Question: I know this question must have a couple of obvious answers, but no one can give me a direct solution. On long rides, how can I replenish my fluid supply when the two bottles that I can carry aren’t enough? I don’t want to carry a back-mounted hydration pack while riding on the road. — Steve H.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: First, don’t discount the convenience or comfort of hydration packs. They work great for road rides, and many long-distance cyclists always use one.
A pack doesn’t feel annoyingly heavy even with 70-90 ounces, then it gets lighter with every sip. A typical 70-ounce road model gives you the equivalent of about 3 extra bottles.
You might also install behind-the-seat cages like triathletes use. That can add 2 extra bottles. Or course, you can also carry an extra bottle or two in your jersey’s rear pockets. And use large 28-ounce bottles instead of standard 22-ouncers.
The obvious places to refill bottles include convenience stores, gas stations, water fountains in parks and public buildings, and outside spigots on houses, churches and other buildings.
If your rides are remote and away from civilization but pass streams, you could carry a water purifier. I do this on backpacking trips high in Colorado’s mountains, but I’m not sure I’d want to drink from some low-country streams I’ve seen.
You could arrange your own aid stations by having a friend drive out to meet you at predetermined locations. Or, you could ride a figure-8 course with a midway stop at your house.
One more idea: Stash water along the route in plastic jugs, concealing them just off the road in the shade.
More articles about drinking and cycling:
How to hydrate for better cycling performance
Steven Zabinsky says
Rack and pannier. You can also carry food
In the summer for hot and long rides I use high volume water bottles and add a “snack pack” style handle bar bag (https://agu.com/eu/snackpack-venture?color_variant=Black) to carry a third bottle. Insulated bottles may sound like a great idea, but you lose a lot of water volume to the insulation.
For long away-from-civilization rides with no services, I add a gravelbike “feed bag” mounted on the handlebar stem. It can hold a bike water bottle or a Nalgene.
This works great on most of my bikes, but on one bike it causes shimmy if I take my hands off the bars (ymmv), so I try to empty it as soon as possible. Physics is funny sometimes.
Note that some models are a very lightweight design and are likely to pull out the seams with a heavy bottle. I have two, and the revelate designs is the much more solid construction.
I also use my mtn-bike hydration pack. for hot -day road rides. Sometimes with the hydration bag & nozzle, sometimes just with one or two Nalgenes inside for refilling the water bottles. Protip: freeze the nalgene 1/4 full the night before and add cold water just before the ride starts, Nice to have ice cold water in the middle of a hot day ride.
No matter what, I always try to have a plan about where to refill bottles along the ride.
You can also use these to carry ride snacks too., esp more fragile ones that would get messed up in a jersey pocket.
I have been using the Zefal Magnum bottles for years. These hold a liter. https://www.zefal.com/en/bottles/547-magnum-pro.html Of course, these will not fit on a small frame. When I carry 2 I fill one with GU Roctane and the other with plain water. On a long ride, if I start to run low I figure there is a rest stop coming up and they can be refilled. As an aside, every so often i put them in the dishwasher to keep them clean inside and out.
You can also carry larger bottles if your cage can expand, Arundel Looney Bin is one such cage that allows bottles from 62 to 72mm in diameter to be used.
That’s cool. Thanks. I’ll pass it on
Zefal sells 1-liter (33.8 ounce) plastic bottles that fit standard bottle cages.
Every little bit helps.
I always take advantage of water fill stops along the way. However, sometimes that’s not practical especially when we’re on of road adventures.
When I need extra water I either use s hydration pack or I carry a Platypus foldable 1 liter bottle. It fits in my pocket, top tube bag and hip pack.
I have a third bottle cage, standard size, on the wheel side of the down tube, mounted fairly low for clearance, and it works really well., On the seat tube, I have the Arundel adjustable to carry a bigger than normal bottle.. A steri-pen is pretty compact and uses UV to fully sterilize water you find along the way, taking only a minute to do a liter of water. and working much better, easier and faster than filter systems.
Tom A says
Having lived at the end of the TransAmerica Bike Race (TABR), a popular solution is a bag in the triangle that can hold a bladder, so it’s not on the back.. Other riders put a second bottle on the down tube, while others have put bottles on the forks.
I also use a 1 liter Platypus in a rear jersey pocket when two large bottles are not enough for a hot summer ride. I freeze it the night before so that it helps to keep me cool on the ride. The other advantage is once empty it takes up almost no space.