Staying hydrated while cycling is more than just drinking water, or even equipping your hydration pack, as a lot of people seem to think. There are a couple of nifty factors to consider that would deliver subtle, yet influential results to your persistence and health on the biking trail.
We spell out these factors for you in a list of 5 tips on how to stay properly hydrated that will leave your internal engines constantly oiled and in top gear if heeded properly:
Drinking enough water helps keep your eyes on the road.
1. Live The Good Life
Does this almost sound off-trail? Haha, but we’re still on track. It’s simple, really. Living a good and healthy lifestyle will affect your energy levels during cycling as much as any preparations you might take before heading out. Your desire to stay healthy and hydrated on your bike should cross over into your daily life. Drink good amounts of water, every day, even on days when you don’t cycle.
Eat healthy, too. It’s scientifically proven that constant hydration and healthy eating in people and even athletes hugely contribute to concentration levels and a lesser need to refuel during exercises or intense activities.
2. It Starts From Home
Of course, you need to be properly hydrated before strapping on your helmet and grabbing your handlebars. Four hours before, actually. It is commonly recommended that cyclists take at least 16 ounces of water (that’s two glass cups) four hours prior, and then two hours after that before hitting a bike trail. That’s 4 glasses of hydration before starting your journey. These numbers and requirements may vary depending on a couple of factors such as your weight class, the weather and heat intensity.
It’s very important that you understand how your body works and how you will react in varying situations out on the trail. The common recommendations for hydration plans for cyclists while being a safe estimate may not work for everybody. We all have different stamina, endurance and cell reparation levels, so it might not be too surprising to find that drinking 12-16 ounces of water every hour may be overload for some cyclists and barely enough for some, even if they’re in same weight categories. Factors like terrain, speed, distance and sweat rate are also huge influencers.
This is why it’s always good to keep a very detailed track of your performance. Having a good measurement of your water consumption – activity level – weight loss or gain ratio will really help you know how much water you should drink before and while cycling.
Squeezing some lemon juice in your water is not a sour idea, actually. First, the refreshing taste it gives makes sipping water seem all the more worthwhile. It encourages your hydration. Then it can help build resistance against colds and flus that could be caught, especially on cold days.
It starts from home but does it end at home too? Yes it does. Your hydration journey doesn’t end when you stop your bike in your front lawn and drop your helmet on a table. Oh no, it doesn’t. It doesn’t end after you’ve gulped that post workout bottle of water either. Your next meal and drink ( yes, drink, take a nice lovely drink, chocolate or juice, preferably) play quite important roles in your rehydration levels. The level of intensity of your ride determines the volume and quality of your meals in this case. If it was an intense heavy ride, a nice, healthy meal an hour after resting would suffice but an easy low intensity ride would only require a small, moderate meal.
In any case, proper, constant hydration before and during your biking means you won’t have to replace too much fluid.
Also, don’t forget to stay properly hydrated for the rest of the day.
3. Find the Right Groove
Constantly seek out options and features that are of most convenience to you. It sounds simple, but it really is very vital. Whether it’s choosing a sport drink or finding the right bike or selecting a hydration pack, the subtlest changes in convenience can affect your hydration and energy levels.
For instance, using a hydration pack that has a water bladder would keep you much more conveniently hydrated than one that doesn’t. A hydration bladder and hose means you can just sip on the go while biking, you don't have to offset your cycling rhythm or stop to take a gulp. You just need to fill it with the required amount of fluid and refill when needed. It also has the psychological effect of keeping you constantly reminded of your need to be hydrated, even before you get thirsty. Hydration packs that have good capacity for both gear and for the liquid content in the bladder while bearing minimal weight are the best options in any case. Mad Jack Outdoor has hydration packs that are equipped with all these conveniences.
For utmost convenience, you can choose hydration packs that have kits for misting and cooling. They’re super exciting, as having a cool mist blasted on your face during a hot, parched ride can be instantly motivational and therapeutic. Mad Jack Outdoor's hydration packs provide these comforts and they’re super reliable. Their resourceful Retrofit Kit is also a great product to consider because it comes pre installed with misting and cooling capabilities and can be installed in any almost any hydration pack.
Mad Jack Outdoor’s super resourceful hydration pack is fitted with a misting function that keeps you feeling refreshed.
Another way your choice of comfort can affect your hydration is the type of sport drinks you use, know which drinks are good for you and which are not. Some may taste really nice and some, well, may not. Some may not go down in your system nicely. You want to choose the ones that make drinking a pleasant experience for you. Take the care to test them out over periods of time, when you’re not on the trail of course, to find out which is best for you. Your salt levels and how much you sweat could also determine this. If you’re a heavy sweater and you see white streaks on your vest after a ride, you want drinks with high sodium.
4. Get Your Calculations Right
Having a good awareness of what measurement of actions and strategies to take and how these affect you will improve your performance and keep you on the cool side of things. On extremely hot days, drink a lot of water. On cold days, don’t. On hot days, generally, you will be needing to drink as much as four bottles of 16 ounces of water per hour while cycling to stay properly hydrated. On cold days, one bottle per hour is usually enough.
Drinking more water than necessary, especially on cold days means you would find yourself having to be relieved too quickly and frequently and this can imbalance your cycling rhythm and even motivation.
Having a well equipped hydration pack or bladder is a basic and important requirement but planning your water stops; shops, gas stations, water fountains at parks and coffee stations on your route where you can stop for a drink and refill is extremely convenient. This way, you can be certain you are totally covered on hydration and wouldn’t be left stranded without water for long periods of time.
Taking a sip of water every fifteen minutes is also a more effective method than stopping to take large gulps of water. The latter might lead to cramps and urgent needs to urinate. A hydration pack with a water bladder comes in really handy for sipping in this case.
As earlier mentioned, keep tabs of several factors, such as the temperature, the intensity of the ride and how much fluid you took during your ride as this information will better help you plan your next outings. Having a smartwatch with a weather app installed is a good way to measure outward temperature levels on the go. Keep track of how you perform and consume liquid at varying degrees.
Measuring your weight immediately after dropping the bike is not a bad idea too. People usually expect to weigh less but its quite possible to weigh more due to water intake. Weighing less might mean you need to increase your water load, weighing more would mean you need to dial it back. According to a scientific study, nothing more than a 2% decrease in weight after any ride is appropriate.
5. Stick to Simplicity
“I remember when I first started getting really bothered and conscious about my cycling hydration. I was initially content with using just water, then I got dehydrated. A lot of energy and sport drinks were being recommended to me and I was curious to try most of them out. They didn’t always work for me. Sometimes I would go mountain biking trying new products that I’ve never had before and sometimes that didn’t end well. “
One important rule to note is this; never start a trail with a product you've had no prior experience with. You never know what might upset your stomach or not. Also, avoid those products that always seem to have an infinite amount of ingredients listed on them.
For short, easy rides, you can stick with just water. You won’t be needing too much nutrients and fluids. Meals and fluids you’ve consumed prior to and after your cycling workout will provide most of the nutrients you need. Electrolytes are vital to rehydration as they include such elements as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium that help maintain proper fluid balance and optimize performance but these will have also been provided for if you’ve taken adequate meals and fluids before your cycling.