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  1. #1
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    Hydration/Electrolytes in heat & humidity

    I'm 60yo and have read a lot of posts here about calories, hydration & electrolytes and read a couple of books about ld riding (John Hughes', included) and thought I had this all figured out (successfully ridden 200-600k brevets the past 3 years). However, I had problems (weakness and elevated hr) with what I think was dehydration and/or electrolyte loss on my ride last Saturday: 85 mile ride (mixed hills & flat), 78-85 degrees F, high humidity (my southern friend says it's like Louisiana). Consuming Powerade, Spiz, & h2o, drinking every 20 minutes. Average hourly consumption: 27oz fluid, 331 calories, 428mg Na, 322mg K. I've read that the usual assimilation of fluid is no more than 28oz/hr, so I hesitate to go much above this, but should I be stopping to drink more often (I usually don't stop for more than 5 minutes to swap bottles & br break)? Should I up the electrolytes with a couple of capsules? Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks.
    Marlin

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You can drink more water if you consume more electrolytes.

    Try getting your electrolytes from electrolyte tablets (as it starts to warm up Rowan and I start taking a tablet every couple hours), and/or from salty foods such as potato chips and salted almonds.


    What is 27 oz? The general recommendation is one 750 ml bottle every 1 to 1.5 hours, but you can go higher if it is quite hot, and if you consume electrolytes. How does 27 oz equate to that?

  3. #3
    Senior Member k7baixo's Avatar
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    27 ounces of fluid is 800 ml.
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    Randomhead
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    although the temperatures are fairly low for this theory to be correct, the OP makes me wonder about simple overheating. Some people put ice in a tube sock and drape that around their neck. If I really feel like I'm getting overheated, stopping for a fountain drink with a lot of ice usually cools me down. I put the leftover ice in a water bottle and fill with water.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    You should be drinking at least when you're thirsty, regardless of how many ounces or minutes that works out to. I can drink (and sweat) twice what some other people do, so I've learned not to use someone else's recommendations on quantity. A Camelbak is real handy for that. It also helps if what you're drinking is cold, it's that much less sweating to do. Early on, I tried one ride drinking nothing but Gatorade, and that didn't work- after a while, it just tasted icky and was too much salt and stuff.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  6. #6
    KingoftheMountain wannabe Savagewolf's Avatar
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    I can't stand drinking straight gatorade during rides. I usually dilute it quite a bit with water if I do use it. I prefer to get my electrolytes from my food and keep my liquids as mainly water. I do enjoy a nice soda during a break, though.

    I also never go by the hard rules to drink or eat xxx amount every xxx minutes during xxx. I find that the more you ride, the more you know your body and cycling is a constantly evolving game. Weather, effort and other factors will change a ride everytime even if it's the same route.

    The eat/drink xxx every xxx is a good rule to start by for many people, but it isn't going to be perfect. You need to adapt as you ride and know your own body. Everyone is different.

    Normally when I ride or do other excercise, I need to consume very little liquid in comparison to other people. I am not a heavy sweater and my body seems to be able to cool itself rather well. I often can do a 40+ mile ride and only consume a bottle and half of liquid and still urinate clear and feel great. That can change. Yesterday's 43 mile ride had me needing over 4 bottles of water and then downing another bottle when I finished the ride.

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    I have ridden with a guy who uses a tube sock of ice to stay cool, so I think I'll pack a sock in my bag so it's available. I'll also get some electrolyte tablets.
    Thanks.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savagewolf View Post
    I can't stand drinking straight gatorade during rides. I usually dilute it quite a bit with water if I do use it. I prefer to get my electrolytes from my food and keep my liquids as mainly water. I do enjoy a nice soda during a break, though.

    I also never go by the hard rules to drink or eat xxx amount every xxx minutes during xxx. I find that the more you ride, the more you know your body and cycling is a constantly evolving game. Weather, effort and other factors will change a ride everytime even if it's the same route.

    The eat/drink xxx every xxx is a good rule to start by for many people, but it isn't going to be perfect. You need to adapt as you ride and know your own body. Everyone is different.

    Normally when I ride or do other excercise, I need to consume very little liquid in comparison to other people. I am not a heavy sweater and my body seems to be able to cool itself rather well. I often can do a 40+ mile ride and only consume a bottle and half of liquid and still urinate clear and feel great. That can change. Yesterday's 43 mile ride had me needing over 4 bottles of water and then downing another bottle when I finished the ride.
    I can't stand drinking gatorade, diluted or not on most rides. I might be OK on shorts rides.

    And yes, the "rules" are there as a starting point. Start with that, and see how you feel, then adjust as necessary.

    I can tell you right now that no two rides are the same for me. On one century I might drink half the "recommended" amount, on another quite a bit more ... just depends.

    But for a new-to-long distance cyclist, it's a good starting point, and it's good to get in the habit of regularly eating and drinking throughout a ride. One of the things which really helped me in my early randonneuring days was another cyclist whose watch would beep every 10 minutes, and he'd take a drink of water. It wasn't long before we were all doing it. For me, it was a bite to eat and a drink of water to wash it down, every 10 minutes. Made the rides so much more pleasant.

  9. #9
    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    Even with high humidity, 85 F isn't all that hot. I would wonder if something else was going on. Was the humidity and/or temperature higher than you're used to? Were you going harder than normal? Is 331 calories/hour normal for you? Seems like you were taking in plenty of fluids and calories (way more than I could handle, but I'm only 138 lbs).

    The BMJ had an interesting article on sports drinks recently (http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e...&pmid=22810386) and I know a lot of it doesn't directly apply to LD cyclists, but it does make me wonder if we're being told to drink too much and to take in too many electrolytes.
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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    What has been working fairly well for me is a Camelbak full of ice water, and two water bottles filled with ice and Gatorade. At the stops, I'll top off the Camelbak, put ice in the bottles, split a 32 oz Gatorade between them, and I can do a lot of riding using that liquid combination. That's a 100 oz Camelbak, by the way, and I think 20 or 24 oz bottles.

    I have also found that there is not always consistency in what works- you can ride identical ride under identical conditions and get two different results.

    I've also found that fitness seems to play about as big a part as what you drink. I remember the first Hotter-N-Hell 100 I did, I was chugging pickle juice till I sloshed, and still had cramps at about mile 70.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    I've also found that fitness seems to play about as big a part as what you drink.
    Absolutely!

    The fitter you are, the more efficiently your body handles the nutrition it is provided with, and the fitter you are, the better condition your muscles are in.

    Back in 2003, when I was my fittest, I was doing centuries and longer rides every weekend like they were nothing. Now they are more of a challenge in many respects. I know how to eat and drink, my bicycle still fits and all that ... I'm just not as fit anymore.

  12. #12
    Randomhead
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    I always have had much more trouble with cramping in the early season. One of the joys of spring training rides was coming home from a hard ride and having my leg cramp up as I lifted it over the seat. Nowadays, my legs usually don't wait that long, it happens on the rides. Enduralytes usually take care of things for me, although if the 20% grades keep coming there will be problems. I am in pretty good shape right now, but my muscles kept threatening to cramp up on saturday's 200k. Never had any problems until the drive home, when my hand kept cramping up.

    Cramping is pretty strange though, I have often had cramps at night when I take a day off. And there are reported cases of highly trained athletes with debilitating cramping problems.

  13. #13
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    The last few days I've increased my daily h2o consumption to maintain hydration. Yesterday afternoon I went for a 26 mile tempo ride in 100 degree temp. Most of ride had hr in 140-150 range. Consumed some electrolyte tabs and increased h20 consumption while on the ride and felt good the whole ride. Previously on these hot afternoon rides after working all day, I'd really be dragging at the end. This was definitely an improvement. I'll find out on Saturday how a century goes. I'm planning on a 600K in 2 weeks, but didn't want to attempt it until I had a better handle on hydration & electrolytes. My fueling works pretty good but the elevated temps this summer have added some issues I haven't had to deal with before. Thanks for the help.

  14. #14
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    easiest way to figure out if your hydrated is to look at your pee. if it is dark you need more hydration. if your peeing clear every 10 minutes maybe cut back a little.

    funny that i used to need the electrolyte tabs much more than i do now. only times i have needed them this year are on my longer fixed gear rides but admittedly i have not been doing many long rides, just lots of short hard efforts because i have no time for anything else.
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  15. #15
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    My rule is real simple: I drink enough so that I pee every 2 and never more than 3 hours. If I'm not peeing, I increase electrolyte consumption to make me thirsty enough so that I drink enough water to produce pee. If none of that works, I stop in the shade or indoors and drink until I pee. It's impossible to drink enough in hot weather to ride forever. There's a limit on how much water your digestive system can absorb, but almost no limit on perspiration and respiration losses. I use Endurolytes so I can tailor my electrolyte consumption to my current situation. My usual is one pill/bottle drunk, however one size does not fit all.

    High HR means you're dehydrated. You can use that for a guide, too. If my HR doesn't drop below 120 when I'm stopped, I'll stay stopped and drink and take electrolytes until it drops closer to 100.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Drakonchik's Avatar
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    I wonder if some people are freakishly able to endure high heat far more than others. Kind of like that woman who swam in the waters off Antarctica only the opposite.

    Yesterday I ran 7 miles in the hills outside Boise at 106F. It really wasn't that hard, only my feet felt hot. Helps to dress head to toe in white with a floppy hat. Only passed one woman riding and two youngsters running. And no dogs. :-) Got back and had two near beers and a cool shower and it like it never happened.

    I used to ride for 2.5+ hours at up to 115F in the Tri-Cities, Washington State, carrying two 24oz bottles, and I'd still have water left at the end of the ride, and not thirsty. I quickly found that to drink more than that was pointless, you'd just experience the unpleasant need to pee for no reason and no opportunity to stop on a competitive group ride.

    Now "7 miles" and/or "2.5 hours" is of course scarcely worth mentioning on the "Long Distance" forum. Though of course last Saturday I did 8 hours of garage-sale-ing and thrift store hounding, at a max temp of 98F, by bicycle. Gosh, wonder if that counts? Rehydration was less important that keeping all the swag nice and comfy in the panniers, and making sure I didn't crash sticking my arm out to push a Mongoose IBEX home.
    Last edited by Drakonchik; 08-08-12 at 12:19 PM.

  17. #17
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    It can take a few weeks to acclimate to exercising in hot weather.

    You can be perfectly hydrated and still overheat.

    Fears of dehydration are vastly overstated. E.g. a study of elite Kenyan runners demonstrated that they drink very little water during training or events, end the day slightly dehydrated, and easily rehydrate in the evenings. Hence the "drink only when you're thirsty."

    Older people tend to lose some of their ability to regulate their body temperature. So you could be getting some heat exhaustion without realizing it, in situations that would not have caused a problem for you 5 years ago. (Note: I don't know at what age that typically starts to kick in.)

    Very few people need additional electrolytes, even during longer endurance exercise. Most people consume so much salt, that it's astounding that anyone ever gets hyponatremia. You also do not lose potassium in sweat. I.e. all that electrolyte stuff is essentially snake-oil.

    On a side note, you didn't mention any solid food. Your body is still going to expect some sort of solid food after a few hours, so that could be adding to the mix.


    I don't think there's a simple answer, it may take a bit of careful consideration to figure it out. I'd just commit the symptoms of heat exhaustion to memory, and be careful that you aren't overheating without realizing it.

  18. #18
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    I put a pinch of sea salt in my water bottles on extremely hot days. I would also have coconut water since it is loaded with sugar and potassium, and cheap if you buy it from the international isle at the supermarket.

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