Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel
MSRP: $19.99 (1.5-pound 25-serving bag)
After suffering severe stomach distress and cramping one too many times during the Leadville 100 and other endurance cycling events from ingesting an array of today’s energy fuels (read: gels, chews, powders, pills, and potions), Stanford grad Jeff Vierling decided to concoct his own race nutrition solution—in his very own kitchen in Durango, Colo.
Vierling’s goal was lofty. Specifically, he wanted to develop a simple energy solution that would help riders and racers maintain steady energy while also addressing some common issues:
- stomach problems (like cramping, bloating, and worse)
- ease of use (getting fuel and electrolytes from a single source)
- taste (creating something endurance athletes could drink all day long)
After several years of research and experimentation, his result is the recently released Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel—a salty-sweet powder that, when mixed with water, Vierling says delivers a one-stop-shop blend of hydration, energy, and electrolytes that’s easy on the gut. Tailwind comes in four flavors—Mandarin Orange, Berry, Lemon, and Naked Unflavored—and the ingredient list is simple: dextrose, sucrose, sodium citrate, sea salt, citric acid, organic mandarin orange flavor (for Mandarin Orange), potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, and magnesium citrate.
I tested this powder on a wide variety on road and mountain bike rides over the course of several months. Here’s my take on three key points:
Taste: Having done the rounds with powders training for 24-hour races and grunts like the Durango-to-Silverton Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, I expected Tailwind to taste no better than the norm, but I was pleasantly surprised. The requisite sweet was cut just right with a salty flavor that made drinking this nutrition solution more palatable over the long haul—and I didn’t feel like I needed to brush my teeth after the first bottle, as per usual.
Digestibility: Tailwind went down just fine—and stayed down appropriately, even on three- to four-hour rides. I experienced no backlash in the form of heartburn, bloating, or cramping.
Performance: It was unnerving to ditch my regular regimen of bars, gels, and chews and pedal into the wilderness accompanied only by a coupla bottles each filled with water and two 100-calorie scoops of Tailwind, but this energy solution delivered. No bonk here.
On the downside, I did have to remember to keep drinking. And, on those social stops where pals chatted and chewed on bars and gels, I felt a bit naked standing there just drinking more Tailwind. On that note, Tailwinds Jenny Vierliing reminded me that it's okay to eat other simple trail foods while using Tailwind, you just want to make sure that you don't exceed 250-300 calories per hour total. Otherwise you might cause a traffic jam at the stomach which can lead to GI distress on longer rides.
But there’s no question that for both social rides and endurance scenarios where time is of the essence, Tailwind just might be a fantastic, simplified solution.