The advantage of endurance focused nutritional supplements
01 January 1970
You can also listen to these podcasts directly from the Old Mutual app, which is available here.
Hello and welcome to our latest edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Biking, our podcast that brings you the world of mountain biking. I’m Gerald de Kock and for the next 10 minutes or so it’s mountain biking we’re focusing on. We focus on all matters of mountain biking, we meet the personalities, we discover what makes them tick, how they got where they got. What their goals and ambitions are about. We also talk about events and talk about preparing for events and getting through events and that brings us where we are today.
I’m talking to a man who used to ride the mountain bike as a professional Timo Cooper, he’s in his mid-20’s, he’s no longer a professional. But he stayed within the sport by joining USN, one of the premier nutrition suppliers and manufacturers in the world. Very much part and parcel of mountain biking. Timo, thanks for joining us here, no longer riding as a pro. But I suppose working for USN you’re staying very much in contact with the sport because they play a vital role in the sport.
Timo Cooper: Definitely, that’s how I got the job as well. I was riding and then Albe offered me the job –
GDK: Albe Geldenhuys, the man who set up the business.
TC: Yes, Albe Geldenhuys the CEO offered me the opportunity and then from there it just escalated. The opportunity is to manage the endurance side of things. So USN is broken into four parts which is core fitness, hardcore, weight loss and then Purefit. I manage the Purefit side of things, which is all endurance brands and all endurance sports, running, cycling etc. I’m really still part of the sport, I still see all my friends.
Moutain biking is a big focus for USN
GDK: Your Purefit brand, obviously with endurance ties in very neatly with mountain biking, albeit that cross country is still endurance. But it’s not quite as endurance as marathons. So there’s a strong link to mountain bike marathons and stage races.
TC: Yes, I think I understand the sport and what people need and that’s why Albe also brought me into the company. I know what your body can take and what people ask for and specific products for specific events. Cross country requires something with a bit of caffeine or not so much protein.
Then endurance riding where we’ve got Epic Pro, which has got three types of carbs and proteins in it. So we develop products around what people come to me and say listen, why don’t you try this. It costs us money, but if it works, it works. Then people actually get what they want out of a product.
GDK: The Purefit brand is relatively new to the market, why that change and what’s specific about the differences?
TC: They changed the endurance brand, I think it’s two years ago now. They looked at it and thought, at that time, everything has to be natural. I think that’s, they’re still growing USN, it’s way ahead of the curve. They took out all artificial flavourants, colourants, no preservatives and they made the product completely natural in terms of ingredients.
If you mix it in your bottle, it looks like water, so it makes it much easier for your body to digest and use as quick as possible. That’s exactly what you want out of a product, when you use it in any sort of endurance or any sport for that matter. Because then your body doesn’t have to fight against the artificial ingredients, it just takes what it needs and uses it.
The dos and don’t of fuelling around races
GDK: Now, I’m preparing for a big week long stage race, I use USN, but when that race comes around I start getting into a bit of a panic. I think I need more or I need to double my doses that sort of thing because I’m now worried that I might run out of fuel. What’s the strategy going into it, I suppose months before and the race, do they differ?
TC: They don’t particularly differ –
GDK: They shouldn’t I suppose.
TC: No, they shouldn’t. But you must actually use what you are used to doing in training in racing, otherwise your body doesn’t know how to adapt. You’re putting your body under so much stress when you race, it needs to know exactly what’s coming in at what time. Whilst you’re training, you have to be using the same stuff you’re going to use on race day, or something very similar.
For me, for building up to an event, people don’t really focus enough on amino acids and a simple glutamine helps your body. Helps build muscle, it uses the nutrients, so a simple glutamine or an amino acid is key and people really overlook that part. Because they’re not really given information or not a lot.
GDK: How does that manifest in USN, what would you take?
TC: It’s glutamine, you can either take glutamine or a hydrate sachet. A hydrate sachet has got electrolytes, phosphates and it’s got the 2g of glutamine in it. I take one every single day before I go to work, because it just hydrates your body. It has the glutamine in it and that helps your body to adapt with the training and actually use it quicker to get faster quicker.
GDK: Race day comes, what’s the plan?
TC: You must use what you use in your training rides, exactly the same, if you do a week race, I think the one thing I can say is that pack your stuff out before. If you stay in a tent or a hotel, I don’t know, I usually stay in a tent. But we always used to pack everything out in single serving sachets. You have your day one, you have your two packets day two, the same, the same, the same.
Then we also brought everything out in single sachet form. Now it makes it easier for everyone. They know what they’re going to take on a weekend away or their race week, so you must, like I said, you must use what you use in training.
What makes the Epic pro so special?
Don’t make it stronger, don’t make it weaker because if it works in training, it’s going to work whilst you ride. Depending on how long your race is, I would either use Epic Pro if it’s an endurance longer race, definitely for something like Epic, our Epic Pro is key.
GDK: What’s special about Epic Pro?
TC: We took all the information that we have at the moment, the ingredients, formulations that are key to any endurance athlete. We bring the most out of that specific athlete and day to day recovery. The Epic Pro you can actually use as a recovery drink as well. It contains four different types of carbs and then a protein as well, so it’s a five stage system.
It uses the one, then the second, then the third, then the fourth and then the fifth. I’ve never bonked and the special thing about it is that you don’t bonk whilst using Epic Pro. The special thing about it, you don’t have to eat. It’s a strange feeling and you don’t get hungry. Everyone always says you must eat and eat, but Epic Pro contains so many calories per bottle that it has enough for your body to use if you take a bottle every hour and a half.
For Epic, what I did, I mixed my four bottles of Epic Pro. We got two bottles at the second water stop, so that’s all I had every day. I had four bottles of Epic Pro and about three gels the entire Epic. Every day I had four bottles of Epic Pro and then I had a gel on the second, third and seventh day.
Taking gels & getting recovery in after
GDK: Talk about the gels, when and what do they bring to the party?
TC: Gels is a personal preference I think. I enjoy gels if I need it, I take the high caffeine ones which the Vooma gel has caffeine and the new Peach Energy Burst. If you can eat a bar I would rather recommend eating a bar because it will last you longer. But some people really struggle to eat on the bike and digest the bar, so a gel is simple. It works very quickly and it’s very effective. It’s just personal preference.
GDK: End of the race, I rather like your recovery drink at the end of the race. I think a lot of people do, just give us background on that?
TC: I’ve never had a bad comment about the Pro Recovery, everyone absolutely loves it. We have chocolate and strawberry and the strange thing about it, it tastes like Nesquik, but it’s mixed with water. It’s just a 4:1 ratio, four carb and then the one is protein, it also has amino acid.
So it just replenishes everything that you used on the bike or after a run, so that you can be hundreds again for the next day. It’s pretty much exactly what it does, it also took the information out there and then it developed that product and like I said, people really love it.
GDK: You’ve gone with the more natural, with the Purefit line, shelf life and things. If I buy one now, should I not really be using it this time next year?
TC: Shelf life, obviously we’re taking that risk because you put artificial ingredients and preservatives in, it can last up to three years. But Purefit we worked on, it was 12 months in the beginning. But it’s actually 18 months now. We have found a bit of a mid-ground that works very well. I think people really appreciate that we take that risk to give them the best product that they can possibly buy.
Partnering up with the Cape Epic
GDK: USN have got heavily involved now with the Cape Epic as well and what’s the motivation behind that?
TC: We signed a five-year deal with them since 2016. So it’s five years from now. I think we wanted to find an event in the endurance sport that really talks to everyone across the world. It’s televised in, I think, 80 countries. Everyone sees your brand you can really talk to, everyone watches it, not just cyclists.
My parents watch it, everyone watches it. So it’s like the Tour de France of mountain biking. We really thought that that’s where we need to go to tell people that USN is really a brand that you need to look at. We really want to offer everyone across the world the best possible service and the best possible product.
GDK: Where is USN, it’s global already –
TC: It’s in 52 countries and obviously it has an office in Fort Lauderdale in America, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, I just mentioned all the SA countries…UK, France, those are the main offices, but it is in 52 countries.
GDK: You’re doing a great job in getting it out there as well Timo, it does seem to do the job for most of us on the bike. You do have a fairly decent share of the market as well, a competitive market it must be said.
TC: It’s a very competitive market and I think the mountain bikers, they’re all very clever when it comes to nutrition or training. Because there’s so much information out there on the web that they really know what they want and when something new comes out. They want to find a product that has that new ingredient in it.
Mountain bikers are generally guys that sit at the office and have some time to Google something or talk with their mates, so they are very clever. It’s difficult for us to talk to the market, but I think that’s what’s also helping us, that we have a good marketshare. We’re always trying to be ahead of the game with new ingredients, new formations, new information, so it’s helping us.
GDK: One day we hope it’ll help you maybe win an Epic or something, how about that?
TC: I don’t think I can promise that!
GDK: Timo Cooper, the brand manager for the Purefit brand of USN. Thanks for chatting to us Timo, as I said, a retired mountain biker, by the age of 24. He’d done his short career in the sport, but from that he’d gained so much information and knowledge about the sport. He’s brought it into nutrition with USN and that can surely only benefit you the mountain biker.
So get out there and maybe give it a try if you haven’t before. Thanks for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast, hope you found something interesting to take out of that chat. If so, download once more, until then, take care and ride carefully, cheers.