Review: Cide Road Organic Switchel
(2016) Frustratingly the cycling industry has moved away from its versatile routes. Several decades ago a road cyclist would buy whichever bike was labeled for the road. So, too, followed the mountain bike industry. Pick the bike with the fat tires. Try to maneuver through a bike shop these days to find a bike that does it all, and cyclists will definitely fall asleep in the middle of the shop floor from overstimulation. Here’s an aero road bike for your crit races. Or how about the endurance bike for your long rides? Do you ride gravel? How many quarries are local to you? You need an aero gravel bike. Want deep-dish wheels? How about tubeless? Clincher? Tubular?!
I could go on even longer for mountain bikes.
So niche is our hobby that I dare say it could be turning people off to cycling. It could explain the explosive popularity of L’Eroica and its vintage bike events. It’s all those people gathering to reminisce about cycling’s simpler days. Steel frames, steel wheels, wool kits, steel water bottles, no helmets. That’s versatility. I long for those olden day approaches as opposed to feeling I need to fill up my garage with twelve bikes, each with one single purpose. Give me one bike that can do the ability of twelve different chores.
Recently on creakybottombracket.com’s Instagram feed, a strange ‘new’ word popped up. Scrolling to the Peloton Cold Brew Coffee page, they were promoting an emerging company who was touting a product that was simply fun to say. They stated it was the drink of choice for colonial farmers. Invariably I went in search of this company’s product only to find its circulation didn’t reach this far south (yet).
After doing some research I’ve concluded there is no agreed-upon single recipe for a drink called switchel. Even the cornerstone ingredients vary. I’ve cornered four of the ingredients most common in each offering of switchel. They are ginger, maple syrup, a second sweetener such as molasses or cane sugar, and most distinctive of all, apple cider vinegar.
That same day I was tasked with going to the whole foods store near my house; this time I was more than willing to take up the chore since I felt they would have something similar. I immediately marched to the drink cooler, pushed the kombucha drinks aside and to my shock, found two offerings of switchel by a New Jersey company called CideRoad. I bought both.
CideRoad Organic Switchel, a producer in New Jersey, offers three flavors. I’ve only had the chance at sampling two. When I got both of them home, I snapped the top off of the Maple and Ginger. It was nothing like I had ever tasted before. I love spicy ginger beer. The zip that bubbles the mouth is like an addiction. Switchel has a toned down version of it with a complementary vinegar tang to it. I would sample the cherry flavor later, finding it more enjoyable, perhaps because of its sweetness.
Over the hot streaks this summer, and after riding through the warmest portions of the day, I began recognizing pangs of thirst as the miles dwindled. The anticipation of a cold bottle of switchel inevitably led to me pushing down on the pedals harder to get home sooner. The bottle was polished off quickly after hot rides. And there was the satisfaction that ‘Americas original thirst quencher’ had lived up to its claim.
Yet the drink’s possibility doesn’t stop there. Switchel is an extremely versatile concoction. The statistics about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar alone is staggering. Throw in other healthful ingredients and it’s an easy sell. Want to regulate your body’s pH levels? This liquid has the ability to do that. Hangovers could be eased if not erased entirely. Want to create your own symbiotic circle? Add whiskey to switchel for a truly historic experience. Others recommend adding seltzer to it. It’s the perfect substitute for soda if soft drinks have you in their grasp.
Just as vague as switchel’s recipe, the origins of this drink appear to elude people, also. It is believed the drink’s origin goes as far back as the colonial times. Farmers put this together as an old time sports drink. The ingredients were easy to come by and maintained a level of health. Its comeback is something we should all embrace.
I’ve yet to put switchel in a cycling bottle and ride around with it. It’s not for fear of the unknown, it’s simply that when the shelf has been restocked, I simply cannot help myself and consume it in large quantities. This drink is as versatile as water. What’s even more enjoyable is that Cide Road’s distribution is quite remarkable in this area. A quick stop into a whole foods store can reap instant rewards. I’ve wanted to post about Cide Road Organic Switchel for quite a while now. I think in a sport that brags about its history, switchel can join in the nostalgia of everything. After all, this stuff has been around for centuries.
It can’t get any more versatile than that.