Hydration: Reflections from a Hot Summer
Hopefully, this finds you looking forward to the Breathe Bike Trek and all those exhilarating miles you’ll be riding in scenic Placer County. Please remember the importance of GOOD HYDRATION while you’re out there, especially in warm weather!
As someone who usually doesn’t drink much when out riding, I found myself hitting a metabolic wall this summer as I started building my trip miles back up. Somewhere around 35 miles, or 2-3 hours into my ride, I would get to the point where my body had used up much of its readily available muscle glycogen and my blood was able to carry less oxygen due to dehydration. On one long ride, coming back in 101-degree weather, I could feel the onset of muscle cramps from dehydration and the depletion of electrolytes. The dreaded BONK wasn’t far behind!
So, I did some basic research on sports nutrition. As it turns out, it’s important to start drinking water with electrolytes in it BEFORE a major ride. In my case, I was drinking coffee, which is even worse! Now, I might still drink a little coffee before a ride – but just a taste to get me mentally started in the morning. I follow that up by mixing quality electrolyte powder into my water bottle and starting to drink it as I’m heading out the door. In fact, just knowing that I have a water bottle with electrolytes onboard motivates me to drink substantially more, even if I’m not feeling thirsty yet.
That’s my strategy for water bottle #1. Water bottle #2 is now an insulated one that I pack with ice, then top off with water. By the time I’ve burned through my first bottle, the second one is pleasantly cool instead of obnoxiously hot. I now have the option of pouring some of it over my body to “turn on the swamp cooler”, or dropping in an electrolyte tab to augment my hydration. It’s a good idea to keep a couple extra electrolyte tabs, like the Nuun “fizzies”, in your tool bag so that you have them when you need them. I tend to get carried away on rides and hang out there longer than anticipated; I’ve already found myself digging into my tool bag for the “emergency fizzies” a couple times this last month.
Take your hydration seriously and you’ll have better athletic performance, faster recovery times, and happier experiences out on the road.
To quote Camelbak: “HYDRATE OR DIE!”