Summer Hydration is No Sweat

Drink Before Riding

Summer-Hydration-is-No-Sweat.OPTWith a little thought, staying properly hydrated while riding in the summer heat is easier than you think. Hydrating prior to a ride will help keep you hydrated while on the road.  Starting 4 hours before your ride, sip 12 – 16 ounces of a sports drink or water, then another 12 ounce about 2 hours before jumping on the bike.  An average 150-pound cyclist can plan on drinking 16 ounces of water per hour in normally cool weather, and much more in intense heat, when temperatures soar above 85 degrees.

Plan to take two to three good-sized gulps of water every 15 or 20 minutes, so you’re getting at least 16 ounces, preferably 20 ounces every hour. For a ride lasting close to two hours, figure 40 ounces of water for the average size cyclist.  If you find yourself on the road for more than two hours, consider adding an electrolyte supplement to your water or plan to carry an energy drink. This will help replenish carbohydrates, electrolytes and calories lost during exercise, which in the summer months can be considerable.

If the ride is long and intense, consider using the weighing method to determine your hydration goals and needs. Your first goal is to keep fluid and electrolyte loss at a minimum, and the fist step towards doing that is to determine your individual sweat rate. The easiest way to find your personal sweat rate is to step on the scale before and after a long, strenuous ride.  If the scale has you weighing less afterwards, you need to drink more.  If it shows weighing more, you can drink less during a ride to avoid overhydrating.

Keep it Simple

Water is best when the ride is a moderate one. When a ride, though, becomes intense and lasts more than an hour in extreme heat, a sports drink may be your best solution.  And the simpler, the better. Stick with sports drinks with the fewest ingredients possible. You can replenish your calories, protein and electrolytes after your ride with a meal. You can also dilute a sports drink with water if it’s upsetting your stomach. All sports drinks are not created equal, so find the one that works for you.  And use it.  Religiously.  To ride the heat wave.

Post-ride drinks replenish protein and vital nutrients to help re-build muscles after extended activity and help to minimize post-ride soreness and fatigue. For optimal effect, post-ride recovery drinks should be consumed within 20-40 minutes of the culmination of exercise because this is the window of time that the body can best make use of these essentials.

Use the guideline below, and you can ride as long as you want without having to worry about dehydration:

1- 2 hour-long rides:  Drink at least 16 oz. of water before riding, 20 ounces of water per hour during your ride, (or 20 ounces of water and 20 ounces of an energy drink), followed by 16 oz, of water or an energy drink afterwards.

Longer than 2-hour rides: Drink at least 16 oz. of water before riding, 20 ounces of water per hour during your ride, plus an extra 16 oz. – 20 oz. of energy drink for each hour on the ride.  Replenish afterwards with at least 16 oz. of water, plus 16 oz of an energy recovery drink.

Don’t let the dog days of summer keep you off the road.

Happy trails.