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This is why you shouldn’t be drinking and riding

By Jan Krejca

Everybody is familiar with the sentence: „I´m carbo loading!“ But along loading the calories come plenty of questions that hurt our brains when talks come little bit closer to alcohol and cycling. Can drinking beer boost your performance or help replenish fluids? We asked an expert to get definitive answers to these questions.

Me, couple of beers and personal freedom statement

So, what makes so many people think it’s OK to drink and ride? Simple thoughts are moving us forward, so if you never thought that driving a car after couple of beers is a problem, it doesn´t make you reconsider the situation when you jump on bike. The first alarm would be your conscience saying, „Can I be a danger to other people?” Sure you can, even if you not driving 60 km/h. Why? Ask your body…

A party bike, pedibus, cycle pub, beer bike, or bierbike is a multi-passenger human powered vehicle

Cycling is, of course, very complex activity. It´s another task that requires balance, coordination and being able to respond quickly and accurately. The result of a decision to ride a bike under alcohol influence could be lethaly bad. Almost 25% of autopsies worldwide show traces of alcohol in the body within three hours after the accidents. But if not even the law and common sense won’t persuade you not to drink and drive/ride, just consider the following paragraph.

Beer won’t help your performance. You’ll just get fat

How bad is alcohol in relation to cycling performance? Well…some of this information might make you feel depressed – beer is not a magical potion, which helps you become Peter Sagan. I think we all have heard the “I am carbo loading” in relation to having that delicious cold beer. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. What actually happens when you start drinking any type of alcohol is that your liver spends all of its energy trying to remove alcohol from your bloodstream; it no longer has the capacity to convert glucose into glycogen.

Young men drinking beer, Bavaria, Germany

Glycogen is a major energy source that your body uses to pedal that bicycle. It is generally quite depleted after a ride and should be replenished by consuming carbohydrates. Since your liver is busy trying to clean the alcohol from your system and is unable to convert the glucose to glycogen, your body has to do something else with it. I’ll give you one guess – fat. Yup, that glucose will now be stored as fat. So, to be more realistic, we should actually be saying “I am fat loading.”

Expert: “It’s nonsense to believe that alcohol will help you!”

We asked one of the most respected professionals in this field in the Czech Republic – PaedDr. Emil Bolek, CSc, to give us his opinion on alcohol and cycling. He is working with people interested in their body recovery and overall fitness so he was our number one choice. So, are you prepared to test the strength of your beliefs?

Young men drinking beer

First – I’ve always believed I can refuel fluids from beer. Wrong idea? Seems like it: „This is certainly no truth at all. Drinking alcohol, beer included, is not recommended even for recreational sports. It may greatly affect the performance of athletes in a negative sense. Especially for cyclists the alcohol is very dangerous, because it can not only jeopardize their own health, but used in traffic can endanger others,” says Emil Bolek.

Tall Bike Jousting At The 'Dead Baby' Downhill Party

OK then, but I’ve heard that beer includes nutrients, which help you ride better. „Beer contains no nutrients that would promote stable performance, only threatens the health and concentration of the biker. Consumption of beer is decreasing the oxygen supply and raises higher contents of unbreathable dioxine in the body. In large doses it’s manifested as a typical alcoholic sleep.”

„In my personal view – thinking of alcohol as a benefit is the same as thinking about eating pork to cure a cardiovascular disease.” And that really doesn’t make any sense.