Hydration is a huge topic these days. The catch phrase 'Hydrate or Die' is the war cry of a lot of active people. It's a very common occurrence to see people walk around town with a bottle of water in one hand and a cell phone in the other.
But do we really need to be so concerned about hydration? Is this a significant problem or are the bottled water companies, much like what has happened in the past with greeting card companies, trying to create a situation on which they can capitalize?
The answer is a little bit of both. Yes, you need to stay reasonably hydrated, but carrying around a water bottle all day as if it were the holy grail is probably a bit of overkill.
It is important to note that a lot of things we drink actually are bad for our hydration. Both coffee and alcohol are diuretics, which means they make you urinate more frequently. Ultimately, this leads to dehydration.
That doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite libation or forego that 'vente' at the coffee industry's version of McDonalds. But moderation, like so many other things, is the key.
Energy drinks are popular with people who can't seem to get the day started without a little artificial aid. Unfortunately they have a similar effect as alcohol and coffee on hydration. Not to preach prohibition, but a little common sense does go a long way.
More: Cycling Hydration Myths
When it comes to hydration during exercise, the first step to staying hydrated is to drink plenty of fluid before you begin. If you start a workout in a dehydrated state, it's going to take a lot of effort to catch up.
So what can you do on the bike? First off figure out how much water you need to carry when you ride. For most cyclists, two water bottles is sufficient. Bottles range from 20 to 28 ounces, allowing cyclists to carry less water in colder conditions and more water when things get hot.
Some triathletes prefer two water bottles mounted in cages behind the seat or a large fluid reservoir nestled between the handlebars. If the distance between resupply is quite large, hydration packs allow cyclists to carry more water than two bottles. One word of advice: If you want your hydration bladder to last a while, only put water in it. Adding sugared drink mixes creates a huge opportunity for bacteria to thrive.