It may seem like common sense, but when you ride in the desert you will need to drink ... a lot. It's easy to overexert yourself so stay aware and stay hydrated. Here we cover the basics of hydration.
How Much Should I Drink?
The Moab Bike Patrol strongly advises you to drink at least one gallon of water per day…more if you are overexerting yourself. This can be accomplished by drinking a minimum of 24-32 oz of fluid per hour, while on the bike.
What Should I Drink?
Water will do a perfectly adequate job of keeping you hydrated, as long as you ensure that you are keeping your electrolytes in balance. One simple electrolyte tablet will add some flavor to your water, possibly causing you to drink more than you might otherwise.
Electrolytes and Salt
Electrolytes are essentially salt. The electrolytes our bodies seek most are sodium, magnesium, and potassium. They help ensure water absorption and retention.
Problems arise when exercise causes the body to overheat, and subsequently sweat, to cool down. Sweating results in water loss and salt excretion. Drinking only water to replenish moisture and quench thirst actually dilutes the very delicate salt balance in the body. Consequently, more water is excreted, and dehydration is exacerbated.
Bottom line: Drinking water with electrolytes will keep you hydrated much more effectively!
How Should I Drink?
Really???? Actually, the science suggests that taking smaller sips of water more frequently, will keep you better hydrated. Taking large gulps of water can send messages to the brain, that it's time to urinate. Simply put… If you drink too fast, you'll urinate too fast, and continue to be dehydrated.
While on the bike, nutritional requirements vary depending on the fitness and/or metabolism levels of the rider. Skipping the debate on what macronutrients need to be restricted for ultimate gains, the focus is on general calorie consumption and timing guidelines.
If your ride is less than 90 minutes, no food is required. The body is capable of storing enough energy for a ride of that duration, no matter how much energy is expended. Rides longer than 90 minutes, require food consumption.
Generally speaking, on a long ride, be prepared to consume roughly 200-350 calories per hour. You may drink and/or eat your calories. Whichever you choose, take small bites and sips, throughout the hour. This will help keep water in your gut for hydration, instead of using more water than needed, for digestion.
There are many options and combinations to eat while riding, such as Bars, Gels, Chews, and Waffles. Some prefer real food, such as baked potato fingerlings, PB&J sandwiches, nuts and fruit. It's best to establish eating preferences during long training rides. This will allow you to know what you prefer to eat during a long day in the saddle, and what your stomach can handle.
Current research studies show a significant improvement in overall recovery, when a recovery drink is consumed within 20 minutes post-ride. Some folks have a pre-mixed recovery drink in the cooler, next to the beer. Some folks drink that recovery drink, before their beer. Don't wait too long to get some real food in your belly, as it's time to refuel for tomorrow's