In my post on Venge Day 2021 the other day, Anthony asked in the comments section, “what’s in your water bottle?” The humorous commercial resemblance aside (only Americans will get that reference), the question is a good one. I answered simply because I wanted to keep it simple, but I find the whole range of what can be used fascinating.
It used to be, back in the days before I learned how to eat for cycling, I used supplements whenever I had a hard ride. Hammer Heed for short, fast rides (30-ish miles @ 21+ mph [34 km/h] average) and Hammer Perpetuem for the longer rides (100k+).
I was going through a big bucket of each, sometimes two a year when I realized how much freaking money I was blowing on supplement drinks… that stuff is expensive.
One day, at the end of yet another bucket of Heed, I had a taste for water. We have well water with a fairly high iron content. Even after running our water through a computerized, top-shelf, wildly expensive water softener, you can still taste a little “well” in it – I love that just dragged a bottle through the stream taste. I was going for a mid-range ride, if memory serves, so I figured I would try to go without the supplement mix for once. Amazingly, I didn’t bonk into a shell of nothingness on the ride. In fact, I was just fine, and as an added benefit to plain old water tasting fantastic, I didn’t have to clean any sticky gunk from my bike.
I tried a longer ride with just water, and longer… I got up to a 100k on plain, old-fashioned H2O and that’s about my limit without some electrolyte help. I can either use a packet dropped into water, or grab a sports drink at a convenience store (usually a sports drink and a Coke). I won’t dare try a 100 miler without some help. The electrolytes get to diluted and a bonk is right behind that.
Now, the question then turns to “does my performance suffer because I stick to straight water?”
I don’t think it’s debatable that my performance takes a small hit on rides between 40 & 62 miles. A bottle of Heed or Perpetuem would go a long way on the mid-mileage rides. I used to love Perpetuem for 100k to 100 mile rides, but I do like free, and water is that. It also satisfies my thirst on a hot summer’s evening in a way that simply can’t be beat. Whenever I reach for a water bottle with supplements, I always reach for the other with straight water to wash the taste out of my mouth.
So there you have it. I’m a straight-up water guy.
And I’m kinda fast, too, and I don’t feel I need any more than water to be that… at least for short distances.