Hydrating 4+ hour rides w/o stopping to refill


So I’ve been doing 4hr z2 rides in addition to my TR training and began to experiment with minimizing (eliminating) coasting and stopping time during these rides and have found this to have greatly impacted my fitness! (In a good way)

As I’ve probably done this almost every Saturday for the past 2 months I’m worried about plateauing and thinking of incrementally increasing the duration of these rides to reap further adaptation. However, hydrating during these rides become difficult past the 4-hour mark.

How do you guys hydrate during 4+ hour rides without stopping to re-fill bottles (also given covid I tend to avoid cafe’s or shops).

I’m considering running a 3 bottle setup which includes an additional 620ml camelbak with 80g of carbs in my jersey pocket. Although this doesn’t sound comfortable.

Should I even increase the duration in the first place? I’m not training for any long-distance event but I do bikepacking in the summer which means a lot time on the saddle.

Even if stopping doesn’t affect the adaptations I rather not stop as I’m finding quite a lot of enjoyment in these no-coasting rides. weird, i know…

So, any suggestions? What’s your setup for these sort of rides?


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Magnum bottles(https://www.amazon.com/Zefal-Water-Bottle-Magnum-Clear/dp/B003WOEU9S/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=magnum+water+bottle&qid=1617965029&sr=8-2)

can be one way. they are not insulated and are the same dimesional size as an insulated 750ml bottle.

my setup for long rides with no chance for refill is this.

3x1L bottles with double servings of Carbo Rocket(660 Cal/bottle) My bike runs 2 bottles in the frame and 1 on the bottom of the downtube. typical road bikes won’t have that 3rd locations so you’ll be limited to the 2 bottles.

Then I run an Orange Mud Endurance hydration vest with a 2L bladder, filled with pure water, no mix.

Unless its above 80, this setup plus other on bike snacks, is good for a solid 10-12 hours. With only 2 bottles, I could go for around 8 hrs.

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The 1L bottles for sure. The other option is to take inspiration from the long course triathlete community… i would recommend something like this Turbo Wing which will instantly give you 2 bottle cages + tool storage in a slick setup. Also something like the profile ATTK S on the top tube for food storage.
Finally, i make my own gel mix and put it in a soft flask (look at the trail running ones) in a jersey pocket. It generates no waste and you can reuse it for years. I have them in 150, 250, 500 ml sizes and pick the size based on how long im out.


I was considering those saddle bottle cages but I feel i’d be shunned by other roadies (who cares)!

Love the idea of your own gel mix! Could you share the recipe? I’d definitely give that a try as I already make my own carb drink

1-litre bottles should do the trick! I’ve only seen 800ml ones. I’m definitely still under-hydrating as I’d be on slightly less than 500ml an hour if 4+ hours. I’m use to it but Its probably no good for recovery.

I carry up to three bottles on the bike and then one in a jersey pocket. On hot days, I’ll add a 2liter USWE pack.

That being said, on 4+ hour Z2 rides, I would not worry about a short stop to refill bottles. Minimize the Z1 work on the bike (keep it under 10%), stay in Z2 as much as possible, and then just keep the breaks short.



Stop, fill up, get going again. No need to make it a coffee stop.

You’ll get more training benefit from properly hydrating (And therefore performing better) than you will from an extra 5 minutes in Z2 under-hydrated.


agree. I carry Skratch single serve packets and map a convenience store stop midway. Grab a large bottle of water, refill and go.

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+1 for the Zefal Magnum bottles. I’ve done a century with only two of these.

Here’s another option for carrying more bottles;

For my long rides, I’ll use one or more of the following tactics:
-tri bike: 2 bottles behind the saddle, one between the aerobars, 2 in the frame (training only). thats up to 5-750mL bottles which gets me 5-6 hours without needing to stop. Extra weight is great for training :wink:
-Gravel/road: 2 in frame, one under downtube (not on road), one in feed/stem bag. You can even run 2 of these. They are much more secure than a tri bike behind the saddle setup and they are great to toss a beer in too for those “recovery” rides.
-Do looped or figure 8 courses: have the midpoint be at your house, or even at your car. Have fresh bottles prepped in the trunk in a cooler, or hidden in a bush etc, and treat it like an event aid station.
-Take 2 bottles and carb powder to reload assuming there’s good water sources on my route. If riding gravel/backcountry, I also take a small water filter which is a lot smaller and lighter than an extra 2-3 bottles.


Not sure what size frame you ride, but you can use the Wolftooth B-Rad system to cram more bottles into your frame as well. I’ve tried more than one bottle behind the saddle on my Tri bike and I can absolutely feel the weight up there swinging around, so prefer to keep that to 1 bottle.

Also look for state parks along your route. Not sure how it is with Covid wherever you are, but sometimes they’ll have water fountains in the parking lots and you can rock up, refill bottles and be rolling in not much more time than a longer stoplight.

If you can stand doing these inside, it’s very easy to stay hydrated and fueled.

2 minutes and 30 seconds of coasting total for this one


Not sure where you are based in terms of weather…but here in the UK…for 4 hours…in winter I’d only take 1 x 750ml bottle anyway if z2 endurance ride and in Summer would take 2x 750ml bottles (but likely not drink it all!). If z2 then don’t think need loads.


I use these water bottles. They are relatively cheap and hold 32oz. Inexpensive enough to just bin them with a clear conscience if you have to.

Two of these plus a 2.5l camelback will hold me over for a 4 hour zone 2 ride in 100F weather. Of course, if you go faster hydration needs may change! ;-D


This is crazy to me. I go through 2 bottles in less than 2 hours. I sweat a ton though. Anything over 2 I’ll add a third bottle in the jersey pocket. And stop to refill as needed past that.


Your sweat rate will dictate how much you need to drink more than anything. On my hottest ever ride (127*)I drank two bottles (1.5 liters) in less than an hour, and that was at a VERY easy effort). I have also done a 5 hour race (50 miles and 9000’ climbing) that was at an insane effort (set a course record) and only used four bottles.

BUT…if you can plan your stops somewhere, you can easily just refill your bottles in only a couple of minutes. A couple minutes spent over 4 hours is not going to ruin your training.


I’ll use a burrito bag on most rides on my Tarmac SL7, and will throw on a half-frame bag for extended weekend rides. Giving up the aero gains but who cares.

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If you’re clever you do this for your routes :wink:


Ha ha, you probably don’t live in the UK! 750ml would be ok for me in winter, but absolutely no good on a hot summer day. (yes, we do occasionally get hot weather) :rofl: :rofl:


Remember, I have 2L in my hydration pack aswell.