When you’re going on a long weekend ride or prepping for a big Bicycle race, you’ve no doubt planned what you’ll wear, your fuel and the plan of attack (or not) for the lumpier inclines. Hydration, however, can often be an afterthought.
But when you learn that even 1% dehydration can affect your performance on cycle ride, you might want to think a bit more about what, when and how much you’re drinking.
Putting some extra thought into your cycling hydration strategy could be the simple tweak you need to improve your Bicycle riding performance, reduce fatigue and boost endurance – and enjoyment – in the saddle.
What happens when you’re dehydrated on a bike ride?According to the British Nutrition Foundation, just 1% dehydration can have negative effects on the body – and this can also have a detrimental effect on your form and performance on the bike. The more dehydrated you are, the worse the side effects become.
According to British Cycling, just 4% dehydration will decrease your capacity for muscular work. At 5% dehydration you can suffer from heat exhaustion, at 7% you could experience hallucinations, and at 10% you’re in serious territory with circulatory collapse, heat stroke and, in severe cases, death.
While, you’re unlikely to stray into the latter territory, even if you’re mildly-to-moderately dehydrated when you ride, you might notice some of the following symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Poor concentration – which can lead to bad decisions when riding in traffic.
- Increased heart rate – when you’re dehydrated, your blood volume decreases, so your heart has to work harder. This means your heart rate, metabolic rate and breathing rate can all increase.
- Increased body temperature – your sweat rate decreases when you’re dehydrated, meaning your body temperature can increase – and we all know cycling is much tougher when we’re hot.
- Muscle cramps – although the exact cause of muscle cramps is up for debate, dehydration could be a factor.
- Fatigue – dehydration can increase the amount of glycogen you use, meaning you’ll burn energy faster – and tire sooner – on your ride.
How do you know when you should rehydrate during your Bicycle Ride?The old rule of thumb is that drinking to thirst is a good place to start, but it doesn’t always work on the bike. In hot temperatures, when you’re working at higher intensities and on long rides, you might need to drink before you think you need to. You’re not just drinking for now you’re drinking for 10-20 miles down the road.
There are the following strategies you can use to monitor your hydration:
If you’re dehydrated, you feel thirsty. But be aware you’ll only feel thirsty when you’re already slightly dehydrated. If you’re on the bike, try and drink regularly right from the beginning of your ride, so you can catch dehydration before it hits.
THE URINE TEST
Next time you go to the toilet, check the colour of your urine. It should be a pale straw colour. If it’s bright yellow or orange, and you need to drink more. Ensuring your well hydrated day-to-day makes it much easier to maintain good hydration levels when you’re training.
THE SWEAT LOSS TEST
Weighing yourself before and after a session allows you to calculate the amount of fluid you’re losing through sweat. From this weight loss, you can discover how much you should be drinking on your rides to ensure you stay hydrated.
What should you drink before, during and after a bike ride?
How much to drink before a Bicycle ride
When it comes to hydration for cycling, there’s no need to drink a large amount before you set off on a ride. It’ll just mean more loo stops. Instead, aim to stay well hydrated the day and morning before. This makes maintaining optimal hydration on the bike much easier.
The NHS recommends drinking around 1.2 litres of fluid daily to replace normal water loss but everyone’s hydration needs are different based on weight, activity levels, the temperature and various genetic factors. If you’re exercising regularly, aim for around 2-3 litres.
It’s a good idea to sip on an electrolyte drink before a long ride, race or tough training session, too. Electrolytes are salts and minerals found in the blood that are lost when you sweat. An imbalance in electrolytes can cause muscle weakness and spasms, fatigue, confusion and dizziness.
We recommend taking on 500ml of electrolyte drink 1-2 hours before prolonged or intense exercise and 150-200ml immediately before you begin.
How much to drink during a Bicycle ride
Aim to drink little and often during your bike ride. Take 2-3 gulps from your bottle every 10-15 minutes – more on hotter days. Start drinking from the very beginning of your ride rather than waiting until you feel thirsty.
For most shorter rides: For rides up to around 60 minutes and lower intensity sessions, drinking water is enough.
For longer rides, races and on hot days: You’ll also need to take on electrolytes to replace what you lose through sweat. Maintaining a good electrolyte balance aids hydration and helps you perform at your best.
Mix an electrolyte powder, such as Electral, Fast&Up electrolyte fizz or ORS which is easily available anywhere, you can mix with water and take 2-3 good-sized gulps from your bottle every 10-15 minutes.
How much to drink after a Bicycle ride
After you’ve finished a tough ride, you’ll continue to sweat and lose water for a while, and it’s important to rehydrate and replace lost energy stores. This will help your body repair and recover from the stress it’s been under.
Ideally, you should aim to take on 150% of the fluid you’ve lost through sweat within one-to-four hours. Although take your time over this as you don’t want to end up feeling bloated and nauseous.
Take on 500ml of electrolyte drink to get your electrolytes back in balance. Need to add some Carb or protein shake for recovery, and you must add some rich protein in diet like chicken, cheese or soya chunk it's really help you to help your body repair, rebuild and recover.
What is the best way to hydrate for cycling?
In summary, here’s our three-point hydration hit list for the best way to hydrate for cycling:
- Ensure you’re well hydrated day to day, drink regularly on the bike – right from the beginning of your ride.
- Take on an electrolyte drink on hot days and rides over 60 minutes.
- You should also aim to take on 150% of fluid lost through sweat one-to-four hours after your ride as well as electrolytes, carbs, and protein for optimal recovery.
Types of cycling drinks
There are a whole host of drinks aimed at cyclists on the market, all promising performance-enhancing benefits. With so much choice, it can be confusing to work out just what you need and when.
Let's discuss it one by one.
Best cycling drinks for hydration
For rides up to 60 minutes: Water will provide all the hydration you need.
For longer rides, tough sessions and hot days: Fast&Up Reload, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder, MuscleBlaze Isotonic Instant Energy are some very premium brands in India who make mainly into in industry but on emergency point of view you can also use electral and ORS which is easily available in any medical store.
When mixed with water, the hypotonic mix is designed to provide rapid rehydration and keep your electrolytes in balance so you can perform at your best.
Best cycling drinks for an energy boost
If you prefer to drink rather than eat your carbs on the bike, you could try carbohydrate energy drinks.
Often found in powder form to be mixed at home, the carbohydrates can come from a number of different sources such as sucrose, glucose and fructose
If you’re riding for longer than an hour, you should aim to take on 30-60g carbohydrate every 60 minutes by eating real food or sipping from a carbohydrate drink at regular intervals, you can use a product like steadfast Carborance and Fast&Up charge plus, or you can make your own homemade drink for energy boost.
Best cycling drinks for recovery
Water is the simple way to rehydrate for recovery, but taking on an electrolyte drink and/or protein recovery shake can help replenish depleted energy stores, rebalance electrolytes lost through sweat and provide protein to aid muscle repair. And BCAA (Bio-Chain amino Acid) is also a very good option for Recovery, which is easily available to any online and offline food supplement store.
Bonus cycling hydration tips
- Drink little and often: aim for 2-3 gulps of water or electrolyte drink every 10-15 minutes.
- Stay hydrated day to day: It’ll give you a much better chance of maintaining hydration on the bike.
- Don’t drink too much: We’ve all heard the horror stories of hyponatraemia – where people (often marathon and ultra-runners) drink too much water in endurance events. Drinking too much can be an issue on the bike too, severely diluting the sodium level in the blood and causing bloating, nausea and in severe cases seizures and death.
- Replace lost salts: Among other benefits, electrolyte drinks help prevent hyponatraemia, as you’re replacing sodium and lost electrolytes as you go rather than affecting the balance of your body’s fluids.
Practice hydration in training: You don’t want to suffer dehydration or stomach pain on race day, so experiment with your hydration strategy and products in training.
I hope this blog will clear a lot of confusion related to Hydration and Recovery but still you need any help please let us know for same, we love to help you out.
MEANWHILE, RIDE HARD & RIDE SAFE