A cycle tour is broken down into stages of between 60km and 180km or more. This means you will be riding for several hours. Whatever the performance objective, hydration and nutrition will have an important role to play in getting you to the finish line at each stage.
1 - Effectively hydrate your body
You have to hydrate your body regularly (10 – 15') in small quantities (1 to 2 sips). You have to replace the water lost through sweat to avoid the risk of dehydration. Allow at least 0.5 litre per hour of riding.
2 - Regularly provide energy
Muscles need energy in the form of glucose in order to work. However, reserves are limited. You therefore need to ingest sugars during exercise.
Sugars can be consumed in liquid and/or solid form, depending on the preferences of each cyclist and their strategy for the whole stage.
Energy drinks have the two-fold advantage of hydrating and providing sugars.You should plan for at least one bottle per hour of riding.
Energy gels have the advantage of being concentrated (2 gels provide as much sugar as a bottle of isotonic drink). You should plan for 2 gels per hour of riding. Gels need to be consumed with water.
Gels can be combined with an energy drink in the event of fatigue or in preparation for a difficult pass ahead.
Energy bars have the advantage of relieving the feeling of hunger. However, chewing can be problematic for some athletes.
3 – Supply sodium
Perspiration allows you to control your body temperature but involves mineral loss, in particular sodium.This mineral helps the body's water balance.
Isotonic drinks have been carefully designed to meet athletes sodium needs.
4 – Plan your own strategy
Riding can be accompanied by digestive disorders. The discomfort is directly linked to exercise and are aggravated by dehydration. It may be triggered by food, which is why all products used during training should be tested beforehand so there are no surprises on the day.
5 - Recognise the signs of dehydration
The following symptoms may indicate dehydration:
- Feeling thirsty,
- An increased heart rate,
- A drop in blood pressure,
- A drop in performance.
Mild dehydration leads to a feeling of fatigue, thirst and weariness.
Severe dehydration will cause you to feel very thirsty during exercise, out of breath with a feeling of "heavy legs" and pain in muscles or tendons. It results in deteriorated physical condition and may require urgent medical attention.
As we have advised, hydrating your body is very important. But how should you choose your exercise drink? How can you distinguish between energy drinks and booster drinks? Find all the answers in our advice section.