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  1. #1
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    Race Hydration - bottles versus hydration packs

    What is the consensus out there for using bottles versus hydration packs during races? Specifically, here in Arizona it obviously gets quite warm and in later summer we even get some higher humidity.

    Our team, as a rule, has instructed all riders to come with 1-2 liters of water in a hydration pack, at a minimum, for all rides and races.

    We have a handful of advanced riders, placed in Varsity this year, that have been riding/racing bottles for 1-2 years and are extremely comfortable reaching/drinking while riding.

    We have some coaches that are insisting on hydration packs only and several others that see the benefit of bottles.

    Just curious what some other teams take was on the topic - thanks.
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  2. #2
    Rue
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    Hydration packs seem to fade out as skill levels rise. They make drinking easier for inexperienced racers, but as competitive level goes up, racers tend to opt for handups and weight savings.
    Last edited by Rue; 08-27-2019 at 10:40 PM.

  3. #3
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    On my daughter's team, freshman and sophomore used hydration packs. JV could choose, and varsity were bottles only.

    During practice they also drilled on doing proper hand-ups, and every category got a turn in the feed zone.

  4. #4
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    If you're talking NICA, the typical course will take the varsity kids less than 30 minutes to complete, many cases closer to 20 minutes. We instruct our kids away from hydration packs. The added weight isn't necessary, they can inhibit the movement into proper body position and they also stop the body from cooling as well as it would without the pack.
    Same holds true for the slower divisions. (We do Varsity, JVA/B/C/D as well as Freshman and single lap racers here in Utah.)
    This is what the feed zone is for and why our team practices it. Drink bottles and dump bottles.

  5. #5
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    It gets hot in more places than only the entire state of Arizona. LOL

  6. #6
    4AM
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    Bro I've raced without even carrying water, just drink at the feed zone and that's it. The only race I did that was the only race I podiumed last year. I did a whole other 6 race series at the same time and didn't carry water for any of those. Moral of the story... Water is way overrated


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dschwartz View Post
    What is the consensus out there for using bottles versus hydration packs during races? Specifically, here in Arizona it obviously gets quite warm and in later summer we even get some higher humidity.

    Our team, as a rule, has instructed all riders to come with 1-2 liters of water in a hydration pack, at a minimum, for all rides and races.

    We have a handful of advanced riders, placed in Varsity this year, that have been riding/racing bottles for 1-2 years and are extremely comfortable reaching/drinking while riding.

    We have some coaches that are insisting on hydration packs only and several others that see the benefit of bottles.

    Just curious what some other teams take was on the topic - thanks.
    i use (and will probably always use) a bottle. my $12 set up has never cam out, even when doing chunky and slippery enduro.

    i bought a bottle cage and 28 oz bottle from walmart. its really easy, better than a hydro pack since you don't have to clean it out as much.

  8. #8
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    A bottle may attract more dust/mud in a race than you would normally experience on a fun after work ride.

    If the train conditions allow plenty of opportunity to ride one-handed (during a race) a bottle will be fine.
    I ride with a bottle quite often. I can slow down and/or not pedal to insert bottle to cage but in a race I'm riding harder or not willing to navigate terrain at higher speeds than usual for a given section with one hand and give up a few pedal strokes.

    With a pack I can drink whenever I want and the valve isn't dirty either. When my bottle is dirty I first take a swig to rinse my mouth then a drink...that's more time involved.

    I have a race coming up, I will have a bottle with sports drink and my pack. Bottle will be supplemental so drinking won't be as often from it but I can still utilize it.

  9. #9
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    Short races and long races, heat/cold require different hydration strategies.
    I can't stand a hydration pack in hot weather, my back get's too hot with that thing on there.
    Long races are usually laps, or have a feed/drink area where you can refill. In a hot multi lap race you can leave extra bottles in a cooler or shady spot and stop momentarily to swap out. Unless you're solo without support on a long race, bottles can be a good choice, if I were doing a 4+hr solo race with no feed zones, I'd use my hydration pack.
    It would have to be pretty hot to need more than 2 large bottles in a 2 hour race, if you are well hydrated prior; one of the best things I got from reading Carmichael's "time crunched" book was that it is critical to drink a bottle of your hydration drink within the 90 minutes prior to your start, - if you start well hydrated you won't need to drink nearly as much during.

    Finding a spot on course to pick out the bottle and take a drink is a good skill to work on, I like drinking where a smooth climb starts after being dumped out of a DH; you're not breathing hard or going fast, you can get a couple of gulps in before you start breathing hard again.

    Short races don't require a drink during; cyclocross races are up to an hour (or even slighty over for the slower elites), and in my area you won't see any cages or bottles on any of the Elite bikes for the hour race; if you're hydrated prior to the race (and it's not really-really hot) most people can go an hour at race pace without a drink. It feels good to get a hand up for a dry mouth, but it won't kill your race if you don't get one.
    My kid is racing high school cc, he's done quite a bit of mtb and cx too, his races are 17 minutes (many kids it's over 20 minutes), no-one considers a hand-up for the 20 minute running races.

    Look at what the pros, or even cat1s do, I don't recall seeing any hydration packs in WC races I watched this year. I never see anyone with a hydration pack in the cat1s locally.
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  10. #10
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    Our team kids use both, with bottles being the more popular choice. We have never dictated what they should use as long as they carry and drink enough. Yes, hydration packs may get hot on one's back but some kids are more comfortable with them. As mentioned, NICA races are fairly short and there is a feed zone, so racers can get a new bottle every lap if they want.

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