When I lived in Singapore I did a lot of dragon boating. After every practice, in humid, 32 degree conditions (it’s always 32C in Singapore), the beer cooler would be rolled out and the following story would unfold:
- I would drink a sports drink.
- I would drink some beers (occasionally more than ‘some’).
- I would eat a banana-leaf Indian meal (okay, this is not important to the story, but I wanted to relive that delicious bit).
- I would go to bed and then I would wake up with a pounding headache.
The last event could occur even without the beer and it quickly became evident that I was becoming dehydrated and, more importantly, not re-hydrating properly. To be honest, I never really solved this problem, mainly because I like beer so much, but I did try and get more fluids into me before diving into the Moosehead. I’m still prone to these dehydration headaches, especially after 190 minutes on the indoor trainer, like yesterday. I drank enough on the bike, most likely, but it was only water. Afterwards I probably didn’t drink enough to replenish what I lost, or, more correctly, I didn’t drink the right stuff (only water again).
Haute Route could be a very hot affair (like it was last year) and we’ll be spending 4, 5, 6, or 7 hours in the saddle each day, pushing hard for much of the time. It’s probably a good idea to get this hydration thing solved before I hit the Alps.
The thing is, I don’t like the thought of ‘sports drinks’ all that much. Most aren’t made with natural ingredients and they cost too much anyway (I have the same philosophy when it comes to gels and bars now). So, I’ve started to do a little research on what it is I might need to stave off these headaches and have come up with this:
Sugar: this is supposed to prevent a drop in performance due to less blood sugar. My feeling is that I can get this from the stuff I’m eating on the bike (dried fruits, cake, etc) though, so perhaps the real reason for sugar is to make your drink palatable.
Salt: helps the fluid you take in absorb into your body. Salt also has (some? all?) the electrolytes you lose through sweating.
Water: simply the liquid you have lost on the bike.
It’s probably a lot more complicated than this, but I’m going to start simple and make myself the following cocktail for today’s workout:
- I liter water
- 50 grams sugar
- half tsp salt
When I get out to the store I will try this next one:
- 500 ml fruit juice
- 500 ml water
- half tsp salt
I really don’t like to drink anything other than water on the bike, so I’ll start by alternating water-‘sports drink’-water, etc. and see how that goes.
In the meantime, I’d welcome any and all comments from those with more experience than me, especially if you make your own concoctions and would care to share your secrets.