It doesn’t matter whether you ride a mountain bike on trails, a unicycle on the pavement, or a circus bike with 20 inch wheels. If you put the hours in, riding or entertaining, you’re going to need to take hydration seriously.
Granted, it’s a more considerable concern for the former riders than for the latter, but either way, here are some good tips whenever you go the proverbial distance.
Don’t Just Drink When You’re Thirsty
The old saying goes, “You should drink whenever you’re thirsty.” But by the time you are thirsty under normal to high effort exercise you will be behind in hydration.
(Or, for that matter, “You should eat when you’re hungry.”)
At least in the former case, this maxim should not be followed while you’re riding a bike or a unicycle, especially if you’re working hard.
When you’re really exerting yourself, it’s hard to “feel” the thirst, but you’ll still be losing water and minerals through sweat.
Good general practices are to take a sip or two every ten to fifteen minutes. This will help you keep hydrated and fight fatigue.
How much water you need will depend on how much you weigh, how hard you exert yourself, and of course, climatic conditions – but this is a good general rule.
You should always bring clothes that are appropriate for the weather, but you should also dress appropriately.
Don’t add layers if you know it’s going to be hot and muggy. You will be uncomfortable (which is a morale sapper) and you will lose more water.
When you exert yourself, you will lose water regardless. But you don’t need to make it more taxing than it needs to be.
Refill Wherever You Can
This tip, specifically, is for long-distance riders. If you’re out for a multi-day trip, or are planning on covering more than, say, 40 miles, you probably cannot carry enough water for the whole trip.
Rather, you should use a hydration bladder or carry one to two quart or liter-sized bottles, like Nalgenes.
Fill them up at the start of the journey, and plan your route according to where you can refill them, since you just can’t carry enough water for the whole trip in one shot.
Replace Electrolytes After the Exertion Ends
While you should hydrate and replenish electrolytes during the entire trip, after you cool down and stop sweating, that’s when you should go hard to replace the nutrients you lost.
Sweat carries away electrolytes and nutrients that will not be replaced by pure water alone. You want to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat as well as the proteins needed to repair muscle and the carbs necessary to restore your body’s balance and furnish you with energy.
High-carb energy drinks and sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade are good for these purposes, but there are many others. Make sure you carry a few with you, as your body can absorb nutrients more easily from liquids than from solid food. You can also carry powdered mixes which are very lightweight, and use them as needed.
Gear Up for Distance
Getting ready for a race or a long trail ride? Visit Unicycle.com. They carry the unicycle tools, parts, safety gear, and knowledge you need for a successful voyage.
They carry the rigs, too, including unicycles and odd bikes – heck, they even carry a circus bike with 20 inch wheels.
Not that you’d go long-distance on it, but they have what you need anyway.