Longer bike rides can place a different demand on our bodies. Yes, speed can have an impact, but to keep going any distance, we need to ensure that our bodies remain fully hydrated. Why? Our bodies are 60% water and fluid loss can have a detrimental effect on performance. Being dehydrated can lead to issues such as:
- Reduction in blood volume
- An increase in core temperature
- A reduction in our ability to sweat
- Decreased blood flow
- Increased use of glycogen
None of the above sounds overly appealing, so what can you do to make sure that you are staying hydrated on long rides? Let’s take a look at taking road cycling hydration seriously.
How much should I drink while cycling?
To remain hydrated on a long ride, we will all require a different amount of fluid. One way of finding how much you need is to carry out a sweat test. This is what it involves:
- Strip nude and weigh yourself
- Jump on your bike and cycle for 60 mins (after getting dressed of course)
- When you get back, strip again, and towel dry any sweat
- Jump back on the scales
- Work out the difference between your pre and post-ride weights
- The difference in grams equals the fluid that you have lost in millilitres
Generally, riders will lose around 500ml-1,000ml per hour of riding. You should aim to be replenishing at least 75% of this.
When should I drink?
The important thing about road cycling hydration on a long ride is to keep your fluid intake at regular intervals. The big no here is waiting until you actually feel thirsty. If you wait until you’ve reached this point, the chances are that you’re too late and that you’re already dehydrated.
You should aim to be drinking every 15-20 minutes. It is best to take 2-3 large gulps from the bottle and remember, even if you don’t feel it right there and then, your body will be thanking you 10 miles down the road.
Best Hydration Drink For Cycling
As well as knowing when and how much you need to drink to remain hydrated on long rides, it is important to consider what you actually need to be drinking. Water may seem the obvious choice and certainly, on shorter rides (60 minutes or less) this is certainly a great choice. For longer rides though, you’re going to need something extra.
The best option is drinks that contain electrolytes. These are salts and contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These are all things that we lose while sweating. A drink with electrolytes will replenish this loss and keep us hydrated.
Don’t overdo it
In the quest to stay hydrated, don’t take too many fluids on board. Doing this can actually have the opposite effect to the one that you are hoping for: you’ll see a reduction in your performance and may even feel a little ill.
Certainly, if you are just drinking water, it is possible to dilute the fine balance of all that you need to keep your body working. Hydration is vital, but make sure that keep on the right side of what’s beneficial and healthy.
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