Ah. It’s September again. Nearly the several year anniversary (we don’t need to go into how long it’s been) of my first open water swim triathlon in Pacific Grove. Let’s just say that first year didn’t go so well–especially for the lady who wrapped her arms around my wetsuit clad leg, terrified, and begged me to swim her through the kelp and back to shore. Panic spread, and both of us paused our swim for a little R&R on the lifeguard’s surfboard.
Of course, if you want to read about how to stop panic in your open water swim, we’ve got that for you. But if you’re less concerned with that and more concerned with sharks, you’ll dig the stuff we’ve got for you here. Just in time for the Scott Tinley’s Triathlon, or the famed Morro Bay Tri, we’ve got a few things that’ll make your open water swim just a bit less terrifying, flat fixing that’s easy to carry, and tri suits that will make you look good and go fast.
X-LAB’s Gear Box Kit Review
What’s Included: Multi-tool with 10 tools (2mm, 2½mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm open wrench, T25 torx, flat screwdriver, all wrapped in a protective silicone band); Speed Chuck CO2 Inflator with 2 Air Strike CO2 Cartridges; Patch Kit; 2 Tire Levers
Size/Capacity: 5.25″ high with 25.8 cubic inches of storage space
Weight: 449 grams fully loaded and 64 grams empty (according to our scales)
More info at X-Lab’s Site | Buy it at your LBS or online at places like Chain Reaction Cycles
Why We Like It
A totally silent, totally easy way to make sure you’ve got everything you need to repair a puncture and re-inflate your tire all in one neat package. Pop this into one of your bottle cages (on your frame or behind your seat, if you’re into that), and go. It’s super sturdy and I never had a problem with it ejecting or even rattling around. The carbon-look finish not only has style, but is textured so that the pod stays put in the cage. Inside, the padding makes certain you don’t hear the contents shifting around (in case they actually do move).
One of my favorite bits here is the mini multi-tool with a clip-on style open wrench–it’s magnetic, and just a little extra awesome. Plus, the space inside lets you squeeze a tube and full kit in much easier than in a small saddlebag–not to mention the install is much faster and the tools much easier to get to.
The patch kit and giant levers might not be the style for everyone here, especially if you’re not in to glueless patch kits (but we have a guide to going glueless here). But a quick swap with your favorite set does the trick nicely. You can, however, buy just the Gear Box without the tools or flat kit.
Grab your own at your LBS or online at places like Chain Reaction Cycles
Colors: Azure, Seafoam, Slate
Available directly from Sharkbanz via Amazon.com
Worried about what might be brushing past your feet in that blurry water of your next open water swim? Oh boy, we love SharkBanz. A simple band you wear on your hand or ankle, the magnetic construction basically yells at sharks to back off. OK, not really. I have no clue how it works, but I feel like it works, and the videos put out by the folks at Sharkbanz have done plenty of testing:
So while I have tested this product while swimming, I can’t tell you whether or not it actually works because the water around here is definitely not as clear as the water in the Bahamas. However, I have yet to be bitten while wearing the Sharkbanz. Let’s hope that streak continues.
Either way, the peace of mind this thing offers can definitely give you an edge during your next Open Water Swim. Not worrying about what could be waiting to strike at you is a major boost–letting you focus on your form in the water rather than what’s eyeing your form from below. Although this band apparently doesn’t work on Great Whites (bummer, right?), it does work on other sharks, which are actually much more likely to attack you. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Actually, don’t look it up. Yikes.
While the device is a little bulky on my small wrist, it’s quite minimal at the ankle. Definitely not as heavy as I thought it would be (think wrist watch weight). The band itself is rather long, so it will fit on all sizes. As such you might want to cut off the excess to keep it from adding extra drag.
Overall, let me just say that I love the Sharkbanz. I considered buying four . . . for each one of my limbs.
Grab more info at the Sharkbanz website or buy your own at Amazon
Pearl Izumi Pursuit Tri Suits
Women’s Elite Pursuit Tri Suit
How do you want to look on race day? Or every training day for that matter? This Pearl Izumi makes you look and act generally awesome. As one who has struggled to find a great fitting tri suit–all that muscle has to go somewhere–I’ve finally found my perfect match.
The Elite Pursuit has just the right amount of compression exactly where you need it. At first, I though the size medium was way too tight (it’s those muscular hips), and pulling it up was a struggle. But I realized once I fitted it over my shoulders and zipper it up that the tightness was due to a supremely fitted upper. The panel (shown in purple at left) gives you a super sleek and aero side to slice through both water and air. In fact, dimpled fabric not only smoothes out your midsection, but it also adds those important aerodynamic properties of much, much more expensive tri suits.
Top all of this off with a front zip close, and balanced styling and you’ve got a great tri suit. But Pearl Izumi has one more bonus for the ladies: a matching sports bra with maximum support. A 9″ inseam gives you plenty of compression at the thighs and non-squeezing elastic grippers finish it off. Super quick drying and ultra comfortable, this is definitely one of the best tri suits I have ever worn.
Get more info or grab your own at Pearl Izumi’s website
Men’s Select Pursuit Tri Suit
But dudes, we didn’t forget about you. Pearl Izumi has you covered too with their Select Pursuit tri suit. Our tester (nope, I didn’t give this one a shot. You’re welcome) gives you his report below:
“For a relatively inexpensive suit, the Select Pursuit is pretty well fitted and has plenty of nice features. The compression is comparable to much more expensive suits, and stands up to extra long bricks.
As a taller guy, I was a little nervous that the XL would be too small, but this fit true to size, which is not usual for me and other tri suits. The tight fit seems to help you glide in the water, and the length on the shorts is exacting. No seams in the legs mean no chaffing, and the silicone grippers keep them in place without being irritating (especially if you’re not into shaving your legs).
One thing I do wish it had is a little thicker pad for the ride as this one is quite minimal, but the small profile is definitely nice on the run. The whole suit dries quickly and the hidden back pocket is great for hiding an extra gel.
Overall, this tri suit is a great choice, and it stands up to the long-haul.”
Get more info or grab your own at Pearl Izumi’s website
Wind Blox Pro & Classic Edition
Price: $14.95 (Classic) $17.95 (Pro)
Pro version installed profile is 10 cm long by 2 cm wide
Classic version installed profile is 6 cm long by 3 cm wide
Weight: 12 grams
Available directly from Wind-Blox at Amazon.com
We’ve covered Wind-Blox before, and been surprised by the results. If you’re sick of getting freaked out by people whiffling past you without warning, Wind-Blox can help. These seemingly simple strap covers velcro in place in front of your ears to reduce wind noise at speed. This, in turn, lets you hear much, much more of what’s going on around you and behind you.
The refined Wind-Blox Pro edition is a slimmer design than previous iterations, and doesn’t interrupt the clean lines of your helmet strap as much. In testing, they work a little better than the original Wind-Blox to, especially when you’re moving pretty fast down the road.
I tested this by placing the original version on one side and the new version on the other side (and switched again to account for hearing discrepancies), and the Pro had a slightly greater dampening effect on the wind. Since the Pro version is longer and leaner than the original, you also don’t need to do as much fidgeting to get the product in place properly–it’s already set in a good position.
Grab more info or buy your own directly from Wind-Blox at their official website and via Amazon.com
HEY, we’ve got an exclusive discount code for you that’ll get you 30% off at wind-blox.com: just enter SLO Cyclist 2016 at the checkout. Boom. You’re welcome.
Price: $5.99 per box of 4 (but generally less)
Ingredients: Lots, but all of them love you. Click here for a breakdown of the nutrition.
OK, you’re training hard. You’re packing in the miles. You’re pounding gels like no one’s business. And you’re totally sick of that syrup consistency. Well we’ve got an alternative here, and it may surprise you.
Slammers Protein is an offshoot of what originally was Baby Gourmet food. Pro athletes actually gave the makers of Baby Gourmet the idea to create a new line geared toward endurance junkies. These pro’s fueled with these convenient food pouches on long training runs and rides without causing any stomach distress. And, yes, Slammers Organics was born.
After testing each of the flavors, I can attest to the fact that they are easy on the stomach. In fact, because these are real food as opposed to engineered gels or bars, they give you quick sustained energy boosts over longer rides without leaving you feeling sick (OK, I didn’t try them while running because . . . well . . . running sucks).
The size of the pouch fits easily in a jersey pocket, and you can I stuff two in a single pocket if you want. The screw top, however, might turn some riders off since it’s not as easily opened while riding. If you’re comfortable riding no-handed, or some semblance of one-handed, it shouldn’t be an issue.
As for taste, I definitely preferred them chilled. The Watermelon Kiwi Burst flavor hit me just right, and didn’t have an aftertaste. Pretty good stuff. I also tested the Creamy Banana Chocolate and Pomegranate Grape Crush, but wasn’t as quite into these flavors myself. As one who dislike bananas, I was a little turned off by the chocolate mix, but this seems like a great recovery option for those of you who enjoy bananas. Overall, the taste is generally pretty mild, but you’ll probably want to try a few different flavors to find one that you dig.
Grab your own Slammers at your local grocery store or Target
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