The biggest, heaviest, most powerful part of your bike is you. That’s why keeping yourself firing on all cylinders plays a bigger part in your bike’s performance than all the weight-savings, upgrades, and air-pressure adjustments out there. In today’s post, let’s talk hydration and what your bod needs water-wise to get the most out of your rides and avoid the dreaded "bonk".
This stuff is like 60% of your body, so it’s kind of a big deal. Everyone knows you should drink water while you work out, but how much? How often? And just how?
It turns out that staying hydrated takes more than a few sips while you ride, it should be a regular part of your overall body maintenance. Drinking water before you roll out is just as important as drinking on the road, and keeping your guts wet on rest-days plays a huge part in your ride-day performance as well.
You don’t drink enough water. It’s unfortunate, but for most of us, it’s true. There are a ton of opinions out there about just how much water you should drink everyday and, while most doctors now seem to agree that there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer (8 cups/day/person), they also agree that we should all be drinking more than we are. And there’s good reason for that, being well-hydrated improves your mood, metabolism, skin, endurance, sleep, and well, just about everything. Just keep a glass handy, and make sure you’re drinking it. You don’t need to down 3 gallons a day, but try upping your intake for a few days and you’ll quickly see how much better you feel. Both on the bike and off.
When you’re hydrating well every day, there’s no need to go overboard on your pre-ride fill up! Some old bike wisdom used to recommend packing as much moisture into your body as possible before a ride so you won’t dry up when the sweat starts rolling, but there’s a limit to how quickly your body can absorb water (and a limit to how many “nature calls” pit stops you can make before a ride loses its excitement). All you really need to get a good start is a bottle of water already in your pipes, so just down 16-24 ounces (usually 1 bike bottle) in the few hours before you head out, and you’ll be primed to pedal!
On the Ride
And when it comes to your actual time in the saddle, you just have to keep up with the heat. On a cool day, most coaches will recommend drinking one bottle (16-24oz) of water for every hour you ride. On a super hot day, that can be up to 4 bottles an hour to make up for all the sweat you’re losing. Just be sure to drink a little bit throughout your ride. Mashing for an hour and then chugging your bottle won’t have the same hydrating effect as 4 mid-ride gulps to empty that puppy.
And if you’re really sweating up a storm, make sure to work in some sport’s drinks to replenish your electrolytes, or grab a post-ride snack to refill those salt stores. Simple. The good news is, when you’re hydrating every day, you’ll find yourself less parched on the pedals anyway, so those “OMG I’m dying of thirst, can I use your hose?” pit stops will be a thing of the past.
Stay wet out there!