Hydration MTB – how much should you/do you drink?

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  • Hydration MTB – how much should you/do you drink?
  • jayx2a
    Member

    So I’m 92kg and tried just taking a water bottle out the other day (620ml) and even thought it was only a short 90min ride I ran out pretty quickly.

    But read on another forum that some people are doing like 50miles on one bottle! But then other scientific sights say 750ml per hour.

    So what’s everyone’s take? Is it purely just a personal body to body thing?

    I was going to try ditching the hydration pack but I think I would suffer more not having the fluids.

    qwerty
    Member

    1 bottle & learn where you local taps are, there’s even an app for this, but churches, scout halls, car sales places all serve me well.

    trail_rat
    Member

    everyones different.

    depends on effort and conditions too.

    i can do 2 hours at z2 and not drink a drip.

    i can do 45minutes at threshold in heat and tank a bottle.

    that said unless your diabetic, have poor general hydration or are not based in the UK (ie Your somewhere hot) you shouldnt need a whole bottle in 90 minutes , are you just drinking out of habit ?

    jayx2a
    Member

    Maybe it’s a habit thing. Mouth dry – drink probably too many gulps!

    Mild uk weather – mainly 90mins and of that 60-70% hill work.

    But also most long rides are early morning and my fluid intake hasn’t really been high by the time I ride.

    whitestone
    Member

    As @trail_rat says, there’s a lot of variables: temperature; humidity; your level of effort; your fitness.

    Start off well hydrated and unless you are doing Z4 effort or it’s 35C and 90% humidity* then you shouldn’t need any drink for a 90min ride. So long as your urine is clear to a pale straw yellow then you are well hydrated. Note that drinking too much can also be detrimental – hyponatraemia is a serious condition that in extreme cases requires hospitalisation.

    * Other random temperature and humidity values are available.

    steve_b77
    Member

    It’s a personal thing, I know to avoid cramps and to get my required carb intake when racing I will drink a lathe bottle every hour or so. For example, at the Dyfi I took a 2ltr camelbak as I didn’t want to stop at the feed station – it was also more than an hour to it – and in just over 3 hours I emptied it.

    Don’t use guides for pro/ elite level athletes as they are well trained in hydration management (although not immune to **** ups). If you felt thirsty in that time, with that amount on you, take more and work it out.

    jayx2a
    Member

    So out of interest the biking sites such as SIS, British cycling etc say you should intake 500ml per hour? Where do they base these kind of findings as if that was true we would all need massive packs!!

    Are they making people drink more than they should?

    I am overweight so that probably does not help!

    whitestone
    Member

    Are those sites making the recommendations for general cycling or just competitive events? As @steve_b77 says many are guides for elite level athletes.

    damascus
    Member

    Try hydrating before you ride  Drink as much as you can (within reason)

    jayx2a
    Member

    Yeah will give it a try, trouble is when I’m riding at 830 in the morning it’s not always easy to get a huge amount of pre ride fluid in without forcing it down!

    One 750ml bottle lasts me about 2 – 2.5 hours at moderate effort. But I’ll drink a pint or so before heading out, and will need to drink plenty post ride. So if I was looking to go further, I’d be looking to drink a bit more than that.

    I’ve read/heard that the body is only able to.process 500ml of liquid per hour – hence that being the recommendation. This volume is irrespective of conditions (heat, humidity etc) so any additional fluids you need to take in are required before or after the ride.

    Watermelon is great for getting fluid and carbs (sugar) in; so is a 50:50 fruit juice: water mix with a pinch of salt.

    A key point to note is that it’s salt that allows/causes the body to absorb fluid.

    FYI I’m not a doctor, I’ve just looked into hydration & nutrition for personal interest.

    jayx2a
    Member

    Going to drink a bottle before I ride this morning and try be more economical with my drinking from the pack and see how much I go through!

    Rockhopper
    Member

    On a hot day (20 degrees plus) I can easily get through a three litre camelback in an afternoons ride. I sweat like a fat bird in a cake shop though.
    In the winter or on a milder day (say 15 degrees or so) I won’t even bother taking water out with me but I’ll drink a fair bit when get home. Having said that if I took my camelback with me then I’d probably drink it while I’m out.

    Premier Icon seadog101
    Subscriber

    Paranoi about not having enough liquid in me. Normally take 2 ltrs for a 3 hour ride and come home with lots of it left. Should really learn to take less, ration it a bit better, fill up more before I leave.

    Moorland streams and steritabs anyone?

    whitestone
    Member

    @seadog101 – take a water filter if you don’t trust the becks. Something like the MSR Trailshot is fine for UK use.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    So out of interest the biking sites such as SIS, British cycling etc say you should intake 500ml per hour? Where do they base these kind of findings as if that was true we would all need massive packs!!

    Racing biased sites or brands selling hydration products …?

    I can drink 500ml an hour, or ride 6hrs steady on that much. There’s no rule and it all depends on pace, heat, physiology etc. A combo of experience and piss colour is a better guide than a website generalisation that plays it very safe.

    chevychase
    Member

    @spoonmeister – salt doesn’t “allow” the body to absorb fluid. That’s actually pretty dangerous advice.

    Salt means the body *retains* water – because the salinity of your blood matters and your body doesn’t like salty blood.

    What happens is that your body retains water when your salt levels go up so your blood volume increases (and therefore it’s salinity comes down). Of course this happens in a finite space – your veins and arteries – so hey-presto! your blood pressure increases.

    That’s OK occasionally but if you habitually take salt your body stays in a state where it’s blood pressure is high – which is why your doctor and all the heart organisations say don’t add salt to your food – because you get enough in your diet anyway.

    If you’re worried about losing salts on a ride then eat a banana – that contains potassium salts – which are more useful to you than sodium salt, which is what you buy in the supermarket.

    Real food + water = win.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    I took a 2ltr camelbak

    Interesting.  Before I was sulking in Doldrums yesterday I was going to ask this question.  I usually get through 1.5l over a 4h Marathon race but find I’m the only one of very few “racing” types that take a hydration pack (USWE in my case) but note it’s more common in the US Marathon scene to do so.  I often wonder how the pros / others get through 3hrs with a single bottle in their frame.

    trail_rat
    Member

    Let’s not forget that often people overhydrate to combat cramps.

    More often than not for the general public at a recreational level they are cramping because they are unfit and are exerting above their capibilities and no amount of fluid is going to help.

    Premier Icon jonesyboy
    Subscriber

    Blimey, I seem to drink too much then. MSR water filter is ace, that and/or taps along route and it’s job done. Tend to take electrolyte tablets for the water as well. Coed y brenin stream water tastes weird, maybe all the conifers?

    dovebiker
    Member

    Too many variables to be able to come up with hard and fast rules – temperature, humidity, effort and how well hydrated you are beforehand. Bottle an hour is a very general rule, sometimes I’d drink one in less if doing lots of climbing on a very hot day, whereas in winter one would last 3 hours at a steady pace. I once ran out of water on the Capital Trail and had to resort to drinking out a burn near the top of the Three Brethren – waited until I got above the treeline and checked for dead sheep! Made sure I drank some Coke at my next stop – not that it would have stopped a dose of crypto-spridium!

    I always run out of water on the Whole Enchilada in Moab. This is generally warm to hot, and with low humidity, but also has a massively downhill bias, but altitude comes into play too.

    This is a 3 litre Camelbak, and I always consciously prehydrate.

    I run out of water on Porc. Rim, and emerge on the road crazed with thirst.

    Premier Icon mudfish
    Subscriber

    I’d drink a 1.5 litre bladder dry in 2 hours, you lose a lot or water as sweat (which sems salty stuff to me going by the taste and the residue on my helmet straps). I gave up with stuff like cytomax years ago when I realised humans can be effective fat burners. So I add a squeezed fresh lemon and a small pinch of himalayan salt (to replace lost minerals).

    Once read advice to skiers to take a litre an hour, of course that will be altitude related (dry air), you wouldn’t think they’d be sweating much.

    Drink when I feel like it seems good for me, no cramps, might be over doing it a little as I do often need a pee when ariving home.

    Works for me.
    If I need to pee then I’d consider myself well hydrated. If you dont pee at all on a ride that could mean dehydration?
    And yeah that pee should be at its strongest light straw coloured – although vitamins will colour it for a few hours after taking them.

    Just my teaspoon full

    Premier Icon andy4d
    Subscriber

    In general i take a small 250ml bottle for a ride of 1-1.5 hrs, but will drink before and after too. Some times i may drink a small bit other times the whole lot… for longer, hotter rides i use my camelback and take about 1litre+ but rarely use it all. My last 3 hr ride i drank about 750ml of it (but probably should of had more but never felt thirsty).

    We once did a guided ride from Chamonix with a guy called Farid Bourebrab, skinny as a rake & the fittest bloke iv’e ever met. It was a day ride, maybe 5-6 hrs of riding & while I drank 3 litres from a bladder + refills, he had a couple of slurps from a horse trough.
    He didn’t appear to be sweating much either!

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    At least 1 pint at every pub you stop at, sometimes 2. Good to chuck in a Guinness every now and then if the lager is too gassy! 😆

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Varies a lot. If you are big, you’ll generate more heat for proportionally less surface area and hence need to sweat more and drink more.

    If you’re taking in carbs you’ll need much more water to process the food. If I don’t take carbs with me I hardly drink much.

    If you are a slow twitch rider who rides for hours on fat reserves then you are probably skinny and don’t feel the benefit from carbs so you’ll hardly drink compared to a big muscly sprinter type attacking every climb just to keep the speed up, and eating to keep the performance up. And sweating buckets too.

    bsims
    Member

    Isn’t Guinness only for when you are hungry?!

    I always think it’s better to have too much water with you, just in case. There’s not a lot worse than being thirsty.

    I read somewhere that you should start exercising with 500ml in your stomach and then sip regularly ,as when you are thirsty there will be a delay between drinking and the water reaching your cells which reduces performance. professionals and elite amateurs will have less body fat, and I think defiantly need to drink and eat more frequently to maintain their peak performance.

    alpin
    Member

    Coed y brenin stream water tastes weird, maybe all the conifers?

    That’ll be the dead sheep/badger further up stream….

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    TBH a big part of it isn’t about staying hydrated, it’s also about comfort- you can be perfectly hydtrated but still feel a dry or dusty throat frinstance. Most of my rides would be fine with a bottle otherwise, but I drink a lot more than that.

    JonEdwards
    Member

    I’m in the “probably don’t drink enough” camp.

    Eg today – did a lumpy 6hrs in the Peak on the gravel bike on a single 500ml bottle and a black coffee half way round. A combination of feeling like I’m sloshing if I have more than a mouthful at a time, and being completely disinterested in the contents of my bottle – tepid water or Torq holds zero appeal. Offer me a San Pellegrino Limonata or an ice cold Coke and it’ll vanish in no time.

    I also have a bad habit when working from home – I’ll happily go from breakfast (glass of OJ, espresso) until the missus comes home at 6pm and sticks the kettle on for a cuppa, with no liquid passing my lips. I keep a water bottle on my desk, but if it’s empty I can never be bothered to walk the 10 paces to the bathroom next door. An all day mid summer MTB ride, I’ll probably get through most of 2l in my Camelbak, but I’ll be more interested in the coffee from the café…

    I’m at the skinnier end of the spectrum, which may help!

    bsims
    Member

    TBH a big part of it isn’t about staying hydrated, it’s also about comfort- you can be perfectly hydtrated but still feel a dry or dusty throat frinstance.

    Definitely, there’s no point in drinking so much you feel it sloshing around. However the reverse is also true and by the time you realise you need water it’s takes a long time after drinking to take effect, so you end up drinking too much. Surely, it’s better to sip little and often?

    I often wonder how the pros / others get through 3hrs with a single bottle in their frame.

    Erm……maybe they get new ones given to them

    kcr
    Member

    Thirst is a pretty good indicator. If you feel like you need a drink, drink; don’t try and reduce your intake just to comply with some sort of recommended average.
    There’s no single answer to this. I rode for 4 hours at a reasonable pace today, and managed comfortably on an 800ml bottle and a 500ml bottle, but racing in hot conditions I used to aim for an 800ml bottle every hour, if possible.

    bsims
    Member

    @kcr – what I was saying, and have probably expressed it badly is, if you drink little and often then you will stay hydrated without over drinking because when you feel thirsty you often drink too much to compensate. Also with this approach if you then still feel thirsty you can take bigger/ more frequent sips which will have a quicker effect because you were not dehydrated.

    I certainly find that I don’t notice how thirsty I am and then it hits me and I have to drink a lot. The little and often approach works for me and then I can adjust according to pace/ weather etc…

    Sure it’s been covered but there is no “should”.

    Hydrate well before if possible, which will mean different things for different folk. I drink a couple of pints of water a couple of hours before a ride and you will pee out the excess and know you are hydrated (colour of pee).

    Then simply drink to thirst. I am a big sweaty beast and so that probably means more fluid during the ride than other people.

    That is essentially what I understand the latest science to say.

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