Don’t ring me, don’t write a nasty letter, don’t send me a rude email and I don’t want any incendiary text messages cause I know some people are going to get a little excited about this. But I don’t care. This is for those riders who are thinking to themselves that the experts theories about hydration are causing them nothing but problems. How many races, rides and events did I ruined when I listened to some expert tell me how to drink ( sorry I mean “Hydrate” ). And whats more,and in retrospect, how stupid was I for listening to some expert tell me how to Hydrate. And the biggest baloney I ever heard was “Your body won’t tell you when you need to Hydrate”. Maybe Im different and maybe I’ve evolved to be better than every other person on the planet but my body tells me when to Hydrate – I get thirsty. And then I have a drink. In winter I hardly need to drink at all and in summer I drink a bit.
Ok Im being a bit facetious but I ruined my only attempt at a marathon by drinking way too much water. Nervously listening to advice back when I thought a 4hr effort was herculean task I hydrated like I was gold sluicing and didn’t stop until I was peeing a lovely clear Evian-like stream that I’m sure would have been pleasant to drink. I felt weak and bloated and had to duck off the course every mile for the first 6 miles for a desperate nature break. My first stop was discrete, off the course, down a lane, behind a tree. My last toilet break was where I stopped and splashed on the feet of the last few competitors who ran past me. By the time my bladder was back under my control I was stone cold last, disappointing, confused, embarrassed and about an hour behind where I wanted to be. My knees and ankles probably mean I’ll never get another chance. Now days 4hrs is a typical Saturday morning ride and more often than not I have a cup of coffee before a ride, not much during the ride, and a cup of coffee after. On a hot day I might drink a bit more. But here’s the thing – I’m not a zealot, if I’m thirsty I’ll have a drink, maybe out of a biddon or, if not, I’ll just stop and drink from a tap or a stream. Sometimes I get it wrong and a cracking de-hydration headache and pee that looks like something leaking out of Chernobyl is a subtle clue that I should have drank more but this doesn’t happen often.
I hope the advice being pedaled now is much better than when I was a newbie ( and old school carbo loading is a is blog ( or should I say bog ) on its own ). Now I have enough hard earned experience that I don’t have to rely on experts. I know now that I should never have listened to experts and just listened to my body. Back when I started you HAD TO drink 2 litres of water a day. You HAD TO pre – hydrate and you HAD TO drink before you got thirsty because your body wont tell you when its thirsty. What a crock! I did a quick google search on “Hydration Plan” to see what is being pedaled now and found some good news and some bad. I still found “Drink early, drink often, don’t wait until your thirsty” much like the advice I received but i also read “don’t drink too much in winter” and “be careful not to drink too much” which made me a bit happier.
So whats my advice? There’s something hypocritical about sledging experts and then putting myself up as an expert but it would be more hypocritical not too, so here goes.
- If you only do short rides it doesn’t matter too much unless its really hot and if its that hot why do it?
- Have some water handy and when you’re thirsty have a drink. Watch how much you drink.
- If you take to much water maybe take less next time but it doesn’t hurt to carry extra, you might help a mate.
- If you dont take enough water stop at a tap, a stream, ask a buddy or go into a shop. And take more next time.
- Monitor how you feel after a ride, do you feel especially thirsty? Maybe you didn’t drink enough? If you get a de-hydration headache you definitely didn’t drink enough.
- Watch your pee, if it looks radioactive yellow or orange and the smell burns your nose you didn’t drink enough. It should be a nice lemony yellow colour and smell like normal pee – everyone knows what pee should be like! And definitely not clear like Evian.
- Keep tabs on these things over a period of time and you should get your own idea of how much your body needs
Its pretty simple – listen to your body not some bloody expert ( oh the hypocrisy ).
Ok, so how much do I drink? Im very hesitant to put this out there because I’m sure I’m a bit of an outlier and most of my rides are in cold weather ( < 10C) but If i’m going to talk the talk …
One biddon for a 3-4hr ride, a bit more in summer, a bit less in winter.
How much do you drink?
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