South West Florida is known for it’s white sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the breezes and for heat and humidity. I’m writing this in late March and it’s already approaching ninty degrees for a high. It won’t be long until the humidity is the same. These conditions just suck the fluids right out of you. It’s best to get your ride in first thing in the morning. By June I want to be off the bike by 11AM. Basically speaking , if you wait until you’re thirsty when cycling, you’ve waited too long. The long interval for cycling combined with high speed and the wind blowing over you will cause evaporation of body fluid that goes undetected until it’s too late.
The negative effects on performance from dehydration have been shown to start as early as 15 minutes into exercise if starting from a poorly hydrated state. To maximize your strength and endurance you want to ensure you are adequately hydrated before, during and after your ride.
The fluid loss under normal conditions for a cyclist is 1 to 1.5 liters / hr. This will increase as the temperature and sweating increase. Interestingly enough a large proportion of fluid loss comes not through sweating but through respiratory movement (heavy breathing), a fact proved by the fact that long distance swimmers get dehydrated.
The signs of dehydration can include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Dry mouth
- Sweating stops
- Heart palpitations
You want to start sipping on your bottle regularly as opposed to downing a whole bottle at once. The main reason is that your body can only absorb the fluid at a certain rate so consuming it too quickly will only result in you being uncomfortable bloated and loosing any physical benefits.
A simple way to measure how much fluid you are losing during long rides is to weigh yourself before and after a long ride. Subtract the equivalent weight of any drinks you have consumed on the bike. Ideally you are looking for a net zero difference.
Drinking water is a great way to rehydrate, however for rides over two hours water may not be enough. You’ll want to replace the electrolytes you’ve lost by sweating. Electrolytes are a mixure of the minerals such as sodium and potassium that you lose through sweating. Excessive sweating or fluid loss can result in a drop in these electrolyte level in the body which in turn can lead to a drop in performance. There is no limit to the number of sports drinks on the market that contain electrolytes, or you can make you’re own. Dilute some fruit juice with water, add a little sugar and a pinch of salt.
Drinking too much water dilutes the body’s salts causing over hydration. A condition called Hyponatremia occurs when the body’s blood sodium levels are abnormally low, as can happen if you consume a lot of water without bringing in sodium as well. Symptoms may include nausea and/or vomiting, headaches, confusion, fatigue, lethargy, a loss of appetite, muscle weakness or cramps, restlessness and irritability.Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/487287-how-to-tell-if-you-are-overhydrated/#ixzz1pz6QmeMo
Cycling is a real calorie burner, about 50 cal / mile @ 16mph according to Livestrong. Eating on the bike is very essential for maintaining strength and out put, especially on the plus two hour ride. For me it’s easy, I always carry a banana. They’re loaded with sugar, potassium,vitamin B6,vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and plenty of calories. There are a large number of sports drinks now available that contain large numbers of calories, known as carbohydrate drinks. What ever works for you works for me.
Let’s check our hydration: Do you have to pee when you ride? Yes is good. What color is your pee? Clear, straw colored is good. Dark urine is a sign of dehydration although vitamin B or certain medications will also darken urine. Sweating is a good sign. Not Sweating?………Not so good.
Continue to rehydrate after the ride. Drink something that will help replace the carbohydrates and calories you’ve burned up. Something natural, made using whole grain, that’s brown or amber in color, cold and refreshing. Anything come to mind? THAT”S RIGHT, HAVE A BEER! While that’s sounds good, according to the Cleveland Clinic alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. “WHAT!! NO BEER AFTER THE RIDE!” Well, maybe not the first and only thing you drink. You have plenty of time to rehydrate after the ride anyway.
I appreciate you reading this and as always I look forward to your comments.
ref: Cycling Hydration, Cleveland Clinic, Livestrong.