Let’s play a game...
Picture a slice of your favourite post-ride cake.
The one that would make it on to your death row dinner.
The only thing standing in between you and the post-ride cake-phoria is that you have to
pick three of the following five things:
- Feeling thirsty
- Muscle cramps
- Smelly, dark coloured pee
Except, I lied. You don't get to choose only three, you end up with all five, cake or not.
You guessed it - you’re dehydrated.
Dehydration is the party crasher: she quietly sneaks in the back door while you are
distracted and having a good time. She starts minesweeping the room and dancing
questionably. You ask a few friends who she is, and who she came with, but nobody knows
her, and you certainly didn’t invite her to the party. Then it's too late - you turn to watch her
drunkenly stumble and fall on your Tour de France memorabilia (signed by the Le Diable
himself) leaving behind a crumpled mess.
We’ve all experienced the tsunami of feeling crap that is brought on by dehydration when we didn’t keep our fluids in check. The symptoms we experience are a result of the blood
becoming more concentrated, kidneys starting to retain water, and (as it progresses) the
brain even losing water in its cells, reducing overall function. As if that’s not enough, the
sweat we produced to try and keep us cool has been taking valuable minerals with it that our
body needs now more than ever.
So what can you do to stop it happening? The old adage ‘drink before you’re thirsty’ is well
known for a reason. As athletes (yes, you ARE an athlete), we also need to actively manage our electrolytes, and that is most easily done by taking a drink with you while you are out for a ride -even in winter, even when you're not "thirsty".
Complicated things have a very short lifespan in my house, I prefer to prioritise my time to
look for tailwinds on a weather app, and get out there to enjoy them.
Being a cyclist is not always the most zero-waste lifestyle, and many of the nutrition products
are built around processed foods that favour convenience and longevity. Personally, I have
never enjoyed the flavour of commercially available electrolyte drinks, so I went in search of
a solution that was simple, waste-free and based on whole foods - and that didn’t make my
face convulse when it hit my tastebuds.
Grandma was a cyclist electrolyte drink
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tsps honey/maple syrup/agave nectar
1 tsp sea salt for extra minerals but any salt will do
1) Put all ingredients in your favourite bidon (cool-cyclist-kid term for "waterbottle")
2) Screw top on bidon, and make sure the valve is closed
3) Put on some funky music and shake bidon while dancing around your kitchen
4) Cycle, drink and enjoy
Use this recipe as a starting point.
Do you feel like it could do with a little extra ‘pop’? Add in some frozen raspberries for some
contrast colour, flavour and extra chill.
Just back after a long boat trip and worried you developed scurvy? Up the lemon juice.
Is your dentist particularly nice on the eyes? A little extra sweetness will get you seeing their
sweet cheeks a bit sooner.
Whatever you do, take time to find an electrolyte drink that you enjoy - because no matter
how perfect any drink mix is, it is guaranteed to be 0% effective if it stays in the bidon.
Happy tailwind hunting,