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What Happens When You Ride with a Hangover?

By Jiří Kaloč

Imagine you have a weekend ride planned but that Friday drink with friends gets a bit out of hand. We’ve all been there and will probably be there again. So, is it a good idea to go anyway? What happens inside the body after a night of drinking? And what can we do to survive such a ride?

One or two drinks the night before will have minimal negative, and even some positive effects on your health, and won’t adversely affect your training. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens on a Friday night gone wild. So, what are the effects of drinking too much?

Dehydration and heatstroke

Alcohol is a potent diuretic which means you will be slightly, if not very dehydrated in the morning after drinking. Even 1 – 2 % loss of fluids can have massive negative effects on performance, so be aware! This might also predispose you for heatstroke, especially in summer months and hotter climates.


Weakened immunity

Your body is working hard to recover in the morning following a night of drinking. This negatively affects your immune system and your ability to fight off infections. Keep that in mind when making the decision to go for a ride.

Stiff legs

Drinking causes a buildup of lactic that can make your legs feel pretty stiff and heavy before you even get on your bike. You might be quite surprised during the first few minutes of trying to move the bike forward, but don’t let that discourage you.
Yes, go for it!

While this all sounds quite scary and the idea of being cozy, watching TV shows, and having your feet up is very tempting, you shouldn’t give up. Going for a bike ride can make all the difference. The fresh air, sunshine, and movement itself will kick-start your recovery and help sort out your digestion and headache. Just be careful if you’re still intoxicated when you wake up, that’s not a good state to go riding a bike in.


Rehydrate first

The first goal should always be rehydration. Start you hangover day with one or two bottles of water, ideally with electrolytes to best replenish what you’ve lost. Depending on how much you overate while drinking, you might have a very light or no breakfast before your recovery ride.

Easy Pace, High Cadence

Save the hard efforts for later in the day or the next day, once you’ve eaten, rehydrated, and recovered. In the morning it’s best to go for a very light ride. Keep your pace easy and your cadence high. That way you’ll flush out the lactic acid and will be able to enjoy a light recovery ride.