Hey there, Cycleogicalists. It's me, Carl. I help work on this website and hang around the shop a lot. Somewhat recently I rode the grueling '75-mile Grind' edition of the Ride for Rwanda. My training didn't go as planned and I wasn't in great shape for the ride, so I had to rely on excellent hydration and nutrition to make it through the 7 1/2 hour ride. But I survived and here are some useful tips I learned about hydration along the way.
Hydration starts before you ride: Drink 16-24 ounces of water starting around 4 hours before you hit the trail. While we all love coffee and beer, they won’t do your hydration level any favors. I try to cut back on both when I'm in training mode (note: the key word is 'try').
Drink before you get thirsty: It’s a time-honored rule of thumb that accounts many variables including temperature, effort level, rider weight, etc. As a 200 lb rider, I will carry as much as 3L of water and drink up to 1L per hour in extreme conditions.
Mix in Electrolytes on longer rides:
I prefer Hammer's HEED
(Hydrating Energy Electrolyte Drink) for training rides under 2 hours. For longer rides, Hammer’s Perpetuem
or Sustained Energy
mix provides additional nutrition to support recovery during activity.
The C-Word (Cramps):
or Endurolytes Extreme Powder
are your best ally in the war on cramps. Nevertheless, cramps can still sneak up on you and then BAMM! you’re on the ground screaming in pain. It hurts to move, and it hurts to not move. Yes, I've been there. There are some home remedies you can try including yellow mustard packets, pickle juice, cinnamon mixes, and many more. If one of these works for you, that’s fantastic. For me, the only reliable solution is more water and time
. It’s relatively easy to come back from a calorie deficit, but re-hydration can take an hour or more. Best to stay ahead of this and keep the C-monster at bay.
Recovery is Essential: Even though you stayed perfectly hydrated during your ride (right?), you still likely shed some water weight. Learn how much by weighing yourself before and after the ride. You should drink 24 ounces of water for each pound lost. (And probably another 24 ounces for each post-ride beer!)
I feel like I could go on forever with details and some advanced strategies for race day preparation (BCAAs, beet juice, etc.), but this is a pretty good start. Got some helpful hydration tips of your own? Please share in the comments section!