Sunday, August 18, 2019

Best New Thing I Used This Summer: Prevail Botanicals Salvation Stick


A year ago, I was highly skeptical of CBD.

There's a longer post forthcoming on CBD, as I went down a rabbit hole looking at the actual science behind commercial CBD products and their effects on the endocannabinoid system. The short story is some things work better than others, and transdermal or sublingual is the route to go in terms of how much you'll actually absorb.

It's no secret that I fight more inflammation than the average human, and adding in ultra sports helps some things (spine, SI joints) but can also create acute joint and soft tissue damage (say, after a 400k.) You need these inflammatory signals to rebuild stronger (that's the point of training), but also want to feel better. Let's say you also don't want to put nasty chemicals into your body, or pop NSAIDs and damage your gut.

This is where topical CBD has a lot of potential. I stumbled across Prevail Botanicals and exchanged a few emails with company founder Brock Cannon, and gave their "Aid Station" stick a whirl. I went in with a mix of cautious optimism and skepticism, but came out impressed. I can't say it takes all my post-body-thrashing pain away, but it's certainly appeared to save a mid-24-hour-race angry knee, and post-pounding-down-a-mountain (literally) angry shins and ankles. Does correlation prove causation? No. But I didn't change anything else on either of those occasions.

I've partnered up with Prevail as an ambassador, because I like their product and believe in their mission. For years, I've winced every time I've seen an endurance athlete pop some ibuprofen, and I'm hopeful that this is an alternative that will catch on with the masses. Disclaimer: I get no financial kickbacks from working with them. I've just looked at the science and had personal success with what appears to be a healthier way.

So, here's what the aptly named "Trail Size" looks like. It goes on smooth and leaves a little residue. Ingredients are listed as: Organic Olive oil, Organic Coconut Oil, 167mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract (CBD), Organic Comfrey Leaf, Organic Calendula Flowers, Organic Chamomile Flowers, Organic Lavender oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Arnica Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E.

And yes, I carried it to the top of a mountain. I hadn't scrambled in hiking boots in a loooong time, and my shins were complaining ;) 

I do have a discount code to share if you'd like to try it - just shoot me a message here or on the socials. Or if you'd like to talk endocannabinoid research in general. It's nuanced, fascinating stuff.

The self esteem-boosting packaging is an added plus.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Bikepacking the Arkansas High Country Route Northwest Loop: Setup and Do's/Don'ts

Last wrap-up post for the AR High Country Route! For the curious, packing-anxious, and bikepacking nerds: What I Packed, What I Used, & Bike Setup.

Bike: Salsa Cutthroat (2018) Custom Build (details here)

Tires: Panaracer GravelKing SK 38mm on Dynamo front wheel; Maxxis Rambler 38mm on back wheel

Bags: Custom Rogue Panda frame bag (water bladder, change of clothes, headlamp, note to self and other small items in map pocket), Oveja Negra Seat Bag (bivy, sleeping pad, Enlightened Equipment 30 degree quilt), Oveja Negra top tube bag (snacks, charging cables), Andrew the Maker Feed Bags (more snacks), Wanderlust Pinon Pocket front bag (cables, toiletries, sunscreen, tools)

Light: Sinewave Beacon front light, cheapo blinky back light

GPS: Garmin Edge 520 Plus


What I Packed, What I Used:

  • Nemo GoGo Bivy
  • Enlightened Equipment Quilt
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Camelbak Bladder
  • Bug Spray
  • Change of clothes: run shorts/tank top
  • Sunscreen stick
  • Spork
  • Food: assortment of Honey Stinger waffles and energy bars, Trail Butter, can of sardines, turkey jerky sticks, couple of Clif bars
  • Cables
  • Battery pack
  • iPhone
  • Toothbrush, contacts solution, etc.
  • Tools
  • Tube x1


What I Didn't Use:

  • Bike lock (but it gave me peace of mind)
  • Headlamp (same)
  • Pepper Spray (same)
  • Water filter (lots of streams that could've used it on - and came close - but generally ran into churches or schools with spigots)

What I Wish I Did/Had:


  • Bigger Tires (at least a 2.1")
  • The Rambler did ok in the back - the GravelKing flatted and then tore a sidewall, and ended up with a tube and boot in it. I think this terrain would be better suited to a Mezcal or Sparwood (disclaimer: rode after significant flooding the month before, so experience may vary). Even a hardtail MTB would do well here, especially if you're not in a huge hurry. 
  • Spare brake pads. Mine held up, but I was legitimately concerned I'd wear them out feathering the steep, loose downhills as frequently as I needed to over 3 days. 
  • Consider bear spray - you are in bear territory. I saw one, and ran into a dude who'd seen 5!
  • More time to hang out in Bentonville/Fayetteville afterwards! Give yourself an extra day or two, these towns are super cool.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bikepacking the Arkansas High Country Route Northwest Loop Day 3: Mulberry River Valley to Bentonville

Day 3: Mulberry River Valley to Bentonville: 99 miles

I woke up at 5am to the sound of rain pattering on the awning I was under (good decision #1.) I laid there staring at the green nylon "ceiling" of my bivy for another 20 minutes and peeled myself out of my sarcophagus shelter as the thunder died down. Shoving my sleep system into my seat pack for the last time and donning my Goretex rain jacket, I pedaled out of the campground and back onto the Byway and saw...another cyclist.

After 2 days and 150 miles, I'd yet to encounter another person riding. I'd settled into a comfortable headspace of being alone. I'd quieted my mind for the first time in a long time.

So I said hi. Exchanged brief stories, pleasantries. He was a rider in the full Arkansas High Country race, which had started about 5 days ago. I'd wondered if I'd encounter any of those handful of riders along the way, but it hadn't happened yet, since they'd departed from Little Rock and were scattered across the southern and northwest portions by now. After a couple minutes I let him pedal away from me, content to warm up at my own pace and have another day of solitude.