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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 10-21-12, 05:45 PM   #1
Hairy Hands
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How Many do You Carry?

How many water bottles do you carry on long rides? I usually carry 4. 2 on the frame and 2 behind the saddle, but most ppl I see have only 2 on the frame. How can that possibly be enough? I drink at least 1 bottle per hour, so that would mean I have to stop and find fluids every 2 hrs.. That sure seems like a lot of stopping on a long brevet.
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Old 10-21-12, 05:58 PM   #2
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I look at the distance between controls and carry what I'll need plus one. All you'll see on my bike is two; the others are in my bag.
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Old 10-21-12, 06:59 PM   #3
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How many water bottles do you carry on long rides? I usually carry 4. 2 on the frame and 2 behind the saddle, but most ppl I see have only 2 on the frame. How can that possibly be enough? I drink at least 1 bottle per hour, so that would mean I have to stop and find fluids every 2 hrs.. That sure seems like a lot of stopping on a long brevet.
I usually carry two 1-litre bottles.

Based on the idea that we need to drink 750 ml every 1 to 1.5 hours, two 1-litre bottles can last me 3-4 hours.

On most randonnees, the controls are located somewhere between 50 and 80 km apart. At 20 km/h, 50 km can be covered in a little over 2 hours, and I'll refill my one empty bottle. 80 km can be covered in about 4 hours, at which point I'm ready to fill both bottles.

If I know the next control is 80 km away, and especially if it is a hot day, I'll make sure to drink 500-600 ml at the control, and then I'll often take a bottle of iced tea or something in my Carradice, in addition to my two 1-litre bottles of water just in case I need a bit extra out there.


When I'm riding centuries on my own, I will usually stop every 2 hours anyway. After 2 hours in the saddle, it's time for a bit of a stretch, for liquid disposal, and for liquid replenishment.
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Old 10-21-12, 07:00 PM   #4
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I only carry two but I also have a camelbak. That usually gets be more than far enough on a brevet.
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Old 10-21-12, 07:49 PM   #5
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In the hot summertime up here, everyone is wearing a camelbak.

I have found that otherwise, people very greatly as to how much water they need. I tend to be strong and well-insulated, and that is a combination good for pumping out gallons of sweat. Thinner people can go through a lot less liquid than I do.

With a 100 oz camelbak and two 24 oz bottles, I'm good for around 30 miles on a hot day. If supply points are farther apart than that, I'll be stowing additional water somewhere.

Usually, I have just water in the camelbak, and gatorade or something in the water bottles. If it's hot, everything is iced as well.
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Old 10-21-12, 11:54 PM   #6
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Two 1-liter bottles. I look at the route, my estimated time between controls, and temperature. If I think it's beyond the bottles anywhere, I'll bring a Camelbak and leave it empty except for the sections when I'm going to need it.
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Old 10-22-12, 03:47 AM   #7
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I carry two 800ml bottles on the frame.
I've gotten used to carrying one in the jersey pocket when needed. Usually a gatorade/etc so I can ditch it when empty. Works well with tight jerseys but causes loose jerseys to hang somewhat. This will do me for a fast no stop century or a slower 200k, unless the heat gets silly.
I often head off with just one bottle filled and powder for two bottles in the other, theres usually a school 30-60km away to fill up at. A small can of energy drink or coffee in the seat or handlebar bag is a nice pick me up.
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Old 10-22-12, 06:07 AM   #8
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I carry 3 one liter bottles on the road bike . . . One bottle is on the handlebar . . . it is still hitting 90 degrees here
On the touring i have a place for four bottles
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Old 10-22-12, 07:10 AM   #9
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3 total - Two 24 oz water bottles; One 16 oz water bottle filled w/ gatorade or similar. This will last me 50-60 Km before refills in 27-32C (80-90F) temperatures.

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Old 10-22-12, 11:02 AM   #10
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I usually carry two bottles on the frame, one plain water and one 50/50 dilute sports drink and just keep refilling them at stops. On organized rides there are usually stops well before I run out of water or sports drink. On my solo rides I try to arrange them so that I have a stop at least every couple of hours at a convenience store or cafe where I can get a refill and use the facilities. I usually need to get off the bike and stretch every couple of hours anyway. Last summer on one of our few hot weekends (temps bobbing near 100F and 80+% humidity . . . yeah . . . I know . . . In Texas they call that spring) I did a solo century and just about got myself in trouble. It was a new route with my midpoint being what on the map looked like a small community about 30 miles off the beaten path in some hilly lakes area. As I was nearing the "town" I was finishing off my second bottle and really looking forward to a cool refill. When I crested the hill into the town it there was a wooden country church that appeared to be around 100 years old, a couple of empty houses and the remnants of a gas station and grocery store. Not a soul to be seen and 30 miles to any other towns and I hadn't seen a car in 20 minutes. I was baked and got off my bike to sit in the shade deciding which way to head out to try to find an occupied farm where I could get some water. Plan B was to call the spouse to drive 50 miles to come get me, if I could get signal out in the boonies. I lucked out when a pair of cyclists came through who were familiar with the area and pointed me to a well-fed garden spigot behind the church. Now I carry an extra pair of liter bottles on the rack when scouting new territory, especially when it's hot, and turn around if I don't find a place to refill by the time my water is half gone.

I still stick with my two bottles when I know the route or have an organized ride with support.
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Old 10-22-12, 12:38 PM   #11
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One small waterbottle. Well, for PBP, I used one PBP-issued large waterbottle. I tend to think people drink too much. On the typical organized rides with food stops, the first stop usually occurs at about 40-50 km, and it's not unusual for there to be some stiff climbs before the first stop. So I typically start with an empty bottle; it's got to be a pretty hot day for me to feel like drinking something in the first 40 km.

On solo rides, I'll start with a full bottle, but it will usually be only half-empty after three or four hours. But then the temperatures in the Pac NW stay relatively cool all year. When I did the cool and damp McClinchy Mile century (in miles) in Arlington, WA, earlier this year, I took one small bottle and it was still nearly full at the finish (I did eat a bit of fruit at each rest stop). If I were riding in California, I'd take a full bottle for a four-hour ride (80 to 100 km), and stop somewhere to refill the bottle. I've never needed a Camelback, and one bottle (refilled at most food/water stops) was sufficient for all three of my California Triple Crown rides this year (Davis, Borrego Springs, Knoxville, all on the fixed gear). Usually, by the time my bottle has gone dry, the water stop is coming up soon.

I may experiment with more hydration, as I have found I sometimes start cramping at about 150 km. Switching from sugary drinks to V8 has helped in the past. And yes, we're all familiar with the old "drink before you're thirsty" shibboleth, but I just find that most riders I see go way overboard with the number and size of bottles they carry. I've even heard of some riders "over-hydrating." I think there's a useful mean in there somewhere.

I should add that I've been riding for over 40 years, and I think my body has become so efficient at cycling that I can't bonk if I tried. I have run out of energy once, though (going anaerobic under very little effort until I stop and eat something); that might be the closest I've come to bonking in the past 20 years...

Luis
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Old 10-22-12, 12:43 PM   #12
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One on the 200s. I think it would be fine for 300s, too. I don't know though.

Two for everything else. I don't go through anywhere near a bottle per hour, and if I'm thirsty I just stop. Most of the rides round here are either well enough supported for this to work, or 'urban' enough.

I would like to have three on my next bike though. Just for some variety, different kinds of juice for example, or maybe one bottle with Coke.
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Old 10-22-12, 03:14 PM   #13
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If it's a pre-planned route, I carry 1 per hour between the longest stopping points (controls, rest stops, convenience stores, etc). +1 if it's summertime.

If it's not a pre-planned ride, I carry one per rack that's currently on my bike (usually 2 or 4).
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Old 10-27-12, 06:09 PM   #14
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How many water bottles do you carry on long rides? I usually carry 4. 2 on the frame and 2 behind the saddle, but most ppl I see have only 2 on the frame. How can that possibly be enough? I drink at least 1 bottle per hour, so that would mean I have to stop and find fluids every 2 hrs.. That sure seems like a lot of stopping on a long brevet.
Like others have said it depends on how far, how much elevation gain, and outside temps. When I use to live in Bakersfield CA I would ride up to Lake Isabella and would go with 3 24oz bottles on the frame and a 70oz Camelback (I got the smallest one so I wouldn't have too much weight on my back), with temps in the 90's; the 70 oz Camelback was about equal to having 3 24oz bottles. Carrying 6 24 oz bottles would mean I could consume one bottle every 45 minutes...yes I would run out about 30 minutes from home but I did that on purpose knowing I could drink once I got home; and if I took a longer route I could refill a bottle or two along the way because there were quick marts and fast food places around, so knowing that I didn't need to carry an extra bottle just in case.

When I did 158 mile ride going from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara I left the Camelback at home because I didn't want that weight on my back for that long, so I carried 3 bottles on the frame and two on the rear of the seat plus another one in the handlebar bag, but I also had two planned stops to refill with liquid and food. I had more water than I needed in that case because in case I broke down I wanted enough water.

Most trips on warm to hot days I plan on using one 24 oz bottle for every 45 to 60 minutes of riding, on cool days I plan on one bottle for every 75 to 90 minutes of riding.

I use nothing but Polar bottles so I can have cold to relative cool drink in a process of freezing some bottles solid and ice in others and drank them according to which one had the least amount of ice first; and sometimes if I'm going far I would wrap a insulated bottle in tin foil to slow down the warming up process more. I can give you the break down on that if interested. Also cooler drinks helps to keep your core body temps down.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:04 PM   #15
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In Pennsylvania 2 is usually enough unless it's hot. In the summer, 3 usually gets me through, but if it is really hot I need 4 to make it a reasonable distance. Which is a problem. I really need to get a camelback, although someone sells a double-decker water bottle cage that would get me to 4.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:35 PM   #16
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If it's not an organized ride, unless you're way out in the boonies, you're going to come across a convenience store, or even a public bathroom, with a sink and running water. Re-hydration doesn't have to be cold. It just has to be wet.
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Old 10-28-12, 10:20 AM   #17
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It appears that heat/location is the main thing in determining how many bottles to take.. Its still in the 90's here, and in winter it rarely get below 40f. I do use less water in the winter but 9 months out of the year it is 70 to 100f here, hence the more water bottles I need to carry.

I also live far out in the country and depending on what roads I take, I can ride for 4 to 5 hrs and never pass a convenience store. So it seems that small guys need less water, and me at 6'2" and 230 lbs just need more.

It is quite an eye opener and a great reminder of all the different environment we cycle in.

Last edited by Hairy Hands; 10-28-12 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-28-12, 03:06 PM   #18
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If it's not an organized ride, unless you're way out in the boonies, you're going to come across a convenience store, or even a public bathroom, with a sink and running water. Re-hydration doesn't have to be cold. It just has to be wet.
Wet is better than nothing, but on a hot day doing stuff like riding a bike your core temp can rise and your performance suffer, so you need to bring down your core temp by drinking cold drinks among other things like spraying water on yourself. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20694887
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Old 10-28-12, 03:08 PM   #19
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We did a 400k yesterday. Both my tandem partner and I had Camelbaks, although it was cool or cold all day.
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Old 10-28-12, 08:13 PM   #20
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Usually my 21 oz thermos and a couple Gatorade 20 ounce Gatorade bottles are sufficient for 100 miles. If not I stop by a park or store along the way.
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Old 11-01-12, 09:37 AM   #21
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Ever since preparing for my first 400 brevet in 2010, and realizing there would be no stores open in the last 100 kilometers: four.

Almost always 4, even when I know I'll need less.

The extra has come in handy a few times.
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Old 11-16-12, 02:19 PM   #22
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If I'm going farther than the 6-7 miles downtown to the bar and back, I take 2 bottles.

If it's over 90, I use a camelbak + 2 bottles. If it's over 100, I take a third bottle in the bag. If it's over 110 I stay home, that's just silly. Yes, it does get that hot here.
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Old 11-16-12, 04:27 PM   #23
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The key to this is to use your common sense and good judgement.

If you're riding in Upper Canukistan, you can probably get away with drinking one bottle every 362KM. But down here in the deep south, you'd better be prepared. You can go through a huge amount of water and electrolytes in the heat of the summer in dear old Dixie. I do a lot of my riding out in the country through wide open roads surrounded by fields of cotton and soybeans... no shade at all and the heat boils up from the pavement. On two occasions this summer, I had the temperature reading on my Sigma cycle computer read over 125F.
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Old 11-20-12, 12:04 PM   #24
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For me it really depends on the course and the weather. I always carry two bottles, with my needs determining the size. Getting to know the areas one rides in and all the good water stops helps. If I know I might need more on a section of the route, I'll get a small bottle from a service station before starting out and put it in my bag or jersey pocket. Depending on conditions, I normally go 40 - 60 miles on two bottles. And if I do have to stop in between controls, 2 minutes is really of no consequence. I rarely need to pay for water. Most service stations that have a convenience store don't mind if you get water from the soda fountain but may charge a quarter for ice. Parks almost always have a spigot or fountain. The restrooms at the top of a favorite local climb have sinks deep enough to fit a bottle under the tap, so you can get for free the same well water people are paying a few dollars a gallon for.
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Old 11-20-12, 04:37 PM   #25
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Here in New England, which is not that hot, I used to carry three water bottles for rides over 50 miles. These days, I drink up most of one bottle before setting out and just carry two.
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