Hydration 101

Staying on top of hydration while riding is just as important as fueling yourself — even on a cool day. As temperatures rise, the need for ample fluid intake increases. Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling badly and will affect your performance. Drinking plenty of water helps keep your muscles working and ensures your body is producing enough sweat to keep you cool.

Signs you are hydrated include frequent urination, pale urine, and your skin springs back when pinched. There are several factors that determine exactly how much water you need, including activity type, duration, intensity level, weather, age, sweat rate, body type, and others. A good rule of thumb is a half liter of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures, but this will vary person to person.

6 Tips for Staying Hydrated

1) Drink early and drink often, even in cool weather. Drink plenty of water the day and hours before a long ride. Once on the bike, don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Drink often and take small sips rather than chugging large amounts of water infrequently.

2) Replace electrolytes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat, and if you don’t replace them, your performance can suffer. This usually isn’t an issue on rides that last an hour or less, but if you’re out for longer, you’ll need to compensate for electrolyte loss. Use an electrolyte drink mix or tablet to replace sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

3) Plan your route with hydration in mind. Water is heavy, weighing about eight pounds per gallon. Consider how much water you can feasibly carry when planning your route, or plan to refill along the way if possible.

4) Drink more at altitude. Up your water intake at higher elevations, where the air is drier.

5) Wear sun protection. Sunburns can expedite dehydration, so cover up or apply sunscreen before heading out.

6) Rehydrate. Drink plenty of water after your ride to bring fluid levels back to normal, which can help with recovery.