Drinking and Cycling

Vita Coco
Yesterday I did a 40 mile ride in 97 degree heat and high humidity. As someone who is sensitive to hot weather, normally I would not go outdoors on such a day at all. But when the temperature is like this on a daily basis, the choice is either to stop riding or find a way to deal with it. One experienced cyclist I know suggested drinking large amounts of water starting early in the morning, and then a dose of coconut water right before the ride itself. I did just that, and it helped: I  was able to do the ride without feeling faint or headachy. Earlier in the week I tried to do the same ride and turned back 15 minutes later, nursing a migraine for the remainder of the day. I don't know how much the hydration regimen had to do with the improvement, but it made me curious about the relationship between drinking and cycling. 

Take, for example, water: I've always been one of those weird people who doesn't like the taste of water and does not usually feel thirsty, so drinking so much of it was an entirely new concept when I began cycling. At first I had to practically force myself to do it, but at some point it started to become more natural and I developed the thirst mechanism I hitherto lacked. Those who've known me for a while are surprised that I now actually crave water, even when off the bike. 

On the other hand, juice and energy drinks make me feel sick when I cycle. They are too sweet and I only feel more thirsty afterward. Things like Gatorade and weird chemical energy powders I just can't take at all - it goes straight to my head and makes me feel dizzy, as well as leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth. So in order to regain electrolytes, I've been eating bananas and putting a tiny bit of salt in my water. Coconut water was suggested as an alternative, and I was surprised to read about its electrolyte content: It is basically a natural sportsdrink. I still find it slightly too sweet and the aftertaste a little weird, but manageable - and it seems to work.

Then there is the question of coffee. I am addicted and drink more cups per day than I care to count. I like to drink coffee before a ride, because it makes me feel more energetic. However, some warn against doing this - claiming that it's bad for the heart to have coffee right before exercise. Are cyclists who caffeinate dooming themselves to early heart attacks? Seems unlikely to me, but I do wonder sometimes as I drink my nth cup.

And finally, alcohol. I am not a big drinker by any means, but I like an occasional white wine or martini. Sadly, I've discovered that I can't drink if I plan to go on strenuous rides, not even a little bit. Maybe I am worse at processing alcohol than most people, but if I have a martini in the evening and then try to go cycling the next morning, I can smell the gin coming out of my pores and just don't feel 100% on the bike. That's after just one drink. I cannot imagine how some cyclists manage to guzzle beer during races, or stop for lunch with wine in the middle of long ride; I can't do it.

What's your practice with regard to water, energy drinks, coffee and alcohol when cycling?


  1. Gatorade has to be one of the best marketed products ever. No one would buy anything that said "it's a great drink with salt in it!" But "electrolytes", that's another story altogether.

    Water FTW!

  2. Then there is the question of coffee. I am addicted and drink more cups per day than I care to count. I like to drink coffee before a ride, because it makes me feel more energetic. However, some warn against doing this - claiming that it's bad for the heart to have coffee right before exercise. Are cyclists who caffeinate dooming themselves to early heart attacks? Seems unlikely to me, but I do wonder sometimes as I drink my nth cup.

    Oy, this is my problem as well. I can't even think of doing a ride before my 2nd coffee. I often wonder this myself, although I don't think there is any connection between caffeine intake and heart attack. And if there is, there must be complicating factors, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol (neither of which I have, thankfully).

    And finally, alcohol. I am not a big drinker by any means, but I like an occasional white wine or martini. Sadly, I've discovered that I can't drink if I plan to go on strenuous rides, not even a little bit.

    I can drink the night before, but not the day of, a ride. If I drink a few hours before a ride, forget it, I have no energy. But the night before is usually fine, as long as I don't overdo it.

    For hydration, I'm much like you-- I never really had the "taste" for water. But I've come to appreciate the importance of keeping hydrated while cycling. Fortunately, I don't sweat much compared to others, so I don't think I lose as much water. I usually keep my bottles filled with water supplemented with a few drops of lemon juice for taste, a pinch of salt (not enough to really taste), and a couple drops of glucose syrup (again, not enough to taste).

    I should try the trick of hydrating before my rides... I have never thought to do that before.

  3. Just a note about coffee - you might try some teas, instead. I tend to feel less jittery and more sort of calmly energetic after drinking, say, a pot of green tea or a bowl of matcha. Also, tea actually helps hydrate you (despite still containing caffeine), in contrast to coffee.

    I don't really usually do any kind of strenuous riding, but during the summers when I'm out in 90-something or 100-something degrees to and from work and whatnot, I just try to make sure to go get a long drink of water every half-hour or so at home or at work, so that I'm well-hydrated for the time when I'm out in the heat, and I'll stop somewhere and get a drink if I feel like I need it.

    I also find energy drinks and stuff like Gatorade to be just kind of gross - they don't make me sick or anything, I just think they taste awful.

    As far as drinking, I can't imagine how anyone could guzzle beer and do anything strenuous. I'm all for a couple glasses of wine and then a nice, relaxed bike ride home from the restaurant, but that's about it :) I'd be kind of concerned about my ability to control my bike with more than that anyway, especially if I were pushing myself :) I know everyone's tolerance differs though.

  4. I have for the last few years, been forced to drink more liquids than even I can believe, to combat poor circulation, in my feet. I have always loved water, and a good beer, or even a good cup or 6 of coffee. But coffee, and alcohol tend to dehydrate me, and the net result is a pain that is very gout-like. (The doctor called it gout, but forcing hydration seems to cure the affliction. And it doesn't seem to respond like gout in other ways, as no restrictions on diet have helped.

    Yes, and here in south central Texas, it's always like this, more or less.

    So having learned this, I have switched to tea, for a source of caffeine. I may try out some beers, for an alcoholic beverage (Chimay Ale was my beer of choice, and I may be able to consume Amstel Light), but for now, it's not important.

    Gout will shut down a ride, REALLY QUICK, though, I can tell you.

  5. Ever tried using a Camelbak? For whatever reason they seem to be unfashionable among road cyclists, but I love the added water capacity for any ride longer than about two hours or so. Also, having the drinking tube right by my face is much easier than reaching down for a bottle cage. This makes it easier to maintain speed while riding. I also end up taking smaller sips more frequently with the Camelbak than I do with water bottles, which maintains a steadier hydration level.

  6. Four words: Peach Snapple Iced Tea.

    I believe you have seen me post about this on my blog. I'm not sure what's wrong with me on this. I don't drink coffee, or much soda (every now and then, at a restaurant). I don't like juices much, and I'm no water fanatic either. Don't like milk. Hate Gatorade/Powerade, etc.

    But I really do find that the sugary iced tea helps me to regain my energy when it starts to flag, better than anything else I've tried. My illness leaves me slightly hypoglycemic, so a quick upper for my blood sugar is probably what I'm looking for there.

    I think different things work for different folks.

  7. Drinking Beer is a wierd kind of thing, when I was younger I frequently rode my bike to the bar (or several). Fine going, but the trip back would start out a little blah! Of course once you got going and where 10 or 15 minutes down the road . . Fine! Just really thirsty when I got home! ;-)

    I have an odd story; in my racing days I used to not drink beer the day before a race, but one time I decided to go ahead and have 2 or 3, because I really did not feel like racing the next day anyway. Then oddly I woke up early the next day and I felt surprisingly good so I decide to go race afterall. The result was in the race I felt great! Probably better then any previous race I'd been in. I was passing people who would typically pass me and was looking for a strong finnish when I hit a sharp ledge and Flatted out!!!

    Other then the fact that beer (especially the dark beers I like (Shiner Bock)) are loaded with carbs, I have never been able to figure out how to duplicate this effort!

    I do like Gatorade, but it's changed formulations over the years (High Fructose corn syrup) and I think I have changed some as well so I do not get the benefit from it I used to. I pretty much just go with Cold water now!!


  8. Please be cautious in this weather. Leave yourself an out. Unscheduled hydration and cooling stops will not mess up "training", they might keep you alive. Calls for help, rides home, which would be so very not cricket in normal circumstances, are allowed.

    Any sign of lightheadedness, stop.

    Recovery is quite different in the heat. Be careful not to overschedule postride. Any demanding tasks, business meetings, whatever after a long hard hot ride may not be as smooth sailing as you'd expected.

    Dousing yourself in water is good. From the water bottle, the nearest lawn sprinkler, whatever.

    When I was your age I could still do the martinis and ride. Miss those days.

  9. Hoo boy. This post hit close to home. Yesterday I missed my morning ride and had planned to ride after work. At about 4:30 my office mate said, "Want to go for a beer after work?" How can you turn down an invitation like that?
    After downing two delicious Belgian ales at my favorite brew pub, I had a light supper and went for a flattish 45-minute ride, arriving home just before sundown.
    I was back in the saddle this morning, attacking steep hills with determination. No problems with dehydration. Of course it might have been a different story if the temps were in the high 90s instead of the mid 80s.

  10. I like you, have had to consciously make myself drink water on rides, in fact my boyfriend kept saying, "drink some water."

    I do drink coffee in the AM, this does not seem to affect my performance or make me feel sick.

    I started out by diluting Gatorade because i could not take how sweet it is. I have also tried Accelerade, and though it is less sweet, it leaves this granular film in the bottles and that's just a pain in the ass.

    I have gotten used to taking one bottle of water and one bottle of diluted Gatorade. I usually hit the Gatorade mid ride and drink water the rest of the time. And i am exceptionally happy when i finish a ride and have leftover water to squeeze over my head, it's hot this summer.

    But one factor remains constant, I always finish a ride with a beer or two, it seems to make the last few miles fly by, knowing that when i get off, i have earned it.

    As far as the night before i will have a few beers or drinks, but that's it and i always start hydrating the night before and guzzle water before i run out the door.

    Riding regularly three times a week, i know what to expect, how to prepare and how much i am capable of, but all that is new. before this, i did not do anything along the lines of endurance.

  11. I'm OK up to about 95 degrees but 97 is really starting to get into dangerous territory. One would have to be super mindful, as I'm sure you are. After 40 miles at those temps you need to keep hydrating for many hours afterwards too.

    I drink water and coffee always, but definitely avoid alcohol the night before any big rides. Alcohol just saps me, even one or two, though the Shiner Bock strategy sounds intriquing. My standard provisions are just water and a couple fig newtons. For longer distance I do sometimes add stuff to water like small amount of juice or sports drink or pinch of salt. I also stay away from high fructose corn syrup as mentioned above. I could skip the coffee but that would just make me sad.

  12. As a runner who took up biking, I say hydrate before (I love ice tea) and drink water during the ride (run). Unless someone is doing really long or strenuous exercise, salt/electrolyte replacement isn't a factor so all the sports drinks, for me, are a waste of money. If I'm running or riding at noon, I'll probably have downed 48 or more ounces of water or tea in the couple of hours before. And then, unless I'm running 10 miles or more, don't even take water with me. If longer, than a 16 oz. water bottle gets me through.

  13. FWIW, raw coconut water doesn't have the aftertaste that the pasteurized stuff has. It's glorious, though not cheap since it needs to remain frozen until you decide to defrost and drink.

    I can't drink more than one coffee a day, but I totally have to drink that one coffee a day. I can't drink drip coffee at all, though. It seems to have SO much caffeine.

    I love biking home after a glass of wine with friends. But now that I am in my thirties, I can't really have two glasses of wine unless it's a veerry long and big meal. It will totally slow me down the next day.

  14. I'm almost identical to you in this. You couldn't have described my drinking practices and preferences any better. One exception, I never developed the "crave water" thing. My running and riding is heavily endurance based, I usually do these things for an hour or less. Perhaps weekly 40-mile rides would change me to a water-hound too.

    With that, I think I'll have a small coffee before yoga.

  15. So many variables that all come down to this: look at your urine. If it's dark, you need water. Figure out how to keep it from getting dark in the first place.

  16. Hydration is EXTREMELY important. If you are planning a long ride, start hydrating a day ahead of time. When I regularly raced MTB, I would start drinking water the day before my race, or sometimes, if I knew it was going to be particularly hot, I would start hydrating a two days ahead of time. On the morning of the race, I would make sure I drank at least one bottle of some type of sports drink (my favorite is Heed), and I would try to drink at least one bottle of water during the race.

    It is possible to overdo it though. If you feel like you have had enough water, don't force yourself to drink more. You definitely don't want to have to have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes :]

    And I do recommend going out and buying a couple packets of Heed or Cytomax and using them on your next ride. These take a little bit of experimentation, as it is easy to mix them too strong, but they are definitely worth a try. But definitely don't buy a huge jar of the stuff unless you decide that it works for you and you have found a flavor that tastes ok for you.

  17. The secret is to ride somewhere very far, drink allot, be forced to ride home (on a trail) in a group. It's really fun. I find riding in the city after a beer or two is actually pretty fun. :)

  18. Brita filtered water by the gallon is very good and tasty!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Coffee is ok but I stop at 12 cups since I loose my taste for it past 12 cups.

    Booze is a flat no no for me now but I used to drink no more that 2 oz (i.e.2 beers) a day but diabetes pushed that all the way off my plate !!

  19. Coffee - I'd rather be conscious during my short stay here on earth than somnambulant for the longer, less-rewarding term.

    Alcohol - See above.

    Picnics and fluids - long training ride: ride hard, stop, eat, drink, no alcohol. COFFEE. Back.

    Rec ride: See above but alcohol possible.

    Pre-loading: yes.

    Masmojo - Pasta.

  20. I do a lot of riding in the Inland SoCal heat, and drink a LOT of water. I drink at least 1.5L a day, just sitting at work. Probably about a liter on a hour or two bike ride as well.

    As mentioned, hydration packs really get you drinking more. I find I drink non-stop when wearing one, which is great.

    If I drink alcohol in any form before a ride... well, I might end up sitting on the couch instead of riding! But post-ride imbibing is a particular pleasure!

    Here's a good article on coconut water. I drink them after a ride as they are quite refreshing (I don't like soda/sweetened drinks at all) articles.latimes.com In a nutshell, they're good but not great for you.

  21. However, some warn against doing this - claiming that it's bad for the heart to have coffee right before exercise.

    Reeks of urban myth.

    Unless they can point to actual studies (and ideally not meta-studies, but direct ones), and the dose/confidence/other data in it actually back them up, I'd ignore it.

  22. I'm pretty bad in the heat too. I've taken to using HEED powder in my water bottles--no, it doesn't taste very good, but it does help me resist muscle fatigue on a long ride, and it is not as sugary as Gatorade and that sort of thing. I also have been using white sunsleeves and leggings and a hat with flaps that covers my neck. This helps keep the sun off. Also, if I am going out for a long ride on a weekend morning, I'll try to leave as early as possible--like 6:30 am--to get out before the worst heat of the day.

  23. I do most of my riding in the early morning, and always right after a single demitasse of espresso (I don't drink drip style or other large-portion coffee). This is my only coffee drink til post-dinner when I have another one. If riding later in the day, then no coffee before - just sticking to my routine.

    I drink 2-3 glasses of wine almost daily with (and before) dinner. I am fine doing this the evening before a ride, but never would I space it closer.

    Finally, water. I happily guzzle it all day. I don't necessarily pre-hydrate before a ride, but I take a single 24 oz bottle on the bike whenever A) It's hot; or B) The ride will exceed one hour in duration. And I try to be conscious of replenishing lost fluids by drinking more when I arrive home.

  24. PS Heat - tricks to combat include dunking your head in water at rest stop, frozen water btls to start ride, ice in pantyhose in pockets or around neck.

  25. Since you don't do well with fruit juices you might try ionized water... known as 'kangen' water. It's very popular in Japan. Its water with the molecule size broken down to a smaller size, for increased hydration.

    Various machines are sold that make it... just hook it up to your tap. It also filters the water. Only problem is they're sort of expensive... but then if it's something one uses every day it's worth it.


  26. Hey GRJ have you tried an ice h@lm#t?

  27. Steve Crowley said...
    "If you are planning a long ride, start hydrating a day ahead of time."

    I would not have believed you until I felt it work for me. Fascinating.

  28. Bif - only an informal one. Not the kind of hssmice with straps though.

  29. I'm one of those "wear shorts in the winter" riders, so 100+ degree days like this are tough for me.

    I drink a lot of fluids both on and off the bike on days like this. Mostly water but I have coffee in the morning and often a Gatorade in the afternoon, especially if I'm working outside in addition to cycle commuting.

    Moderate consumption of alcohol (and even SLIGHTLY immoderate consumption on rare occasions) has never been a problem for me when riding. While a post-ride or post-run drink is certainly welcome, I've enjoyed stopping for a drink during long, casual rides as well. Once I even did a cycling tour of Finger Lakes wineries, which involved riding from one winery to the next, sampling the wines along the way.

    Heavy drinking is rare for me, and is incompatible with riding or much of anything else. I will say, however, that a nice, slow bicycle ride with plenty of hydration is a fantastic cure for a hangover, if you can force yourself out the door to begin with.

  30. I usually crave sweets rather than salty foods, so I've wondered why I so often crave potato chips in the evenings when I'm not even particularly hungry. Hmmm. Recently I started adding a little electrolyte something or other to my water for my evening workouts, and magically, the salt craving went away. Then I just wanted chocolate, per usual.

  31. It's interesting to me how many people crave cupcakes, chocolate and other forms of sugar during or after cycling. Sugar makes me feel sick when I ride, but I crave protein and non-sugary carbs - like huge meals of Indian food or pizza or crepes with cheese and mushrooms. I've been eating a lot this summer and losing fat like crazy. This roadcycling stuff is a different animal from "normal" cycling.

  32. I used to pay more attention to this when I ran, as I don't see this as a serious issue for my short distance commuting.
    But I suspect that "training" bike riding is pretty much like "training" long distance running.
    The pre-loading helps a lot. I forced myself into the habit of drinking water all day. Basically when I was training I wanted to have to wake up at least once a night to pee, or I'd get headaches (this was when I was training 50-60 mpw in summer in SLC). Keeping lemons or mint tea bags on hand to make it more "interesting" helps. Studies have shown that regular caffeine users do not have dehydration problems associated with caffeine use as long as they take in other liquids.

    While I agree that gatorade etc are a bit of overkill normally unless you're doing something extreme (a century, a really hard speed workout), when it's really hot like today it's probably not a bad idea to get some potassium and sodium in your system- a bannana and a bag of pretzels or some salted nuts will do the trick- especially if you have been hydro-loading. There have been rare, but catastrophic cases of people over-hydrating without taking in enough salt- a woman died at the Boston Marathon a few years ago.

    Steve A of DFW Point to Point had a Pulmonary Embolism which he and his doctors believed to be related to lots of cycling in heat without enough salt makeup, and did some good posts about how to determine how much salt you excrete as sweat, and how to make sure you're not getting too much water, and not enough salts.
    My father the biking osteoporosis sufferer tells me that there's some evidence that high performance cyclists (AKA pro-riders) need to supplement with calcium as well, as they are excreting calcium in their sweat. Don't know if it's a problem for sub-pro riders, but unless you drink a lot of milk, as a woman you should probably be supplementing with calcium anyway.
    my $.02

  33. I find bottled gatorade et al to be much more palatable if watered down. Try from 1:1 to 3:1 water:gatorade.

    I like to have one bottle filled with that and another bottle with plain water - I find I can drink the sports drink at times when more plain water seems like "too much". But I also like the luna bars etc. while I'm riding, so YMMV.

    I mostly agree with your findings re: alcohol. On the few occasions when I do have a (one) drink after riding, I make sure to order a glass of water at the same time.

  34. Like you, I don't tolerate heat well at all. This is one reason that currently I work at night (at least I work at home now!) and ride my bike in the evenings. I sleep during the day,the worst time for the heat. And,of course, unlike Boston, the yearly heat wave lasts for many months in Atlanta, where I currently live. Eventually I may move, just because of the heat, because even at night, it is easy to get over heated during the Summer. About your tolerance for alcohol, well for one thing, you are an observant and sensitive person, and probably naturally more aware of the connection between what you eat and drink and how it makes you feel. Keeping very well hydrated while drinking alcohol (a diuretic, like coffee, by the way) might prevent some of your discomfort (of course moderation is still key). I have a science and health background, and because of that have long known of the importance of getting adequate water to help ward off dehydration, headaches, and even the transient deepening of wrinkles. Interestingly, many people are unaware that women process alcohol via a different enzyme pathway in the liver than men, and this is why medical recommendations are for no more than 2 alcoholic drinks for men per day, and no more than 1 alcoholic drink for women per day. These recommendations are not based on weight, but on the differences in the liver's ability to detoxify alcohol. So while some people may have less tolerance for alcohol due to other phyisiological reasons, women, in particular will always tolerate alcohol approximately 1/2 less than men. Being sure to consume protein and B vitamins (especially thiamine) along with extra water can help to prevent some of the damage and discomfort alcohol causes. Adequate protein in the diet the day after drinking will facilitate liver repair, and thiamine and B vitamin supplementation replaces the thiamine that alcohol 'washes' from the body. Water will help to relieve the dehydration, and complex carbohydrates will replace the drop in blood sugar. A frequent alcohol consumer can even prevent the worst long term cognitive damage (alcoholic dementia or Wernike's Dementia) that results from chronic alcohol abuse by supplementing thiamine. Eating adequate protein and supplementing B vitamins will not prevent all the damage alcohol causes though, of course, especially with chronic use. I don't think many people in our commercialized society even realize that alcohol is a potent drug with numerous serious side effects. It would not pass the FDA's approval if it were to be put through testing today, for many reasons, one being that it can cause serious neurological and physical deformities if consumed during pregnancy.

  35. I'll have an espresso or two before a ride.
    On the road, I like to have my bottles filled with iced Earl grey tea whenever possible. I also really like coconut water.
    I'll sometimes have a beer with lunch or dinner during a brevet, but I'm the only one I know who does. I hear the French randonneurs will stop for wine, but it gives me a headache.
    For an good energy boost, nothing beats a Mexican Coca-cola, which is still made with real sugar!
    Still looking for the perfect bike mounted bottle opener, any suggestions?

  36. Cycler, bone density is an issue with non-pro riders as well.

    I feel like a bird, all hollow when I ride too much.

    V, in this state when riding a lot people have to keep their small children away from me lest I inhale them. Watch out Snark, the book is mine.

  37. Drink chicken stock.

  38. Velouria said...
    "Sugar makes me feel sick when I ride, but I crave protein and non-sugary carb"

    Oh yes!! I know the feeling!! I carry peanut butter packets, beef jerky, or slim jims to get that protein blast when I'm about to boink!

  39. When I go bicycle touring during the Australian summer months I’ve found the following useful

    1) I try to start riding at sun-up and finish riding by mid-morning thereby avoiding the heat of the day.
    2) I drink a large amount of water – a water bottle’s full if possible – about 15 minutes before I start to ride.
    3) I have frequent mouthfuls of water during the ride – maybe every 10 minutes. This can mean carrying extra water.

    I don’t like “energy drinks”, just water. I’m happy to have a beer at the end of a ride.

    I once did do a bicycle tour of Italy where I was feuded by cappuccinos.


  40. Make that "fueled by cappuccinos"

  41. When I started riding longer distances on my touring bike I was only hydrating with water and after a couple of hours I started experiencing leg cramps. I did some research on the internet and found that the loss of minerals during long periods of intense exercise could be the cause of it (sodium being the most important).
    Since then I have either been using gatorade, which works for me as long as I can keep it cold, or a home made replacement with less sugar. There are several online recipes for home made energy drinks, some of them containing caffeine.
    Even though I'm a coffee drinker, I didn't want to use a caffeinated hydrating beverage as I think it would make me sweat more and lose more minerals during the rides.
    I usually drink a cup of turkish coffee at breakfast, another one in the middle of the morning and an espresso after dinner and don't think it has any effect in my cycling since it's a long time habit.
    I only drink alcohol ocasionally and usually no more than a glass of wine or a beer. It seems to have no effect on shorter rides of 1 hour or less, I don't know yet of its effects before longer rides.

  42. As a ride progresses, I tolerate sweet drinks less and less. So I buy powdered Gatorade & mix my own.

    I usually carry 2 bottles; one mixed to half recommended amount, and the 2nd mixed to a third or quarter of recommended amount. If it's hot, I'll freeze them the night before. Really hot? Take a 3rd frozen bottle - pure water (from my Brita). I can drink it or pour it over me.

    But be careful; too much plain water can lead to hyponatremia. Your blood gets so diluted that your sodium bottoms out. In extreme cases it can be fatal (& has been with a few marathon runners). Gatorade (or other drinks with electrolytes in them) are better for just that reason.

    Beer is a great post-ride calorie replacement; especially those Belgian ales. Yum!

    Philly, PA

  43. -Water-- yes, please. As much as I can get.
    -"Energy drinks"-- no, thanks. I prefer juice. And, caffeine. And, alcohol. (see below.)
    -Caffeine-- I work at a coffee shop p/t as my second gig, and I've worked there off-n-on for like 7 years or more. A decent amount of cyclists frequent it, and a whole lot of bike talk. I am a confirmed caffeine junkie, and I can't imagine a ride (or anything else, really!!) without it. Yes, it dehydrates me, but I use h2o to counter-act those effects.
    -Alcohol-- Not so much as I used to, but I enjoy a good bicycle bar-hop, and as a rule I avoid drinking-n-driving at all costs. However, despite the famed/possibly mythical "BUI" laws on the books, I have no qualms about riding while intoxicated. To me, if I'm going to a pub, party, or beer-drenched BBQ, I'll be taking the bicycle or foregoing the booze.

  44. I've been listening to the Clif Podcast recently. It's hosted by a Registered Dietician and professional athletes. They had a recent episode devoted to caffeine and it's effect on athletic performance. Lots of research was quoted and it seems that a moderate intake of caffeine--equivalent to 1-2 cups of coffee-- was safe and was found to enhance athletic performance, whereas more than that could be detrimental to performance. I didn't hear anything about heart attacks...

  45. When I cycled and did many other strnuous activities for physical fitness, I used to drink lots, it is essential if you are sweating a lot. Gatorade is good if it is diluted, that is what I found and what I was told when doing fitness leader training. It helps with energy on the training ride and with recovery afterwards too, and is more quickly absorbed than other energy replacing foods. I never drink alcohol before or after a ride. It gets absorbed into the blood too quickly afterwards, especially if it is carbonated, so can go to your head very quickly! For recovery, it is also good to eat or drink an energy replacing food or drink within 40 minutes or finishing training as it gets converted to muscle glycogen more quickly, readying you for the next training session quicker!

    With caffeine, I have heard that it is a sports enhancing drug and is one of the things tested for as such, does anyone know anything about that? I find a good coffee before can be a great enhancer of speed ...

  46. I feel the same way about water, have never felt the innate need to drink it and not sure if I drink enough...The whole 8 glasses of water a day and all. But that means 8 cups of liquid-not necessarily water. A cup of tea or coffee equals half a cup of water etc.. Plus one has to accommodate for their size. My husband always has to remind me to drink water...and I have some of the yummiest/best water on earth! Even in all my years of biking it's rare for me to have water with me! But if it's hot, water is a good idea, I like fruit juice and more likely to get enough fluids if I have juice rather than water Sometimes cola(the whole foods stuff is great when you get over the fact it isn't coke).
    The british in me has bred me to drink copious amounts of tea which has a more subtle effect, but definitely gets one going. Coffee is more of a treat thing and have to make sure I drink water with it....but when I'm out for a ride and stop for coffee, I'm much more energetic afterwards and my husband often has to bribe me with a stop at a cafe to go for a ride I'd rather not do. Sometimes hot liquid helps regulate body temperature in the heat-or at least that is what i was always told growing up. Oh it's so hot, let's have a cup of tea!
    I can't really drink alcohol, one drink and that's it. I enjoy riding home kind of tipsy, but do not notice anything off the next day.

  47. Ground Round Jim... have you *met* any mothers lately? You don't want to mess with us. I used to be a total pacifist until my son was born. On day 2 in the hospital, he was curled up next to me on a pillow, all sweet and adorable, and I looked up at my (then) husband and said: "You know how I've always been so peace-loving and gentle?" "Yeah..." he said. "Anyone touches him, I'll kill them," I said, dead seriously. He just nodded, eyes very big. I have a picture of me from about 10 minutes later, one arm curled around that baby. You just try to get that book :).

    And I'm telling you all: Peach Snapple. Not lemon, not raspberry. Just the peach. There's nothing on earth quite like it... (and I can quit anytime).

  48. I would be interested in trying coconut water. It sounds tasty! During the summer I drink tons of water. I also can not stand the taste of sport drinks. I don't drink alcohol at all, but I am a caffeine fiend who NEEDS her cup of tea morning and evening. I've found lately that I like to ride with a big bag watermelon to snack on.

  49. Sports drinks really work for me, but I loathe paying so much to a large corporation for 99% water and ownership of another plastic bottle. So I make my own sports drink:

    750ml water
    1/8 tsp salt
    2-3 teaspoons sugar (to taste)
    lemon juice (or orange, lime, grapefruit, etc)
    1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar

    The vinegar helps to blend the taste of the salt with the other flavours (if you can actually taste it then you've put too much). Otherwise it has everything the commercial waters have:

    electrolytes (salt)
    antioxidants (Vitamin C aka citrus juice)
    carbohydrates (sugar)

    Now you add up the cost of those ingredients, it'd be stretching to hit 50c and only if you don't have a lemon tree or they're out of season. How much is a bottle of Gatorade? b

  50. bicyclesinnewcastle.com

    Yes, caffeine is an abused drug and UCI tests for it.
    The only way you'll be over the limit is by dosing with large caffeine suppositories. Yes, competitors do that. Yuk. Racing can be outright weird.

    Espresso is served at Tour de France daily rider sign-in. Other races too.

  51. "dosing with large caffeine suppositories"

    Oh no. Stop, imagination, stop!

  52. Velouria said...
    "dosing with large caffeine suppositories"

    Oh no. Stop, imagination, stop!

    EWWWWWWWWWWW !!!!! :^()

    That's just n-a-s-t-y !!! :^((

  53. Snark, new mothers are scary. You can have the book. I'll take it when it's covered in drool when your son's 18.

  54. Nensaikan - I do the same thing, just sub honey for the sugar. I've never reacted well to refined sugar, but honey is great (not to mention the added vitamins). Also, I've found that raw apple cider vinegar is about a thousand times better for you than the pasteurized/filtered stuff (a rough estimate).

  55. I live in south central Texas and started commuting to work by bike this May, when the thermometer started reaching the century mark. We're now in a severe drought with temps reaching as high as 107 during my afternoon commutes. It is not fun, but I refuse to stop cycling now that I've established a routine.

    I'm a hard-core water drinker. In the mornings I have a cup or two of coffee before I leave but water is key. I load a bag on my bike with three to four water-filled sport bottles and keep myself hydrated throughout the day. I notice a big difference in performance when I only bring one bottle with me.

    If I don't stay hydrated I crash hard when I get home in the evenings. It's amazing what a difference a few bottles of water can make. If I drink throughout the day, I am downright perky when I get home.

    To survive the 4 pm commute home, I make sure to pace myself. I don't ride as hard and coast more than I do in the cooler mornings. I'll become a more aggressive cyclist when the temps cool off this fall.... right now it's just about getting from point A to point B without overtaxing myself.

    So for me, easing up on my normal pace and keeping hydrated is my formula for battling the blistering summer temps. And so far, it's worked pretty good! I've also cut back on my evening glasses of wine, because I do feel a difference in the next day's commute (I feel sluggish).

  56. When you are really and truly dehydrated, try Pedialyte instead of a sports drink. It comes in flavors, but plain will taste great if you are indeed dehydrated. Oral rehydration therapy - the real one.

  57. I used to drink a lot of coffee, but decided that the caffeine was not doing anything good FOR me, and possibly bad things TO me. I quit except for an occasional cup of decaf, and instead drink fruit juices, green tea and water.
    I've found that if I sip a quart of water before, during and after a meal, (usually spread out over an hour or so), that I sleep much better at night.
    There are very detailed articles about what coffee, and particularly caffeine, does to our health.



  58. Coffee, hydration and alcohol: don't have anything to add. Pretty much like everyone else.
    Hot weather: ahh... I get a small to medium pack cloth from REI. Or a small microfiber towel. Soak it in water and partially ring it out. Wrap it around your neck and make it long enough to cross at your throat and drop into your shirt. The cooling against my carotid arteries is amazing, though it's more dramatic when it's dry as it's the evaporation that cools. But 10-15 mph on a bike is enough air passing over it to bring about evaporation (and cooling) in all but tropical weather. I discovered this hiking in the desert mountains around L.A., but find it even more effective on a bike; anything to get core temperatures down. Triple digits are common around here. Even on my 5pm commute home.

  59. Ground Round Jim, don't worry. By the time he's done with a pop-up book, no one will want it! He's so excited about this that he told his dad all about it while they watched the final stage today. On the way home today from daddy's, he told me the name of the winner, the country he was from, and everything. I hear he particularly enjoyed the Frenchman who was in fourth, who makes very imitatable grimaces while riding. He did a few impressions for me, but I haven't seen the race, so I don't know how accurate they were. They were highly amusing in their own right.

    Today was "hot," for Seattle, so I poured home-brewed iced tea into my water bottle with a ton of ice. Not as sweet as my usual Snapple, but tastier in the heat. It served me well, though it was very warm by the time I finished 3 hours in the sun! I posted our time-honored recipe for this tea on rideblog today, if anyone in the East needs it. It's basically old-fashioned Southern sweet iced tea, but toned down in terms of the sugar. I realize anyone can make iced tea, but sometimes it's nice to go in with the right proportions of water, tea and sugar. This one is just right, I promise!

    I hope everyone's staying well-hydrated in the heatwave. V, bet you didn't realize how prescient this post would be!

  60. Snark, sounds like what you have is an espoir. French term for aspiring roadie. The grimacing dude is Voeckler; I can see how a kid would like that cartoon character.

  61. I'm not a big liquid drinker when I ride. Part of it is I can't tolerate anything in my stomach under the physical exertion of cycling. A hard 15 miler might require a half a Gatorade afterwards, but that's it. Maybe a whole one if the temps are above 90. But then I like to ride when its hot, not so much when its cold. I will wait 2 hours after a meal before I ride, and 30 min after coffee intake.

  62. I have a commuter mug and cup holder on my handle bars so I drink coffee before and during my rides. I also carry a water bottle or 2 depending on the distance I ride but I have to have my coffee with me.

  63. I really like a Cupholder for bike and found the cheapo version at Community Cycling Center, betw. $10 and $15 if memory serves. Not quick release, but on my SUV folks usually don't mess with the bling. You have to try different cups to find the best grab, though. Hit a bump and some cups decide to go airborne.

  64. In case you all don't already know, coffee is a diuretic, drinking it will greatly increase your need to drink water. It really is not the best thing to drink in hot weather (or any weather actually). Try some green tea instead if you must. As for electrolytes and hydration, yes yes yes! Drink more than you think you could ever need, (about a quart of liquid every 2 hrs if it is really hot, I like to alternate sips of hydration solution and plain water) and you will be able to cycle in the hottest 100 deg++ weather with no problems except sweat stains on your clothes. Works for me, and I'm a pudgy little person who HATES the heat!


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