I’m contemplating a lot of options for on-bike hydration for the upcoming Almanzo and Gravel Metric. In both instances, I need to be able to survive about a metric’s worth of gravel without any outside support.
Last year, I ran 4 bottles on the Vaya. With my 55cm frame, the third bottle cage is basically useless–the bottle hits the front tire–so I ran a tri-racer holder on my seatpost.
I wasn’t thrilled with that setup, and am branching out to other options. (Bottle access wasn’t great, and the bottles were nailed with every scrap of dust that came off my rear tires).
For Blue Mound, I rode with a hydration bladder…a 3 liter (100 ounce) bladder, to be precise. In 53 miles, drinking heavily, I just barely went through the full bladder (leaving 2 full bottles on the bike). Essentially, that was nearly 7 pounds of water, plus the hydration pack, on my back. On long climbs, the hydration pack felt as though a midget was hanging on my shoulders, squeezing gently. I wasn’t thrilled. The other problem is that it negates use of jersey pockets for food and such.
I’ve considered the old ‘bottles in jersey pockets’ routine, but that isn’t much of an improvement over a hydration bladder…it just means less weight. Another option I’m contemplating is just putting less water in the bladder (maybe 1.5 liters?) 50 ounces of water plus 2 20 ounce bottles on the bike = 90 ounces. That should easily suffice for ~60 miles.
The other option I’m pondering is the “hydration bladder in the top tube bag” option, which I tried on Sunday. Again, I was sporting 100 ounces of water.
There, I’m sporting a Relevate tangle bag, and a Porcelain Rocket top bag (gas tank?)
The hose was routed out of the side of the Relevate, and I would just wrap it around the bars and stash it in the top bag when not in use. That kept it clean and easy to access.
The top bag is definitely a win. Easy access to food is great. The bladder-in-relevate setup is a bit more questionable. Particularly early in the ride, 100 ounces of water swaying around led to some uncomfortable bike movement on loose gravel. Nothing like sloshing water to challenge your confidence.
Also, with the water that low, it takes a surprising amount of suction to pull the water up to your mouth. Hose access wasn’t an issue (as I had feared it might be), but getting a draw of water took some concentration. Another drawback is that using the Relevate renders the front bottle cage difficult to use, and the rear bottle cage unserviceable unless you’re stopped. It was an interesting experiment.
I’m thinking the perfect setup may be 2 bottles on the bike, 50-60 ounces in the hydration pack on my back, and food in the top-tube bag. That may be gravel cycling nirvana. We’ll see.