Too Cold to Drink?
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!