Motion sickness is a common condition, and 1 in 3 people are likely to experience it at some point in their lives. While this condition is often associated with car travel, some people may also experience dizziness or nausea while riding a bike. However, it’s important to know that feeling nauseous while cycling isn’t caused by the same factors that contribute to motion sickness while riding in vehicles. Moreover, it can be prevented, if you take precautions and look after your health before and after riding. If you feel nauseous while cycling or after your ride, here’s how you can kick motion sickness to the curb.

Motio sickness and cycling
1 in 3 people are likely to experience motion sickness at some point in their lives.

What causes it?

Motion sickness occurs when your body is in a still position, but something else – like a vehicle or a VR ride – is generating motion. For instance, while riding on a train, you know that you’re moving because of the changing scenery outside your window. However, because you’re a passenger on that train, your body remains still, and now the brain gets contradictory data regarding motion, which triggers nausea. Motion sickness can affect anyone, but children are more affected by it.

While this condition is harmless, it can be highly unpleasant and uncomfortable, which is why parents should help their kids to cope with nausea by playing soothing music or opening a car window while traveling. Applying a cold compress, letting them eat candied ginger or peppermint candies, and stopping every once in a while for a bit of a walk can also help to quell the dizziness.

In the case of cycling enthusiasts, nausea occurs not because of the mixed signals that the brain receives, but because of a more common condition that can affect cyclists – dehydration. Not drinking enough water can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and dizziness. This is the reason why after a race, some cyclists, even the most seasoned ones, experience nausea, and vomiting.

Staying hydrated to prevent nausea

If you often feel lightheaded or dizzy while riding your bike, it’s possible that your body needs to be sufficiently hydrated in order for you to feel better. Drink at least 300 ml of water one to two hours before cycling, and don’t forget to bring a water bottle for your ride. Take small sips while cycling, and avoid drinking too much, as that bloated feeling that you get from drinking too much water can trigger nausea. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a bit of flavor to your water – a squeeze of pure lemon juice mixed with honey, or two teaspoons of orange juice mixed into a liter of water can make a difference if you want to perk up the taste of your drink.

Combat dizziness by eating smart

Many riders think that eating a big, carb-heavy meal before cycling is the way to go to improve endurance. However, if you frequently experience nausea, then eat a small, easy-to-digest meal at least an hour before riding. Instead of a pasta dish, go for toast and eggs, roasted chicken with a side of sweet potatoes, or baked salmon with greens. You may also want to eat a small meal after cycling to speed up recovery.

Nausea while riding a bike can be prevented by staying hydrated and eating smart before and after cycling. If symptoms persist, make sure to consult your doctor.

M. Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist (at the amateur level) and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about cycling on this website, cycling-passion.com. You can check out my social media profiles by clicking on their icons.

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