If there is one enduring image from Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France, in which Floyd Landis took a 120-kilometer flyer to dismantle his competition and set up his (now disqualified) win, it’s of the redheaded American dousing himself with bottle after bottle of ice water.
In defending his rider’s fantastical performance after the stage, Landis’ coach, Allen Lim, wrote this: “Heat dissipation is one of the most important factors determining performance … The cooler the body, the more blood is available for producing power. With this in mind, Floyd went through a staggering 70 water bottles that day. He drank approximately 15 carbohydrate/electrolyte bottles and poured the rest—ice cold water—over his head and body.”
We now know that it was more than cold water that pushed Landis ahead that day. But the fact remains that keeping cool is critical to performance.
Extensive research has shown that increased body heat diminishes performance, including a study of the Australian National Cycling Team in which cyclists riding a 30-minute time trial in 90-degree temperatures experienced a 6.5 percent drop in power compared to the same test in 73-degree weather. And a recently released report out of the Australian Institute of Sport collates numerous studies that show that pre-cooling, both externally with cold water baths and internally by ingesting ice or frozen slurries, improves performance.
Enter PowerIce, a new and genius hydration product out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. These popsicles for athletes combine the electrolyte-replenishment of a hydration beverage with the cooling benefits of an Icee. Each 1.7-ounce “bar” packs 17 milligrams of potassium and 25 milligrams of sodium to help restore proper fluid balance in the body. The pops contain no caffeine or high-fructose corn syrup. And though you could drink them straight, they are intended to be frozen like popsicles and consumed before, during, and after exercise on hot days.
The pops come in two flavors, Lime Kicker and Orange Blast, and are sold in boxes of six ($8.99), 10 ($12.99), 18 ($21.99) and 100 ($99.99). That family-size pack might sound excessive, but we’ve been craving PowerIce on every hot ride we take and crushing the smaller packs at an alarming rate. Electrolytes and fluid replacement aside, nothing cuts the heat of competition like an ice-cold popsicle.
If only the company had been around in Floyd’s days.