Now that summer is in full swing as we can tell by the much warmer temperatures; there are more of us enjoying the outdoors on bikes. Let us not forget that the pandemic has also caused a boom in bicycle sales and an increase in ridership. Nonetheless, whether you are new to cycling or a seasoned cyclist there are some challenges when cycling in hot weather including dehydration.
It is imperative to understand that on humid days, the body’s natural cooling system simply cannot work. The sweat is slower to evaporate which can cause our bodies to overheat and work harder. Dehydration occurs when our body uses or loses more water or fluid than it takes in (i.e. excessive sweating). Therefore, staying hydrated is vital.
Here are several tips for staying hydrated from Cycling-inform.com:
1. On days that are going to be hot, first thing in the morning drink 300 to 500 ml. of water when you wake up… If you have a lemon handy, squeeze some of its juice in with it. This wakes up your metabolism and replaces lost water from sleep. Plus the vitamin C from the lemon helps build resistance to catching colds and flus.
2. Consume at least 300 to 500 ml of fluid, water 1 to 2 hours before your cycling workout to get a head start. This is particularly important on the hotter days. If you are riding your bike on cold days, try to avoid consuming large amounts of fluids in the morning before your bike ride. This is because in cold weather your body will want to reduce the supply of blood going around your body. It will do this by making you want to go to the toilet to get rid of excess fluid. If you do consume large quantities of fluid before your bike ride on cold days it won’t be long into the ride before you’ll want to relieve yourself.
3. Replacing fluid lost when exercising with an electrolyte drink. Evidence shows that people hydrating with plain water don’t replace electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride resulting in a dramatic drop in performance. Use a richer mix during the winter (because you are drinking less) and a weaker solution during summer (because you’ll be drinking more). On longer base building rides, I like to combine my electrolyte drink with grapefruit juice. For long road races lasting more than two hours I use gels with water. This is due to the high carbohydrate burn rate.
4. When cycling, drink before you get thirsty. Sip on the water and the electrolyte drink on those hot days. Ideally target around 1.25 to 1.5 liters of fluid an hour on really hot days. Everyone is unique so this still might not be enough on really hot days. So… start to keep your fluids up early on in the ride to help reduce the chance of dehydration issues later on in the day.
5. Hydrate and replenish after each and every bike ride. Do not just get home and have some water! You need to replace protein, carbohydrates, electrolytes, and water to recover your body and get it ready for the next day’s work load. And just a quick recovery drink isn’t enough, you have to pay attention and keep hydrated the rest of the day too. Finally, hydration is unique to you so experiment and find what works for you.