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!
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.