April 27, 2006

    I'm a 21-year-old cross-county and off-road rider. I travel between 250 and 350 km a week here in southern Alberta. I ride to get around: to work, school, the bank, etc. The fun part about riding to my destinations is the journey between my stops.
    I recently bought a 2-liter water pack to wear on my back. It has a 3' hose, and I am really excited about using it. I've had it for about 2 weeks now. (I've been using 2 disposable water bottles for years.) I fill it with fresh water every time. Usually I don't dump out my last ride’s contents until leaving for my next ride. Sometimes right after my ride I dump the remaining water—but I don't think it makes a difference.
    What is the best way to clean and sanitize my water pack? I don't mind the plastic taste; I can deal with that. My primary concern is about bacteria and sterility. How can I neutralize and kill any bacteria inside my water bag to prevent the risk of contracting an oral illness, or minor bacterial infection in my esophagus? Is there a sterile/acidic sport drink I could use? Boiling water?
    It would be more efficient to use my hands to grab water bottles than to ride impaired and ill.
    I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this minor issue, and any tips you may have.

Dale V.

    Having just recovered from food poisoning, I don’t consider this a minor issue.
    Fortunately, folks (and not just bike riders) have used hydration packs for a long time. And they drink everything out of ‘em—so manufacturers have developed all sorts of cleaning products, some pictured at right.
    Given the level of, um, excitement your pack gives you (what do you drink?), I suggest you get a complete cleaning kit and use it regularly.
    Follow the kit’s instructions on how often to do a total cleaning, in which you use the provided cleaning liquid or tablets to brush, then flush the inside of the pack’s bladder. In between total cleanings, you can do a quick cleaning by filling the bladder with water and dropping in cleaning tablets—but don’t use this as your only cleaning method.

Mr Bike

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