Texas has already started having 100 degree days. It’s the kind of heat that keeps you inside your insulated dwelling, afraid to leave the reach of an overworked AC and ludicrous speed ceiling fans. If you’re riding during Texas summers, you’re up well before the sun, and hitting the trail as soon as the sunrise allows.

These circumstances had me thinking about hydration. It’s extremely important when riding in these conditions that we hydrate properly. Hydration though isn’t just about drinking water. When we’re riding, the liquids, minerals and electrolytes that drip off our body are there to cool our skin, in turn cooling our core body temperature. We need to constantly replenish what we’re losing. 

What to know about electrolytes

Sweat rates per individual vary for a variety of reasons. For our purposes, let’s say a rider averages a sweat rate of 1-1.5 liters per hour. So, a two hour ride through the woods might have a rider’s sweat loss at 2-3 liters. 

As we lose water and electrolytes while riding, we need to eat foods, or utilize electrolyte supplements, to replenish what we’ve lost in sweat.

Sodium helps us retain fluid and with nerve function. On average, we lose 1000 mg of sodium per liter of sweat, resulting in a loss of 2000 – 3000 mg on a 2 hour ride.

Potassium helps with muscle function & cellular fluid balance. On average, we lose 150 mg of potassium per liter of sweat, resulting in a loss of 300 – 450 mg on a 2 hour ride.

Magnesium helps with energy production and electrolyte balance. On average, we lose 20 mg of magnesium per liter, resulting in a loss of 40 – 60 mg on a 2 hour ride.

Chloride is a hydration partner working in tandem with other minerals and electrolytes. On average, we lose 1400 mg of chloride per liter, resulting in a loss of 2800 – 4200 mg on a 2 hour ride.

How to consume electrolytes

During a break back at the truck, eating foods to replenish these necessary electrolytes is the best way to utilize the benefits of the whole food. Considering we’re wanting simple carbohydrates as well, eating rice with salt added is a great snack. A banana or orange is a welcomed fruit due to its carbohydrate and potassium mix. Salted almonds or cashews will help bring up your magnesium levels; eat nuts in small amounts intra-riding.

Since we’re on our bikes and riding, it’s tough to eat food to replenish the sweat and electrolyte loss. This is where supplements like LMNT or SaltStick Fastchews (weekend review) come into play. Mixing the proper amount into your hydration bladder, and remembering to drink, will keep a constant drip of what your body needs to stay hydrated and cramp free. 

Whatever avenue you leverage for replenishing your water and electrolyte loss, start by aiming for around 20oz of water an hour. Knowing that we’re averaging a lose of 1000 mg of sodium, 150 mg of potassium, and 20 mg of magnesium per liter of sweat, we should be trying to consume at least half of these numbers per hour of activity. Once you’re done riding, you’ll want to continue that trend for the hour after the ride.

LMNT is my electrolyte supplement of choice.
Fastchews during a vacation mtb ride.

What’s Next?

If you’re interested in knowing more about fueling for riding, we have a few other articles and videos for you to check out. Our Enduro Nutrition Cheat Sheet is written to help enduro racers have a starting place for their fueling and hydration strategy. Our 5 Simple Tips For Dirt Bike Nutrition is written to lightly introduce you to a few more concepts than we covered here.

Grabbing a gatorade at the gas station on the way to the trails or eating a banana as your bike warms up is better than nothing. But those aren’t examples of a hydration strategy, they’re a last ditch effort to pretend you’re taking your riding seriously. Riding dirt bikes is dangerous, especially when we bring the heat of summer into the equation. Use common sense and prepare for your ride one to two days before you’re on the trail. We want to see you excel while getting seat time. Let us know how it goes!

Electrolyte Supplements

If you’re not using any electrolyte supplements, here’s a few brands I’ve used for you to start with.

Electrolyte/Carb Supplements

If you’re looking for a electrolytes mixed with a carbohydrate, here are a few options.

Enjoyed this content? Support Seat Time w/ these links!