The importance of staying well hydrated
There’s a reason the Red Cross recommends you drink plenty of fluids before donating blood. If I drink a couple of litres of water before making a donation, it takes about 7 or 8 minutes to donate 440ml of blood. I once didn’t hydrate before donating and it took 14 minutes (the maximum time allowed) and even then I only made it to 370ml. Appreciate the difference?
About 60 percent of your body weight is water. So being vigilant about keeping hydrated is arguably the most important thing you can do when riding your motorcycle, particularly in hot and dry climates.
Drinking fluids helps your heart, brain cognition, muscle function, sleep quality and mood. It also prevents infections, regulates body temperature and helps your joints work better. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder and prevent constipation. Good hydration helps lubricate the linings of your inner organs and maintains healthy kidney function.
We could go on about why keeping hydrated is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the essential function of your body everyday of your life, but let's concentrate on our motorcycle riding for now.
A loss of sweat equal to 2% of your body weight causes a noticeable decrease of physical and mental performance. Obviously, while riding, that can be dangerous.
Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume, decreases skin blood flow, decreases our sweat rate, decreases heat dissipation, increases core temperature and also increases glycogen in the liver.
As you age, you will most likely feel less thirsty and thus be prone to drinking less fluids. However, hydration is as important as ever as you get older, so be sure to keep water on hand and drink regularly throughout the day, even if you don’t want to, or feel thirsty.
Here are 10 ways to keep hydrated on a motorcycle:
1. Overall fitness counts. Something to keep in mind for the ‘long-haul’.
2. Ideally, don’t consume alcohol for at least 12 hours before riding.
3. Get a good nights sleep.
4. Have breakfast with milk, juice and water.
5. Apply a 50+ sun screen lotion, twice daily.
6. Keep your core body cooler by wearing a wet vest.
7. Wear a ‘Camel Pack’ with cold water in it. You can sip on it as you ride.
8. Wear cool and wet wrist and neck bands.
9. Whenever you stop, find some shade to be in.
10. Every two hours, drink 600ml of water or electrolyte-infused water.
And don’t worry about ‘nature’ stops. You likely won’t have to pull over and pee, it pretty much all goes out in sweat anyway.
It’s worth saying again... About 60 percent of your body weight is water. So keeping well hydrated is the most important thing you can do when riding your motorcycle to help ensure you continue to feel good, and have the great day you set out to have!
Fred Madderom - Steel Horse Moto