Add product to water
On hot days like those in Adelaide in January the instinct is to reach for chilled water to quench your thirst, but during a stage race like the Tour Down Under you are nearly never drinking just water.
The best way to stay hydrated during rides and to replace electrolytes lost when you sweat is to add product like Science in Sport GO Electrolyte powder to your drink bottles. GO Electrolyte contains 36 grams of carbohydrate per 500ml serving so during hard rides or races where it can be difficult to eat, you are guaranteed to meet your refueling requirements in the first hour or two by simply drinking the two bottles on your bike.
You can also stay hydrated both on and off the bike by siping on a drink bottle with a Science in Sport Hydro Tablet added. I add a tab to a long glass of water with dinner most days during summer. This has the added benefit of replacing a high-calorie drink I might otherwise have with meals.
Often you can’t drink enough on the bike to replace the fluid that you’re losing. Many athletes finish rides in a dehydrated state either by forgetting to drink, or doing events where the pace is too fast or you’re concentrating too hard to reach for your drink bottle. Countless studies have shown the negative effect dehydration can have on your performance. Losing as little as 2% of your body weight during exercise can impair your performance.
You can easily check your sweat rate by weighing yourself before and after exercise and weighing your drink bottles before and after the session or race. There are detailed calculations for doing this online, but essentially you want to find out how much fluid you lose through sweat. This can help you work out exactly how much to drink during training and races.
A simple way to meet your hydration requirements is to drink in the hour before the race. Adding a carbohydrate source like Science in Sport GO Energy will help keep your stores topped up and help if you forget to eat in the first hour of the event.
Freeze drink bottles
Any rider who has trained during the Australian summer will know how quickly water bottles heat up out on the bike. Heatwaves are very common during summer in Adelaide with consecutive days over 40°C (104°F). The heat reflecting off the road surface can make it feel even hotter and with drink bottle cages so close to the road you can be drinking boiling hot water before too long.
I have been based in Adelaide for several years during summer with the Australian Cycling Team and the best way to keep my fluid cold was to prepare my drink bottles and freeze them overnight. Just remember to leave a 1cm gap to the lid of the bottle to allow the liquid to expand.
Ride with Hydro Tablets
Not everyone is a pro with a follow car during races and training rides to carry extra drink bottles, or feed zones to grab a bottle from the roadside. My top tip for staying hydrated during long days on the bike is to take a tube of Science in Sport Hydro Tablets in your back jersey pocket. When you stop to refill your bottles with water at the service station you can add two tabs and keep the electrolytes up. Plain water can seem boring and adding flavour can make it more appealing to keep drinking.
Isotonic Energy Gels
Science in Sport Isotonic Energy Gels are so easy to get down during a race. With a dry mouth in the middle of a hot stage of the Tour Down Under you don’t want a thick gel that’s difficult to swallow. Isotonic gels are a great formula which you can easily take without needing water to wash it down. Sometimes you only have a second or two to eat and drink during stage races, and those extra seconds can be better used responding to an attack.