A New Spin on Cola


BY LOREN MASON-GERE

It was an unseasonably hot spring day and my friend Dan and I had just finished up a hard 60-mile mountain bike race. Sweaty kits and dusty bikes piled in the back of the truck, we were ready to start a long drive home. As he got behind the wheel, Dan pulled out a can of Coke from his cooler. “A little black death will get us home safe and sound,” he laughed.

I couldn’t have been more surprised had he pulled a snake out of his lunchbox. Dan and I are both famously fastidious in our nutritional habits and had a largely shared approach—as well as shared tastes—for food. Suffice it to say, cans of Coke were not routinely seen in his hand.

Catching my look for surprise, he explained his rationale. “Coffee is too hot, too caffeinated, and doesn’t travel well in a cooler. A little sugar and caffeine gets me home without keeping me up all night. Not something I would normally drink, but it’s got everything I need to get me where I’m going!”

Given that it was Dan, not me, behind the wheel, I didn’t argue. I was whipped, and more than happy to zone out while he manned the wheel. If that meant he needed a can of toxic swill, so be it.

A couple hours into the drive, I was woken from my doze by his primal yell. Upright, he struggled to keep his attention on the freeway while battling an unrelenting cramp, and emitting an impressive string of profanity. “My hamstring is trying to kill me!” he finally mustered. Obviously, the Coke wasn’t everything he needed to get us home safe.

This experience immediately came to mind last spring when Hammer founder and CEO Brian Frank told me of his newest formulation idea—Cola Fizz. For anyone with a history in endurance sports, especially cycling or ultra-running, the presence of cola sodas is well known. Often opened in advance to flatten out and then taken late in races, the quick burst of sugar and caffeine has been used by many. But unfortunately, the blood sugar crash is just as severe, and if used over long periods of time, the corresponding stomach ache is all but inevitable. Add in an incredible ability to rot one’s teeth, and the myriad of other sugar-related side effects, and it’s not hard to make a case for steering clear. But traditions die hard, and the presence of “black death” at many events continues.

Thus, Brian’s desire to offer a healthful alternative was a characteristic home run hit. Now people could have a healthful alternative to the classic, keep their teeth, avoid the sugar crash, and end the day feeling good—all while also preventing cramps and improving hydration levels. Winner!

Admittedly, similar products have been attempted in the past; they’ve relied on artificial flavors and synthetic caffeine. Hammer’s approach was to create a truly healthful alternative—nothing artificial, and no synthetic caffeine. A few months later, we’d thoroughly tested the product and were set for release. The full-spectrum, balanced electrolyte formula—along with 20 mg of green tea-derived caffeine to provide a slight boost in energy and focus, naturally—makes Endurolytes the best seller that they are. Add in the classic cola taste, we have an instant hit; everything you want from the real thing, with none of the side effects.

As soon as the product arrived, I sent some off to my friend Dan. “Here ya go, buddy,” I wrote. “Not too hot or too caffeinated like coffee, but not toxic tooth-rotting swill like Coke. Best off, no freeway cramps!”

Cola Fizz has numerous applications. It’s a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, an easy solution for kicking the soda habit, and of course, an ideal component of any fueling system. You can deliciously supplement your electrolyte needs along with a modest and gradual dose of caffeine. And when the races are done and it’s time to get home, consider dropping one in your bottle. Get home awake, cramp-free, and thus alive.

Whether you’re tempted by sodas or not, I encourage you to give this delicious new product a try. It’s quickly become a staple in my fueling program and I now can join Dan in his drive-home ritual, guilt- and cramp-free.