Hi there. I'm new to this forum. I found this forum while searching for info on cycling and UTIs in women. I saw an ancient thread here on the topic and thought I would ask again now, since there may be more/different people around and since my questions are a little different anyway. But first, brief intro!

I've been biking my whole life but never as a serious sport (although I would like to turn it into a serious sport at some point - maybe do some races or, more likely, take a summer and try to bike across the country in which I live). I'm 40, have owned many different bikes (many different styles), have tried many different kinds of bike gear, and so on. I currently own a hybrid road bike (the road part of it is that it has road bike wheels and tires but the hybrid part of it is the gearing mechanism and handlebars, which are more city street friendly) with a women's seat that has a bit of gel where the sit bones contact it and a big open space with mesh where the more sensitive parts of the crotch sit. Very airy and I get no noticeable chafing (the seat was advertised as something that could remove the need for bike shorts with padding). Up until about 2 years ago, I only rode for fun and shopping. Now, I've added in commuting. I spend a good deal of time in normal clothing (mostly on shopping days), so removing the need for specialty bike shorts was important (I'll wear the typical spandex setup on commute or joy ride days). My commute is 20 km round trip and I seem to be able to tolerate this without any UTIs provided I don't do it too many days in a row. My typical speed averages around 25 km/h if I'm not pushing, but this does cause a fair amount of sweat (I can't help it - I am mentally wired to go fast even if I try not to. The only thing that slows me down is bumpy road). So on commute days, I bring a change of clothing.

The problem seems to happen if I add any additional distance onto that 20 km (or, as I suggested above, do it too many days in a row). There's a joyride I really enjoy that's about 40 km, and if I do *that*, there now seems to be a very strong correlation with onset of a UTI. Annoyingly, I can also trigger a UTI with an intense workout at home, with weights (and if I mix the two, i.e. do a ride in the morning and weights later, I'll be in for a hospital trip with symptoms you don't want to know about). I believe I have a hydration problem. When I've been tested, they not only tell me "yup, you're positive for bacteria," but they also tell me my urine is really concentrated, a sure sign of dehydration.

So... I have a few questions.

Let's try to tackle the dehydration problem first, since it's probably my biggest issue. How do I deal with this? Part of the problem is that I hate developing the need to pee while out on the bike (or in the middle of an intense workout). There's NOTHING worse than a full bladder on a bike!!! OMG! I hate it! So I admit up front that I ration my fluids to avoid this. Obviously I've gone too far. How do people deal with this? How much do you drink and how do you avoid getting a full bladder on the road? And what do you do if you *do* get a full bladder? Find a restaurant or gas station or something? Wear a diaper? lol! Where I live, it's mostly country road and winding trail so my only choices are diaper or find a ditch and hope no one spots me (and of course there's always someone else out there LOL). I presently drink about a half a liter per 20 km in decent weather. I have found that this will not lead to OMGNEEDTOPEE while on the road. If it's hotter, I will often not bring more (I forget to bring more to be honest) so perhaps unsurprisingly, most of my UTI problems have occurred in summer. But cooler weather can do me in as well because I'll overdress and sweat like crazy.

Can the type of drink contribute? I will go for the sports drinks because they have some sugar in them. Saves me from having to eat. Even for plain commutes or shopping, I just feel physically better if I use a non-diet sports drink. I've tried bringing food but I find myself just not wanting to eat. Biking has this weird effect on me in that I get an OMGHUNGRY feeling, but I don't really develop an appetite (I believe there are studies that show that intense workouts actually kill appetite). If I don't get anything into me when this happens, my legs will get really weak. I had a ride earlier this week where I forgot I hadn't eaten/drunk for a few hours before; got on bike, rode hard, and thought I was going to fall over from jello legs...lol I was so mad at myself. The drinks work better because I can sip on them throughout the ride and get both energy and fluid from them, and my lack of appetite doesn't stop me from wanting to drink. But if they're contributing to UTIs then I am absolutely willing to try something else. Or maybe my present UTI is because of that one oopsie ride where I forgot to drink beforehand or bring anything. Ugh, I hope I'm not so sensitive now that one bad ride can throw me off (actually, the ride was very good lol, but you know what I mean).

Finally, should I change anything about the bike and/or my clothing? I'm going to be seeking professional help as well, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get help on the biking angle (it will more likely be just general overall medical advice). I really don't know who to talk to about bike stuff. I've always treated it as an utterly solo activity - just buy a bike and ride. But clearly my body is telling me I have to start taking things more seriously, now. Maybe it's age, maybe it's because I've been biking a LOT more lately, or maybe it's some combination. I don't want to cut back on the biking. My body has never been stronger (er um, aside from the bladder, lol).