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Back to Basics – Beer and Shots

By Jiri Kaloc

Alcohol and professional cycling don’t mix well. But it wasn’t always that way. Various types of alcoholic beverages were very popular among cycling pros in the first half of the 20th century. Let’s look at the reasons why they chose to drink beer, wine, champagne, and even hard alcohol back then.

Who needs sports drinks?

Cycling pros used to regularly drink alcohol during races, from beer to wine to champagne. During the 17th stage of the 1935 Tour, nearly the entire peloton took a break to booze with locals. It was not considered unusual. Cyclists drank for hydration, to dull the pain, and to have a more fun ride. Beer is at least 90 % water so it can hydrate, replenish minerals, and provide energy too. As long as riders drank very moderately, beer was a good source of refreshment, with no unwanted side effects.

Why so much beer?

Beer was an essential part of the carnival atmosphere and for those whose work demanded physical strength it was regarded as an important part of their diet. That’s why at the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th, alcoholic beverages were also widely used during athletic events. Cycling races had no feeding stations back then, so when drinking something offered by a spectator, beer was the safer option for a rider than water taken from a local well. During the brewing process, water is boiled and therefore sterilized.


Recipe: Citrus Mint Vodka Spritzer

There’s no reason to rely on beer today but why not do it the old school way for once. Have a few beers or a mixed drink while cycling and see for yourself how it affects your performance. This drink only takes 15 minutes of prep time and yields four big portions. Just be sure to share with your buddies so you can still handle your bike safely.


• ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• ¼ cup freshly squeeze lime juice
• 2 cups cold-pressed orange juice
• ¼ cup honey
• cup sparkling water
• 2/3 cup vodka
• bundle of mint leaves
• lime and orange slices, for garnish


1. Juice both lemons and limes.
2. Blend together orange, lime, and lemon juice with the honey in a high speed blender until honey is completely dissolved.
3. Pour mixture into a glass pitcher then add in sparkling water and vodka and mix to combined.
4. Muddle mint in a glass to brighten the flavours, then add ice and lime and orange slices then pour mixture into glass! Enjoy responsibly!

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