Too little, or too much, liquid consumption can affect one's performance while on the saddle. Hence, it is important to figure out the optimum hydration requirements for your body, to perform well on the saddle and maximize the benefits of your ride.
To know the amount of water required by you on a ride, you will need to know how much you end up losing. This is shown by knowing your sweat rate. To determine your sweat rate, weight yourself before a ride and after it (do not consume any water or food during the ride). The difference between the readings is an approximate of the amount of liquid you lose. Ideally, ride out for at least an hour. That way you know what you loose per hour of riding and can make your hydration calculations based on that.
PRE- RIDE HYDRATION
Often underestimated, pre-ride hydration is an important aspect to ensure a strong and powerful ride, no matter the duration. Not consuming water before a ride is like going into the ride thirsty ÛÒ you are going to realize that sooner in the ride, rather than later.
- If you ride early in the morning (soon after waking up) drink at least one to two glasses of water immediately, then get ready for your ride. This ensures you start your ride well-hydrated.
- If you ride later in the morning, it is suggested that you drink at least half litre of water before you ride. However, make sure you pace this out over an hour or so before you ride. Otherwise, you could be prone to cramps while on the saddle.
- If you ride in the evening, be sure to have drunk enough water during the course of the day ( 2 to 3 litres), so that your body is well-hydrated and you can put maximum power into your ride without getting drained fast.
There are pre-ride or pre-workout drinks available in the market, to provide you with necessary vitamins and electrolytes to boost your ride. These too, could be a good option for pre-ride hydration.
It is important to stay hydrated while on the saddle. This would mean consuming liquids often during the ride.
It is thought that one should drink enough on the bicycle, so that they weigh the same after the ride, as they did before. However, the truth is, one's body can't absorb fluids as fast as it loses them, and not every gram of weight is lost through sweat. So, the goal should be to replace about 75% of the sweat lost during the ride.
The key to staying hydrated while on a ride, is to drink before you get thirsty. Once you feel the thirst, you know that you are dehydrated and your performance is already affected. So, a few sips (about 150-200ml) of water every 15 to 20 minutes is all it takes to prevent dehydration while riding.
If on a ride that is an hour long, or shorter, stick to hydrating with plain water. You won't necessarily feel the need for electrolytes or carbohydrates. However, if you are on a longer ride, your body will lose electrolytes while you sweat. This will affect your performance and lead to fatigue. It is suggested that when on longer rides, carry an energy-boosting drink (such as electoral) with you and make sure to drink it as often as you can. Carry a few packets of an electrolyte based drink with you, so that you can mix it into your water and drink, when necessary.
If you are on a ride longer than an hour to two hours, make sure that you consume a minimum of 500 ml of water, and an additional 750 ml of an electrolytes-based drink, during the course of your ride.
Options for electrolyte high drinks include, but are not limited to:
- Coconut water
- Water mixed with a dash of salt and lime
- Gatorade sports powder mix
- Fast & up hydration tablets
- Electoral sachets
- ORSL flavored tetra packs
* All these options mentioned above are from what is available in India.
You are done with your ride and are feeling great about the ride. Time to head into the shower and get fresh. Hold on. Not yet. Post-ride hydration is equally important. This helps in the recovery process as well as replenishing lost electrolytes and salts.
Ideally, weighing oneself after a ride will help determine the amount of liquid needed by the body. It is suggested that you drink a litre of water for every kilogram lost. However, drinking just water could cause you to feel nauseous and bloated. In addition to this, it doesn't help with replacing the lost electrolytes. So, drinking a post-ride recovery, electrolyte-enhanced drink is highly recommended.
The key to recovery, is to rehydrate slowly so that your body has time to absorb the water and necessary electrolytes/salts. Additionally, make sure to keep your body well- hydrated during the course of the remainder of the day.
It is important to keep hydrated on all days, whether you ride or not. Make sure to drink atleast 2 to 4 litres of water everyday. This will keep you well-hydrated and prevent your body from facing dehydration quickly, while riding or performing any strenuous activity. The more water you drink on a regular basis, the more your body gets used to absorbing and utilizing required fluids. This in turn, will make staying hydrated while on the saddle much easier.