t take away from your entry-fee piggy bank. The one gift that keeps on giving, of course, is a subscription to Cyclocross Magazine! Stay tuned for plenty of gift ideas and product reviews between now and the end of the year. Some of these last-minute gift ideas also appear in Issue 15.