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No more Newtons

It started with needing an affordable trail type shoe when I went to Hawaii and ended with an almost complete overhaul of my running shoe collection. Now, I no longer wear any type of Newton running shoe. Why? My reviews have been so positive and indeed I liked them. I think the Distance S III is a fine shoe. So what the hell happened?

Were the shoes not durable? They seemed plenty durable.

Did they not perform to specification? They seemed to do exactly what they were advertised to do.

Have you jumped onto the “maximalist” trend? Hell no, I hate Hokas and I get a twinge of anger if anyone recommends them to me. Why don’t you just run with rubber blocks strapped to your feet?

Did a representative of Newton Running come to your house and kick my dog? No, they did no such thing.

So why did I switch, two main reasons, injury and cost. First, lets talk about injury. When I started running in Newtons I was given fair warning that I needed to “break myself into them” and I did, this came visa vi achilles tendonitis. This pain never really went away and it became somewhat pronounced during my build to the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. I don’t like blaming shoes for injury (since it is hard to prove it one way or another) but when I began rotating in an old pair of Saucony shoes my achilles was much more comfortable during those runs.

The second reason is cost. My inner el cheapo bastardo has come out in full force and I refuse to pay extra for anything that doesn’t give me substantial benefit at a reasonable price. This includes bicycles, sport watches, racing wheels, race entry fees, power meters, wetsuits, training camps, personal training etc. Since I can’t axe running shoes completely, I will spend less for them. Most decent running shoes are 1/3 less expensive than Newtons. Sarah got a pair of Kinvara 4s on clearance for $50 or so at Endurance House Westminster, it is hard to beat that price.

As a result of those two factors, I am sorry to have to say goodbye to Newton Running shoes. I wouldn’t discourage people from running in them, but their time with me has come to a close.

Skratch SDM Quick Review

I have tried a ton of sports drink mixes, there a ton on the market, and I like a lot of them. The one I continually come back to is Skratch’s exercise drink which they originally called “Secret Drink Mix” because they claimed that they were providing it to Tour de France competitors secretly because they all were supposed to be using the drink mix from there official sponsors. I have no idea if that is true but it is a nice story. SDM

You can buy skratch in a bag like above, or in little single serving sleeves. Skratch advertises being “All Natural” and even note that it is not uncommon to have tiny bits of fruit in the drink because that is how it is made.

How does it taste?
Excellent. It is a little sweet but you can easily cut down the amount you put in to make it less sweet. Different flavors have different sweetness levels, the nice thing about the taste is that if you get orange, it actually tastes like orange, not fake orange.

Mixability
This isn’t talked about enough. A lot of drink mixes (I am looking at you Cytomax and EFS) clump at the bottom of the bottle making the last couple of swigs gross. Skratch mixes easily in a standard sized sports bottle.

Does it work?
This is not so straight forward because everyone is different. It has 360 mg of sodium and 40 mg of sodium which gives it an electrolyte combination similar to Gatorade Endurance Formula. I am not particularly prone to cramping so I can’t speak to that but the sugar that is in it does give you a nice boost when you drink it.

Does it cause GI issues?
This is a common problem with endurance fueling. From my experience and the experience of people I train with, Skratch seems to be pretty good about GI distress. They advertise that it is superior to other drink mixes, of course we wouldn’t expect they would advertise that they are worse than other mixes. My experience is that people moved from UCANN to Skratch specifically for this reason and they never moved back.

Conclusion
I would give this a shot if you are shopping around. If you live in Colorado almost every cycling shop will carry this product. It can also be found at Whole Foods or, like anything, online. It is a bit more expensive than Gatorade G or Endurance formula, so you should take that into consideration. It has more electrolytes than Powerbar’s Perform mix which is a drink that I will occasionally use. I do not say this is the be all and end all of drink mixes. I recently ordered Gatorade’s Endurance Formula to give that a test and I will compare the two. I will say that of all the products I have tried, I like Skratch just a little more than the rest.

Where to buy stuff

If you live in the greater Denver area then you have a plethora of triathlon, cycle, and running shops at your disposal. I have had a bunch of experience with a lot of these places and I have formulated some rankings based on my own experiences and the experiences of my friends. The places I mention I am comfortable recommending based on my experience for the things I recommend them for. I don’t take this lightly because in a lot of cases you are looking to spend good money for things so I want your experience to be a positive one.

Denver Area Cycle Shop

Top Recommendation: Wheat Ridge Cyclery
Website: http://ridewrc.com/
I recommend this shop because in my opinion it is the best shop in Denver and one of the best in the country. They carry a full line of road, tri, CX, and mountain bikes. They carry Specialized, Trek, Cervelo, Orbea, Santa Cruz, and Yeti bicycles. There service department is also best in class. Get there early on the weekend to be taken care of in a reasonable amount of time because they get busy. If you want to buy, or already own, a Specialized or a Trek – this is the shop for you. This is the only place I would recommend if you want to buy a Trek triathlon or time trial bike. This is also one of the few local sellers of Enve Composites wheelsets and components if that is your preference. Check out there demo bikes and wheels which they rent at reasonable prices. 

Honorable Mention: Bicycle Village
Website: http://bicyclevillage.com/
Bicycle Village earns a honorable mention because they have a large selection of bicycles, many locations to choose from, and a fairly good service department. If you need a tube, tire, or some component this is a great place to get it. They are a large Trek reseller as well as some other brands you may be interested in like Bianchi and Fuji. There service department is honest and competent. I had a component upgrade done last year and it was perfectly done. They fall behind WRC because their selection of triathlon bikes is very limited and their selection of high end current year road bikes is somewhat low.

Denver Area Triathlon Shop

Top Recommendation: Colorado Multisport
Website: Coloradomultisport.com
Colorado Multisport earns top marks for there wide selection of triathlon apparel (they are the only local DeSoto shop) and the ability to do a Retul fit. They sell BlueSeventy and Orca wetsuits (two of the most popular brands) and they focus on Specialized and Cervelo triathlon bikes. They also sell all the popular fuels like Bonk Breaker, EFS, Osmo for Women, Gu, Powergel, Skratch, and Powerbar Ironman Perform. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and willing to help both veterans and newbies.

Honorable Mention: Endurance House Westminster
Website: www.endurancehousewestminster.com
Endurance House earns a honorable mention based on their huge selection of running and triathlon shoes – something CMS doesn’t even offer – which includes complementary gait analysis. The owner, Jim, comes from a running background and it shows. This is also the place for people in north Denver to go if you want a Fuji or Quintana Roo triathlon bicycle which are more price friendly competitors to the Cervelo P series, the Trek Speed Concept, and the Specialized Shiv triathlon bicycles. E-House offers Orca and Zoot wetsuits for purchase or rental. They also offer race wheels by HED and Zipp for rental or purchase. Rentals include the cassette swap and brake pad replacement.

There are a few fine places that failed to make the list. For example, Kompetitive Edge is a fine shop but I normally don’t recommend places that only sell one brand or a limited selection of brands. For example, KE only sells Newton running shoes, which is great if you want Newtons. However, in order to really be a complete shop you would need to include Brooks, Pearl Izumi, Saucony, and New Balance. They primarily sell profile designs accessories which is fine if that is what you want/need, but there are other brands. KE also seems to lack any special feature that would drive people to its location. CMS has the retul fit system and E-House has its huge selection of shoes.

Leave a comment if I left someplace or something out and if it is valid I will update the list.

Newton’s and Sugoi

I originally intended on writing a follow up to my review of the Sir Isaac Newton S shoes that I wear, which I am still going to do, but I am also going to touch on my favorite brand of cycling stuff (Sugoi) because they intersect at two different points.

First of all, the shoes, I wrote a generally positive review of the shoes a while back and I still have the same general opinion of them. I am running a lot longer in them now than I was when I first wrote the review and some shoes manifest differently when you are running 3 miles or 7 miles. I am happy with the Newtons at longer distances as well as shorter distances. They are a tad bit heavier than I would like but in training conditions, who cares? The lugs are starting to show some wear patterns but the shoe is holding up well. All the stitching, fabric, and other materials are staying in place nicely. I don’t subject my shoes to the type of torture that say, a HS cross country runner might, but any manufacturing weakness or defect would show itself by now.

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Here I am appearing to be a walking advertisement for Newton during the run portion of my Wednesday morning bike/run workout. I normally don’t wear a whole triathlon outfit to the gym but when you are doing a bike and a transition run, it only makes sense. Besides, I had to try my new gear, which happens to be Newton labeled.

Before you accuse me of drinking the “kool-aide” let me get to a point quickly. I like Sugoi gear quite a lot. I started liking them when I bought a pair of RPM shorts a while ago (before triathlon was on my radar) and mile over mile they were more comfortable than any other shorts I tried. Enter Newton, who sells a variety of gear with a big Newton logo on them. The production, however, is by Sugoi. When I went to the Newton Running Lab in Boulder, their Triathlon singlets and shorts were 20% off. I should say, the Sugoi Triathlon gear was 20% off, for 20% I don’t care if I look like a lime green billboard.

Newton hitched its wagon to the Ironman train a while back so Sugoi was a natural choice. It is the official clothier of Ironman stuff as well. If you see someone with Ironman branded jackets or shorts from the last year or so, they are wearing Sugoi.

Why do I prefer Sugoi? One reason, the pad, AKA the chamois. I hate the word chamois (when pronounced the non-French way) it grates on me the way ‘moist’ grates on most people. So I will simply call it the pad. Many pads are simply foam, which is fine for like, 10 miles. After that, the pad breaks down and the seat pokes into your behind anyway. In this scenario firmer is actually better. The pad that Sugoi uses is more like a memory foam mattress, it is firm but it forms to your…shape, so the seat is both more comfortable, and there is less friction between you and the pad. I have had very few hot spots wearing Sugoi – when I have had them they were on spin bikes, which are the devil incarnate.

The only other cycling apparel I have seen with a similar pad feel is actually Specialized gear.  Someone told me once that Specialized is very good with products that touch the body. I think they are right, which is why I ride a Specialized saddle on a Trek bicycle.

New saddle new tire

This weekend Sarah and I took care of some items related to our bikes. Firstly, we got fitted for new saddles. Sarah has a new Trek Domane with the stock Bontrager saddle which was apparently hitting her in the wrong spots. I have no trouble believing that because on my saddle was rotten as well. We went to a local bike shop (Wheat Ridge Cyclery) and got new saddles. Odd that we would ride specialized saddles on Trek bikes but hey, let your undercarriage go numb once and see if you care about mixing brands.

saddle

We tested out our new saddles on our trainers…which aren’t new. We bought them used a while ago and quickly found out that regular road tires and trainers don’t mix. It leaves rubber shavings all over the floor and causes the tire to take on a flatter shape. Talk about a newbie mistake. We bought Continental trainer tires which are supposed to be better and largely, they are. Mainly, I am just happy I am not ruining my new Gatorskin tires.

trainer tire

http://ridewrc.com/