Hydrating is quite possibly the most important thing to do while riding. Most of us do not drink nearly enough water during a normal day…much less when we ride.
What happens when you become dehydrated?
According to MayoClinic.com:
Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
- Decreased urine output — fewer than six wet diapers a day for infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
- Few or no tears when crying
- Muscle weakness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:
- Extreme thirst
- Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
- Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
- Lack of sweating
- Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber
- Sunken eyes
- Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
- In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness
As you can see, there are serious side affects to not properly hydrating before, during and after your ride. This is why I see hydrating as the most important thing to keep in mind while on the trail. Most times, when you feel like you are dehydrated, your body is telling you that you are already behind the eight ball. It is time to start drinking more water…and quickly.
The Eight and Eight Rule
Although there is no scientific basis for this rule, many people have adopted it as truth. They say that you are supposed to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water per day. If you are planning on exercising during that day, you need to increase that amount. Now, there are many factors that contribute to how much water a person should consume throughout the day and while exercising, but this is a great jumping off point.
What do I do while on a mountain bike ride?
I try to drink a lot of water throughout the day. I make a conscious effort on riding days to drink more than I normally would before the ride. During the ride, I make sure that I am always drinking. I am one of those riders that sweats a lot, so I get a constant reminder to replenish.
We are in the time of the year where keeping properly hydrated is especially important. When you are riding in 90+ degree heat, your body generates the symptoms of dehydration much faster than in the cooler months. During these summer months, I always carry 100 oz of water (sometimes half water/half Gatoraide) on every ride. It is always better to have more water than you need rather than not enough.