It’s no secret that hydration is one of the keys to successful cycling. Of course, everyone needs water to survive, but having enough on board on even the most gentle of bike rides can be the difference between gliding along at your full potential or struggling up hills and feeling lethargic after a few miles.
Getting the right amount of water for cycling is all down to hydration. This doesn’t necessarily mean swigging a litre of the wet stuff just before you set off on your ride, but following a plan to ensure that you’ve got enough water in your system before, during and after your ride.
Start before you ride
Before you even think about hopping on the bike, you should look at your daily water intake. In the UK, a whopping 89% of us regularly don’t drink the 2 litres per day recommended by the medical professionals. This means the vast majority of adults in the UK are dehydrated most of the time, so will immediately be on the back foot when it comes to cycling performance.
Get used to drinking 2 litres every single day, swapping tea, coffee and soft drinks for water where possible. You’ll not only feel better before you’re ride, but less likely to feel tired and lethargic in day-to-day life.
Figure out how much additional water you need
Knowing how much additional water to put back into your body as you ride is important if you don’t want to feel dizzy and exhausted when you get off the bike, or even worse, start feeling woozy as you ride. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to weight yourself before your ride, then hop back on the scales once you’ve finished.
Sadly, any fat burned won’t show up just yet, but what you will be able to see how much water you’ve lost through sweat. It’s surprising how much you can actually sweat out on a ride, with weight loss in the kilograms entirely possible on really hot days or difficult rides.
The weight of water is really easy to remember (100g = 100ml), so figure out how much weight you’ve lost in grams, then convert that to ml and start drinking! Don’t forget that you’ll still need to drink your 2 litres of daily water alongside this replacement water.
Replace lost electrolytes
Hydration isn’t just about replacing lost water. When you sweat, you lose not just water but important electrolytes, like Sodium, Potassium and other minerals that are key to not just to maintaining performance, but also staying alive! These electrolytes need to be replaced to ensure you don’t run out of gas halfway up that big hill.
The best way to do this is to drink solutions that are rich in electrolytes alongside plain water. The best way to do this is to use a hydration supplement.
Hydration supplements are tablets or powders that are added to plain water, or come in the form of a pre-mixed drink that can be drank before, during or after exercise.
Science in Sport offers a range of easy-to-use tablets that can be dropped into your water bottle and sipped like a normal soft drink. There’s no saltiness or sour taste either, with a selection of flavours making it quite easy to get the important stuff back into your system!
Top Tip: Make drinking water easier
We’ve all been there – it’s a red hot day, you’re working hard in the saddle, and you’re getting thirsty. You reach for your water bottle and take a gulp, only to find out your nice cool drink has been replaced by some sort of molten lava thanks to the sun. Nobody wants to have to force hot water down as they ride, so why not splash out on a better bottle?
Insulated water bottles that use double-walling or thermal insulation are great choices for rides on warmer days. Cold, refreshing water will not only act as a mini-motivator as you eat up the miles, but also make you more likely to drink regularly, instead of waiting until the end of the ride for some water that isn’t close to boiling point.