Maple Syrup As Workout Fuel? Cyclist Ted King Says Yes

Sure, athletes topping off their sugar and caffeine stores mid-race/game/match could swap out packaged energy gels for actual food like Craisins or chocolate covered espresso beans, but handling a Ziploc bag or a twist-tie (gasp!) while, say, biking? Forget that, man. Alberto Contador crashed and lost the Tour de France opening a simple energy bar.

So in the spirit of compromise without any actual compromise, comes UnTapped: Pure Maple Syrup. Packaged in the same easy-to-eat form as a typical energy gel, there is nothing in there but that magical boiled sap from Vermont maples that you know and love. What you may not know is that it's actually the perfect mid-workout energy source. Loaded with potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, and zinc as well as critical amino acids and antioxidants, it's more than just the sugary, carbohydrate boost you (or a world class athlete) might need.

One of the men behind the operation (and an investor) is none other than New Englander and pro cyclist, Ted King, who races for Cannondale. Recently we asked him a few questions about his UnTapped project.

Have you ever used maple candy or syrup as energy in an actual race with Cannondale?
Absolutely! Fellow Cannondale compadre Tim Johnson first showed me the maple syrup ways in the 200 Not On 100. Tim was bonking halfway into a 200 mile ride and upon downing some maple syrup—which was an incredible mid-ride gift from a doting fan—he was soon pedaling with vigor. I've known maple syrup is delicious basically since being born; I'm pretty sure that's a New England natural birthright. But seeing Tim's revival and subsequent research showed me just how viable maple syrup really is in sports nutrition.

Do you guys have plans to offer the syrup pouches in different grades?
That's not in the plans for now. Instead we will offer 100% organic, all-natural maple syrup in energy pack pouches as the initial product. We have some awesome back-to-basics, simple maple-based foods brewing in our kitchen as well. We'll have a full line up to suit all your energy needs.

Where's the syrup coming from?
I've teamed up with the Cochran family, a multi-generation Olympic ski family from Vermont, who are the good folks behind Slopeside Syrup. Both of our athletic backgrounds made it a fairly obvious and very quick fit. All natural, 100 percent organic Vermont maple syrup? It doesn't get much more wholesome than that.

What do you think of Vermont abolishing the A, B, C grading system for syrup because it wrongly implies that B is worse than A?
It's funny because I prefer B over A! I find the new grading system a bit entertaining, but in reality, it all comes down to personal taste. Understanding the differences and nuances takes a little bit of time. Teaching people what true maple syrup is—namely, maple syrup as one single ingredient from a maple tree as opposed to the overly processed, artificially flavored and colored, disgusting sticky mess in an Aunt Jemima bottle—that's another personal mission of mine.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. He grew up very, very close to where this syrup is made. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.