Sunday, December 27, 2015

Too Cold to Drink?

Cold!
Catching up on some much-needed roadcycling over these past few delightfully windless, albeit frigid, days, I was reminded of a problem I encounter at the start of every winter: When pedaling at an effortful pace, I get thirsty. Not as thirsty as in hot weather, but thirsty to some extent nonetheless, and as miles accumulate I certainly need to drink to stay hydrated. But considering how cold it is outside, I find it very difficult to drink the near-freezing contents of my water bottle. The liquid is just too cold for my system, and attempts to swallow it send me into convulsive shivers that feel as if my stomach is being attacked by icicles.

Over the years, I have tried to deal with this in various ways. One method is to sip the cold liquid slowly, swooshing and warming it in my mouth prior to swallowing. This works, but the process is rather slow and tedious - and it means that much of the time on the bike I am occupied with drinking water! An alternative is to forget trying to drink on the bike at all, but stop at cafes or gas station shops every so many miles for hot liquids. This has worked for me pretty well in the past, but of course it depends on the availability of such institutions and their opening hours; in the rural area where I now live it is not always possible. More recently I have tried using a thermos instead of a water bottle, but have not found one that will fit my bottle cage properly. I am now toying with the idea of using an ordinary water bottle but rigging up some some DIY insulation - in hopes this will at least keep the water at room temperature.

On my ride this morning, I foolishly neglected to drink altogether because of the cold and, surely enough, by afternoon I had a dehydration headache. The cold can be deceiving in making us feel there's no need to drink at all - but afterward our body will tell us differently!

How do you handle hydration in winter? Your experiences and solutions will be appreciated by many!

27 comments:

  1. I use (somewhat) insulated bottles, Camelback Podium Chill, and make my drink warm; whereas I dress to initially feel chilly. Then I start warming up and meanwhile the bottle cools. Works well for short rides.

    A thermos from Ikea seems to fit well, however it hasn't come to actually using it. I think I'd fill it with boiling water and periodically stop and replenish my bottle from it if/when it does get too cold to drink.

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  2. Hate to sound like an ad, but I put hot coffee or tea in my Contigo Autoseal vacuum insulated mug, which fits in my bottle cage nicely, aside from getting a bit scratched up.

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    1. +1 for the Contiguo mugs/thermoses -- they do work, and they are pretty much leak proof if you don't push the spout button. I also have a LL Bean thermos that fits exactly into a standard cage, and a nice thermos with flip up lid and spout from Walgreen's that, with several layers of tape, fits cages well.

      Hot tea in the Indian style -- strong, leaves boiled with sugar, plenty of milk -- is a true reviver.

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  3. Mostly I don't drink. But I also don't eat grains or sugars, which both require a lot more water in the body. A fascinating read is Noakes' "Waterlogged" to challenge the perspective of how much we need to drink how frequently. http://www.amazon.com/Waterlogged-Serious-Problem-Overhydration-Endurance/dp/145042497X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451240791&sr=8-1&keywords=waterlogged

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  4. It gets too cold for even insulated bike bottles in the winter here in Calgary so a Thermos is the only way to go for me in winter. If it doesn't dip too low where you're at you could simply try a Polar bottle and fill with warmish water:
    http://polarbottle.com/

    Insulated Kleen Canteens fit in most cages just fine and if you stick a sock on the bottle it won't rattle plus the grip will be increase. PDW bird cages also grip any kind of metal bottles much better than the average cage. This is what I personally use but doesn't lend itself to easy drinking without stopping.

    Another option would be using the Monkii system. You could mount anything with the desired insulation and still retain the ability to grab your bottle while riding with ease.
    http://www.freeparable.com/product#monkiifamily

    Lastly something I use for ski touring but have seen fat bikers use is the Outdoor Research water bottle parka. I think these would be difficult to mount on the average bike but might provide some inspiration as they do insulate well enough to keep water unfrozen in very cold temperatures:
    http://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/catalog/product/view/id/32491/s/water-bottle-parka-1/category/2254/

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  5. Get a thermal bike bottle. Steel ones work the best. I use one in the summer in Texas

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    1. I wonder why the steel ones work best, wouldn't the steel conduct more heat out of the liquid faster than one of the less efficient heat conducting(and lighter) plastics? Even if the surface of the metal is mostly in contact with the not very conductive airspace inside the bottle it seems counter-intuitive. The Stainless ones are pretty swanky in any case.

      I grew up in Texas and even an iced canned beverage gets warm faster than a glass or plastic bottle that starts out not quite so cold. Of course we just drank them faster and grabbed another that much sooner...

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  6. I suffer pain too drinking freezing cold water, but I don't have a road bike and can carry hot flasks of chocolate or coffee and a bottle of water wrapped in a towel in my bike's baggage. I've been known to carry a hot water bottle too for my lap when I stop for a hot chocolate break! For your road bike, as anonymous above, a thermal bike bottle? Monkii cage I've also read about somewhere. Good luck!

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  7. My problem is that I rarely feel thirsty. In summer I have to remember to make myself drink and in winter unlikely to go far enough to dehydrate. Could be why I have a titanium bottle holder from the mid seventies which is as good as new...

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  8. I have seen some people use a Camelback under their outside clothing.
    Others add antifreeze to their drinks, in the form of alcohol.

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  9. For winter riding, hiking or whatever I sometimes use a cheap Camelback type bladder under my coat or jacket. If it's cold enough to freeze the water than I'm wearing something a bit heavier anyway so a bit of extra bulk isn't a problem.

    I just don't fill it so full so it's still nice and light and thin, and put it in the front pocket of my half-zip wind shell. My body heat keeps it somewhere between luke-warm and cool. I run the tube out of the collar and clip it to the lapel to one side. It sounds more complicated than it really is. It depends on the jacket I suppose but it might work even better in a rear jersey pocket under a jacket but I haven't tried it. If it's super cold out you have to remember to blow into the tube after drinking to push everything back into the reservoir or the exposed tube will freeze and you will be saddened. If you use a regular "Hydration Pack" on your back they get frozen almost as fast as a bottle on the bike, I guess because of the extra insulation between you and the bag and being more exposed on your back. Plus I don't like all the straps and complication of using the whole pack if I'm not going to also fill it with sandwiches and Hershey bars...

    The nicest thing about this scheme is that if you fill it with something hot-ish than it helps take some of the misery out of the first 10 minutes of your ride while you get up to operating temperature.

    Spindizzy

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  10. What DB said. The Scandinavian home-goods warehouses sell a thermos that's the same diameter as an ordinary bicycle bottle. It's a better water bottle than thermos because it doesn't have a cup-top.

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  11. A thermos full of Bovril with a wee bit of Jameson's will keep you right as rain, lass. A million football hooligans can't be wrong! (Please rate this comment for crusty Irish authenticity. Would like to know if 40 years of watching the Beeb has done this Yank some good).

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    1. This is a test (for Beeb watching and football hooliganism, versus Irish authenticity though): "Off with the goolies!" Name that programme.

      I was traumatised by Bovril as a child and have never been able to make myself revisit it...

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  12. Tervis insulated tumblers worked well for me in keeping hot tea rather warm during a cold ride a couple of months ago. They fit rather well in my bottle cages, though I can't guarantee compatibility between anything other than their 24 oz tumblers and King Cage titanium cages.

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  13. maybe a camelback worn on your back under your jacket?

    Such a balancing act between heat generated and lost. Good luck

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  14. I use a monkii cage which is a detachable bottle cage with an adjustable strap to accommodate differing diameter bottles. Obtainable from cyclemiles.co.uk.

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  15. Is it possible to use a Camelback thingy under your clothes and let your body heat the water? Did not try it but this is what came to my mind after reading your post.
    badmother

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  16. I use a collapsible water bottle like platypus and keep it on my body. It molds to your body and you don't realize it's there until you need it. When you refill it it warms fairly quickly between layers of clothing and it's always at perfect body temperature... not too hot not too cold just right! I originally discovered this for skiing in order to prevent the water from freezing.

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    1. This sounds like the best suggestion so far, it would eliminate all the faffing around I go through with the camelback bladder and the hose...

      Spindizzy

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    2. Just to echo what others have said; if you have an issue, just put a small bottle (or two) somewhere between your outer layer and your body or inner layer. A Camel back would be ideal for this, but some smaller bottles like those little bottles that runners put energy gel in!? I've put a small water bottle in a rear jersey pocket before and if you put a wind shell over that it should at least not be ice cold! Street clothes could be easier or harder, depending . . . .
      Typically, though speaking for myself, I just avoid drinking or find a fountain in route.
      -masmojo

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  17. I'm surprised nobody here are brought up the real problem: water in bottles freezing solid in the cold. I've had that happen on some rides over the years and haven't found a good solution that lasts more than a paltry couple of hours. Even Nuun water (and other similar electrolyte stuff) freezes eventually.

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  18. +1 on the Contigo/Autoseal, although mine is only 16 oz. For my last 200k (night start, and chilly/raining), I used my Pistol Creek 24oz thermal bottle with a Klean Kanteen sport cap, filled with hot Orange Gatorade/Tea. Sadly, those are no longer available. I upped the ante with a 24 oz Thermos product (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003U55EKI?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00). The cap is a bit fiddly, in that one must unlock it so it is true one-handed operation, and it isn't exactly a sport cap, so one must initially sip cautiously. Both bottles kept the liquids hot for 4-6 hours. Don't start with a super hot liquid, because it won't cool to drinkability for a couple of hours. These will also be useful in our hot summer periods.

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  19. Another +1 for the Contigo Autoseal. I have a couple of the 16 oz. ones with locking spouts, and they fit nicely in my handlebar bag. They keep hot beverages hot for quite a long time, particularly if you let them stand filled with hot water for a while before pouring in your beverage of choice.

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  20. You are overthinking this rather a lot. Not much hydration is required in colder weather. Have a drink before you start the ride. Carry a flask - any type that doesn't leak - in an inside pocket. If it is to be a long ride of three hours or more plan a warm indoors rest stop.

    One silly series of rides I did when I was young enough for such foolishness was January/February 100 miles club rides behind a Vespa. The driver paced us at a constant 35kmh. These were always one bottle rides and often enough the bottles were blocks of ice most of the ride. It didn't matter. Before anyone says it is not possible to ride 100 miles with such slim hydration we were just sensible enough that the ride included a long stop for brunch at the halfway mark. And we were young, which makes many things possible.

    The other cold weather standby is a flask of cognac or grappa. It does work but be cautious. Some metabolize the stuff as antifreeze and some just get stupid. Getting stupid is already a problem when out in the cold for too darn long. I have dismounted (fully sober) and curled up to sleep in the snow when only a mile from home. I've handled other riders determined to do the same.

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  21. I use Hydroflask bottles, they ft perfectly in bottle cages and work wonderfully.

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  22. alfi isobottle 0,5 l may be worth a try, there is a bike set available, containing a suitable bottle holder
    OV

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