As with all forms of physical exercise, staying hydrated is very important to performance and health. When you exercise, your core temperature rises; your body compensates for this by producing sweat to cool you down. The result is a loss of water and electrolytes. Added to this, is water lost through respiration. This water loss will lead to dehydration if the fluid is not replaced. Dehydration will cause your heart rate to increase, your performance will be affected negatively, you will find it hard to cope with the heat and your reaction times will be slower. It is therefore imperative that you remain fully hydrated before, during and after your ride. Put on your cycling gear, your helmet, your reflective cycling vest or reflective belt, fill your water bottles or hydration bladder and only then are you set to go.
SUGGESTED LIQUID INTAKE
- Riding for under 1 hour – drink at least 16 oz (500 ml) of water one hour before you begin your ride. Drink a further 16 oz (500ml) to 24 oz (750 ml) of water or an energy drink while you are cycling, and consume 16 oz (500 ml) of water or a recovery drink when you arrive home.
- Riding for 1 – 2 hours – drink at least 16 oz (500 ml) of water or a pre-ride energy drink one hour before you set off. Drink 16-24 oz (500-750 ml) of water and the same quantity of energy drink. On your return, drink at least 16 oz of water or a recovery drink; you may need more if it is a particularly hot day and you have sweated more than usual.
- Riding for over 2 hours – drink 16 oz (500 ml) of plain water or a pre-ride energy drink an hour before you mount your bike. Then plan to drink 16-24 oz (500-750 ml) of water and the same quantity of energy drink for every hour you ride. When your ride is over, drink at least 16 oz (500 ml) of water and a 16 oz (500 ml) recovery drink.
- Riding long distances – it is recommended that you begin hydrating at least two hours before you begin your ride, earlier if possible.