Whether you're riding through the desert at Moab or cycling on your local bike path, it's important to avoid dehydration by bringing the right amount of fluids for the duration of your journey. Here's a closer look at what you need to drink--how much and how often--to stay in tip-top shape throughout your ride.
Start before you ride. On hot days or days when a longer workout is planned, it's important to start fueling up a few hours before the ride so you don't start out dehydrated. Aim for a glass of water an hour in the time leading up to exercise or top off carbohydrate stores (the fuel for your bike ride) with an energy drink an hour before you head out.
Prepare to go the distance. Everybody requires a different amount of hydration during exercise. This is dependant on factors such as metabolic rate, how much you tend to sweat, the weather, and how long and difficult the ride is. A good rule of thumb is to think one liter (or approximately one water bottle) an hour. Try not to go much beyond that, as it's possible to hyper-hydrate.
Bring the right fuel. Most recreational riders who bike for an hour or less will be fine with one bottle of water. Just follow it up by continuing to drink water after the ride. For those heading out into extreme heat or who are riding for well over an hour, it's important to take in some extra electrolytes (salt and trace minerals that help keep your muscles firing) and carbohydrates (muscle fuel), both of which are depleted during exercise. Luckily there are an array of sports drink options out there. Look for those that are recommened for during exercise (as opposed to recovery drinks, which are best consumed after exercise). You can also add electrolyte (salt) drops to water if you're prone to heavy sweating or want to replenish without a sports drink.
Know when to drink and when you're already dehydrated. Generally, when you feel thirsty, you're already on the road to dehydration. Stave off this feeling by avoiding it in the first place. Keep sipping every once in a while as you pedal and aim to finish a bottle an hour. Other symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and having urine that's dark in color are signs of dehydration.
Make the most of your ride by staying hydrated. Make it a game to see how much you can drink and to smoothly drink from a water bottle while riding without stopping.