Thursday, April 8, 2010

TIP - Gels on top tubes

Gels on top tube

Last year when I was at ironman Louisville I saw almost two dozen gels taped to a single bike. That many gels might be overkill but if you have done any moderate distance races then you might have thought about taping a couple of gels to the top tube of your bike. Placing the gels in this fashion facilitates taking gels while on the move with few hysterics. You can reach down with one hand to pull the gel from the top tube which also removes the top tab. You don't want to liter. This is not only bad but it is also a penalty. Once you have torn the gel free you then simply squirt the caloric goodness into your mouth. Next, stuff the empty wrapper into your aero water bottle. Once again no littering – that penalty thing and you are done. That is it. No fuss no muss. You didn't lose a single valuable second taking in the calories since you never got out of your aero position.

Last year at the half ironman in New Orleans I had eight or nine gels on my top tube. That might have been excessive but my stomach can take it. This allowed for me to stay away from the liquid calories. I am fine with the sports drink on the bike. But on longer events the Gatorade and stuff can leave me bloated. This can detrimental to the run.

However, most gels come in a foil type wrapper and they have sharp corners. In that half ironman race last year I must have taped one of the gels slightly askew, they were definitely off center.

Sharp pointy tips

While turning the cranks at close to 100 revolutions per minute my left leg was rubbing across the corner of one of the gels. If this occurred just once or twice I don't think it would have mattered. But multiplied by tens of thousands of times – this sharp tip started to slice a gash into my leg. Compounded with the sweat and grim of the road it became uncomfortable. I don't think this had any bearing on the outcome of the race but now I take precautions.

Removing sharp corners

Now with just a little bit of forethought and planning I cut the sharp tips off of the gels before I tape them to the top tube. Take a look at the gels and it is easy to see how much of the foil is not necessary. I use scissors to round off all of the edges. In addition I also trim the top of the gel. This makes it even easier to tear it open. During this years 70.3 New Orleans race I plan on taking a gel about every 20 minutes. This means that I will tape 8 gels to my bike. All of these gels will have rounded corners.
Close up of nice rounded corners on the gels


Big Daddy Diesel said...

I never thought of clipping the corners. Thanks for sharing this.

Matty O said...

Great tips! Definitely going to incorporate this into the summer's TRI's.

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

You should email Clif shots a link to this post so they can design their packaging with rounded corners and then you should get a lifetime of Clif products for giving them the great idea. I know what you mean, thos corners are sharp! I'm always careful how i place them in my jersey pockets so they don't stab me in the back or leave a nice hole in my jersey.