Archive for June, 2010

If you’ve ridden a bike for any distance longer than ten miles, you know that it is smart to carry snacks with you. I love trying out new snacks I see at grocery / health food / LBS’s / pharmacies / online stores. Kind Snacks mailed me four of their best-selling bars for me to review.

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The flavors?

Kind Plus

Kind Plus is a recently launched line of delicious, all natural fruit and nut nutrition bars, enhanced with functional benefits (Antioxidants, Calcium, Protein, Omega 3’s) made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.

  • Mango Macadamia – “Tangy, fruity taste and slightly crunchy texture makes it a perfect choice for your sweet tooth. This KIND bar is enhanced with calcium and provides 50% of the recommended daily value of folic acid & vitamin D making it a healthy addition to your diet.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

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  • Cranberry & Almond – “Delightful mix of tangy cranberries and crunchy almonds, creating a delectable snack whether morning, afternoon, or even a late-night treat! This KIND bar is enhanced with antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, & E which fight free radicals, helping to maintain the immune system and healthy skin.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

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Kind Fruit & Nut

Kind Fruit & Nut is a line of delicious, wholesome, all-natural fruit and nut energy bars made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.

  • Almond & Apricot – “A sweet blend of tangy apricots, crunchy almonds and a hint of coconut.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

  • Fruit & Nut Delight – “A delectable medley of crunchy nuts, naturally sweet fruit, and a touch of honey.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

Like the title of this review suggests, these bars are not cheap; they retail from $1.50-$2.00+, depending on how big of a pack is purchased. When I go through 3-5+ snack bars a week, depending on how often or how far I am riding, the cost of these could really add up fast. This is where I am at a bit of a conundrum… These little Australian made 40g snack bars are about as tasty and fresh as a bar can come. I found that their consistency is somewhat difficult to eat while riding, (I will get to this topic in a moment)  so a two person panel was used to evaluate these bars in terms of flavor and enjoyment.


Mango Macadamia

Reviewer 1: Sticky. Just fruit and nuts stuck together. Could eat a bunch of them, and they are very generous with the product (No cheap fillers).

Reviewer 2: Enough of the tiny crispy rice pieces to counteract the texture of the soft fruit. Coconut stuck in mouth 😦

Overall, this Kind Plus bar was very favorable in flavor. The medley of ingredients worked well together, and the additional nutrient supplements did not distract from the essential flavors of the fruit. Both reviewers wondered if the bar they shared had too much coconut on it, not that it detracted from the flavor, but the mouth-feel of it. This was R1’s favorite bar.

3.5 out of 4 Stars

Almond & Apricot

R1: One big notice, I could hardly taste the Apricot. Maybe it was just the portion I had?

R2: Light, not sticky. Easier to chew than the Mango Macadamia. Almonds are very present.

The Almond Apricot bar again shows that Kind Snacks does not skimp on their ingredients. While the reviewers shared half of the bar each, R1 did not receive as much Apricot as R2, but still enjoyed the flavor and consistency. The puffed rice pieces give the bar (like others) a texture surprise that is enjoying and fresh. This was R2’s favorite bar.

3.5 out of 4 Stars

Cranberry & Almond

R1: VERY STICKY. Puckery/tangy in a good way. Aftertaste of oils (similar to inexpensive canned variety nuts). had to wash hands after handling my piece. Not sure how I feel about this one…

R2: The macadamia nuts work well with the almonds.

I had to cut the package open with scissors to get the bar out in one piece. The honey content in the bar was pink (from cranberries?) and could be seen all over the clear portions of the wrapper. This bar was the decision on why to not test these bars out in real-world situations. While the wholesome ingredients are a plus, what could only be assumed as the honey left this bar a mess to eat.

2.5 out of 4 Stars

Fruit & Nut Delight

R1: Not a lot to say about this bar. It is like… a chewy peanut brittle, or something similar to that.

R2: Very much a nut bar with light fruit flavor.

This bar is simple. Nothing elaborate, yet nothing bland in it. The flavors are all pretty subtle, and work well together.

3 out of 4 Stars


So are these the bars that should be in your rear pocket while on a brevet or century ride this weekend? Are they worth the cost? Should I buy them? What was the best flavor out of the four? What was sets the Kind Snack bars apart from other bars?

Kind takes a lot of time to create a product that is well refined, mature, and provokes you to think about what you are eating. These are not Corn Syrup bars with some oats and flavors added in; no, these are quality, whole products that place them texturally apart from a Powerbar, or Clif bar in terms of the way they feel when eating them. Unfortunately, both reviewers and I came to terms that this is not a bar to attempt eating WHILE MOVING. If you plan on stopping and gnawing on one of these, there would be no problem. I think they would be better for a mid-day snack in terms of caloric content, and satisfaction received from the flavors, etc. They just aren’t as easy to eat as an energy gel/Jelly Belly Sports Beans/Clif bar. but this does not make them a bad product. Out of the four bars reviewed, Mango Macadamia, and Almond & Apricot tied for the best snack bar when not talking about a numbered, unbiased rating. All reviewers say that the quality of the product is something that is desired, but the cost is prohibitive of purchasing these at full retail price. Similar bars, like Larabar also suffer from the issue over quality versus cost. I guess price is all depending on what you like, and cannot be an objective answer of Yes or No.

I still say that the flavors of the bars are worth trying. if you see these at a local store for a price you are willing to pay, don’t hesitate.

FTC Blogging Laws make me post, or at least link to this statement.

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Told ‘ya I felt bad for not posting as often. here is a photo of our local B-Group ride, and a bit of footage to satiate your appetite for media.

Fat Tiree Cycle, WV, USA, West Virginia, Buckhannon, Upshur County, 26201, road bike, cycling, wvcycling, wvcycling.net

So many bikes in one location 😮

This footage is pretty typical (except for the Lady Gaga; I don’t know what was up with that…) for our beginner/B-group rides on Monday afternoons. The pace is pretty leisurely while riding by the river, but can vary depending all on who is there, how everyone is feeling, or if we feel like pacelining. These are your typical, but not boring no-drop rides.

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Summer is here, and the miles in the saddle are just rolling along.

My handlebar tape is showing a bit of wear, my average speed has gone up a bit, and I’ve even had to replace my tires already. I apologize for not having frequent updates as much, but sometimes that happens.

I hope you are out there riding and having a blast out in the Summer weather!

Post or email me some photos of your summertime fun, and I’ll share them!

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Schwinn Bikes, owned by Dorel Industries has been upping their game for the past two or three years concerning their department store bikes. I enjoy speaking about these bicycles because well… I am based in West Virginia and not every person who wants to ride a bike wants to own a fifteen pound (thousands of dollars) road bike, or the latest mountain bike shown on bikeradar. There has to be a middle ground between the trash sold at Wal-Mart, and the Independent Bike Dealer products. Dorel is finally learning that mountain bikes with fifty doohickey springs, and other trash is not going to last, and if they put out a quality product, people will notice. I’m not a fan of Dorel, but sometimes you have to acknowledge a good product.

schwinn solitaire wal mart urban rail trail cruiser trek bikes quality

The Schwinn Solitaire fits this description to a T. It comes in Male and Female versions and retails for $239.

schwinn solitaire wal mart urban rail trail cruiser trek bikes quality

Check out the specs:

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour Threadless
  • Shimano 7spd Trigger Shifters
  • Generic Brakes and Levers
  • SR Suntour Crank
  • Shimano Front/Rear Derailleur, and Freewheel Cassette.
  • Somewhat-Generic 700 C Wheels

schwinn solitaire wal mart urban rail trail cruiser trek bikes quality

As you can see, the false flashy aspects are there for the disposable items, while the wheels are somewhat disappointing. I am so proud to see that they are 700c, to get away from sizing bicycles by wheel size, but the availability of tires and tubes at department/big-box stores are still somewhat scarce. The Fenders and Rear Rack are somewhat there for decoration, but I am sure they have a functional role too. Just don’t expect much out of them. The aluminum frame and SR Suntour fork is the most impressive part. Trek, Cannondale, and several other of the large bike companies probably had their frames and forks made in the same factories as these. No Lie. Trek’s 2008 Navigator 2.0 was very, very similarly specced in 2008 but started out at $300-400. While you are not getting a wonderful warranty and lifetime service on the bike when you buy it from a big box or department store, the $50-150 in savings may be worth the ignorance.

schwinn solitaire wal mart urban rail trail cruiser trek bikes quality

More than likely, you will have to do the walk of shame to a bike shop to get the wheels trued, and derailleur hangers/derailleurs correctly aligned/adjusted. They will give you a look that will burn into your inner consciousness and make you wonder why you got the Schwinn Solitaire instead of a LBS bike, but then you forgot that you’ll probably end up only riding it once or twice a week at max… and that is perfectly fine.

schwinn solitaire wal mart urban rail trail cruiser trek bikes quality

Now think about it… This bike is more expensive than say…. a NEXT MTN X-BIKE whatever with so much useless and outdated technology that isn’t worth the metal it was stamped out of. While a Tourney derailleur is not the best that Shimano makes, it is most definitely more reliable than some $0.85 stamped metal derailleur you can find on alibaba.com.

schwinn solitaire wal mart urban rail trail cruiser trek bikes quality

Once again, how can you go wrong (if you have your LBS build the bike, not Wal-Mart) with a bike this versatile and well priced when trying to start riding a bike? If you have to buy a bike from Wal-Mart, use your common sense and choose something with quality, not just wacky shapes and flash. If you see this bike at your local Wal-Mart, at least take a look at it and see that there is always an exception to the rules; Wal-Mart can and may sell some quality bikes in-store…

I give this bike One and a Half Thumbs Up.

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North Carolina has tons of beautiful locations. Apex NC has the culture, scenery, topography, and shopping/entertainment opportunities to make it the kind of place I have always wanted to live by.

apex north carolina bike safety league of american bicyclists olive chapel elementary

The League of American Bicyclists courses I was teaching to all of the students at Olive Chapel Elementary may or may not have an impact to the area, but the infrastructure and culture already at that school will most definitely create a better town, once those kids start driving.

This is the terrible, but informative video we had to show to all of the kids:

There were several news spots telling the details of the way we were able to go down to NC and teach these classes. Katie Caggia, and Reed Huegerich need a ton of recognition because of their effort put into this Safe Routes to School program. I mean… this project is huge. The city purchased over 1000 helmets, and we were able to size, fit and distribute them all in four days.

apex north carolina bike safety league of american bicyclists olive chapel elementary






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Man, I’m tired; I came to Apex, North Carolina thinking that these flatlands would be a breeze to do with tempo running perfectly with the lack of Appalachian ridges. I was awfully wrong. First day in town, I ended up meeting someone named Tom who invited me to a fairly popular group ride. My previous obligations had me running about ten minutes late and disappointingly missing the ride. Luckily my Garmin came in handy, and I had a few popular local routes installed as courses. Setting off alone in this new town was exciting and none the bit scary; it was so great to be riding in a place other than North Central WV for a change.

Several miles down the road, caught up to an older gentleman name Matt/Mark/Something… I can’t remember his name right of the bat… Asked him if we could take turns pacelining, and he agreed. This guy stated he was on a recovery ride today, and he was only planning on a 35 mile ride. That sounded perfect to me. About ten miles in, I was blowing up on every pull. The tempo was crazy. While Matt was cruising at this speed, I was pushing myself to near-anabolic to keep up and hold his wheel. Knowing when to secede from a hopeless battle, I asked which direction I should go to get to a road that I could recognize and get back to the hotel on. We parted ways, and I was solo again.

Passed four or five cyclists on the way back to Salem Road. It wouldn’t surprise me if I was doing some local popular ride backwards; I’m always guilty of starting off in the exact opposite direction that a ride loop is supposed to go…

I kept my pace up as well as I could to make the most of this unexpected hammerfest I volunteered for. I would have hated to seen what it would have been like riding with the A group or B group riders if I had made it there in time. It was just a different world to me.

apex north carolina bicycle chain bike shop LBS

Oddly enough riding that much on the flats also caused me to sit differently on the bike, and the pinched nerve in my shoulder started to give me issues. I also seemed to be riding in a way that was using my hips more. I guess I would need to modify my fit or adapt to this foreign area in order to optimise my position.

I have to hand it to this area though, there is an abundance of stores, suburbs, and interesting opportunities to be had, but go out five or six miles in some directions and the land is either residential with acreage, or farmers still making a living on crops or holding out on selling. It is nothing like the rural roads of WV, but it is a very welcoming atmosphere. Is nccycling.net registered? 😛

apex north carolina bicycle chain bike shop LBS

The bike shops in the area  are top-notch. The Bicycle Chain was a very sharp and modern store, but still felt welcoming with items and resources suitable for anyone! The store employees were witty, intelligent, and more than “this is just my job” type of friendly. I was glad they were willing to lend a hand to someone from out-of-state in learning the area and to true a wheel.

If you are ever staying in North Carolina near the Raleigh/Durham area, you have no choice but to check out this area!

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WV in NC

All next week I will be in North Carolina in the Apex/Raleigh districts. I may or not may post during this time, so just check back but don’t expect anything from 6/6 – 6/12

If you live in the Raleigh/Apex area, get a hold of me and maybe we’ll ride~

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