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HomeFeatureBeing a female rider is more dangerous if you don’t stay hydrated.

Being a female rider is more dangerous if you don’t stay hydrated.

I recently returned from a motorcycle tour in the north of Thailand. Thailand is hot. Some days we were riding in 35-degree temperatures (95F) with a healthy dose of humidity. We were also riding long days. Around eight hours per day for five days. 

Girl Moto Tour of Thailand 2022

I don’t often ride more than two or three days in a row, so naturally I expected to feel my energy levels impacted. However, I noticed that around 3pm each day, the energy levels of the whole group were consistently declining.

In a past life, I practiced as a Sports Nutritionist. Hydration was an area of study that fascinated me. It’s important in any sport, right? After thinking about it for a while, I realised that dehydration may have been contributing to the mid-afternoon energy slump. So, I dusted off the old textbooks and reacquainted myself with a couple of cool studies and facts on hydration that you may find interesting. Especially as a female rider.

Your brain loves water like your bike loves petrol!

Your brain is made up of around 75% water. It needs water to help structurally support the cells and tissues and as a transporter of nutrients to all the right places. Without enough water, your brain cannot fire on all cylinders. 

With water being so critical to the brain, becoming dehydrated, even from as little as 2% fluid loss, will impact your cognitive function. Mild dehydration can show up as poor concentration, reduced reaction time, short-term memory issues and negative mood changes. Dehydration can also manifest as headaches, light-headedness, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Fatigue? Hello 3pm Thailand slump!

One study I looked at specifically assessed the effects of mild dehydration on cognition. The guys and girls completed a bunch of cognitive tests 20 minutes after three exercise sessions. They were tested for memory, vigilance, processing speed as well as an assessment of mood.

The results showed that women were greatly affected in terms of fatigue, more headaches as well as concentration difficulties. The men, whilst showing negative signs, did not seem to suffer as much as the women.

Another study I looked at showed that even after rehydration, in many of the female cases, it could take days for fatigue and lack of energy bought on from the initial dehydration to pass. This really isn’t sounding good for female riders, is it?

But here’s the cracker. Let me quote directly from a 2015 UK study because what they found is pretty scary:

“Researchers at Loughborough University carried out a range of tests over two days on male drivers, using a laboratory-based driving simulator.  During the normal hydration test there were 47 driving incidents, but when the men were dehydrated, that number more than doubled to 101 – a similar number to what might be expected of someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  These included lane drifting, late braking and touching or crossing the lane line… To put the results into perspective, the levels of driver errors found are of a similar magnitude to those found in people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%”.

Wow

How many of you actively avoid drinking very much during a ride to minimise the bathroom stops? I don’t blame you. A full bladder on a bumpy bike, or the idea of taking a twinkle on the side of the road doesn’t appeal to anyone. 

Now that you know even mild dehydration can have you operating a motorbike in a state similar to that of an over-the-limit drink driver, maybe it’s time to rethink the bathroom strategy and drink more. A lot more!

The hydration options

Nothing beats good old fashion H2O for hydration. But let’s face it, sometimes we want more. My favourite drink for not only hydration, but also electrolyte balance is coconut water. I know the taste doesn’t appeal to everyone. But try some of the flavoured options on offer. My most favourite is a passionfruit flavoured coconut water by CocoCoast.

Ultimately though, any beverage will assist in hydrating the body. You can choose juice, tea, and even coffee despite what you may have heard about drinks containing caffeine being a diuretic. This is true, but you need to consume the caffeine in pretty high doses before you have anything to worry about.  

If you’re really not a fan of drinking large amounts of liquid on long rides, try combining your liquid intake with a big serve of fruit. Melon, grapes and strawberries are made up of over 90% water. Peaches, pineapple, plums and oranges have water levels above 85%. Order the fruit salad when you stop for lunch!

I would love to hear your thoughts, tips or experiences of hydration and riding. Feel free to comment below. 

Loren
Lorenhttp://www.girlmoto.com.au
Loren is our Girl Moto founder and editor. Several years into her leadership role with East Coast Female Rides (ECFR), Loren felt a desire to bring a female-focussed publication to life. One that would serve to unite Girl Moto's around the world. With a background in business finance, marketing and copywriting, Loren actually creates Girl Moto content as an excuse to call riding motorcycles "work". When not being Girl Moto, you will find Loren enjoying downtime with her family, riding with her ECFR tribe or feeding her obsession for travel and good food, with a healthy side-serve of beach vibes, whenever possible.
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