Spring 2017 Women’s Product Picks: Fi’zi:k, Giro, Mavic, Bontrager, Lumos and Topical Edge

by Anne-Marije Rook

May 4, 2017

It’s been a long and dreary winter and spring for many North Americans as the rainy months just kept going and going. But now that spring weather is finally here (kinda), Ella editor Anne-Marije Rook has been able to put in some outside miles and test some new and fun product.

She’s been rotating through various shoes, helmets and apparel while fighting off muscle fatigue with Topical Edge. A lifestyle cyclist first and foremost, Rook has been riding around the city in the dark hours to test the visibility of Bontrager’s safety apparel as well as the crowd-funded Aster commuter backpack.

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Topical Edge Athletic Lotion

by VeloClub

For years now, athletes have been using sodium bicarbonate to counter the effects of lactic acid buildup and improve their performance, but Topical Edge has set out to change the way you ‘bicarb load’.

More commonly known as bicarb soda or baking soda, sodium bicarbonate is nothing more than the raising agent you use in baking. But when consumed as a dietary supplement, the chemical compound reacts with acids to neutralise them.

More specifically, when sodium bicarb is consumed and absorbed into the blood, it increases the amount of your natural blood bicarbonate, lowers the acidity while raising the pH levels. This then acts as a buffer for the blood against increasing acidity that results when hydrogen ions (produced alongside lactate) are formed during high-intensity exercise.

In short, having an increased amount of bicarbonate in the blood means you can produce more lactate with less of an increase in blood acidity. This is said to increase your ability to exercise at high intensities.

Sodium bicarbonate has been a popular supplement for cyclists – mostly track riders and sprinters – since the 1980s, but consuming it orally has its downsides as large amounts of sodium bicarb frequently leads to nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

With their new lotion, Topical Edge tries to reap the benefits of sodium bicarb without the gut problems by ensuring the compound is absorbed into the blood through the skin.

Applied to the legs 15 minutes before exercise,  Topical Edge’s bicarb lotion is meant to buffer the target muscles against lactic acid buildup, allowing you to go harder for longer with less muscle burn.

But does it work?

Professional athletes and teams such as Rally Cycling, Monster Media Racing, and Todd Wells all use Edge in training and competition –as Topical Edge is WADA compliant –, and it’s been clinically proven to be effective.

In a controlled trial, independent investigators found that the Edge lotion reduced post-exercise blood lactate by more than 15% and correlated with improved velocity, power and perceived exertion.

Our take:

Keeping in mind that any testing I have done is strictly anecdotal, my experience with Topical Edge has been positive.

The silky lotion comes in individual packets –one packet per leg – and goes on cleanly. There’s no overwhelming smell or tingling sensation one might get from pre-ride lotion or embrocation. You don’t really notice anything, per se, until the start of the workout when I found that my legs felt a little bit more spry. When used during a training camp, I found that after several consecutive days of hard training, my legs felt less heavy than they otherwise might have been.

Of course, the placebo effect when it comes to Rate of Perceived Exertion shouldn’t be ignored. Just because you feel like you can push harder or recover better, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are. But with cycling being such a mental game, even a little confidence boast can be a gain.

If you’re looking to supplement with sodium bicarbonate, Topical Edge certainly is a better option than risking the uncomfortable side effects of consuming it orally.

The one downside I did experience is that the lotion leaves a white powdery residue on the insides of your shorts, knee warmers, hands or just about anything it touches.

Price: $20/10 packets