Category Archives: Review

Trail bike love – Specialized Rhyme Expert

When it comes to mountain biking I can hold my own, but I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest on the technical MTB stuff and I’ve always wanted to know what a trail bike has to offer someone like me. Would it suddenly improve my technical skills? Help me conquer my fears? Make me feel more confident? Well I finally got to try the Specialized Rhyme FSR Expert compliments of Specialized Bicycles South Africa and I’ve come to my own conclusions.

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First the basics: The Rhyme is a women’s specific trail bike with 650b fun-sized wheels. I had been expecting the bike to be heavy, but was super surprised to find that it wasn’t at all. I didn’t weigh it, but it didn’t feel much heavier than my Era. And I was pretty happy taking it up to Saaltjie in Jonkers. The tires are pretty chunky as it comes standard with the Specialized Butcher (front) and Specialized Purgatory (rear). So I’m pretty sure that the rolling resistance was more than I’m used to, but I can’t say I really noticed it and I kept up just fine on all the group rides that I did on it. And on the plus side, the beefy tires provide so much traction and confidence.

The fork has 150mm of travel which is heaps when you’re used to riding 100mm. I would just lock the fork out when I was climbing – the trick was to remember to open it again for the descent!

Proof I took it to the top of Jonkershoek

I don’t think I’ve ever had such fun on a bike! So. Much. Fun! It just floats over rocks and roots and braking bumps (of which Jonkershoek has many). I was less inclined to brake as much as I usually do and was definitely quite a bit faster (Strava told me so). I got to the end of each section of single track and could not wipe the smile off my face. Like grinning. From ear to ear. The dropper seat post also helped a great deal as it allowed me to move around the bike a lot more than I usually do.

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Trail bike love #girlswhoride. Photo: Johan Badenhorst

Now I can’t say that it made me a better rider. If I got scared, I’d still uncleat at a section I thought was dodgy. But I do feel that given more time on a trail bike I would have loved to go and sort out those sections that are problematic for me as I gained a lot of confidence on the bike.

If I had to buy my own bike then it would be a seriously tough call between the Era and a trail bike like this. If I had to just ride for the love of it (not compete) then the Rhyme is the bike that I would want to have. Or if I was a billionaire and owned as many bikes as my heart desired then a trail bike would be in my arsenal. Without a doubt. It is the most fun bike I’ve ever ridden.

Photo: Rae True-Brown

I really struggled to return the bike and it had to be prised out of my smutty hands with much unhappiness.

I think there is a lot of scope for trail bikes in South Africa and they just look so good when matched with baggies 🙂 The Specialized Rumor is a great trail bike option for the ladies and the Camber or Stumpjumper FSR are rad men’s trail bikes.

Head to your closest Specialized dealer to arrange a test ride. You won’t regret it. Or maybe you will – because it will make you want one 🙂

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Rhymes and Rumors – How rad is the new Specialized ladies trail apparel???                                  Photo: Johan Badenhorst





TORQ Nutrition

In an industry full of purple and blue coloured drinks that are full of all sorts of heaven knows what I was looking for something more natural.  I am becoming increasingly aware of what I put in my body and have made a conscious effort to try and reduce the amount of processed nonsense full of preservatives that I consume.

Cue TORQ nutrition. It just landed from the UK and it is something that I am very excited about. I was drawn to it instinctively because they use natural flavours and it contains no colours, preservatives or artificial sweeteners. TORQ also provides detailed peer-previewed evidence for their unique blend of carbohydrates, something which I haven’t come across before.


Oh, and did I mention that the Topeak-Ergon professional MTB team and Sally Bigham used TORQ at the Cape Epic?

TORQ offer a wide range of products and a huge assortment of awesome flavours. If you don’t like the apple crumble gel then why not try the banoffee flavour? Bars, gels, energy and recovery drink – they’ve got you covered for however you prefer to take in your calories during training and racing.

TORQ have also made it very easy to work out and stick to a fueling strategy. One TORQ unit is equal to 30g of carbohydrate – or 1 gel or 500ml drink or 1 bar. Your carbohydrate intake should be between 60g and 90g carbs per hour and as such, TORQ recommend consuming 2 – 3 TORQ units per hour. It is suggested that you start with 2 TORQ units per hour and experiment with a third. I like the way they think because it makes it easier for me not to think while out training or racing. The maths is simple. Just do it.

TORQ gels

The best thing about TORQ gels is that they don’t taste like energy gels. They are absolutely delicious and there wasn’t one flavour that I tried that I didn’t like (and I tried all the flavours). The texture is light and easy to get down while racing hard – I actually looked forward to taking my gel at AfricanX (there’s a first for everything!). They contain electrolytes and a 2:1 combination of maltodextrin and fructose for increased energy uptake. Two of the gels also contain 89mg of natural caffeine which comes from natural guarana. I am a big fan of caffeine during racing and loved these! Flavours include:

  • Strawberry Yoghurt
  • Rhubarb & Custard
  • Raspberry Ripple
  • Apple Crumble
  • Forest Fruits (with Guarana)
  • Banoffee (with Guarana)


I took a TORQ gel 10km in to Two Oceans Half, finished strong and ran a PB on the course by 3min. It is hard to attribute a good performance to any one thing, but I was definitely happy with the amount of energy it provided and how easy it was to consume when my heart rate was sitting at around 187.

TORQ bars

The TORQ bars are moist and chewy and are packed with fruit and oats. It doesn’t feel as though you’re chewing on plastic, but rather eating real foods. They provide a mix of simple and complex carbs for instant and sustained energy and contain less than 1g of fat The flavours available are: pineapple & ginger, raspberry & apple, tango apricot and organic mango. My mouth is watering just writing this!

One of these bars taken halfway through a long ride sustained me long past when my riding partners started looking for an emergency Coke stop.

Torq bars

TORQ performance energy drink

I can not handle sports drinks that are too sweet and changing the recommended mixture to reduce the sweetness is definitely not the way to go. I really liked the lightly flavoured and refreshing sports drink. They definitely tasted naturally flavoured to me. The flavours available are: lemon & lime, pink grapefruit, orange and vanilla pod. In particular I liked the pink grapefruit flavour, but wasn’t wild about the vanilla pod flavour, although I am sure that this will appeal to some athletes.

It delivers TORQ’s unique blend of carbohydrates and 5 electrolytes.

The nitty gritty:

Typical Nutritionals (All Flavours) in 500ml (1 TORQ Unit):
Energy (kJ/Kcal): 500/120
Protein (g): 0
Carbohydrate (g): 30
Sugars (g): 10
Fat (g): 0
Fibre (g): 0
Chloride (mg): 470
Sodium (mg): 275
Potassium (mg): 65
Calcium (mg): 25
Magnesium (mg): 6
Everything you need in an energy drink and nothing you don’t! I never experienced energy slumps while using TORQ energy and I enjoyed drinking it which is very important to me or else I just won’t drink.
Torq drink
And finally for dessert:
TORQ recovery
I could definitely consume too much of this product as it is absolutely delicious, but I limited myself to using it only after extreme sessions and races. I tried the cookies & cream flavour, but it is also available in banana & mango and chocolate mint.
There is not a single ingredient in TORQ recovery that isn’t derived from a natural source, or doesn’t occur naturally within the body. Glucose polymers, fructose and whey protein isolate stimulate the rapid absorption of carbohydrate to re-stock glycogen stores. The active ingrediants are D-Ribose, L-Glutamine and a blend of vitamins and minerals that work to repair muscles.
I used TORQ recovery after each stage of AfricanX. While I was always going to feel pretty buggered after around 34kms of trail running each day (where my longest trail was 20km prior to the race), I did feel as though the product gave me that extra little bit that I needed to get myself to the start line the next day.
Torq recover

If you’re looking for great-tasting, no-nonsense, scientifically formulated sports nutrition then you’re looking at TORQ.

It gets a big thumbs up from me!

For now you can order online at: and soon you’ll be able to find the products at your local bike shop.