Eating and drinking on the bike
You need to keep hydrated and well fuelled if you are going to optimise your training time – so it stands to reason that during a training ride you will need to eat and drink. And of course you will definitely need to drink (and probably eat depending on your race distance) when you are racing and working harder on the bike.
Taking a swig
Back to your training ride with your buddies – you cannot stop every 15 mins to take a swig from your bottle so you need to learn how to and practice drinking while riding. And this means drinking from bottles held in bottle cages on your bike. (Nowadays, there are plenty of hydration systems used for racing – a bottle sits between aerobars or on down tube and is accessed via a straw – or camelbaks, but I would strongly urge all developing cyclists not to start here but to take the time to develop the bike handling skill to be able to drink and eat from bottles on your bike. This will make you a better cyclist!).
How to do it
Your road bike should be set up with one bottle cage on the down tube and one on the seat post. If you are riding with just one bottle most riders prefer to have the bottle in the cage on the down tube.
1. Get into a stable position on your bike. If you are right handed move your left hand away from the left hood and nearer to the stem as far as is comfortable for you. This will give you greater control and stability. But if you don’t like this position then keep your left hand where it is!
2. Keep your eyes forward. Reach down with your right hand to the bottle, keeping your eyes forward.
3. Grasp the bottle like you mean it! When you feel the top of the bottle grasp it firmly anywhere but the best place is the groove two thirds of the way up the bottle. Bring the bottle out of the cage and take a drink – there you go! Hold on to the bottle like you mean it or it can easily slip out of your hand and into the road/other riders. (I remember doing this quite a few times when I was learning to ride a bike).
4. Putting it back in. Eyes forward. Feel the top of bottle cage with thumb and push in firmly. Don’t release your hand until you are sure that it is in place.
5. Keep pedalling. The aim is not to lose momentum when you are drinking. You may have to pause briefly when you are taking the bottle out of the cage but apart from that – keep pedalling.
Practice makes perfect
Drinking from a bottle on your bike will quickly become second nature if you practice. To learn the skill go to a road free area or a park:
And if you are carrying two bottles and want to switch the front (down tube) bottle with the back (seat tube) bottle, then take out the front bottle and hold the nozzle of the bottle in your teeth. Move the back bottle to the front cage and take the bottle from your teeth and place this in the back cage – easy!