Cycling is not only a great way to exercise but also a fun, recreational sport. There are many benefits to cycling, but it’s essential to stay hydrated when exercising. So, how much water should you carry when cycling?
You should carry at least a quarter gallon (1 liter) of water for every hour of cycling outdoors in a hot climate. In cooler temperatures, drinking 8-16 ounces (0.23-0.47 liter) per hour is acceptable. Drinking 8 ounces (0.23 L) of water every 10-15 minutes will keep you optimally hydrated while cycling.
The rest of this article will discuss how water intake (either lack of or excessive) affects your cycling performance, the best ways to carry water while cycling, and how to prepare for cycling to decrease possible dehydration. I’ll also discuss various signs of dehydration that will indicate when you should stop cycling.
Why Should You Carry Water When Cycling?
You should carry water when cycling because when you’re cycling, you’re constantly moving. That said, always carry an adequate amount of water to prevent dehydration, even if you’re only going on a short cycling trip. Water not only replenishes the body but also improves your performance.
Sure, it can be difficult and often annoying to carry the right amount of water or any water at all while you’re on a bicycle. But you shouldn’t leave your water bottle at home.
While you might want to hydrate before and after cycling, it’s not a good idea and can make the exercise much harder on your body.
How Do You Know How Much Water to Carry When Cycling?
You can estimate how much water you should carry when cycling by considering how long you’ll be cycling. For example, if you plan on cycling for an hour, you’ll need to carry 32 ounces (0.94 L) of water. An average adult should drink eight ounces (0.23 L) every 15 minutes during an exercise.
Of course, you also want to consider your body weight and sweat rate. How much water you’ll need when cycling greatly depends on these two factors.
If you’re someone who tends to sweat more than others, you will need more water. And if you’re cycling in hot temperatures, you should drink a little more.
The hotter you are when exercising, the more your body will sweat. The more you sweat, the more water you need to make up for the loss of fluids.
Can You Measure Your Sweating Rate?
While it might not be completely accurate and the temperature can affect how much you sweat, there is a way to determine your loss of fluids while sweating, called the 60-minute sweat test.
To see how much you sweat, weigh yourself before a 60-minute cycling session. While cycling, don’t drink any water. When you’re finished, weigh yourself again, and the difference will show how much fluid you lost. This way, you’ll know how much to drink during the ride.
Most people lose around 16-33 ounces (0.47-0.97 L) an hour while cycling.
How Much Water Should You Drink Before Cycling?
While drinking during exercise is important, it’s essential that you properly hydrate yourself before doing any activity, especially cycling. Adequately hydrating yourself before exercise is crucial because it gives your body a head start. If you wait to start drinking water during your activity, you’ll be lacking in hydration.
A couple of hours before cycling, drink 15-20 ounces (0.44-0.59 L) of water. About 15 minutes before you begin cycling, drink another 8-10 ounces (0.23-0.29 L) of water. Drinking an adequate amount of water before any exercise will allow you to perform better and stay ahead of dehydration.
Drinking water as soon as you wake up and start the day is an excellent way to begin your hydration. The amount of water your body needs greatly depends on your body weight. While the average person typically requires at least 64 fluid ounces of water a day, everyone is different.
How Does Water Intake Affect Cycling?
Like all exercises, your body loses hydration as you sweat. Therefore, you need to drink more water to make up for what you lost. Lack of proper hydration can cause several problems while exercising, especially cycling. However, being too hydrated is also a problem (albeit rare), so knowing how much water you should have during exercise for your body weight is essential.
What if I Don’t Drink Enough Water?
If you don’t drink enough water before or during cycling, it can cause many unpleasant side effects and even severe dehydration. As long as you’re not severely dehydrated before cycling, not being adequately hydrated while cycling will make you feel tired, dizzy, and you’ll likely have a headache.
Can I Drink Too Much Water?
While drinking too much water isn’t that likely because it’s challenging to do, it is possible. Drinking too much water is called hyponatremia when blood is diluted because of excessive water intake. However, you’d have to drink gallons of water to suffer from hyponatremia.
Signs of Dehydration and When to Stop Cycling
I’ve already mentioned some signs of dehydration. However, there are more severe signs to look out for that should let you know when to stop and rehydrate, especially if you’re cycling outside in hot temperatures.
Dehydration signs include:
- Weak muscles
- Extreme thirst
- Dark urine
If you have any of these symptoms before cycling, it’s essential to hydrate efficiently, as you can cause yourself more health issues if not. If you experience any of these symptoms while cycling, it would be best to stop cycling and drink some water and rest.
How Do You Carry Water When Cycling?
There are several ways cyclists carry water, so they have enough with them while they are cycling. Most bikes made for cycling will come with a holder for water, or at least an area to put a holder. However, one bottle of water sometimes isn’t enough, so there are many other ways to carry water when cycling.
You can carry water when cycling in bottle cages on the bike, backpacks, fanny packs, or special vests and other clothing made for holding water. Cyclists may use one or multiple methods of carrying water when cycling, depending on how long they will be cycling.
Below I’ll get into various methods you can use to carry water bottles and some pros and cons of each method.
Bottle cages are common with cyclists simply because they’re easy. Most bikes are made with a bottle cage, or there will be a few different areas where you can put a bottle cage onto the bike.
- Bottle cage is easily accessible.
- You don’t have to carry it yourself.
- Most won’t hold larger sized bottles.
- A bottle cage might get in the way.
If you’re looking for a bottle cage to attach to your bike, I recommend the Water Buffalo Bike Water Bottle Holder from Amazon.com. This bottle holder is easy to install, and it is guaranteed to give you years of use with its sturdy nylon design.
For those who cycle long treks, backpacks are usually needed, especially for those who cycle for days at a time. Carrying a backpack is not only a good idea for other necessities, such as snacks or clothing, but it’s a great way to hold water. Bags work well for those who need several ounces of water while cycling because they provide a lot of room.
- A backpack has a lot of room.
- You don’t need to worry about it getting in your way when cycling.
- A backpack can get heavy.
Hip packs, also known as fanny packs, are similar to backpacks but smaller. Many cyclists carry hip packs with small essentials they may need. However, as long as they’re big enough, you can use hip packs to bring extra water.
- A hip pack is smaller than a regular-sized bag.
- Convenient as it is lightweight.
- A hip pack might get in your way when cycling.
Even special hip packs are made with water holders, such as the Bp Vision Outdoor Fanny Pack from Amazon.com. This hip pack is excellent for cycling because it’s not too big and has two water bottle holders.
If you don’t want to carry a backpack and are not into fanny packs, vests are another option for carrying essentials, like water bottles, when cycling. Not only will vests be great for storing items you need, but you can also get a reflective vest, which makes it safer for those who like to cycle at night.
- Easy to carry
- Less luggage on the bike
- A vest could cause you to sweat more.
If you’re looking for a vest to wear while cycling, I recommend the AONIJIE Unisex Premium Reflective Vest from Amazon.com. This vest is reflective, lightweight, and has many pockets capable of holding water bottles.
When cycling, it’s essential to carry an adequate amount of water so you stay hydrated. While the amount of water a person needs depends on their body weight and sweating rate, on average, you’ll want to carry at least a liter of water for every hour of cycling.
If you need to carry more water than you can hold, there are several different ways to carry water while cycling, such as a backpack, hip bag, or vest. However, always remember to drink water before going cycling to stay on top of your hydration.