You’ve got to drink. As well as making you feel rubbish, dehydration limits your ability to put the power down. Even mild dehydration, where you’re just one percent under your correct weight because of water loss, can slow you down as much as six percent, researchers have found.
So you need to keep your body’s water supply topped up. There are loads of products on the shelves to help, including energy drink mixes that contain some sort of sugar to provide fuel along with the water, and electrolyte mixes, intended to replace the salts you lose with sweat. But what do you really like to drink? The envelope please…
Adam’s ale, H2O, aqua, l’eau — whatever you want to call it, it’s the basis of life and it’s also the most popular tipple in our poll. That’s not very surprising. Water’s refreshing, and also refreshingly cheap at about a tenth of a penny per litre from the tap. (Fill your own five-paragraph rant about the stupidity of buying bottled water here.)
As far as we know, none of the breweries recommend their beverages for enhancing sporting performance, with the exception of Erdinger, which The Guardian says, “is being promoted as a healthy, correctly carb-loaded, post-workout refreshment in Germany, hence the ‘isotonic, vitamin-rich, reduced calories’ labelling”. However, Erdinger is alcohol-free, which purists would likely say means it’s not really beer.
Nevertheless, a bottle of chilled beer or good cider at the end of a long, hot ride is surely a reward well-earned.
Now you’re talking. Sensible, cheap tap water on the ride; beer at the end. What’s not to love?
High5’s electrolyte tabs were the most popular sport-specific product in the poll. Each tab makes 750ml of drink — the size of a large water bottle — and contains Vitamin C and five electrolytes, including sodium, magnesium and potassium. Our reviewer was impressed with them for reducing cramps on long rides (though some dispute that electrolytes can prevent cramps at all) and comments from readers suggest that they're great for preventing hangovers!
With a mixture of 60% maltodextrin and 30% fructose, this popular powder is claimed to deliver carbohydrates into the bloodstream faster than either of those two energy sources alone. As well as its effectiveness as a fuel source, people really seem to like Torq's taste, which is described as not too powerful, and pleasantly neutral.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.