Beer & Bike Racing

Beer. I think it's delicious. There's not much I enjoy more after a long day or a hard day of racing than kicking back and enjoying a cold one. Or three. It also has a long history with the peloton.

Jaques en forme.

Jaques en forme.

Perhaps the most famous drinker in the peloton was Jaques Anquetil - he famously would eat huge meals and consume wine and champagne the nights before a race. And he'd, you know, go and win the TDF. Other drinkers have included Bradley Wiggins, and in any cyclist's memoire you'll read about some wild night that have happened in race hotel rooms.

Most every bike racer I know has different views and ways they incorporate drinking into their lives. But they tend to fall into these camps:

NON-DRINKER
These racers simply don't enjoy drinking, regardless of how it effects training.

LIGHT DRINKER
These racers enjoy drinking socially, but generally don't drink. Cutting out alcohol wouldn't have much effect on performance.

MODERATE DRINKER
These racers drink regularly, but moderately with occasional party nights. If they cut out alcohol it wouldn't effect performance but might help with weight management.

HEAVY DRINKERS
These racers enjoy drinking, drink regularly and always say yes to the next round. Cutting back on alcohol for these racers would likely help with performance as well as weight management.

Alcohol negatively effects racers by dehydrating the body, making the body less able to absorb vitamins and minerals, by making the body recover more slowly, and by adding empty calories to the diet. That said, two beers isn't going to hurt you. Two beers every night isn't going to hurt you, but you may have a little harder of a time losing those last couple lbs. 12 beers is going to make you slower, no matter who you are.

So I think the answer is enjoy your drinks however you want, up to the point that it starts making you slower. I tend to avoid drinking more during race season and during hard training sessions, and abstain the days leading up to a serious race. I don't think having a drink would hurt my chances, but I prefer to fill my body with more wholesome treats - like cereal or oatmeal. Then when I hit a recovery period or the off season ... well sure, I'll have another round!