I’ve thinking, despite all the snow we got yesterday, about this past summer, when I cycled through sticky heat with bottles filled with slightly diluted Aquarius. I used the sports drink in powder form so I could water it down, but for a good three months, attempts at hydration usually resulted in uncomfortable, sugary yet acidic phlegm. The taste would eventually turn from manageable to cloying, in direct correlation to the duration of the ride and the rising temperature of the liquid in my bottles. It didn't matter what brand of sports drink I chose - Pocari Sweat, Aquarius, Aquarius Zero, whatever - they all tasted the same at mile 30 in 30+ C heat. I still drank the lukewarm stuff, but only because dehydration and heat stroke seemed like a less than optimal way to die.
The result was dietary exhaustion. If you've never had the misfortune to experience this, imagine a dysfunctional couple, arguing. In your mouth. Not in that way. "You need this in this heat, don't even think you don't," one half would screech. "I'll be fine," my taste buds would seethe back "Just fucking stop..." right before being drowned out in sugary salty water. My left hand would unconsciously lower the bottle and my mouth would weep.
But like significant others who settle into rock-like stoicism whenever the Hurricane Sandy of their better halves blow through, I got used to it. I accepted that this was part of the experience. Another thing I can love to hate about cycling.
My license to complain about the lack of tolerate sports drinks was, however, revoked on purchasing a few single serving packs of Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix. I wasn’t expecting much, but the pixelated graphics and awesome logo appealed to my Japanese inability to resist attractive packaging. Besides, if Tim used it, it couldn’t taste like absolute ass, right?
A month or so ago, I ripped off the conveniently perforated top of a Lemon Lime flavored pack, shook up my bottle, and took a testy sip.
I get it. I get it now. I get why people call it “Crack Labs,” and why you’d never want to drink anything else if given a choice. Because if Dr. Allen Lim told me I could have a lifetime supply of the stuff if I gave up sushi, I would – at least briefly – consider taking him up on that offer. And I say that as someone who actively and often fantasizes about wading into an Alaskan river [along with any grizzlies] to catch and rip apart salmon with my teeth.
It’s refreshing [Skratch Labs…although I imagine the salmon would be, too]. Light; kind of like how you’d wish Crystal Light tasted after watching all those commercials with smiling, happy Caucasian women. It has none of the phlegm-creating sugary aftertaste, and you actually want to keep drinking it after the 4th or 40th gulp. You get a little sad when you drain the bottle. You look through your entire pantry about three times after you finish your last pack, on the slim hope that maybe you bought three of those things instead of two the last time you were in the States. You get a little scared thinking about not having the stuff in your bottles this coming summer.
I used up the last of my pathetic supply a few weeks ago, and kicked myself for not investing in a few kilos of the stuff. I felt like Frank Lucas in American Gangster, but without the cousin in Thailand to call up. How in the hell do they expect me to get a re-up of the stuff from the other side of the world?
I suppose that’s what friends – and the Internet – are for.