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ATV Adventures: The importance of hydrating when riding OHVs in the backcountry

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jul 27, 2023
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When the sun bears down on the red rock plateaus, temperatures will get hot in a hurry. It is important to stay hydrated in these conditions.
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Hot sun and no shade provide a challenge to stay cool and hydrated on the trail.
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Lynn Blamires

The subject of today’s article about hydrating in the backcountry was inspired by my good friend Phil Bostrom down in Beaver. He is a guide for the Beaver County Trails ATV Jamboree, which was held earlier this month. Our conversation led me to believe that hydration on the trail would be an important talking point.

When I am leading an OHV group and find a comfort station, I always stop. Now for those of you who are not cultured, a comfort station is an outhouse or vault toilet. I don’t have to say anything because before I could, everyone would be lined up to use the facility.

If I don’t find a comfort station, I try to find a wooded spot on the trail. The rule of the road is that men go on the left and women go on the right. This is easy to remember because the women are always right, right?

The problem that Phil and I discussed is that these treasures of the trail are not very plentiful and the thing he noticed on the jamboree is that the women were not as inclined to go in the woods as were the men. Therefore, the women restricted their liquid intake so that they wouldn’t need to go. A jamboree will last several days and because dehydration takes a while to develop, by the end of the event, the women were feeling dizzy and tired. Consequently, they opted out of the activities of the last day.

This problem with women and the woods is an important one to solve because while dehydration comes on gradually, it also takes time to restore. The news is full of stories of death by dehydration. The male answer to the problem is to just get over it, which usually isn’t helpful. However, a lady who is going to enjoy the ride needs to take a sensible approach to hydration. Let me just say that it is better to go in the woods than it is to recover from dehydration.

According to https://avinityseniorliving.org, “water is involved in almost every process that keeps you alive; it’s essential for your survival! It not only helps to regulate your temperature, transport nutrients, remove waste, lubricate your joints and tissues, but it also helps maintain the delicate balance of electrolytes and fluids in the body.”

This article also pointed out that men need more water per day to stay hydrated than women do. The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends an average daily water intake of about 125 ounces for men and about 91 ounces for women.

It is helpful to measure your intake, but that is not often practical. Your body is a better indicator of your need for water. When you don’t get enough water, your urine will be dark yellow or amber or you might experience headaches, insomnia, constipation or dizziness.

The temperature you are riding in also affects your desire for water. The weather on the jamboree in Beaver was hot, which suggests the need to drink more. The fact that some restricted their liquid intake made the problem worse.

In addition to drinking water to stay hydrated, it is important to do things to keep your body cool. I remember finding myself on trails where the cool morning temperatures were replaced by heat and no shade. One of the most refreshing things I did was to open a bottle of water and pour it down the front of my neck, saturating my riding jersey. When I started up again, the wind, even though it was hot, was pleasantly cool. When that solution wore off, I stopped and repeated the process. Here I am writing about hydration and I am drinking water like a fish.

There are products on the market that have been developed to help keep you cool on the trail. Neck gators can be soaked in water. When worn wet, they will help keep your whole body cool. Other types of bandanas have Evaporative Polymer Crystals for cooling relief that will keep the cloth of the bandana cool for a longer period of time.

I know that when I am hot, one thing I can do to cool down quickly is to run cold water over my wrists. July is usually the hottest month of the year, so when you go, take plenty of water to drink and to pour down your neck, keep the rubber side down, go in the woods and stay hydrated.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.


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