Regardless of the length of your bike ride or other outdoor activity, don’t forget to bring plenty of H20. Many times riders will assume that because the weather is cool or a ride is a short distance, they don’t need to bring water. Truth be told, the biggest drain on your energy level while riding can be related to dehydration. Stay hydrated by bringing water or a sports drink along on all rides.
Stay hydrated before, during, and after your ride!
Here are five tips on how much to drink and what to drink when biking:
1. On days that are going to be hot, first thing in the morning, drink at least a pint (20 to 24 Fl. OZ.) of water. If you have a lemon handy, squeeze some juice in with the water. This combination wakes up your metabolism and replaces lost water from sleep. Plus, the vitamin C from the lemon helps build resistance to catching a cold.
2. Then, one to two hours before heading out on your bike, consume another pint of fluid an hour before you start riding. This is particularly important on the hotter days.
In colder weather, avoid consuming large amounts of fluids in the morning before your bike ride. This is because, in cold weather, your body will want to reduce the supply of blood going around your body. It will make you want to use the bathroom to eliminate excess fluid.
3. On longer rides, when riding for several hours, replace fluids with an electrolyte drink. Evidence shows that people hydrating only consuming water don’t replace electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. This will result in a dramatic drop in performance and create fatigue. Several brands on the market use a richer mix during the winter (because you are drinking less) and a weaker solution during summer (because you’ll be drinking more).
On longer rides, consider mixing one of your water bottles with an electrolyte drink mix and grapefruit juice. Or, for a high carbohydrate burn rate, use gels with water.
Drink before you get thirsty
4. The main thing to remember when cycling, drink before you get thirsty. Sip on the water and the electrolyte drink on those hot days. Ideally, target to take a couple of sips of fluid every two or three miles on hot days. Everyone is unique, so this still might not be enough on really hot days. However, it is better to consume plenty of fluids early in the ride to help reduce the chance of hydration issues later in the day.
5. Hydrate and replenish after each and every bike ride. Do not just get home and have some water! You need to replace protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, and water alone won’t help your body recover quickly for that next planned activity. A quick recovery drink alone isn’t enough; you have to pay attention and keep hydrated the rest of the day too
Remember – Staying hydrated is unique to each individual. So please experiment with the steps above and the products available to determine what works best for you. If you feel faint, dizzy, or start to get a headache while out riding, please stop and seek shade or an air-conditioned room) and call medical assistance ASAP.
So, stay hydrated and have fun no matter how hot it gets!