Over the years, I’ve put all manner of substances into my body to fuel a ride. Bananas, Eccles cakes and flap-jacks, muesli bars and Nutella sandwiches, powders, potions, and gels. Lots of gels. I’ve had my fill of gels.
But never ginger.
My longer rides recently have been powered by Active Root, purveyors of all-natural ginger-based energy products, who very kindly sent me one of their taster packs to try. I’ve criss-crossed Emilia Romagna in Italy, completed the Fred Whitton Challenge, and looped my home roads, on the strength of this fabled root.
The ginger is there to prevent stomach issues; essentially relaxing the muscles in the gut and helping to reduce bloating, nausea, and general stomach discomfort.
The carbs comes via cane sugar sucrose.
The people at Active Root suggest this this is a slower releasing carb source than, say, maltodextrin or glucose. Being made up of two sugars with different absorption rates, glucose and fructose, apparently make it easier for the small intestine to absorb.
Slow release, of course, means a steady delivery of energy rather than a spike followed by a crash. It’s why we (should) eat porridge for breakfast instead of Sugar Puffs.
Not being a scientist – just a dumb cyclist – I will take Active Root’s word for the science and focus instead on how it tasted, and how I felt on the bike.
Riding “The Fred” I placed a great deal of faith in Active Root and the effectiveness of their energy. Eighty miles into a one-hundred-and-fourteen mile ride with four-thousand metres of vertical climbing is not the place to discover you don’t get on with ginger-based energy products.
But eighty miles, as it happens, on that gloriously sunny May day, was the point when I recall thinking to myself: well bugger me…I feel great!
I felt light and nimble, and slightly implausibly full of energy. I can’t, of course, put this entirely down to Active Root. It could be that I’d got several months of training just right; that the massive plate of macaroni cheese the night before was kicking in; that my hydration levels were optimum.
I might even have had a tailwind.
Whatever. We can say for sure that if my on-bike energy source wasn’t working I wouldn’t, at eighty miles, be feeling good.
Not only was I bursting with energy my stomach felt settled and happy – no nausea, or worse – and I was rather enjoying the gingery taste in my mouth; like a very mild ginger beer without the fizz.
As anyone who has ridden the Fred will tell you, from ninety miles onwards you have to tackle the passes of Hardknott and Wrynose. It is difficult to do anything other than suffer like a dog at this point. Mile eighty was the physical high point.
But I got up them, and I got round the Fred, powered by ginger.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that the chaps at Active Root are a small business doing something different, creative, and natural.
I have an instinctive suspicion of big corporations spewing out science off the back of a hefty marketing budget; especially in a multi-billion dollar industry like sports nutrition. I’m not saying the likes of SIS or Etixx are bad people, necessarily, but given the choice I’ll always choose, and trust, the underdog.
Active Root feels like good, clean energy, and it works for me.