So winter is officially here, but on the plus side we’ve got past the shortest day so we can officially start counting down the days to spring and the start of another season of cycling.

While there are those amongst us who will have hung up their summer wheels until the warmer weather is here, there are others who will see this as an opportunity for winter gains and will have their beloved wheels set up on the indoor trainer and will be inflicting them selves physically and mentally through the pain barriers! The advantages might be that this can be done in a warmer environment and even after 20 mins of interval training you can start to melt in a cold garage. The disadvantage is that with high tempo and the glow from the warm radiator, you’ll soon be sweating buckets, so hydration is just as important to get you through the set and to ensure you can recover as quickly, as any other time of the year. After all you’ll no doubt be looking for your next opportunity to hit the training to for a beasting!

We also can’t forgot those hardcore few who will battle on outside through the elements and hit the open roads whether it be for pleasure or as part of their daily commute and for these guys and gals hydration is equally important. In the cold conditions the body requires just as much fluid in order to keep you warm, so below we will be reviewing a few products on offer to help you though these indoor sessions and cold commutes.

SIS Go Hydro Tablets.

With SIS supporting some of the big teams like Team SKY these are a big player leading the way in sports nutrition and hydration. The Hydro tablets are ideal for those calorie contentious athletes who aren’t looking for an energy source as such, but simply making sure that they remain hydrated. These tablets provide you with the right amounts of sodium and electrolytes to replenish those lost through perspiration. These come in various size tubes and you simply need 1 tablet for 500ml of water, although I tend to use them in my 750ml bottles and find the taste is equally as good. They are supplied in handy plastic container so that they can go in the gym bag easily to take to those spin classes. It’s simple to and you simply fill your bottle with water and drop the tablet in the top, it takes a couple of minutes for the tablet to dissolve and if you give it a good shake afterwards you are good to go. They’re available in two flavors Lemon and Berry and while both are palatable, I personally prefer the Lemon one as it seems less chalky.

Wiggle currently have these on offer with 47% discount at £3.66 for s tube of 20 so it’s an ideal time to give them a try. Get yours here.

High 5 Energy Source Extreme

If you sometimes need a bit of a kick to get you going these are a great boost and something that worth having in your pocket on a long ride. It can be used a pre workout source and if your not a big coffee drinker (like myself) you’ll certainly notice the caffeine content (best not have them too late in the day or you’ll not sleep!). I was skeptical before trying these, as I’ve sampled high caffeine gels at events and found they leave a nasty after taste, however the citrus flavor tasted refreshing and it went down easy. It certainly made a difference and after 5-10 mins of slowly sipping the drink while in the seat I had perked up and was able to push that bit harder. Due to the caffeine content I don’t think it’s something I’d want to be consuming regular, but something I’d consider for events or long days in the saddle as a “pick me up” to get me though. Ideally these can be purchased in sachets so that you’re not commuting to big tub. Get yours here.

Wiggle Nutrition Energy Drink

This has been a firm favorite of mine for the 2016 season and I’ve used it regularly in training and competing throughout the season. I’ve only tried the Lemon & Lime and the Orange flavors (there is also a Berry one), but these two have been great and they are certainly good value for money compared to the big brands (SIS, HIGH5 & PowerBar). A 1.5kg bag is £11.99 so less than half the price of some of the competition and if you compare the nutritional information 45g of carbs per 50g serving it’s offering the same performance. I’ve often had indigestion problems when using other products in the past, but this seems easy on the stomach. I tend use these on the turbo, if I get a session in after work before tea, as they seem to give me the energy and nutrition required to get me through an hour set. Get yours here.

A lot of the big players also offer a selection pack or starter pack so that you can sample a few of their products to see what works best for you.

The High 5 Selection

This pack is a good example, this is only £6.99 at the moment on offer at Wiggle and it comes with various gels, hydro tabs, energy drinks sachets, a bar, recovery drink and even a bottle! I must admit some of the gels aren’t great tasting, but a good way to use these is to empty them into a water bottle and mix with water. I usually use 2-3 gels per bottle, but the amount you uses depends on the size of the bottle and taste. They have similar energy and electrolite properties as the energy drinks on offer too.

There are obviously many other contenders out there offering products of this nature. You can also get the pre-mixed variations such as lucuzade sport & Gatorade, but unless on offer these don’t offer the same value for money as the above products and usually if you are at home or the gym you will have easy access to water in order to mix your own.

Have a go at making your own…

So in essence a lot of the products above are providing you carbs as an energy source and a small amount of sodium to replenish that lost in training. An easy alternative that people use is fresh orange juice (as the carb source) watered down to taste with a pinch of salt (for the sodium source). It takes a couple of attempts to get the quantities right and don’t be tempted to over do the salt (most of the product above use as little a 0.2-0.6(g) per serving, so it is literally a small pinch. While training over in Mallorca a lot of the old club riders were using this on their all day rides so I can vouch that it does work.

So how do these products stack up against the wet stuff that comes out of your tap. Well in essence it depends on the amount of training & effort you are intending on doing, for anything up to 30 minutes you can probably get away with just using water for hydration, but certainly anything over this and at high intensity I’d be introducing some hydration supplements that have been reviewed above. The reason being is that as you sweat you are loosing essential salts and electrolytes and if you only drink water these aren’t being replaced so in essence just drinking water alone is flushing more of these out of your system. For anyone suffering from the side affects of severe dehydration the medical experts don’t give them just water alone for this very reason and they would be providing a formula that included electrolytes and sodium in order quickly and safely re-hydrate them.

Don’t forget to change your training bottles regularly and use the sterilizing tablets as and when necessary (depending on use). I try to replace them every few months as they do get shabby and harbor all sorts of grime and germs. After trying the majority of bottles over the years my favorites are the SIS ones, they are cheap and cheerful, but very durable and resilient to leaks. Get yours here.

Happy training and remember winter mile bring summer smiles 😉