Distance cyclist: Joel MaHarry

I look for supplements that are natural, that are reasonably convenient and tasty, and that actually have the benefit of working! Beet It meets all my criteria (and I’m amazed at how many supplements fail at one or all of them!). In a recent six-day, 600-mile stage event, I was religious in taking on board three Beet It Sport Shots over the course of those long days, and I’m fully confident it helped me perform at my best. 

Beet It Sport Ambassador Joel MaHarry

Joel MaHarry outside of Big SurWould you describe yourself as an athlete? Yes. I competed in high school, college and post-college in track, cross country, and then later in road races and marathons. As the years flowed by I found myself less interested in competing, strictly speaking, and more in love with running and now riding longer distances.

Have you always been a cyclist? I pursued running, along with soccer and basketball quite avidly when I was in school, and in the years after. As the miles and stresses built up on my legs and body, I began turning to cycling. Now, I’m a committed cyclist, a sometime-hiker and a very rudimentary but enthusiastic yoga student. I love cycling and hiking for the way they pull me into nature — living in Ojai, CA, we’re surrounded by mountains filled with long climbs, deep trails and extraordinary views. Some of my friends are surprised when I tell them I’m never, ever bored, even on long 7, 8-hour rides. I find it to be soothing, in a way, as the miles add up the rhythm of cycling has an almost meditative, reflective impact on me. The biking and hiking help keep me centered and sane, while I’ve found that in combination yoga keeps me upright, feeling strong and flexible, and relatively free from injuries.

Do you participate in races or events? I like to jump in different races or events as I train up for bigger efforts. This past September, for example, rode in the Martha’s Vineyard Triathlon. I rode the cycling leg, while two of my great longtime friends led off with the swim, and then completed the run. Then, a few weeks later, I rode in the Fireflies West Tour, a d 6-day, nearly 600-mile benefit ride, from Mill Valley north of San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was quite a challenge!

What motivates you to train and compete harder? What works for me is establishing a goal — for example, my just-completed Fireflies ride. I was invited to ride in that back in April. I was in decent, not great shape, and that gave me just under six months to train up for an effort of that magnitude. My next big event is the Fireflies Tour of the Alps, next June. That’s about 75,000 feet of climbing over seven days, and I’ll begin building toward that this January. Having a big goal in my sights acts as “carrot and stick.” “Stick,” in the sense that I don’t want to be embarrassed, so that little element of anxiety keeps a fire under me. And, a carrot, in that I know as I build miles and fitness I’ll just feel better and better on the bike, and grow to find new levels of fulfillment.

Any tips on nutrition that you try and follow? Oh, yeah. Bring a healthy skepticism to all the supplement out there — I think of some as “Frankenstein” foods — supplements created in a lab, without much mind toward whether they’re really good or healthy for you. A few days on Frankenstein supplements can leave me feeling quite nauseated. Instead, what I rely on are more natural foods. I mean, I would never eat foods with super-high concentrations of fructose or salt in my regular diet, so why deviate just because I’m on my bike. Natural foods, like bananas, small healthy sandwiches, home-made fig “newtons”, are good energy sources while I’m riding. Same goes with hydration. I can’t tolerate most of the powdered supplements out there. Most taste foul, for one thing. I like teas — green, black, herb — for a little flavor, with a bit of honey, perhaps. And, of course, there’s always water. Joel MaHarry Ed Chilcott

How did you hear about Beet It Sport? I actually had a friend who heard about the company, and who was familiar with the science behind the nitrates in beet juice. I was incredibly skeptical. Beets? Nitrates? Saliva? I couldn’t follow the logic of it. But then as I learned more, I became more open-minded. I found out those three dudes won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the role of nitrate in cardio-vascular performance. Then I came to realize that the people behind Beet It Sport have found a way to ensure each shot contains 400ml of nitrate. That’s the amount the IOC and a bunch of other experts say is what you need to enjoy a performance boost, So, I started taking Beet It Sport on occasion.

Did you notice a benefit to using Beet It Sport? Without a doubt. I use it in sync with my harder rides. For example on this recent SF to LA tour, we were scheduled on the third day, as we passed through Big Sur, for a seven-mile climb average 9% grade. It’s hard to even imagine that in my mind. That day I performed pretty well, in spite of the fact that some of the switchbacks should have come with elevators. I really credit my regimen of consuming Beet It Sport Shots three times per day with helping me get over that climb. And then being in good enough shape to ride remaining 6o miles of that leg.

Anything additional you would like to add about Beet It Sport Shots? Well, just that Beet It Sport Shots meet all my criteria for a supplement. It’s not some creation of the laboratory filled with chemicals whose names I can’t pronounce. It’s a natural product. It tastes good. Well, good enough. But that’s the thing, it’s only 2.4 ounces. So it’s super easy to consume, and to stick on your jersey pocket to drink when you’re 3-4 hours into a ride. And then, and this is super important, The Beet It guys really have the science down. They’re the only beet juice supplement that promises that 400ml of nitrate. It’s right there on the front of the label! Nobody else has the confidence to do that, at least that I’ve seen.

Joel is the creative director of Beet It communications agency Ulrich | MaHarry.