Hydration Tips for Cycling and Bike Touring
Mother nature has turned the page on spring and with that brings warmer weather and the start of bike touring season. Today, We’d like to talk a bit about the importance of hydration. Yea, yea, it’s really not the boring topic your doctor makes it out to be. Rather, hydration is something that needs careful consideration when taking on any endurance related activities.
Hydration is NOT Drinking More Water: You Need to Make it Stick!
Hydration, by its very definition, means the process of causing something to absorb water. As far as your body is concerned,that means re-hydrating working muscles and replacing both fluids and trace minerals that you are sweating out as part of your body’s natural cooling process.
If you simply fill a bottle with water and head out on an extended journey (for the day, or multi-day) you can very easily find yourself getting lethargic, losing focus, and getting physically uncomfortable as your body becomes more depleted of electrolytes including sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals are critical in helping your body retain water, as well as a key support role in overall physical and mental abilities.
The Water & Electrolyte Balance: Spike Your Water
A scoop or two of well-formulated hydration mix added to a bottle of water can be everything you need to sustain a perfect balance of electrolytes, carbohydrates and trace minerals while you stay active. There are hundreds of products out there to help achieve this—from berry flavored mixes, to no flavor at all. Here are some of our favorites:
- Skratch Labs Hydration Mix – A balanced, all-natural mix of electrolytes and a small amount of carbohydrates to help keep you hydrated. Comes in dozens of flavors.
- Nuun Tablets – A great product for a long endurance effort, or a multi-day bike tour. These tablets come in a variety of flavors and just need to be dropped into a clean bottle of water.
- Clif Hydration Electrolyte Drink – A staple in the endurance fuel and hydration arena. Clif comes in lots of different flavors, all of them good!
As we said, there are many companies and this is just a sample few. Try some out ahead of time to learn which one you like most.
Train for Hydration…on the Move
One of the BIGGEST tips we can give you (and it’s the one that’s most often overlooked) is to make sure you train with the hydration you plan to use on your bike tour or long endurance effort so that you can teach your body how to take in fluids and electrolytes under high activity sessions.
Remember when you were forced to wait an hour after eating before jumping in the pool or going out to play? This was to give your body the chance to digest and assimilate the fuel you’ve provided it…but when you’re on a bike tour, your body needs to understand how to process this fuel on the move!
How to carry your fuel on the bike? Most riders like to use a bike-specific water bottle or a hydration pack. Hydration packs are backpacks with space for a water reservoir of up to three liters – enough for a full day of riding! A water hose extends from the reservoir, which makes it easy to access your hydration on the go. They also have handy pockets for storing extra layers, spare tools, a phone, wallet or sunglasses.
So train—with hydration.
It’s Cool and Raining and I’m Not Thirsty
Did you know that a huge percentage of endurance-related dehydration occurrences happen when the weather is mild or raining? The reason for this is because the cooler air and dampness suppresses the thirst response in our bodies. In these times of cooler or wet weather, it’s crucial to your performance that you stay mindful of your body’s need for hydration as you are still using electrolytes and sweating out fluids.
The Advantages of a Wilderness Voyageurs Bike Tour
You’ll certainly get to see amazing places, taste local cuisines, meet interesting people and enjoy some of the best lodging…but you’ll also have SAG Wagon support during your entire ride!
This means that you won’t have to carry large packs, figure out where to stop for lunch or hunt down fresh water. We carry it all with us, making your ability to stay fueled and hydrated pretty darn easy.
Whether it’s a Rail-Trail or Road Bike Tour, we still recommend bringing along the hydration mix you love the most. That way, you’re drinking what you’re used to and have trained with. If something does go awry on your ride, you can always hop in the SAG Vehicle. We stop pretty frequently for snacks, lunch and bio-breaks so you’ll have a pleasant experience on tour.
We look forward to seeing you out there!