What’s Your Favorite Drink Mix?

I was riding out in the country recently, and noticed one of the riders in my group take a drink from his bottle.  The bottle was clear, and the liquid inside was an unappealing yellow (yes, that color of yellow).

I asked him what he was drinking.

“It’s Accelerade,” he said, “with one scoop of lemon lime R4, and one Nuun lemon lime tablet.  It’s the best drink mix I’ve come across.”

Wow.  I carry two water bottles.  One is plain water, and one is water with one Nuun tablet.  Nothing fancy.  But it turns out I’ve heard from lots of people who have their own ideas of what kind of drink mix to concoct for their rides.  Here’s a sample:

As a certified Cheap Bastard, I put the following into a 28 ounce water bottle on rides that will last two hours or more:

  • enough Gatorade powder to reconstitute a quart of Gatorade
  • 1 tbsp unflavored whey powder
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Works for me, and it leaves me feeling much stronger at the end of a ride than Gatorade alone.  It costs a metric buttload less than Endurox, Cytomax, etc., too.

When I used to race on the pro duathalon circuit, my water bottle was always filled with defizzed Coke for shorter bike stages (say, 40K or less).  If longer than 40K, I’d carry two bottles – one with Coke, one with water.

Hammer Perpetuem works for me…along with Thermolyte buffered sodium supplements (capsule).

From Bicycling magazine: “Sipping a sports drink with carbohydrate, rather than plain water, from the start of a long ride can help spare your precious muscle glycogen stores by about 50 percent in the first hour alone, according to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. This means you’ll have more energy for the long haul.”

I’ve used Accelerade before — by itself, not mixed with anything else.  It seems to work.  That is, I’ve never had any issues while using it.  But the taste takes some getting used to.  After my first jar of Accelerade was gone, I didn’t go back for another.

I did try Hammer Heed, on the advice of a friend.  I thought it worked about as well as Accelerade, with its own funky taste.  I haven’t gone back for a second container of that stuff, either.

The guy in the first example here said he thought the Accelerade was fine, until it warmed up.  “Then the flavor is enough to make you sick,” he said.  He used lots of ice in his bottle, but in the Texas summertime heat, it doesn’t last long.  “I drink it pretty quick,” he said.

I have bought bottles of G2 — the low-sugar Gatorade — from convenience stores when out on a ride.  That stuff seems to help, too, without the crazy taste.  However, some serious athletes don’t use bottled energy drinks of that ilk.

If I can keep hydrated, and take the occasional food, I’m good on rides up to 100 miles.  I’ve never felt the need to develop a personal energy mix of my own.

How about you?  We’re nearing the end of the warm weather riding season, so a discussion along these lines might be superfluous, but it’s fun to hear different ideas kicked around. Do you have a special drink mix that you rely on?


  1. Janice in GA says

    I don’t do a lot of LONG rides, but I do ride a good bit. It’s kinda crazy, but a weak Gatorade mix (from powder) with a little extra salt in it sure goes down good for me. I think my legs cramp less at night when I drink it too.

    I tried some Hammer — nasty stuff, to me. Cytomax straight (again, watered down a little) seems to go down pretty well too.

    If I just have water in a bottle, I try to add a little lime juice or something. I kinda hate drinking just plain water.

  2. johnt says

    2 emergnC’s, a nuun tablet mixed with half water half vitamin water in a 20 oz bottle. Chug after a big hill (Barton Creek before Bee Caves for example) and enjoy the electrolyte, endorphin buzz/rush as you zip down the road in a state of cycling nirvana.

  3. Tim says

    Gatorade turns my stomach, especially on supported rides where they tend to mix it way to heavy. I used Cytomax for awhile.

    Now I’m a Nuun convert. Liquids and electrolytics from the bottle. Carbs from my snacks.

    For recovery on hard rides I do Endurox after the ride.

  4. RamonH says

    For my typical Sunday ride (33+miles), I drink the following:

    first bottle: lemon nuun table
    second bottle: plain water
    REST STOP — refill bottles
    third bottle: 0.75 gatorage / 0.25 water
    fourth bottle: plain water

    I always limit my gatorade intake to just the 3rd bottle as my bottle does not take well to any more than that and then I would have to stop at every convenience store. For sugars, I start popping gummi bloks.


    • RamonH says

      I forgot to add that the reason why I drink the bottle with the nuun tablet first is because each tab contains plenty of potassium to prevent cramps. Of course, I also like to chow down on a banana before or during for safe measure.

  5. says

    Water. Plain old water. And munchies with sufficient amounts of electrolyte and sugar. That works much much better, I think.

    I’ve never had problems with not enough electrolyte while riding. On the other hand, I did realize that I had to eat more salt in my normal diet recently, which I’ll stop giggling about sometime next year.

  6. says

    I’m pretty simple as well…..If it’s a ride of 1.5 hours or less it is just water for me. Longer rides I’ll bring one bottle of water and also a bottle with one Nuun tab….but not all the time. For rides over 4 hours I’ll bring an extra Nuun to throw in later.


  7. Steven King says

    Over here in the UK Science in Sport’s (SiS) drinks are pretty popular – or at least their branded water bottles are! It’s not too sweet either, so I can tolerate plenty of the stuff, although the version with electrolytes starts to taste pretty repulsive after 2-3 hours or so…

  8. KK says

    I’ve used Heed, which has a bit of strange aftertaste. This summer I’ve been using CarboRocket, which tastes pretty good, cool or warm. On shorter rides, two hours or less, I’ll usually just have water. On longer rides I’ll start out with two bottles of mix and refill one with water and the other with more mix. On several hot, hilly 70-mile plus rides this year I felt great at the end. Not sure how much CarboRocket was part of that, but I’m superstitious enough to keep using it. Also, I’d rather spend my sports-drink budget on a small business than on Big Sugar Water Company.

  9. says

    Well, on the mountain bike that’s easy…water…about 100oz of the clear stuff which lasts me about 1.5-2 hours depending on how hot/humid it is. I also pop a salt tablet or two before I take off.

    On the road bike it’s usually water in both bottles, although occasionally I’ll use one of the Heed Subtle flavors (very rarely…like not in the last year). I’ll use Nuun occasionally too. I generally try and stay away from sugary or carby drinks unless it’s on a 3+ hour ride. I generally prefer to eat my carbs so I’ll take a couple of Clif Mojo bars or something similar with good protein and fats rather than some sugary powdered junk.

  10. says

    I’ve been riding a little over a year now and I have seen many concoctions and been recommended just as many.

    So far, I have been able to ride without cramping or ill effect using G2 diluted – 17 oz G2 and 7 oz water. This thins the Gatorade so it does not seem to have that thick residue feeling and does not “turn the stomach” as some have experienced.

    When it is hot, 24 oz per hour which means I am drinking often even when I don’t feel like I need to.

    For those extra brutal hot days, I used Endurolytes to supplement the G2.

    Note, I have not used the regular Gatorade at all.

  11. says

    I’m amazingly simple in this regard – water in Bottle #1, with lots of ice, Gatorage powder in Bottle #2 with lots of ice so that it’s ready after about an hour. On longer rides, stop by a store and grab more Gatorade. I tend to like sweet drinks, so not bothered by it…but sounds like I’m in the minority!

  12. says

    I’m only riding for 2-3 hours so water is my choice. Often I’ll stop at a convenience store for something if the mood strikes me. (It usually does) As I have written in my blog, my choice is Cumberland Farms egg salad sandwich on wheat bread. Washed down with a bottle of SoBe water.

  13. says

    During the height of the summer I was seriously considering throwing a bottle cage on the mountain bike and carrying a bottle with some kind of Nunn mixture in it. Never quite got around to it though.. For me it water in the Camelbak for hydration and Fig Newtons for carbs.

  14. says

    We use just water, loaded with ice, then “eat” a pkg. of Sport Beans (w/o caffinee) for the “balance” and then a Kashi dark chocolate and cherry soft granola bar for protein and fiber. For some reason, bananas have been hard to come buy at the little stores, while we are out riding lately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *