Consider this simple fact: our bodies consist of as much as 60% water. That should give you an idea as to why hydration is important not just when cycling long distances, but all the time. Professional cyclists – and other athletes – take on hydration on a regular basis as to lose water from the body is to weaken performance.
There are other reasons why, if you are taking a long bike ride you should be equipped with enough water or other fluids to keep you going. Let’s talk a little more about why hydration is important, and when you should be taking on fluid during your ride.
Dangers of Dehydration
Before we talk about hydration and cycling specifically, we should consider the dangers of dehydration in general. It is important that we keep ourselves watered – so to speak – on a regular basis, as not to do so can be dangerous. The following are some of the problems that can affect anyone, athletes and otherwise, who are not taking on the correct amount of fluids:
- An increase in core temperature
- Reduction in blood volume
- A decrease in skin blood flow
- Lowered sweat rate
- Less heat dissipation
These are just a few of the basic problems that can come about through dehydration. They need to be considered carefully if you are to be able to cycle the distances you want with no impairment of ability.
There are some things you can do on a daily basis, especially if you are a cyclist or athlete, to make sure you are getting the right levels of hydration. One is to monitor your urine colour: there is a useful chart here that shows you the different levels, and when to be concerned.
Another is to weigh yourself on a daily basis, especially if you are active and already lean and toned. Any notable and sudden weight loss is an indication that you may not be taking on sufficient hydration.
How much should you be taking on every day? Whether you are riding or otherwise, you should be drinking at least 2-litres of fluid every day. This can be water, fruit and vegetable juice, and sports drinks. Be aware that your several cups of tea, coffee or a few beers, glasses of wine or even fizzy sugary drinks do not count!
Taking enough water and sustenance for your long rides
Hydration When Riding
There is no need to overdo things before you go on a ride; this will just lead to you needing to urinate more often than you usually would. Stick to your normal daily intake and you will be fine.
During a ride, it is recommended that you drink often, but sparingly. Isotonic drinks are an excellent way of keeping your intake up and your energy levels intact during a ride.
Try and take a good few gulps of your chosen drink from the bottle every 15 minutes or so. This should be enough to keep you hydrated for the duration of the ride. If you feel you need more, go ahead, but try not to overdo it as this will not help.
If you are looking for drinks that also add energy, there are several different types of sports drinks to consider: these include isotonic, which add carbohydrates and electrolytes to your fluid intake, and others that we recommend you investigate further and try in advance to see if they do the trick for you.
Don’t Drink Too Much
Finally, it is important to understand that it is possible to take on too much in the way of fluids while you are riding, and on a daily basis. Be careful not to overdo things, and if you do start to feel bloated or unwell, it is advisable to stop and take a rest, or in extreme cases, to seek help.
Hydration is a very important part of our dietary requirements, as the above information surely confirms. Make sure you get your usual daily intake, don’t drink too much before you ride, and enjoy regular small intakes while you are on the move and you will find your performance is as good as can be.
What is the Benefit of Cycling?
The bicycle is a form of transport that predates most others on the roads today – bar perhaps the horse! It’s a simple, effective and cheap form of getting about, and can also be a lot of fun. Furthermore, it’s great exercise and an excellent way of enjoying time with the family.
We could add that it gets you out in the fresh air, and close our article about the benefits of cycling right there, but there is so much more to add! What do you gain from cycling? A lot, as it happens, so here goes!
Cycling to Work
To start, let’s consider the benefits of using a bike to get to work. If you work in the city, or even in a busy town, there are many reasons why you should ditch the car and take the bike!
The first is that it is cheaper; a car stuck in slow moving traffic uses a disproportionate amount of fuel when you consider the time it takes to get to your destination. Fuel is not cheap, after all!
A bicycle, on the other hand, will be able to move much quicker through the traffic – with due care and attention at all times, of course – and you will get there quickly, and in a stress-free and fresh state ready to go!
Many employers provide secure places to store bikes, and in some cities, there are safe lockers in which you can leave your bike for the day. It’s worth checking out and could save you a lot of money.
It’s also worthwhile checking out with your employer whether they participate in Cycle to Work Scheme as it allows you, as an employee, to spend up to £1000 on bikes and accessories or other equipment, tax-free. This way, you can save money up to 40 percent on the overall value. A no-brainer.
You may be able to get a lovely Specialized touring bike like this from Cycle to Work Scheme
Cycling for Fun
What do you do on your days off? Do you get a chance to spend time with the family? Perhaps you want a day out with the kids, but the prices of most attractions are simply extortionate.
So, why not take them cycling? Across the UK there are many thousands of miles of dedicated cycle routes, both in and away from urban areas. Get a good bike roof rack, put the bikes on the car and head somewhere fresh and exciting for an off-road experience.
Or, you could take a ride down one of the many canal tow-paths that are cycle-friendly, and stop for a leisurely lunch at a waterside pub.
Cycling is an excellent way for couples to spend time together, too, and what’s more, it’s fantastic for you!
Social bike ride is a fun way to spend time with your friends while going on an adventure
Cycling for Your Health
Let’s start this section by saying that it is a proven fact that cycling is great for your health, both body and mind. It gets you out in the open, you can leave the stresses and strains of work and home life behind for a while, and you also get all the following benefits:
- Weight loss
- Reduced body fat
- Muscle toning
- Improved mobility
- Better circulation
- Stress relief
- Better coordination
That’s a few just for a start, but you can see from the above that there are many benefits to be gained from cycling as an exercise and health and fitness programme.
You could, of course, get a gym membership and work out on a regular basis, or invest in your private home gym. Why go to that expense, however, if you can get the same – if not more – level of exercise and health benefits by taking regular cycle rides?
So, next time you need to go to the shops for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread, don’t take the car – go on your bike! Check out the best routes for cycling to work, and to begin with do it one day a week, then work up to more as you wish. Set yourself a sensible cycling routine where you do a couple of miles – to begin with – every day, then work up to more. You can always check the best possible cycling route from Sustrans National Cycle Network.
Cycling is fun, cheap and healthy, and whether you do it alone or take your family with you, there are many benefits to be had from this very green and eco-friendly form of transport. Is there any other benefit you can think of that hasn’t been mentioned here?