Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Beware Dehydration

Two of my water bottles with water enhancers
I have learned these past couple of years that is easier to become dehydrated while cycling than it is when I engage in the other outdoor adventure sports I enjoy, namely hiking, backpacking and kayaking.

Think about this. At best I can hike or backpack three miles an hour, so on a hot day when there is no breeze I can really feel the sweat, the perspiration helping to cool my body.  I will probably stop every hour to take a drink and maybe munch on a snack, and when I do stop I don’t feel any rise in temperature because a three mile an hour hiking/backpacking pace does not create much of a cooling effect. A three mile an hour hiking pace does not cause a lot of evaporation.

Similarly, I can, at best, paddle six or seven miles per hour, which still does not offer much of a cooling effect. But when I feel hot I can easily dip my arms and hands in what is usually cool water and splash my face, chest, and, if I am not paddling with a spray skirt, my lower body, offering an instant cool down. I tend not to stop for long breaks while paddling and can easily rehydrate from a water bladder kept in the kayak.

When I cycle, however, if there is no head or tail wind, I can usually ride twelve to fifteen miles an hour on a flat, paved surface or even up to seventeen miles an hour if I push it. That creates a cooling effect, a wind chill, if you will, increasing evaporation of moisture. Even on a warm and humid day when there is no breeze I am in essence creating my own cooling effect. I might perspire but the perspiration easily evaporates in a twelve to fifteen mile an hour breeze. Every molecule and ounce of sweat that evaporates off my body can lead to dehydration because the more perspiration that evaporates the more my body produces to maintain the cooling effect.

Even though I regularly drink from a water bottle while riding (I don’t like riding with a water bladder on my back) and usually carry enough water for my rides, at least an ounce per mile, I have learned that after a long ride, say anything over twenty to twenty-five miles, even in moderate temperatures, no matter how much I drink while cycling I am thirsty for several hours afterward. Sometimes it seems like I cannot drink enough to quench my thirst and it takes several hours to feel rehydrated.

Since I find flavored water tastier and tend to drink more when I have flavored water compared to plain water, I have been flavoring the water in my water bottles with either NUUN Active or Mio Fit. Both contain electrolytes to help replenish what I lost through pirspiration. Mio Fit also contains B vitamins. I really like the effervescence of NUUN but Mio Fit is less expensive.

How do you stay hydrated while cycling? Do you find that you are thirsty even a couple hours after a ride and can’t seem to quench that thirst?

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Creams & Powders for your Butt (Eleventh Installment)
Group vs. Solo Rides (Tenth Installment)
Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

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