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  1. #1
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    First Race: Camelbak or Bottle?

    My first race is coming up pretty soon and it got me thinking about what I should be packing onto the trail. The race is only 12 miles so I was thinking about hydration and tools. I usually ride Trails with my Camelbak since I can carry some tools in there in case something breaks down. But I was looking at pictures of racing guys and none, and I mean none, of them wear a Camelback when they race. I was thinking I could just carry a bottle with some type of sports drink or something in it. Would the weight saved in carrying a bottle be worth being stuck on the trail? So, Camelback with tools, or bottle without?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Put the tools in the back pockets of your jersey? Or a seatpost bag maybe?
    Ben - Clydesdale - Type II Diabetic - 6'7", ~278lbs in 09/2011 - A1C 9.4%, ~228lbs in 07/2012 - A1C 5.6%, ~240lbs in 05/2013

  3. #3
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    a few of my team mates use camelbacks and quite a few guys wear them in my race series. they are nice on a long lap course or if you dont have someone to do had ups for you.
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  4. #4
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    I would go w/out hydration for a 12 mile race.

    I did it for my first race (9.75M), and never missed it - placed 7th/29. Put a tube and tools in your jersey pockets and leave the pack/bottle at home.
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  5. #5
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    I race cat1 and wear a Camelbak. But for a 12 mile race I would consider just a half bottle to ward of cotton mouth.

  6. #6
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    12 miles? One bottle and no tools. If you really want, carry a tube and C02 in your jersey.

    I only use the hydration pack for rides longer than 2-3 hours, where I might not have access to water to refill bottles.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    My first race is coming up pretty soon and it got me thinking about what I should be packing onto the trail. The race is only 12 miles so I was thinking about hydration and tools. I usually ride Trails with my Camelbak since I can carry some tools in there in case something breaks down. But I was looking at pictures of racing guys and none, and I mean none, of them wear a Camelback when they race. I was thinking I could just carry a bottle with some type of sports drink or something in it. Would the weight saved in carrying a bottle be worth being stuck on the trail? So, Camelback with tools, or bottle without?
    Thanks!
    Stuck on the trails? if youre in south florida and its a 12 mile race youre only 2 miles MAXIMUM from the trailhead.

    Also, if its 12 miles, you probably signed up category 3, not category 4... if its truly your first race just concentrate on finishing. I dont know your ability but even in cat 3 the competition will probably be faster than you think.

  8. #8
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    I agree with the others, 12 mi race is short for a water pack, and you probably won't need the bottle either. If it was mid summer, maybe a bottle, due to the higher heat. I always chew gum to help keep my mouth wet. It work amazingly well. Give it a shot.

  9. #9
    Gears... I hate gears
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    I would NEVER consider going without hydration. I sweat so much that I'll go through that 70 oz Camelbak in about 2 hours. I am registered in the Junoir category so I'm not too sure what to expect but like you guys have said, I am focused on finishing with a good performance (my opinion) and having fun with my riding buddy. It seems like the general consensus is to go with the bottle and pray that nothing happens while on the trail. I don't even have a jersey or seat bag because I put everything in my pack when I go. I've never had the need for one. Thanks for the swift replies guys!

  10. #10
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    i'll kind of disagree with others and suggest you take one bottle, a tube and c02 and perhaps a multi tool or 5mm allen wrench. The extra weight is minimal and you might be able to stop and spend 30 seconds tightening a bolt rather than walking out.

    I had my bars loosen up at the stem in a race in the spring when I was riding in a group on a non technical section, I was able to dig the tool out and tighten the bolts while I sat at the back. I would have dropped out otherwise as the bolts were quite loose.

    I like feeling confident when I roll up to the line. If the camelback makes you feel confident, wear it. If people snicker, then beat them.

  11. #11
    James.Hamilton
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    I had the same questions when I entered my first race. In the end I decided on the water bottle with a seat bag with tube and tools. The main reason for the tools is not to finish the race and contend but not to be stuck in rattle snake country walking out.

    Having the knowledge of water intake during physical activity and prior to activity is key as well, hydrate well before and use the water during the race in small amounts and to wash down gu. I have yet to finish a bottle of water in a race and many are held in 95+ degree weather. Do some research on diet and race preparation if you have not already. Enjoy the race!

  12. #12
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    Never try something new during a race! Go with tools in the pack and maybe fill your pack up about 20 oz. I personally prefer to race with a pack. It's a lot easier to put the tube in my mouth and then ride over technical rootballs and rockgardens. I've tried the bottle before and have been caught with the bottle in hand when I forgot about certain trail obstructions around blind turns. I also prefer to get the weight off the bike and on my shoulders.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mucky View Post
    I agree with the others, 12 mi race is short for a water pack, and you probably won't need the bottle either. If it was mid summer, maybe a bottle, due to the higher heat. I always chew gum to help keep my mouth wet. It work amazingly well. Give it a shot.
    Do not do this. If you accidentally inhale the gum while breathing heavily, you are in serious trouble. Sorry, but this is a very bad suggestion.

    If it were me, I would go without water in a race that short, but if you must bring water, either a camelback or a bottle is fine. If you are accustomed to the pack, bring it. You are already used to drinking from it on the go. In the heat of the moment is not a good time to worry about grabbing a bottle and replacing it. You will see plenty of people with packs, too, just not in photos of elite racers. They have feed stations.

  14. #14
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    I recently went back to bottles with a few things in my jersey pocket and strapped under my seat with an Awesome Strap just to try something different. I can't believe someone suggested no water...I can't imagine it even for short races. I only carry stuff to change a tire, anything else 1) can be prevented by proper bike maint. and 2) you won't be able to fix anyway so you will walk.
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  15. #15
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    not to hijack this thread..do you guys think a 19 mile course still warrants only a bottle?

  16. #16
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    Do what you're used to. Who cares if "the cool kids" run bottles and secure CO2, tube, and tools with an Awesome Strap.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bosbik View Post
    not to hijack this thread..do you guys think a 19 mile course still warrants only a bottle?
    I would personally take water and then another water/hammer mix in the jersey pocket.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack Monkey View Post
    12 miles? One bottle and no tools. If you really want, carry a tube and C02 in your jersey.

    I only use the hydration pack for rides longer than 2-3 hours, where I might not have access to water to refill bottles.
    This.

    One bottle is all you need and in a race that short I wouldn't carry tools because if you flat or have a mechanical your race is over anyway.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack Monkey View Post
    12 miles? One bottle and no tools. If you really want, carry a tube and C02 in your jersey.

    I only use the hydration pack for rides longer than 2-3 hours, where I might not have access to water to refill bottles.
    In a 12 mile race If you need tools you already lost.

    I ride with a camelback but race with a bottle. Bottles take some practice as you need much more time with a hand off the bar which can make it difficult in tough terrain.

    I'd go bottle, you stay cooler too which I think is important.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by litany View Post
    In a 12 mile race If you need tools you already lost.

    I ride with a camelback but race with a bottle. Bottles take some practice as you need much more time with a hand off the bar which can make it difficult in tough terrain.

    I'd go bottle, you stay cooler too which I think is important.
    I was sort of thinking the same thing. I think I'm going to hit up some singletrack on Wednesday and practice with the bottle! That could be an excuse to give to my parents to hit the trails!

  21. #21
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    I dropped the other night the second ride in years with a bottle. You just can't drink whenever you want to with them. It also teaches you discipline w/r to the volume you consume.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemiwinks View Post
    Never try something new during a race! Go with tools in the pack and maybe fill your pack up about 20 oz. I personally prefer to race with a pack. It's a lot easier to put the tube in my mouth and then ride over technical rootballs and rockgardens. I've tried the bottle before and have been caught with the bottle in hand when I forgot about certain trail obstructions around blind turns. I also prefer to get the weight off the bike and on my shoulders.
    This, ^^^ I race with a hydration pack. I find it a lot easier also. Ive tried bottles and I guess the only reason some riders use them is to stay cooler?

  23. #23
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    During my first ever race, I lost one of my water bottles. I was fortunate enough to be passing someone from Team Madcat who, when he realised who I was (from these forums), lent me a few sips from his bottle with 5 miles left in the race… which I ended up winning (Napa Valley Dirt Classic, 2011, Men’s Cat3 35-44; I immediately upgraded to Cat2 since the 1st place finish). I’ve since done five races with a hydration backback and believe that if it is set up properly you will not notice the extra weight carried on your back—they make ones with lower back straps (such as the offerings of Vaude) so they will lessen the burden on your upper body. However, I did manage to run my Camelbak dry with less than 6 miles to go in one of my last races—slowing for the hydration/aid station people was not a good move, as I was only 20 seconds away from 1st place when I crossed the finish line in first place—2012 Howell Mountain Challenge, average course temperature was 99°F, hottest point was 102.5°F.
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  24. #24
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    I train/fun ride with a CB but come race day I switch to a bottle on the frame and carry only a tube, levers, 1 CO2, a missing link and a frame-mounted mini pump--these are in my jersey pockets (except the mini pump). I tape 1-2 GUs on my top tube in case I bonk. I would not go w/o water, you need to drink. Drink well two days before the event and have a big glass 2 hours ahead of your race start. Good luck!

  25. #25
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    Well I had my first race and I went for a pre-race ride trying to use the bottle but that was just too difficult so I used the camelback on the race. Thanks for the input though guys!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    Well I had my first race and I went for a pre-race ride trying to use the bottle but that was just too difficult so I used the camelback on the race. Thanks for the input though guys!
    Cool--whatever works. My buddy uses a CB and does great. He just scales back on tools, etc. he normally carries.

  27. #27
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    My first Mtn bike race is coming up in 2 weeks. I will be be using my normal kit including camelbak and tools. The race is a single 24 mile loop and goes out in some remote areas. I pre-rode the course this past weekend and feel better with full kit. I don't expect to win, I just want to finish solidly in the pack. If it were a short loop course maybe it would be different.
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  28. #28
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    Like reedfe ended up doing and like JoePAz plans to do, there really is something to be said for sticking with what you are familiar with for your first race.

    Yeah, maybe you get to the end and think, "Oh, if only I had done xyz differently, I would have placed better," but isn't that the point of a first race? To learn things?

    So to all the first timers out there, do what you are comfortable with. If this is your first race, that implies there will be more races. You can always switch things up then.

    For the record... I posted here 12-1/2 months ago asking "My first race is coming up. What tires should I use?" I ended up riding the tires I had experience riding on, even if they weren't the ones "everybody" said were best for that course. Also, here I am at the end of my first full season (10 races) of racing and I rode every single one with a light pink Camelbak Skeeter cause I can't reliably get a bottle in and out of the cage.

  29. #29
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Use what is easiest to drink with. First race = might be a good idea to go ahead and use that Camelbak even they they are not "pro-like".

    Good luck out there. No matter what...race a second time in the near future...

  30. #30
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    If you are doing several races it's worth experimenting with both options and see which you like best.

    Like you, I started racing with a camelbak as that was what I was use to, but now race with a bottle. One of the other posters mentioned this, but using a bottle helps teach you discipline when drinking during a race.

    I use to guzzle down as much water as I could as the camelbak tube was always just there. Drinking out a bottle when racing on tight single track is much harder and I drink less.

    I've been doing slightly longer races (20 - 35 miles) and racing with a camelbak I always needed to stop for a "natural break" or two. Using the bottle it saves me a lot of time not having to stop and pee.

    Maybe I've just got a weak bladder though

  31. #31
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbco1975 View Post
    If you are doing several races it's worth experimenting with both options and see which you like best.

    Like you, I started racing with a camelbak as that was what I was use to, but now race with a bottle. One of the other posters mentioned this, but using a bottle helps teach you discipline when drinking during a race.

    I use to guzzle down as much water as I could as the camelbak tube was always just there. Drinking out a bottle when racing on tight single track is much harder and I drink less.

    I've been doing slightly longer races (20 - 35 miles) and racing with a camelbak I always needed to stop for a "natural break" or two. Using the bottle it saves me a lot of time not having to stop and pee.

    Maybe I've just got a weak bladder though
    You don't want to drink too little or too much fwiw... both can be a big detriment to your performance out there...

  32. #32
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    I'm starting to see them more and more at the elite level. I still use a water bottle and if I need two I put the second in jersey. If i need more than two, I have a little PVC stand that i can hammer into ground and grab as I ride by. Free's my wife up so she isn't stressed about missing me.

    I can't imagine having that weight on my back. I'd over heat and I would suck all the water dry in the first 10 minutes. Water bottles I can control amount and how often I drink. This is extremely important during longer endurance races (triathlons, xterra, etc.)



  33. #33
    James.Hamilton
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    The ability to actually see the bottle in the cage and visually measure how much water you drank/have left is also nice. A second bottle placed in an easy to grab spot has worked for me but for the racing I have done the bottle in the cage has sufficient water.

    After a number of races and more attention paid to water intake I can use my camelbak on all my normal rides and really make the water last which gives me more miles if I can't refill.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Use what is easiest to drink with. First race = might be a good idea to go ahead and use that Camelbak even they they are not "pro-like".

    Good luck out there. No matter what...race a second time in the near future...
    I finished my first race and I was happy to have my camelbak. Despite being cool (52F) and not using much water the simple fact was that my camelbak was a known deal. I have been riding with one for years and I knew what to expect. I did not need to learn to reach for the bottle and drink mid ride. I never stopped for the entire ride and I am not sure I ever let off enough to grab a bottle and drink. The hose is much easier to reach and drink will not intrupting my riding.

    Now if I practice with the bottle then maybe it would be different, but with all the new things to think about racing vs just riding I happy to not have to think about water. My luck I would have dropped the bottle somewhere and had to do without. My finish postion was not going to be hurt by carrying the pack, but could be hurt if ran out of water due to losing a bottle or crashing tying to drink.

    I also saw 3-4 rides with flats out on the trail and who knows how many happened behind me. Riding with my full kit of spares was nice since it meant I was self sufficent. My "race" might be lost with flat, but it would not mean a DNF either. The extra weight is not going to make a difference for a rider at my level. However being stuck miles from anywhere with no tools would mean a crappy long walk back that would be no fun at all. If I really wanted to "win" then maybe I take the gamble on no mechicals and minimal water, but for a rider's who's goals were to ride well (best of my abilities) and finish... it was not worth it.
    Joe
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  35. #35
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I finished my first race and I was happy to have my camelbak. Despite being cool (52F) and not using much water the simple fact was that my camelbak was a known deal. I have been riding with one for years and I knew what to expect. I did not need to learn to reach for the bottle and drink mid ride. I never stopped for the entire ride and I am not sure I ever let off enough to grab a bottle and drink. The hose is much easier to reach and drink will not intrupting my riding.

    Now if I practice with the bottle then maybe it would be different, but with all the new things to think about racing vs just riding I happy to not have to think about water. My luck I would have dropped the bottle somewhere and had to do without. My finish postion was not going to be hurt by carrying the pack, but could be hurt if ran out of water due to losing a bottle or crashing tying to drink.

    I also saw 3-4 rides with flats out on the trail and who knows how many happened behind me. Riding with my full kit of spares was nice since it meant I was self sufficent. My "race" might be lost with flat, but it would not mean a DNF either. The extra weight is not going to make a difference for a rider at my level. However being stuck miles from anywhere with no tools would mean a crappy long walk back that would be no fun at all. If I really wanted to "win" then maybe I take the gamble on no mechicals and minimal water, but for a rider's who's goals were to ride well (best of my abilities) and finish... it was not worth it.
    Excellent. Good to hear

  36. #36
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    I don't race a lot so for me it depends on the race. How much supplies I think I'll need. Ideally, I would like to ride without a camelbak. It's just nice not having the weight and insulation on your back. For long point to point races, a camelbak is a necessity for me. Two tubes, hydration, misc tools and a pump. That's a lot of gear to try and get all on the bike though it can be done. Also, the aid stations may be more than two hours apart depending on the race. A lap race, is a little different. I haven't done any lap races where the laps are much more than an hour, give or take 10 minutes. 1 bottle per hour is the rule of thumb depending on weather and how much you sweat. So for lap races, I'll rely on 1 tube and CO2 plus tool which all fit in a saddle bag. Refill water bottles at the start finish. 1 or 2 bottles depends on the rider and the weather.
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  37. #37
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    if you are a strong rider. just take the camel back and show them what a "tourist" can do. HAHA. piss off the weight weenies.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by chickenburgerin3d View Post
    if you are a strong rider. just take the camel back and show them what a "tourist" can do. HAHA. piss off the weight weenies.
    Fascinating thing about racing, there's relatively few chumps. Take every advantage you can get.

  39. #39
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    that is true. so any deficiency that you inflict on yourself gives a win more prestige. does it not?
    USAC#370123

    it isn't the bike, it's the legs that make a strong rider.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by chickenburgerin3d View Post
    that is true. so any deficiency that you inflict on yourself gives a win more prestige. does it not?
    A dude wearing a typical super oversized NFL jersey over Lycra shorts won beginner 45-50 age group in my second race. Hats off to him, that is super street cred - or trail cred - in my book.
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  41. #41
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    First Race: Camelbak or Bottle?

    I did my first 10 mile race this year without my usual CBS and made sure I drank a lot before race. No problem, but I wonder if lack of water can lead to back being sore, as I was. Naturally, all the guys in camel backs passed by me.

    This is an old thread but to those aspire to race next year, beginners are really fast unless you are in great shape already.


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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pegleg81 View Post
    I did my first 10 mile race this year without my usual CBS and made sure I drank a lot before race. No problem, but I wonder if lack of water can lead to back being sore, as I was. Naturally, all the guys in camel backs passed by me.

    This is an old thread but to those aspire to race next year, beginners are really fast unless you are in great shape already.


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    How much time did it take you to complete the race?

  43. #43
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    First Race: Camelbak or Bottle?

    Lol.... an hour and a half. I think that it was actually around 9.7 miles. First place came in an hour.


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    First Race: Camelbak or Bottle?

    I also did my second race 1ht 20 mins without a CB and had no problems other than back being a bit sore.


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  45. #45
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    How much water did you drink? A bottle? As long as I'm properly hydrated before the race, a bottle usually lasts me about 1.5 hours. The sore back is probably just due to putting out a race effort that you're not accustomed to

  46. #46
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    First Race: Camelbak or Bottle?

    I drank about a bottle along with some powerbar before the race. I think that I need to work out the core muscles for my back. People talk about hydrating 24 to 48 hours before the race and I've never done that.... Another thought is that if there is any flat section that is safe for grabbing the bite valve that is the part where you want to try to go fast.....


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pegleg81 View Post
    I drank about a bottle along with some powerbar before the race. I think that I need to work out the core muscles for my back. People talk about hydrating 24 to 48 hours before the race and I've never done that.... Another thought is that if there is any flat section that is safe for grabbing the bite valve that is the part where you want to try to go fast.....


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    Yeah, if I hydrate like that before a race I end up having to pee all night.

    Wear what you are used to. If it's a bottle, use a bottle. If it's a hydration pack, use that. There will be plenty more races in the future. Just try and finish and have fun.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by bosbik View Post
    not to hijack this thread..do you guys think a 19 mile course still warrants only a bottle?

    it depends on:

    terrain and the time you are out there producing XYZ watts

    your fitness

    the outside temp and conditions

    one 19 mile ride for me can be 1 hour or 3 hours depending on the chunder
    at 50 degrees 2 bottles for 2 hours is fine. at 80 degrees I will need 2 bottles plus

  49. #49
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    I had the same question.

    My first race I took a small CB and it ran dry too fast as I drank more than expected.
    CB +
    Easier to handle, faster, can hold more water
    CB -
    You have no idea how much is left other than sense/feel, adding a drink mix may be front loaded as it sinks to bottom

    Bottle
    + you know how much is left always, drink mix is easily spread
    - more time with one hand off the bar, more likely to crash, less volume

    I would rather have a CB half full than bottles strictly due to hands on bar time.

    That said, almost all Cat1 racers carry a bottle or two and maybe they have a pit crew on longer rides... dunno.

    I sweat a lot and use Skratch hydration mix for electrolytes and hydration.

    Good luck!

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by office View Post
    Yeah, if I hydrate like that before a race I end up having to pee all night.

    Wear what you are used to. If it's a bottle, use a bottle. If it's a hydration pack, use that. There will be plenty more races in the future. Just try and finish and have fun.
    This.

    I see top level Cat 1 guys using small hydration packs. I prefer bottles since I don't like anything on my back.
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