WHY IS HYDRATION IS IMPORTANT
Effective hydration is a healthy habit and especially important for athletes. Being properly hydrated prevents muscle cramps and keeps your engine running smoothly.
HYDRATION BEST PRACTICES
The general rule of thumb is one bottle per hour when it’s chilly, and up to four per hour when the weather is hot. This is based on a 150 lb cyclist and a 16 oz water bottle. Most bike bottles hold 24 oz so drinking two per hour on a warm day is a good average.
Water bottles are not all created equal. Our favorites are made by Camelbak. Their Podium bottles hold 24 oz of liquid, and won’t leave a “plastic-y” taste in your drink. If your water tastes better, you’ll be more inclined to sip as you ride.
WATER OR ELECTROLYTES
Water is great, but electrolytes are golden. Electrolyte tablets and powders dissolved in your water bottle replace the minerals your body depletes during exercise. Products like the small individual Nuun tablets are more convenient than a powder. They are easy to carry and can be added to water at any point in your ride. Plus, they’re tasty, which will also encourage you to drink more.
PRE-, DURING, and POST-RIDE HYDRATION
If it’s going to be hot out, pre-hydrating can really save your bacon, so putting away liquids before the ride is never a bad idea. But as important as pre-hydrating can be, your top priority will still be taking in fluids on the road or trail.
Staying hydrated during the ride is your best bet for strong and efficient performance. The purpose of post-ride hydration is to replace fluids you’ve lost, so if it was a sweaty ride you’ll want to keep that in mind and double up on the water and electrolytes. There are tons of specific nutrition products aimed at each of these categories, but look for a powder like Cytomax, which is formulated for pre, during, and post-ride use.
SELECTING THE ELECTROLYTE FOR YOU
Powders, gels, tablets: we’ve mentioned a few of our favorites, but they may not be yours. Read the labels to make sure the ingredients, calorie and sugar count are right for you. Taste matters – if it’s icky, you won’t drink it. You may never find a brand that tastes like sweet water to you, but chances are good you can at least find one that’s not so bad.
TIP: Gather up a group of friends for an electrolyte sharing group so you can try as many products as possible without investing in a large container only to find you don’t like it.
Taste test the options on your training ride or a warm evening commute. Get your preferred hydration option dialed in well before riding an event, and plan to bring your own electrolytes. Some rides provide them, but you never know which brand will be on tap.
This article was contributed by James Walsh of Western Bikeworks