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Why most roadies opt for bottles over wearable hydration units.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

October
22
2014

Yesterday’s blog sparked an interesting discussion about roadie hydration: specifically, wearable hydration units, such as the CamelBak.

I wrote that I would probably carry a third bottle of water in my jersey pocket on this weekend’s century ride so I would not have to make a SAG stop (I ran out of water with 20 miles to go on a recent century ride, and suffered for it). In response, JSF member “DFS” asked:

“I guess something like your camelbak is not practical for road riding?”

This is a logical question, as the CamelBak would–at least at first blush–seem to be the most effective hydration solution on long road rides.

The vast majority of roadies opt for water bottles over wearable hydration units. I know I do (I use the incredible CamelBak Podium Big Chill bottles). So, the question is, why?

JSF member “akm3” believes it boils down to elitism and roadie snobbery:

It’s one of the the ridiculous “rules” that road bikers can’t wear camel baks. Other snooty roadies will snoot at you.

I replied to “akm3”:

That’s not at all true. There are many practical reasons why most roadies don’t use CamelBaks (see below for some of the reasons I choose not to wear one).

A lot of those roadie “rules” may seem silly (and when I first started road riding I was of that opinion, too), but once you start riding long distances on a regular basis and putting in 300+ miles per week, you quickly discover that most of the “ridiculous” roadie rules exist for practical reasons.

Sure, there are a few “rules” that lean towards roadie culture and the aesthetic side of things, but what’s wrong with that? Even most of those practices still have their roots in practicality/speed/comfort.

Personally I don’t care if someone on a road bike chooses to wear a CamelBak, and neither does anyone I ride with. Do what works best for you and the distances/paces you like to ride.

So, here are the reasons I choose water bottles over a wearable hydration unit:

My collection of Camelbak Big Chill water bottles. Hundreds of uses, daily washes in the dishwasher and all still going strong.

My collection of Camelbak Big Chill water bottles. Hundreds of uses, daily washes in the dishwasher and all still going strong.

  • # 1 reason: comfort. All that weight on the back is not comfortable over long distances. This is especially true when you spend a good portion of your ride time in the drops (as I do) or if you use aerobars.
  • Adding to the above, CamelBaks make your back very hot. When I first started road riding, I was amazed by how much better it felt not having a CamelBak on. I felt cooler and it was nice to not have all that weight bouncing around back there. It felt awesome, like freedom. I don’t even like wearing CamelBaks when I mountain bike anymore.
  • CamelBaks can restrict easy access to the jersey pockets while riding.
  • With water bottles you know exactly how much fluid you have left, and can plan accordingly.
  • When you’re on a 16 pound bike doing 45-50 MPH on a bumpy downhill in the wind, you really don’t want a bunch of weight on your back shifting around.
  • Having a giant hump on your back catches a lot of wind and will slow you down.

So yes, in general (not always), when you see a roadie with a CamelBak on it’s a pretty safe bet that he or she is a more “casual” cyclist (and there’s NOTHING wrong with that). The simple truth of the matter is that most cyclists who are putting in a significant number of miles on the bike choose water bottles for reasons of comfort, practicality, safety and speed. It’s really not a style or a snobbery thing at all.

John Stone Fitness Comments

4 Responses to “Why most roadies opt for bottles over wearable hydration units.”
  1. User akm3 is “Allen”, HELLO!!

    OK you make good points about Rule #32 (Humps are for camels: no hydration packs), but what about rules: #3 (no matter how good your reason for knowingly breaching The Rules™ it’s never good enough) or #7 (Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp), or #8 (Saddles, bars, and tires shall be carefully matched), or … I don’t know #50 (Facial hair is to be carefully regulated).

    I am NOT a serious road rider so perhaps I just haven’t seen the wisdom in all the rules (Although Rule #5 applies to pretty much every sport). They just seem SO exclusionary, elitist and arbitrary.

    Example: “Rule #24 Speeds and distances shall be referred to and measured in kilometers: This includes while discussing cycling in the workplace with your non-cycling coworkers, serving to further mystify our sport in the web of their Neanderthalic cognitive capabilities. As the confused expression spreads across their unibrowed faces, casually mention your shaved legs. All of cycling’s monuments are measured in the metric system and as such the English system is forbidden.”

    All these come from:
    http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/
    although any readers of your blog probably are more serious cyclists than I am.

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    • You don’t pick up on the tongue-in-cheek tone of the Velominati Rules?

      Velominati “rules”, while often quoted, are not in any way official or real rules. It’s a bit of fun. There’s some sage advice mixed in with a healthy dose of sarcasm, humor and silliness. They are winking at you. At least that’s my take on The Rules.

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  2. Before you reply stating that, you already replied:
    “Sure, there are a few “rules” that lean towards roadie culture and the aesthetic side of things, but what’s wrong with that? Even most of those practices still have their roots in practicality/speed/comfort.”
    I’ll just put it there for you and say OK fair point.

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