Coffee – The Life Blood of Cyclists

It seems every cyclist I know is in love with the dark aromatic drink—coffee. What is it that makes us love this bean-based beverage so much?

Is it the caffeine kick we crave to keep our legs spinning? The warming feeling when you are getting ready to brave the elements? Or is it tradition, and part of a long running café culture in our sport?

In this post, I look at the natural stimulant that makes so many of us tick. I try to find out what it is that really makes coffee as valuable as liquid gold for many two-wheeled enthusiasts.



Stimulate and Motivate

We cyclists like to see ourselves as a hardy bunch—often rising at dawn to train throughout the year or pitching up camp in wild and remote places on our bicycling tours.

Those brisk mornings are often a struggle. It can be a challenge to pluck up the willpower and strength needed to pull heavy legs from under the duvet or sleeping bag and get them turning those crank-arms.

A fresh coffee supplies a unique source of motivation. Warming you from the inside, it stimulates the mind to be alert as you skid round those icy winter corners by the local farmyard and get out of the saddle on the first climb of the day.

For me, a coffee before a ride is almost mandatory. It is as important as any energy drink or bar that I pop in my jersey pocket. Whether made with a V60 pour-over at home, or out in the wild using one of my Adventure Coffee Brewing Methods; a morning coffee is part of every morning ritual.

Island Roasted Coffee - Isle of Wight



Performance Enhancement

Research has investigated the beneficial effects of caffeine before and during exercise. In general, the consensus is that caffeine has a positive effect on performance—especially in endurance sports of more than 30 minutes duration.

Some research has suggested the benefits may be lessen in extremely hot climates—when the increase in core temperature has an adverse effect. But for most athletes, coffee is a good pre-ride supplement; along with a bowl of porridge and a banana.

As the body becomes more accustomed to the effects of caffeine the stimulating benefits do begin to depreciate, yet the pleasure and psychological gains remain. There are few cyclists that will discourage a coffee pre-ride, and even less that will turn down a steaming espresso mid-ride.

Island Roasted Coffee - Isle of Wight



Café Culture and The Continental Influence

Although the British well known in the world of cycling, anyone that has been to France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, or Belgium, will vouch that the real heritage of the sport lies with our Continental counterparts. Similarly, although many Brits love coffee, it was the Dutch traders that first brought the black beans to our shores.

Coffee is undeniably European in nature. So too is the café culture that has sprung up around the sport of cycling.

Many bike clubs now have a Sunday morning café-run. The café stop offers a chance to rest your legs mid-ride; as you sip espresso and enjoy a slice of cake. We can thank our Continental cousins for that match made in heaven.

For me, nothing compares to the pleasure gained from an espresso and a patisserie—consumed before climbing a legendary col.

Tim Wiggins Caffe Isola Isle of Wight



Part of Cycling Life

I started this post thinking that I might be able to narrow down what it is about coffee that I love so much; what makes it part of the oxygen-rich blood pumping round many cyclists' veins.

Yet, I do not think I can narrow it down. Coffee is quite simply a part of cycling in so many ways.

Coffee seems as important to cycling as chain oil. As embedded in its heritage as the iconic Brooks England saddle. Without it not only would many cyclists not be able to function as well, but we also would not gain as much pleasure from our sport.

So, for that reason, make yourself a steaming coffee. Embrace the tradition, and mull over how many of your special cycling memories are in some way linked to the dark and aromatic drink.

Caffe Isola Isle of Wight

Adventure Coffee

Swiss Coffee

French Coffee

Tim Wiggins Coffee

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