i'll be perfectly honest: i've really struggled to find the right hydration system over the past couple of years. i've come across water bottle fail after water bottle fail, from loose-fitting lids popping off to having all of my water spill out moments into a race. i've had my share of face-fulls of hydration fluid when trying to take a quick swig during transition. in numerous races in 2009, my profile design aero bottle's secret self destruct button went off after hitting a bump, blowing off the top of the bottle, spewing my drink all over me, my bike and the road. at the toronto islands race last august, this happened as i was exiting t1, leaving me with no rehydration fluids for the rest of the race on one of the hottest days of the year. i've crossed the finish line with milky sunglasses, covered in homemade concoctions meant to be consumed, not used as ammunition in a water bottle fight. i've spent many hours post-race cleaning sticky messes off my bike and had to replenish my supply of missing parts from water bottles that have blown up while riding. and it seems that whenever i do come across something that works, the water bottle isn't big enough and even without any spilling mishaps i'm out of fluids halfway through a race or training ride. brutal.
another difficulty has been eating food. i don't buy any commercially made products like powergels or powerbars, instead choosing to make my own from a small list of high quality, raw, natural ingredients. eating my homemade bars fuels me up properly, but chewing makes my heart rate scream as my breathing changes to allow me to chew and swallow. gels are the solution to this problem, but finding the right receptacle for carrying them has been an equally challenging dilemma.
but it looks likes other, smarter people share the same long list of refueling problems. some genius out there created the Gel-bot, a 24 ounce water bottle with a built in gel flask. when i first saw it at the running room i was confused about how it worked, but after a bit of online research i added it to my holiday wish list. i now have three of them, and after using them for only three workouts, i'm absolutely blown away by how great they are. the bottle has a valve that looks like any other water bottle valve: pull the valve up to drink water, push the valve down to stop the water flow. however, when you push the valve down, you're able to get the gel that you've already put into the built in "energy core", which is a little cylinder that holds 2 gel packs worth of gels. it uses a little piston system (similar to a syringe), and all you have to do is suck out the gel between gulps of water. this bottle is also bpa-free and fits in a regular water bottle cage on any bike. brilliant. no more messy gel packs, no more racing heart rates while chewing, no more time fiddling to get food out of your jersey pockets. now why didn't i think of that?