Ride, Drink, and Be Merry! Cycling Hydration Tips

Summer is right around the corner. For many of us, this means enjoying longer, more frequent rides while battling some downright hot temperatures. The result? Proper hydration becomes critical. When cycling, the wind whisks away your sweat, making it easy to underestimate fluid loss. Poor hydration leads to decreased performance, increased body temperature, and an increased heart rate. It can also raise your perceived rate of exertion (how difficult the ride feels to you) and lead to serious heat related injuries such as heat stroke. So what is proper hydration, and how do you achieve it? Start with these three tips.

1. The H2O Factor: Before your ride.
Proper hydration begins long before your ride does. About two hours before your ride, you should consume about 15-20 ounces of water. Thirty minutes before your ride, you should down another 10-15 ounces. If you ride early in the morning, then hydrate throughout the night. Consider keeping a water bottle by your bed. Get into the habit of weighing yourself in your bike gear just as you head out the door. If you replenish your fluid loss successfully during your ride, you’ll be weighing about the same, or more when you return.

2. The H2O Factor: During your ride.
Properly hydrating before your ride is important. Getting those fluids down during your ride is essential. Even when cycling short distances (under 20 miles) at a slow to moderate pace, hydration plays a serious role. Throw in hot, humid weather, and things can get serious. You should consume 5-8 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of cycling. If you’re out for a one-hour ride, at a moderate pace, you should drink 1-2 standard water bottles of water. If your bike can’t accommodate two water bottles, take action: buy another water bottle and cage, or invest in a hydration system such as a CamelBak. Find you’re still not drinking enough? During the dog days of summer, freeze your water bottles. Cool (but not cold) water goes down easier than warm.

3. The H2O Factor: After your ride.
So you’ve just enjoyed a killer ride (thanks in part to proper hydration of course.) Now what? Many of us grab a calorie-laden snack, jump in the shower, and get on with our dayâÂ?¦ completely disregarding our body’s continued need for fluid. In the hour following your ride, you should consume another 10-20 ounces of water. Just because you unclipped doesn’t mean your body has stopped working. Quench its thirst.

Cycling, like any other sport, demands that you pay attention to your body and provide for its needs. Follow the hydration golden rule. Strive for urine that is clear and odorless. It may take you a while to get into the habit of properly hydrating before, during, and after your ride; but suffer a heat related injury, or fizzle out on that Century, and you’ll learn quickly.

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