Cycling Hydration Monitor


We often concentrate on the fuel our body needs to avoid the “bonk” when cycling. Potentially more important is our hydration.

“Your body is mostly water. So even a 1% difference effects you in a huge way.” – Dustin Freckleton, MD.

The man should know. He’s not only a doctor, but he suffered a stroke aged 24 caused by dehydration while in medical school. After spending three months recovering from its devastating effects, Freckleton dedicated himself to developing sensing technology for real-time action.

Amazingly, tests have shown that 70% of the American population is in a chronic state of dehydration and there is little reason to believe that the figures this side of the pond are much different. That is before any exercise so you can imagine what happens when you start to sweat when cycling (and also running in a triathlon).

Edmund Burke PhD in “Long Distance Cycling” (which we reviewed a few months back) wrote that “it’s not uncommon to lose 1 to 2 quarts of fluid via sweating during an hour of riding in hot and humid weather. If this fluid is not replaced immediately, the resulting dehydration will limit your performance and increase the risk of injury.”

It’s worth repeating his explanation of how “Heat exchange between a cyclist and the environment occurs in four ways.
· Convective cooling takes place as your body moves through the air, as long as the air temperature is lower than your body temperature.
· Or heat can be lost by conduction, such as when it’s pulled away by a cool rain wetting your skin.
· Or, it can be lost by radiation if your body temperature is greater than the air temperature.
· But the most important mechanism is evaporation of perspiration. Should you fail to drink enough fluids during a long ride, the resulting dehydrationreduces your ability to sweat. This leads to a progressive rise in body temperature, opening the door to premature fatigue and the risk of heat illness – dizziness, disorientation, nausea and so forth.”

“The solution is simple: Keep your fluid intake on pace with your sweating.”

But how?

It looks like Dustin Freckleton and his team of medical doctors, sports scientists and medical device engineers at BSX Technologies have a very good answer. For several years now, we have heard of “wearables” – the wearable device market is estimated to total 111.1 million units this calendar year, up 44.4% from the 80 million shipped in 2015 – and a number of people use devices to measure their activity and heart rate, etc. BSX has a product they have called LVL (pronounced “Level”), a wrist-based fitness tracker; so far, nothing ultra new, as it measures heart rate, sleep quality, activity,calories and even mood. What sets it apart is that if has a smart sensor with patented red light technology to measure the body’s real time hydration levels, and also does the “usual” monitoring with a higher level of accuracy.

Other wearables use green light technology. LVL uses red light technology, which is near infra-red light, traditionally used in hospitals, as this looks ten times deeper into the body and can measure ten times as many physiological signals simultaneously, all with industry-leading accuracy.

LVL doesn’t just track your current hydration state, it also measures the exact volume needed to achieve optimal hydration. It then integrates these recommendations with sleep and activity tracking to precisely show the immediate benefits for smarter hydration and the trended improvements a person has experienced over time, including: better sleep, clearer thinking, improved exercise ability, healthier skin, weight reduction and much more.

Sounds good. Not just to SpyCycle but to lots of others: this is one of the just 198 Kickstarter campaigns out of a total of 315,000 that have surpassed $1 million in funding! An elite 0.6% of the crowd-funding sites programs. And just a little way beyond their $50,000 funding target.

There is about 1 week left of the kickstarter funding campaign if you want to get a bargain.

Here’s a couple of thoughts of why it would be good to know more about your real level of hydration: a 2013 study showed that cyclists took 5.8% longer to complete a 5km hill climb when they started it in a state of mild dehydration. When individuals are allowed to choose their own drinking rate through exercise, they typically replace only 30 to 70% of the fluid they lose through sweating: the result is of course dehydration. And a key tip that applies before you even set off: research has consistently shown that regardless of how little or how much people drink during exercise, they stay cooler and perform better if they are fully hydrated at the start.

Does that persuade you that you need a LVL ?

The clear interface provides you with essential information at a glance on a rich full colour 12 x 24mm OLED touch screen, with side buttons for additional input. The overall device size is 17 x 45mm, and it weighs just 50g. It connects via BLE (or ANT+ where appropriate) to your Apple or Android smartphone, sports watch, bike computer and other devices. It also satisfies the IP67 dust abd water proof classification (the 6 signifies tight against dust, and the 7 means that it could survive 30 minutes at 1m depth or less). The battery life is 4 days and it takes between 1 and 2 hours to recharge.


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