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Hydration and commuting

Almost every public park in Washington County has a drinking water fountain that is operating during the summer.

-Judith Rognli, Freedom To Ride 

I’m an all-season bike commuter, and I have ridden throughout the summers in Southwest Utah for the past 5 years. I ride to work, I ride my son to school and daycare, and I ride to run errands.  

I know it’s hot. But it’s not impossible.  

Hydration is one key to stay safe in the summer. Here are a few things I have tried over the years.  

There are great hydration products on the market that aren’t only good for athletes. As someone who is a life-long commuter and only very recently discovered biking as a sport, I fell into the trap of assuming I don’t need any of this. I was wrong. Riding 10-20 miles per day, I could never keep up with drinking enough water. My appetite would vanish, and my stomach would cramp frequently, sometimes waking me up in the middle of the night. Not a great feeling, and certainly not healthy.  

At this point, I carry two water bottles in frame mounted cages, 50 oz total, pretty much whenever I ride for longer than 20 minutes. I try to drink plenty of water prior and post ride, and I fill one bottle with water and ice, and one with some sort of electrolyte drink. Skratch is a great option.  

I used to have a Velo Orange Mojave bottle cage mounted to my bike’s downtube. Those cages are designed to carry a 32oz Nalgene or even a 40 oz Klean Kanteen bottle, which has the advantage of keeping the water cool, but I didn’t like how the bottles rattled in the cage, so at this point I just carry an insulated Zefal bottle in a normal sized cage.  

The Arundel Looney Bin is a great option for folks who want to carry larger bottles on their frames. It’s made of plastic, and it has a ratcheting knob that can be adjusted to various bottle sizes.  

Another option that fits larger bottles (I’ve tried it with my 32 oz Hydro Flask) and that goes on your handlebar, is the Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag. This one has the advantage of a few side pockets that I sometimes use for a small tub of sunscreen and an energy bar when I carry it. I also don’t have to lean down to try to fish my drink out of a frame mounted cage, which can be really nice.  

If I run out of water along the way, I know where to get refills. Almost every public park in Washington County has a drinking water fountain that is operating during the summer. At Fire Lake Park out in Ivins, I recently saw a specific fountain to refill bottles. Way to go, Ivins!  

And if I get too hot, I soak my clothes. I fill my bottle at a drinking water fountain and rinse myself down. Awkward, but so much fun. Another option are sprinklers. Though I don’t approve of running sprinklers during a hot summer day (and neither does the County) I love riding through them when I find them. If you’re riding with kids and you have some cargo space, water blasters can be another great soaking device.  

Beyond hydration, I try to time my rides to avoid the worst heat in the late afternoon, I try to find shaded routes, and I wear long sleeved, UV protective clothing.  

The most important thing is that you have fun. Bike commuting shouldn’t feel miserable. It should always, always, give you a smile on your face.  

By Judith Rognli, Freedom to Ride – Active Transportation Specialist