Answers From A Bottle

Dear Stevil,

What do you recommend I put in my bottles and body during long rides? And I have to know, what fuels you on rides?

Cheers, -Raymond

Hi Raymond,

I tend to be horribly neglectful about fueling myself during any sort of physical exertion, but I’m learning. One time I rode fifty miles with nothing in my stomach but a banana. I’ve lived a life, forever a victim of my own vacuous tough guy complex. As far as ride food items go these days though, I like apples, Trader Joe’s chewy granola bars, almonds, trail mix, sandwiches, chips, beers, and whatever else I can fit in my bag. Anymore, hanging out in the woods and having a picnic is my favorite part of riding bikes anyway.

As for fluids, I’ve read that under normal circumstances, over the course of a day, one needs to take on half as much water in ounces as they weigh in pounds. So for example, if one were to weigh 200 pounds, it’s recommended that they need to drink 100 ounces of water, 120 pounds, 60 ounces, and etc. Furthermore, I’ve come to learn that once a body becomes dehydrated, it takes up to four weeks to fully rehydrate, and replenish oneself on a cellular level. I don’t know how much of that second part is true, but I do know that the one time in my life when I was this diligent about drinking the daily-recommended amount of water, I felt like a million bucks, and had energy to burn. As a matter of fact, as I began banging out this response, it occurred to me that I’d only drank one cup of water today, so I went over to fetch myself another. In general, and especially when I’m on a bike, I tend to stick with water, or water with some lemon squeezed in it, or, if I happen to have some, which I rarely do, one of them there fizzy fruit favored tablets that be chock full of the electrolytes and whatnot.

During an hour of normal exercise, an average body loses around 34 ounces of water, and if you’re like me, and sweat in the shower, it’s likely to be considerably more, if not twice that.

So drink your water plain, or with something in it to make it more palatable, and also, eat actual food. Leave the compressed sugar blocks for triathletes, astronauts, and being hungover. Whatever you do, just make sure you remember to nourish and hydrate yourself with consistency. Your skin, and joints, and back, and organs, and brain all your other parts will thank you.

Dear Master Of All Things Off The Grid,

Have you ever been truly stranded due to a mechanical or flat tire? If so how did you save yourself? And … any advice for all of us readers on how to prevent such a predicament.

Much appreciated, -Harv

Good day, Harv,

Only one time have I been stranded, and it wasn’t because of a flat or a mechanical, but rather my own poor planning. I’d joined a couple of people on a night ride to a trail I’d only ridden once many years prior. At the twelve-mile marker, we parted ways and as they turned back to head down the fire road, I continued towards the fourteen mile singletrack descent that wound deep into the valley. Upon finally arriving at just about the halfway point, my brand new lighting system ran out of juice, and left me dead in the water. I found myself in a creek bed at the foot of monster redwood trees, on an absolutely moonless night, which also happened to be the coldest night of that particular year. It was pitch black, like, can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of your-face black, and though I knew generally where I was, because it was January, and the trail was covered in loam, and fallen branches, I was unable to even find the trail by touch. After shouldering my bike for an hour-long shimmy over two huge piles of flood debris, I finally had to call it for fear of becoming even more dehydrated than I already was, and was forced to accept the fact that I was gonna spend the night out there. To make a long story short, from the time I left my house the previous evening, to the time I returned was a 15-hour odyssey leaving me with what was possibly the worst case of poison oak I’ve ever had. The bright side was that I didn’t get eaten by wild pigs, which are known to run amok in the area, and actually eviscerated a hapless victim of a motorcycle accident a stone’s throw where I was stranded not more than a week later. The lesson I learned that evening was to simply plan for the worst. These days, I always ride with a little flashlight, extra layers, food, tools, a tube, and the echo of my mom’s voice when she told a much younger me, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”


With Mother’s Day on the horizon, do you have any gift recommendations? You seem to be a very caring son and I need a fresh idea really quick.

Thanks -Carrie

Carrie, to be honest, when I first read your email, my instincts immediately told me it was from my mom using a fake name.

Hopefully this response will be published in time for you to utilize my advice. If not, the same goes for next year, and any that follow. So, if you’re in the same area as she is, I’d say offer to take her out for a nice meal and a pedicure, because if I was a mom, that’s what I’d want. Hell, I’m most defiantly not a mom, and that is a thing I would enjoy. If your mom is anything like mine, she’s been around for a spell and has likely got all the stuff she could ever need or want, so a little pampering would go a lot further than more stuff. On the chance you don’t live in close proximity to one another, then I would recommend simply sending her a heartfelt missive thanking her for helping to craft you into the amazing human being that you are. If there’s one thing I know about most parents, they love their kids, and letting them know that they did right by you is a powerful gesture that will move her beyond any tchotchke, or trinket ever could.

Now if by chance, you are my mom writing in under an assumed name, I guess you know what you’ll be getting on Sunday.

Need the answers you’re desperately looking for? Email any and all questions to: stevil [at] cyclingindependent [dot] com

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  1. scott.bristol says

    Riding, building and being immersed in the culture of bikes has been a daily part of my life for many decades. Riding connects me to the world and the people in it. I have a life-long riding “friend” that won’t get on his bike anymore. I really miss him.

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