Featured Recovery Reviews

Overdrive Sox

Overdrive SoxOverdrive Sox from 110% offer an innovative way of getting things started with Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – often known simply as RICE – the tried and tested regime for speeding recovery post-exercise.


In essence the Overdrive Sox are a two part-system consisting of a performance compression sock, which can be worn for training and an additional over-sock ‘ice sleeve’ for use during recovery or rehabilitation. The main compression sock is a long, calf-length affair, which incorporates graduated compression (tighter to less constrictive from bottom to top) designed to increase blood-flow during exercise and help ‘flush’ lactic acid. Whilst lactic acid, a by-product of strenuous exercise, was once considered detrimental the jury is now a rather more out on the subject, but helping rid the muscles of the lower legs of it certainly can’t hurt.


The sock is comfortable with a fairly generous toe box, good squeeze and support through the arch and enough elasticity (15% spandex to 85% nylon) to move freely yet still deliver the compression. The sock is relatively thick, adequate for colder – but possibly not mid-winter – rides, and with decent wicking. The bulk may make it impractical for use with certain cycling shoes, but MTBers might find great flexibility here.


The unique selling point for the Overdrive Sox though is the recovery and here things get a bit fiddly…


Overdrive SoxThe whole kit comes in an over-sized padded thermal bag that looks fit to ship transplant organs. Inside, in addition to the compression socks, are a range of pads, which can be trimmed to shape and size, and the ‘ice sleeve’ that houses them. Before use the pads need to sprayed with or soaked in warm water until they expand to around ½ inch, then wiped dry and popped into the freezer to set. Once done the ‘ice sleeves’, which have a higher 30% spandex mix, slip on over the compression socks and the frozen pads can be inserted into various pockets to treat whatever needs the healing touch – plantar fascia, Achilles, calf, etc. ‘This is not rocket science’ say the instructions; granted but a little time-consuming, which means you may more readily grab a bag of frozen peas.


Despite the time-drain or degree of pre-planning needed the Overdrive Sox do work incredibly well, yes they feel rather over-engineered but the results are a credible speeding up of recovery and relief from post-training aching muscles.


Overdrive Sox are available in four sizes – S to XL – retailing at £58.50 from

Extras Featured Reviews

Hot Ginger Muscle Rub

Hot Ginger Muscle RubFor quite some time QM Sports Care QM2 Hot Embrocation has been Cyclo’s default muscle rub – a ridiculously complex name, but we’ve always found it hits the spot when it comes to aching legs and exhausted muscles. Enter though Hot Ginger Muscle Rub from relative new kids Natural Hero – a ‘superpowered’ recovery product boasting 98% natural ingredients, which, coming from the makers of the excellent Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz (review here), we felt compelled to put to the test.


Hot Ginger Muscle Rub boasts a range or natural ingredients including ginger root oil (obviously), fennel – a ‘vasorelaxant’, which aids absorption, rosemary leaf oil, which apparently just smells nice, and borage seed oil (starflower), which is a rich source of essential fatty acids to aid muscle repair. To each their own on the perceived efficacy of any of these ingredients, but what we can say for sure is two things: the sensation of heat is extremely mild and it’s absorption rate was middling. If you’ll forgive the excess of detail, our testers overly hairy legs still looked like a matted spaniel even after many minutes of vigorous massaging.


If you are wondering about the 2% synthetic ingredients they are benzyl alcohol and the emulsifier sodium stearoyl glutamate – nothing in the least to worry about, but curious that Natural Hero didn’t got the whole hog on the natural front…


Okay, so QM still retains the title as far as Cyclo is concerned (despite being ridiculously difficult to source) but Hot Ginger Muscle Rub is a great alternative for those looking for a less ‘sciency’ or industrial approach to rubbing away those post-ride aches and pains. Natural Hero Hot Ginger Muscle Rub retails at £9.99 (100ml) with details and online purchase at

Featured Recovery Reviews

The Orb

The OrbHours in the saddle can certainly punish the body and when it comes post-event recovery most of us can’t rely on (or afford) pro sports massages on a regular basis. When the option for some light self-massage arises the roam roller – the very definition of the pain/pleasure principle – seems to be the general weapon of choice; now though The Orb from Pro-Tec Athletics, whilst not a straight alternative, brings some added benefits of its own…


The 5inch ball, made of high-density EVA foam can be used in a variety of ways – all of which fundamentally involve using the body’s weight to roll and massage – to release tension in the muscles. Whilst a roller allows only single-direction relief, The Orb gives a multidirectional-workout, which feels rather more targeted and, because of the reduced surface area, deeper too.


Arguably there are disadvantages over a roller – hence we think of it as an addition not a replacement – in that more of a balancing act is involved particularly, we found, when working on the quads or tackling The Orb side-on for an ITB workout. But The Orb does come into its own in dealing with calves, glutes and hamstrings where the added intensity feels particularly well judged and using it between the shoulder blades (against a wall) was a sublime relief.


Okay, so arguably you could achieve much of this with a tennis ball at a fraction of The Orb’s £18 asking price but the size, weight and non-slip dimpled texture do all feel perfectly balanced. It’s also far more portable than most foam rollers (although Pro-Tec do produce a nifty 4inch x 12inch travel roller too) so tucking The Orb in the kit bag for some immediate post-sportive relief is an option we would heartily recommend.


Take a look at our review of the Pro-Tec Y Roller here and of The Stick here



Featured Nutrition Reviews


ElivarThe sports nutrition market is a crowded one and barely a couple of months pass without a new contender fighting for shelf space. Elivar is the latest offering, claiming to bring something new to the mix with products aimed squarely at the 35+ age range.


Elivar is a complete three-part system for pre-, during and post-exercise (the Holy Trinity of sports nutrition) with unique blends to support the needs of older athletes, undoubtedly a smart move given the rise in numbers of so-called MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) and equally their female, non-acronymed, equivalent. The range – Prepare, Endure and Recover – comprises of a variety of blended carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals that have been tailored to ensure that even during intense workouts and rides all bases are covered with fortification and the use of low GI (slow release) carbohydras.


Taking each in turn: Prepare, for use around 90minutes before exercise, uses a blend of fast and slow proteins – 27g per 65g serving – for muscle mass maintenance (and, in part, to begin the recovery stage even before training), combined with an equal quantity of carbohydrates, only half of which are sugar derived, 3.1g of fibre and vitamins B6 and B12 to aid the immune system. The flavour, chocolate, is perfectly palatable and the mix blended, we found, quickly and without clumps clogging our bottle, although retaining a slightly gritty texture.


Endure in Orange and Mango flavour – personally less to our liking, with a somewhat artificial aftertaste – is a 45g serving, which again mixed quickly to a relatively smooth drink for use on the bike. It delivers 32g of carbohydrates (13g from sugars) balanced in a 4:1 ratio with 8g of protein. The inclusion of thiamine, riboflavin, biotin, vitamin C and B12 all help to promote energy metabolism, with the addition of calcium and vitamin D for bone strength (an increased necessity for older athletes) and, again, vitamins B6 and B12 for the immune system.


Back to chocolate again for the Recover (ditto for the blending, non-clogging qualities) and a mix of whey powder and cassein to extend the ‘recovery window’ with 27g of protein and 28g of carbs (50% sugar derived) per 65g serving hopefully making quick work of getting you ready for the next ride. Again this is fortified with B6 and 12 for the immune system – which ironically can be somewhat compromised by endurance exercise – and calcium and vitamin D for the bones.


Because we often know so little about how our food is produced, harvested, stored and transported even those paying close attention to their diet could certainly do well to consider both food/sports nutrition fortification and vitamin supplementation and Elivar certainly addresses this admirably along with bringing a good range of additional benefits to boot.


The RDA (Recommended Dietary/Daily Allowance) percentage of vitamins varies throughout the range but taking vitamins C, D and E as a fairly representative example they are: 21%, 47% and 30% respectively for Prepare, 21%, 35% and 26% for the Endure, and 39%, 48% and 33% for Recover. Although all three products do contain sodium it was a surprise not to find the inclusion of potassium (possibly zinc and magnesium too) to aid hydration and replace the ‘salts’ lost through sweating during endurance exercise, especially as these form part of the complete package offered by the likes of Apres (review here) and For Goodness Shakes (review here)



Possibly this will be addressed in time along with the flavour (and flavour range); but for now Elivar is an excellent choice for those 35+ year-olds with a lust for life and desire to put in the miles on the bike.


Elivar Prepare and Recover are available in boxes of 12 individual 65g servings at £24.99 or 900g tubs (13 servings) for £34.99 and Elivar Endure in boxes of 12 individual 45g servings at £19.99 and 900g tubs (20 servings) at £24.99. For further details on Elivar and online retail see


Recovery Reviews

Pro-Tec Y Roller

Y Roller ReviewAmerican company Pro-Tec Athletics started out in 1991 with a single product – the Knee Pro-Tec Patella Tendon Strap – before expanding its product offering to include further specialised supports for running injuries; in 2012 they introduced the Y Roller, an elastomer (elastic polymer) constructed massage roller that featured a unique dual-ridge design. At Cyclo we’ve had plenty of cause to use massage rollers over the years – not least to ease tight IT bands and calf muscles; we put the Y Roller through its paces to see how it measured up.


On initial impressions, the Y Roller looked to be well made, sturdy and firm; the manufacturers claim that the elastomer used is the highest density and most durable foam possible, able to withstand constant, heavy and repeated usage without breaking down.


The unusual design has two parallel ridges each of which splits into two tram-line-like ridges on one side of the roller and remerge into a single ridge on the opposite; Pro-Tec say that the dual/single ridge option offers, ‘a targeted aggressive massage’ or the ability to ‘…roll in between ridges for a less aggressive, moderate massage.’ What this meant in practical terms was that we could roll our IT band between the dual ridges – which was firm and applied a good amount of pressure – and then slowly rolled the IT band up onto the single ridge to apply a more focused, deeper and better targeted tissue massage.


Initially we confess to having been a little unsure of exactly how to roll effectively over the dual/single ridge design, but the Y Roller comes with an easy to understand guide (and there are some helpful online videos), which shows how to use the roller for different areas of the body. It took a few back-and-forth rolls to get the hang of things, but once mastered never forgotten (appropriately like riding a bike…) The Y Roller works well across other muscle groups; calf, hamstrings, glutes, upper- and lower-back all benefitted, as did the arch of the foot (excellent after extended peddle sessions) and because of the Y Roller’s size it easily took care of quadriceps – something lesser rollers can struggle with.


The Y Roller has a diameter of 15cm and is 40cm long, which makes it a little larger than its rival the Trigger Point GRID (12cm/33cm), but comes in at around the same price £38.99. Now we’re used to the initially tricky ridge rolling technique the Y Roller could well become our massage tool of choice.


Available from, with further information at and a number of instructional videos online, such as the one below.




Nutrition Recovery Reviews


AprèsRecovery drinks are, inarguably, an excellent idea after a long training ride or tough sportive – an energy-sapped body benefits from carbohydrate replacement and protein can go to work repairing the damage and getting you set for the next saddle-up. But however much good we know it’s doing us, trying to throw down a cold drink at the end of a blisteringly bitter ride is something we have never particularly relished the idea of. If only there was a hot recovery drink we could use… Enter Après, the hot malted chocolate drink that looks to tick all the right boxes.


Après is the brainchild of brothers Luke and Matt Farren who, after a six-hour training ride so cold they report their bidons froze (possibly a painful euphemism) came up with the now seemingly obvious idea of a hot beverage that fulfilled all the requirements of a traditional recovery drink.


Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and made from sustainably produced skimmed milk powder, sugar and cocoa, Après delivers the accepted ideal 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio (25.6g carbs, of which 19.2g is sugar, to 8.2g of protein for 40g serving). It also contains a range of vitamins including A, D, E, C, B1, B2, B3, and B6, plus a range of minerals – potassium, magnesium, zinc – likely to have been lost trough sweat even on the coldest or rides. For good measure each serving contains 2g of L-Glutamine, an amino acid that, despite very limited evidence to support any benefit to athletes, continues to find its way into sports products. Still, no harm in hedging of bets and including it here.


Cyclo found that Après mixed quickly and without too much annoying ‘clumping’ to produce a drink with a good chocolaty taste and a hint of malt that didn’t overpower things. Hot water is invariably available at the end of well organised sportive and we found the idea of a hot drink (that was also doing us good) a veritable pick-me-up. It is often suggested that milk-based drinks make for more effective recovery, in part because of the slightly slower absorption rates and natural electrolytes, in which case Après hits another high note. Both malted barley and quality cocoa have well defined antioxidant properties too – more good news for depleted riders.


In comparison to something like the chocolate flavour For Goodness Shakes 3:1 Recovery drink – which comes in larger 72g sachets to mix to a 500ml drink – the numbers stack up like this:


FGS 266.5kcal – Après 142kcal

FGS 16.3 protein – Après 8.2g

FGS 48.9g carbs of which 45.6 sugar – Après 25.6g, 19.2g sugars

FGS 1.2 fat of which .6g saturated – Après 0.8g, 0.4g saturates

FGS 0.1g sodium – Après 0.24g


Vitamin and mineral content varies between the two products on %RDA, and it’s vital to remember that these are drinks of different size; that said a drink’s a drink so the above figures are a fair indication of what you will be putting down you at the end of a ride. But for our money, on a cold day, Après looks very much like a winning formula.


Après is available in single 40g sachets at £1.99, packs of six at £11.40 and boxes of 15 sachets at £26.99 – free delivery on orders with more details at


Extras Recovery Reviews

Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz

Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz ReviewThere were two things that made us want to take a closer look at the Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz from Natural Hero: First, we are told (by the makers) that it’s incredibly popular with cyclists and second we love ‘natural’ products and this one claims to consist of ‘99% natural ingredients’. So, what does it do? Is it any good? And can we forgive it that 1%?


The Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz, which comes in a 100ml pump bottle, is intended for spraying onto aching muscles either during or post-exercise to provide an instant cooling effect, which gives way to a gentle warmth through the treated area. It achieves this through a blend of botanical extracts including peppermint (natch), white willow, arnica, witch hazel and blue chamomile – whilst the carrying agent (a natural alcohol denant) also adds to the initial cooling as its rapid evaporation leads to a drop in skin temperature. Looking at the other active ingredients in order: peppermint essential oil can reduce inflammation (and smells good), willow – in the form of bark extract – is an astringent, which will cause mild skin contraction, arnica has proven efficacy as an anti-inflammatory, witch hazel is a toner, and chamomile is another anti-inflammatory. Phew…


If you’re wondering about the 1% of synthetic ingredients: menthyl lactate is a common cosmetics ‘cooling agent’, potassium sorbate is a preservative (E number 202) and ascorbic acid (actually a form of vitamin C) is utilised as an anti-oxidant in the spritz. Nothing to worry about here and the other 99% is more than commendable.


Does it work though? The short answer is an unequivocal yes. The cooling effect was instant and quite intense shifting, after a few minutes, to a background warmth that lasted in excess of half an hour. Perhaps not strictly for use as pain relief, and, as it evaporates so quickly (an essential part of the cooling mechanism), it lacks the advantage of being compatible with massage. But for instant revitalisation with tangible soothing results that eased muscle tension this is an undeniably useful product that deserves to find its way into the bag of tricks for post-sportive or intensive training session. Cyclo would love to see a mini version – say sub-50ml – that could tuck into a jersey pocket…


Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz from Natural Hero is available for £11.99 from


Featured Reviews

Orbana Healthy Energy

Orbana healthy energy drink review

There has been a noticeable buzz around Orbana Healthy Energy drink over the last few months. Here at Cyclo we can’t quite remember when it first started creeping into our collective consciousness, but one thing is clear: it’s becoming hard to ignore this new kid on the block – time we tried it out and delivered our verdict.


First to note: Orbana comes powdered in either individual-serving 50g sachets or 800g tubs which, those of you quick on the maths will know, delivers 16 servings. Powdered versus pre-mixed drinks is always down to individual preference, but the Orbana option arguably helps prolong shelf life – and eliminates artificial preservatives – whilst also allowing you to mix to whatever dilution suits (250ml is the base recommendation). Whatever your taste, it mixes effortlessly with only a few shakes of the bottle for a lump-free drink that, whilst advertised as being ‘orange, lemon and pineapple’, is probably better described as ‘generic sport fruit flavour’. Not to say it tastes bad, it doesn’t – although there is a slight tang about it.


Okay, so easily mixed and perfectly palatable means that Orbana clears the first couple of criteria jumps. How does it stack up beneath the bonnet?


The approach to energy delivery is certainly to be admired; the 185kcal provided by each packet is split between low and high GI carbohydrates, meaning the release of energy is staged rather than being ‘dumped’ into the body, thus avoiding spikes in performance, followed by those dreaded ‘sugar crashes’. To achieve this Orbana delivers 36% of its energy via high GI ‘simple sugars’ (a blend of dextrose and fructose) to give an initial power kick; backed up by the remaining 64% coming from the much lower GI starch-based maltodextrin for more sustained energy. Depending on the intensity of exercise, Cyclo would reckon on getting a good 60-90minutes out of a single sachet.


Orbana also throws in antioxidants in the form of vitamins C and E (200% and 25% of your RDA respectively), in addition to various amino acids – including muscle-strengthening creatine – and a range of B vitamins for energy conversion.


Maintaining a good balance of minerals and electrolytes (often simply referred to as ‘body salts’), which are otherwise lost through the sweat process, is critical to exercise performance; drops in sodium, zinc and potassium can quickly lead to cramps and fatigued muscles if not kept in check. Orbana measures up well against standard hydration drinks and bests a number of regular sports drinks in this department; We certainly found it a bonus not to have to consider a separate hydration salts strategy on the bike – although in extreme conditions it would probably still be wise to have one.


In test (three cyclists, two rides each, since you ask…) we found energy levels stable, without jags or noticeable lows, enjoyed the taste – certainly enough find it easy to consume – and appreciated not having to top up with hydration tabs. It seems that the hype around Orbana could well be justified but if you want to make up your own mind we have free sachets to give away to the first 100 readers who follow the link below.


Orbana retails at: 6x50g sachets £12.96, 16x50g sachets £34.56 or 800g tub (16 servings) £30.00 – full details and online purchase at