After hearing the horror stories and watching videos from the insanely hot Ironman TX, I think it is a good time to discuss how to set up your bike with enough water to keep you hydrated through each aid station while not compromising speed and aerodynamics.
I find it humours when I see people literally spend thousands of dollars extra to make their new bike as aero as possible and whittle it down to the lightest possible weight then turn around and weigh down their lean machine with 4-6 water bottles all mounted in places that create drag.
The first rule of hydrating aerodynamically is to keep your bottles off the frame itself. Down tube cages might be convenient to reach but they do create a lot drag since they disrupt air flow especially at steeper yaw angles. Therefore, we have to mount our water bottles with external aids.
The most aerodynamic position would be horizontal bottle mounted in between the TT bars. This position not only does not create drag it can actually improve your aerodynamics.
There are several ways to do this but the best that I have found is with an X-Lab Torpedo plate. This carbon fiber plate mounts right between your bars and holds the water bottle for easy access. I like having a straw in front of my face though since it reminds me to drink and is easy to sip from without getting out of my aero position.
Unless you are doing a sprint or Olympic with an aid station, you still are going to need one to two more water bottles to take you through the first aid station without dehydrating yourself. The next best place to put water bottles is behind your butt on the seat itself.
Once again X lab makes an excellent mount but Profile Design also has a good model. Speedfil may be coming out with one later on this year but those are just rumors for now. These models are pricy so if you are handy with some zip ties and maybe a bit of duct tape you can mount two cages to your saddle rails with great effect.
If you need more water, which you may want to have if you are a heavy drinker, are just doing training rides and do not want to stop at the Kwicky Mart, or do not care about aerodymanics, then frame mounted bottles on the down tube and seat tube are definitely the cheapest and easiest. If you want more water but do want to reduce drag as much as possible think about the Speedfil “tank.”
I have used this on double century rides and long, hot days in the saddle. It holds 40oz and is easy to refill on the fly.
As far as how much water to carry during a race, it is entirely dependent on the distance, the number of aid stations, and how much you sweat.
- If you are doing a sprint then you can easily get by with just one bottle.
- For an Olympic without aid stations you may want to have two bottles.
- In Halfs, I like to have three for hot races and two for cooler.
- In case of an Ironman or long training rides I would do three.
As always practice your hydration before race day; hopefully, now, you will not have a drinking problem.