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Coffee & Cycling—Why Cyclists Love Their Coffee?

By Jordan Grimes   /  Last updated - April 21, 2022   /  Blog

friends sharing coffee

Coffee is much talked about and beloved at every level of the sport of cycling, from the weekend warriors to World Tour professionals.

We believe there are a couple of key reasons this strong relationship exists.

Firstly, coffee has many purported performance benefits which may be of interest to anybody who likes to ride. Professionals also have “coffee rides” which are the recovery or low-intensity rides they complete for training.

Secondly, the mid-ride coffee stop acts as an excellent social event, giving groups of riders a reason to stop, relax, and bond over a warm cup of their favorite brew. This is much like the kind of bonding that happens if a group meets up for drinks at their local bar, except healthier!

In this article, we will explore these two factors that contribute to a cyclist’s love of coffee, so you can have a better idea of the importance of this delightful pairing.

Coffee and Performance

Most coffee drinkers will already be aware that the key compound in the drink is caffeine.

More importantly, the high levels of caffeine found in a standard cup of coffee compared to other caffeinated drinks like black teas. A standard coffee contains between 150 and 225mg of caffeine.

The Right Dose

Caffeine has been repeatedly shown to increase performance in a range of sports, including aerobic-based ones like cycling. Additionally, caffeine seems to provide an additional cognitive benefit that may complement the physiological ones experienced.

These benefits are considered medium to large in aerobic activities and are seen at doses between 3-6mg/kg of body weight. That means a 175lb (80kg) individual who drinks two standard cups of coffee would place directly in the middle of that dose at 4.5mg/kg.

An important thing to remember with any performance-enhancing supplement is the individual biological variance in our response. Before deciding that caffeine is the right thing for you, try to get to know your own body and how you feel when you take it. This could be related to the amount or the time that you ingest caffeine for cycling.

The Benefits of Drinking Coffee

two persons riding on bicycles

The mechanisms by which caffeine improves performance are more difficult to establish with certainty, but, research provides us with a few main areas that it seems to influence positively (as well the aspects it doesn’t seem to affect).

  • It increases speed and power output in simulated race conditions
  • Enhanced endurance or resistance to fatigue
  • Delays onset of sleepiness so you stay mentally sharp for longer

These three effects could make the difference between winning or losing a race or making a mistake on the road that leads to a scare or an accident.

Coffee for Socializing

For many of us casual cyclists, getting coffee is something that we do to socialize, spend time together, and build camaraderie.

Including a stop for coffee or tea before, during, or after your rides with friends is a great way to break up a long day in the saddle, catch up with your group, and strengthen your cycling community. Additionally, because of the potential performance benefits, stops like these have double the appeal.

Another great thing about coffee is its ability to strip away the barriers within cycling. No matter which type of bike you ride, how old you are, or where you’re from, everyone can appreciate the opportunity a coffee stop brings.

Thankfully, more and more cafés are now catering to groups of cyclists, offering things like racks for bikes to rest while they sit and drink, with some shops even offering high-caffeine “cyclist blends” to attract more mid-ride stops.

For us at Bikexchange, we love nothing more than a Sunday morning coffee to give us that extra kick for the upcoming ride.

Possible Downsides of Caffeine Consumption

cyclists at a cafe

As mentioned above, caffeine is not for everybody. Each of us responds differently to caffeine, with some people enjoying the benefits much more than others or even those people who it affects negatively.

If you’re not sure whether or not you are one of those people, you should begin taking caffeine or drinking coffee in small quantities and build up from there. Another point worth noting is that as you increase your consumption, your sensitivity generally decreases, meaning you require more to experience the same effect.

Caffeine has the potential to significantly disrupt sleep if it is consumed too late into the evening.

Even though one may be able to fall asleep, caffeine produces our ability to get deep restorative sleep during the night resulting in decreased recovery and a feeling of tiredness throughout the day. Although each person’s ability to clear caffeine from the system varies a good rule of thumb is to stop your caffeine consumption by 2 PM.

High caffeine consumption also has the ability to cause the heart to race and lead to anxiety or a feeling of unrest. This is likely down to the individual having or developing a sensitivity to it. In this case, it is important to reduce your intake and seek advice from your doctor.

All that said, These side effects and negative results of caffeine consumption are easily avoided by paying attention to your body and responding accordingly.

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