In 2013, my husband and I, a couple of flatlanders from Austin, Texas, thought it would be fun to head to the mountains for the historic and adventurous Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. This 50-mile ride starts in Durango, Colorado and takes you up over two 10,000ft mountain passes and into Silverton while you (yeah, right) race to beat the infamous train that takes virtually the same route.
This was an emotional and nostalgic trip for us as my husband had been there as a child with his Dad who, unfortunately, had passed just months earlier.
Yes, we trained hard. In fact, we had done an Ironman triathlon and plenty of long hilly rides leading up to the event. When we arrived in Durango for packet pickup, we instantly fell in love with the charm of the town and the mystique of this legendary event.
Needing a few supplies, we stopped in at the local bike shop, Mountain Bike Specialists, the sponsor of the event, and saw a gentleman behind a table sampling a brand new endurance fuel drink called Tailwind. Always a sucker for a free sample (and conversation), I made my way over to the table to give it a try. You know how people always say, “Never try anything new before race day?” Hogwash, I say!!
The guy behind the table was the owner, Jeff Vierling, who, together with his wife, Jenny, started mixing their own drink mix concoction and sharing it with friends. Jeff, as he explained, was a mountain bike racer who was simply sick of getting sick during training rides and races. Most manufactured sports drinks left him nauseous with his head in a trash can after a race, and he was sick (pun intended) of it.
Watch this video of Jeff explaining why he started Tailwind.
I remember being inspired and awestruck by someone who could just make their own product. How do you even know what to mix? What ingredients do you use? Where do you even start? I guess, more than anything, I was impressed that someone would go to such great lengths to create something for himself so that he wouldn’t have to quit during the things he loved. The fact that he was a regular local guy from Durango made it all that more impressive to me.
That was the first day I tried Tailwind and it was last day I experimented with the myriad of other fuel out on the market. I liked the taste and what it promised, I liked the founder, and I loved the story.
Because of his affiliation with trail racing, Tailwind first seemed to make inroads on the mountain bike and trail running scene. I was a bit of an “odd man out,” on the long-course triathlon scene who was drinking this new stuff called Tailwind.
In 2015, I ran a 50K Trail Race and Tailwind was the sponsor. I, fortunately, had loaded my hydropack with nothing but Tailwind, telling myself that I could stop at the aid stations for additional fuel or snacks if I needed them. If you’ve ever done a trail race, you know that aid stations are full of goodies like chips, pretzels, gummy bears, salt, M&Ms and more…a junk food junkie’s dream come true. It’s the thing that most people look forward to, but I was in my “competitive phase” and wanted to stop as little as possible.
I finished that race 3rd Overall Female having climbed my way up through the middle of the pack. I never once had to stop for gummies, gels, or coke. I felt completely fueled up from the Tailwind and never even felt bloated. SOLD.
Since then, I’ve used Tailwind in all of my long distance races when I control thenutrition – 50Ks, 50 Milers, Ironmans, and even a Grand Canyon Rim-2-Rim-2-Rim crossing earlier this year. On some of these super long events, I do pack other snacks and goodies to avoid palette fatigue more than anything, but Tailwind has been my go-to fuel now for the last four years.
This year, they released their new Rebuild recovery powder. Unveiled at the 2017 Running Event in Austin, where I was present as a member of the working media, I, once again, had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Jeff about this new brand extension.
My, oh my, how the company has grown in just a few short years! Clearly, Tailwind is doing something right as they now have multiple flavors, pro athlete sponsorships, ambassadors, apparel, and a brand-new recovery formula.
I’m sure this is pretty common, but sometimes I just don’t want to eat much post-run or after a long race. My gut says, “No, thank you,” but my muscles scream, “Please feed me so that I can repair and rebuild for the next session!”
As much as I want to wait a few hours to refuel, I also know it’s vital to replenish those nutrients in order to rebuild and restore my muscles for the next session- because there’s always a next session. The Rebuild Recovery formula is made from organic rice protein that is supplemented with amino acids to make it a complete protein. Add in carbs, healthy fats from coconut milk, and a balance of electrolytes, and you have the perfect recovery fuel. Just mix a packet with cold water and you’re good to go.
They have both chocolate and vanilla flavors and, yes, both taste excellent. I’m usually a chocolate fanatic, but I actually really fancy the vanilla flavor of Rebuild. It’s just too easy and convenient not to replenish your energy stores within that first 30 minutes post-exercise. Keep packets in your car, gym bag, or purse. All you have to do is mix it with cold water and you’re good to go. There are no excuses for inconvenience.
The best part? The Rebuild formula is vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free. Finally, a product that works for darn near every athlete out there!
Rebuild was my go-to immediately after the Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 Race this past May (because who wants pizza right after racing hard for 5 ½ hours?) and I was selfishly excited to see the Tailwind booth at that race Expo. I’m proud for this little company that has now made inroads into my sport of triathlon – in a big way.
Rebuild was also the first thing I drank after finishing my first 50 miler this past February out at Rocky Racoon in Huntsville, Texas. About the only two things that sounded good were bland salty broth and Rebuild. I had them both because I knew my stomach couldn’t yet tolerate solid food, but after 10 ½ hours of running, I knew I needed something.
So, thanks and congratulations to Tailwind. I’m so glad the hubster and I wandered into that bike shop in Durango five years ago. I met a genuine person who, not only created something for himself, but also something that works for most. I love rooting for “the little guy” and am proud to be a loyal user of Tailwind both before, during, and now AFTER my races.