Choosing the Best Hydration System
Choosing the best hydration system is an important decision supporting your riding performance, enjoyment and safety. Water is essential for your body’s functioning and especially when exercising. Over 60 percent of your body’s weight is made up of water, and 90 percent of your brain’s weight.
Water delivers nutrients to your body’s cells, particularly muscle and brain cells, and helps keep you energized and focused. Proper hydration also delays fatigue when riding. Proper hydration also delays fatigue when riding. Generally, during a ride, when you get fatigued, start losing focus or legs begin cramping it can be due to a lack of water. Insufficient water consumption can easily lead to dehydration – particularly in high altitudes or hot valley temperatures during the summer months. When you sense you are thirsty, the body is signaling it is in low on water and you need to start drinking.
Your ride’s length, effort and weather temperatures, will help guide you toward the amount of water you will want to carry with you. Once you consider the amount of water needed for a particular ride, then you can think about choosing the best hydration system to carry that amount of water.
If you are riding for an hour or less, your body typically has sufficient water storage for your ride and may not need supplemental hydration. However, it is always a good practice to drink water before any ride begins and have additional water supplies in the event your ride plans change.
The following are some general ride activities and options for choosing the best hydration system for your ride. You may own more than one system to choose from, as your choice will depend on your water needs for a particular type of ride. For example easy leisure, endurance or strenuous mountain biking.
Easy Leisure Rides
Reusable Water Bottle. Easy leisure rides are typically short rides with little to no climbing effort. This type of riding does not significantly deplete your body’s stored water. Often this ride is experienced on a single speed beach cruiser type of bike. The slow relaxed pace can be convenient to carry any type of water container – like bottled water for example. It is best to use your own refillable bottle as your eco-friendly commitment and thereby avoiding the use of throw-away plastic bottles.
Flexible/foldable Water Bottle. Another convenient hydration system for a leisure ride or hiking is a flexible folding water bottle. These come in a variety of storage capacities and can easily be placed on your person, handle bar basket or in a pack.
Endurance Road Rides (more than an hour in length)
Bike Water Bottles
Bike water bottles are plastic refillable bottles that have been commonly used for decades. They are most popular among road cyclists that typically ride distance and require supplemental water. Mountain bikers also use them. In addition to being refillable, bike water bottles are popular because they can be easily stored in a water bottle cage attached to the frame of your bike. This frame storage makes water conveniently accessible within your reach during your ride so you do not have to stop to get a drink.
Another fun aspect of bike water bottles is that many event organizers give these away as swag with their branded named or sponsor’s on them.
Increased Distance/Strenuous Mountain Biking Rides
Hydration daypacks have become popular among the mountain biking community because of their versatility for all kinds of outdoor activities. They are small packs worn on the back using shoulder straps. They contain a polyurethane bladder that can store a lot of water and are most suitable for longer strenuous rides or hikes. There is a hose connected to the bladder bottom and a mouth piece on the other end positioned near your mouth so you can easily drink water while riding. The mouth piece has a value to control water flow.
There is a wide assortment of water capacity options from a liter to more. These packs are also popular because of their volume to store tools, snacks, extra clothing, cameras, etc.
Cleaning is Essential
In choosing the best hydration system, it’s important to understand the need to clean them regularly. Water containers can easily develop algae growth. All water has some nutrients and microbes in it and when sunlight is added photosynthesis occurs promoting growth. You can notice this growth visually by the light green color, or by touch with a slimy slippery feeling. These light green algae are not toxic but can affect the taste of the water. If you notice a blue-green color or black, this type of algae and mold can be toxic and harmful.
After each use, it is a good practice to clean your container using a brush and these solution options such as: hydrogen peroxide, distilled white vinegar or a couple of drops of dishwater soap, or bleach. You can also use baking soda. Thoroughly shake the solution. For vinegar, bleach and baking soda, let the solution sit overnight. It’s important to clean the entire hydration system – including the mouth piece, cap threads and outer surface. For difficult spots like cap threads you may use a cotton swab or tooth brush. Once clean, then thoroughly rinse and let dry.
If after cleaning, your plastic water bottle tastes like plastic, you may consider replacing it with a BPA Free plastic bottle. Metal thermos and glass bottles are also available but glass is may not be suitable for safety reasons.
Remember, when choosing the best hydration system consider your typical length of ride, level of effort and air temperatures. The longer, stronger and hotter the ride the more water you will want to carry.
There are many suppliers and options in choosing the best hydration system for you. Whichever system you choose, be sure to use it during your rides. Regular hydration will enhance your riding enjoyment, stamina and overall wellbeing.
Have fun, stay safe and be happy on the trails.