Drink early, drink often

You can carry water on a bike in all sorts of waysThis sudden hot weather is drying out more than the landscape. You’ll have the moisture sucked out of you doing anything active outdoors. Now you need to be vigilant about your fluid intake because by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

You can lose a lot of body fluid on even a short ride. The longer your ride, the bigger the risk of dehydration, which will impair your concentration and cause fatigue.

Make sure you’re well hydrated before you leave home. Then aim to drink between 500 and 750 ml an hour and drink again when you finish the ride.

With that in mind, take enough water for your ride. If you have only one bottle cage, consider having another fitted so you can take double the water.

Water is the ideal fluid to keep you hydrated. If you find it hard to drink enough water, though, sweetened drinks such as cordial can help. Be careful with sweet drinks especially if you’re trying to lose weight – they won’t help. Sports drinks are formulated to maximise fluid absorption and contain carbohydrates and electrolytes to replace those you lose, but like sweet drinks be careful not to overdo them. You’re best to alternate them with water.

The best way to stay hydrated is to sip regularly as you ride. If you’re not confident about pedalling and drinking from a bottle, it’s a good skill to practise. If you have to stop every time you want a drink, you might be inclined to drink less than you should. Learn to pick safe places to pull out your water bottle and drink: flatish bits of road or track where you won’t have to stop or change direction suddenly. Another option is a backpack-style carrier with a drinking tube.

Take care while you’re actually drinking. Don’t use your teeth to open and close a bottle. If you hit a bump you could injure your gums or teeth. Try pulling the lid open while the bottle is still in the cage and push it closed again when you replace it in the cage. Sometimes you can even leave it open and save having to worry.

Keep your bottles clean, especially if you drink sports drinks or cordial. Wash them out with detergent and hot water after each use. This prevents mould growing inside, as it will do if you’re not careful.

Drink often throughout your ride and you’ll enjoy it much more.

See you on the road soon, God willing.

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