It gets hard easily out there.
So don’t “take your water bottle out for a ride.” That means finishing with the bottle still full because you forgot to drink, or you didn’t start till the ride was almost over.
Been there, done that, eh? Well, the same goes for food. You don’t want to take your energy bar, gel packet or other snack for a ride, either.
Especially on a cold, windy ride, your energy can suddenly take a nosedive. Cyclists should never get on a bike in winter without food in their pockets. But, of course, you also have to eat it for it to do you any good.
Don’t wait till you start feeling tired and hungry. By then it may be too late to re-stoke your furnace. Especially on a ride that’ll last two hours or longer, have a bite or two every 20-30 minutes from the start.
If you blow it and feel yourself flagging with miles still to go, your best chance will be to wash down a packet of energy gel. Taken with swallows of water, it’ll get into your system fast. You probably won’t feel strong again, but you will feel better. Do another one (and another one) every 20 or 30 minutes as necessary.
Tip: Keep foodstuff inside your jacket. Body heat helps stop energy bars from becoming hard, unchewable bricks and energy gels from assuming the consistency of window caulk.
Kenneth Pierce says
I am so guilty of this. But I must say that with the extremely hot, humid, and long summers down here in SE Georgia I don’t sweat nearly as much as I do in summer and not having to drink so much is a nice break. I use the cooler weather as a time to get in a lot of LSD, so it is nice to not have to drink, literally, every two minutes just to stay hydrated. In winter I sweat no where near the rate I do in summer so my intake is moderate compared to extreme in summer. And sometimes it’s just too darn cold to take a sip of ice cold water.
Alan Douglas says
Another consideration: if your kit includes apparel designed to keep cold air from rushing into your lungs – like a balaclava or face mask – you will think twice about carrying water. Or even food. This is especially if your habit is consuming while rolling, i.e., bottle to mouth or pocket to mouth. The face covering will need to be removed for liquid or solid food, and who wants to get off the bike for that? However, an actual coffee break will serve to eat that energy bar and break up the ride effort. In that event, your suggestion of where to carry the food – close to your body heat – is a good idea.
Agree with Alan. Our club always stops for a coffee break at a bakery. In winter I never carry water. And I get a pastry at the bakery.
Of course in winter our rides are only 25-40 miles and not that intense.
For a 90 min winter ride, I carry about a 1/3 full 20 oz water bottle of a weak Gatorade mix. By watching the time on my bike computer, I take a couple of squeezes on the bottle every 20 minutes. No energy or dehydration problems here.
A couple tips from the cross-country ski side of things …
– “POLAR” insulated water bottles aren’t the ultimate answer but they do chill down slower than a straight un-insulated bottle.
– start with hot water in the bottle.
– Store the bottle upside down (I do this in my XC pack, might work in a bike’s bottle cage). First thing to freeze is always the neck and the valve because that part has only air in it … if it’s kept flooded with water it doesn’t freeze until the whole mass of water freezes.
– clearance permitting, wrap the bottle in an old woolen sock. (You do have odd socks don’t you? Our dryer is powered by lost socks).
Louis Lamoureux says
Second on all this, I did a couple century rides where my water bottle froze absolutely solid before the first rest stop. I also use a Camelbak, but the hose will freeze faster, so get in the habit of blowing the liquid back into the reservoir. I even blow it back in the summer so that water doesn’t heat up in the sun.
When temps are around freezing, I start with just one 1-liter bottle, about 2/3 full of water.
Gotta have some to wash down my nutrition bar and SaltStick caps (to fend off cramping). I also use the squirt bottle to fend off chasing dogs (worked 3 times so far).
Rob MacLeod says
Great reminder, although the title confused me at first. My question is often whether to use ice in the bottle or let nature cool it down. Of course, drinking cold liquid on a cold day makes little sense, and is my typical mistake. I ride in sub-freezing weather in Utah all the time but rarely does it get so cold that my bottle contents freeze, however, and I have never tried taking a warm drink.
Hence the question–what experience do you and others have with warm drinks on cold days? I am never (or rarely) cold on my rides so I don’t feel like I need the heat from a drink but are there other factors to consider?
Thanks and Happy 2023 to all!
Don’t drink till you become thirsty, don’t eat till you become at least somewhat hungry!
Rob MacLeod says
I thought we had gone past that advice given that our motivation to eat/drink often lags behind the need, or at least the time it takes for consumption of either to catch up. No idea if cold temperatures have any impact on this whole regulatory system, i.e., the hunger/thirst sensations or the time before nutrients are delivered. Anyone checked that scientific literature or have anecdotal evidence (N > 1 is nice 😄 )?
I am heading out now on a lovely sunny Utah day at 3C, a rare sunny break in the midst of a lot of nice snowstorms. I will try a small bottle + electrolyte tabs but no ice.
Rob from Utah