Effects of Caffeine on Bike Riding:

Sep, 2020
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Caffeine is considered an elixir for life. It is the world’s number 1 consumed stimulant. In a survey in 2019, It was found that coffee drinkers in Canada use to quaff an average of 2.8 cups daily. For most of us, a dose of coffee is necessary to help us set our way through the workday, and for some, it is a perfect beverage when catching up with friends and family. In short, caffeine is been ingrained in our culture strongly. The same is the case with the bike riders, frequent coffee stops are the central part of biking for many of the cyclists.

It is fair to say that all cyclists love coffee. However, there are a lot of myths about caffeine and biking, whether it exhibits any positive effects on the performance or not. Let’s find out together the effects of caffeine on bike riding.

What is Caffeine and what exactly it does in the body?

It is a natural psychoactive drug, found in our normal diet and foodstuffs. It works as a stimulant that works on the central nervous system as well as the muscular system.

Caffeine is an Adenosine antagonist, which means it stops Adenosine receptors from binding. In simple words, Adenosine is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is formed as a result of ATP (Adenosine tri phosphate) breakdown by the help of certain chemical enzymes. 

In normal conditions, Adenosine stores in the brain receptor as a result of ATP metabolism. This accumulated adenosine causes drowsiness. When caffeine enters the system it temporarily blocks the Adenosine receptors from activating. Hence it keeps you away from feeling sleepy.

Can caffeine enhance athletic performance?

Caffeine is no doubt an ergogenic aid  but it should be used properly for best results. it does not only help you get going in the morning or pound evening sluggishness but it has proven to be more useful in terms of improving your athletic performance

How does caffeine improve bike riding?

It is well-known that caffeine produces positive effects on athletic performance. But the exact amount to use for bringing out the best results varies from person to person and their genes.  Despite the former WADA ban (the world Anti Doping Agency) between 1984-2004 on high doses of caffeine consumption for athletes. It is still used for powerful ergogenic effects by most athletes especially bike riders.

They are found to consume a normal dose of a cup or two that constitutes about 3-6 mg of caffeine/kg. the question is how it works to increase performance. The answer is, caffeine enhances the alertness and focus by adjusting the central fatigue.

The other mechanism is by high levels of fat consumption that happens due to vigorous muscle movement during biking.  This results in additional muscle glycogen and improved performance.

What should be the amount consumed to gain positive effects during biking?

The average amount of caffeine required to produce improved effects ranges between 3 to 6 mg/kg of body mass. Let me give you an example to better understand:

An athlete who weighs 75kg consumes 225mg of caffeine at the rate of 3 mg/kg

Similarly, if the same athlete utilizes caffeine in limits of higher ranges then he is consuming almost 450mg of caffeine.

However, it important to know that the effects of caffeine are different in different individuals. This means that for some people consuming the normal dose doesn’t guarantee the aimed effects. This is also important to realize that increasing the dose is not always beneficial. A general criterion is, if 200 mg is not enough for you to achieve the desired effects then it will not work for you in any way, even 300mg or 400mg will not enhance your biking performance any further.

What is the best time to ingest caffeine?

The best time to consume caffeine is about one hour before the bike ride. Caffeine is found to get absorbed quickly and can attain its highest level in just 1 to 2 hours and remains in the body for several hours.

Although caffeine produces sustained effects in the body, bike riders take a coffee break during the ride to maintain the caffeine levels in the bloodstream. There are some other ways to consume caffeine such as gels or energy chews. Most of the bike riders frequently consume additional caffeine through long rides.

Caffeine also helps to improve recovery from a long ride or exercise. It has been shown to replenish glycogen levels rapidly post-workout.

What are the side effects of caffeine on biking?

coffee beans

it is crucial to know that overdoses of caffeine can cause extreme harm than good. The usual side effects that can occur on a dose of 9mg/kg or more include anxiety, jitters, inability to focus, gastrointestinal disturbance, insomnia, irritability, cardiac arrhythmias, and mild hallucinations.

Moreover, it can be addictive and it can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms if you stop the consumption just like in the case of any psychoactive drug. As per Mayo clinic if the amount of caffeine consumption exceeds 400mg then it will result in headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and even death in higher doses. Although high dose side effect does not occur with drinks, overdosage of powdered caffeine and tablets can cause fatal adverse effects.

Another side effect of caffeine consumption is that it inhibits the uptake of certain nutrients. Mostly for athletes especially for bike riders caffeine hinders the iron absorption up to 90%.

Caffeine is shown to affect the metabolism of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B, and Manganese.

Fortunately, all the above side effects are temporary and reversible. Consumption of caffeine in moderate amounts reduces the risk of unwanted effects.

The most common side-effect of caffeine is sleep disturbance. It is also shown to reduce the quality of night sleep if consumed in the late hours of the day.

How to gain maximum benefit from caffeine?

First up test the different quantities of caffeine to evaluate how your body is responding. Because the effects of caffeine are extremely variable. Hence no specific dose will work for everyone. Genes play a vital role in this case, so for some people caffeine can not help them at all.

Decease/ stop the use of caffeine 7 days before any important event or bike race

Calculate the suitable amount after training or take the standard amount of 3-6 mg/kg before 60 min of a routine bike ride.

Stock up on caffeinated sports drinks, gels, or energy chews before leaving for long bike rides.

What are some tips for bike riding with caffeine?

If you are consuming caffeine to enhance the biking performance then tolerance is a key factor to achieve desired benefits. In simpler words, if you are already ingesting a large amount of caffeine then it’s ideal to decrease your overall daily dose of caffeine right from the start of the training.

However, sudden abstain can negatively affect your training, therefore, it is important to gradually decrease the consumption level. Most of us are already caffeinated so any change in the routine should be evaluated by keeping this fact in mind.

Tracking time:

As the caffeine reaches its highest level in the system after an hour of consumption so it wise to postpone the ingestion until the ride to attain the best effects.

A high dose at the initiation of the ride does not provide help till the end, therefore it is recommended to consume frequent and small doses.

Minimum effective amount:

Keep in mind that repeated small doses can cause sleep disturbances. Therefore, keep track of the amount of ingested caffeine. As for bike riders or any athlete quality night sleep is essential and disruption of sleep can lead to poor biking performance.

So you should always aim for a minimally effective dose.

Mode of administration:

Finally, the most important consideration when using caffeine for improving performance is the route of administration. Most of the sportsmen take in the form of a capsule as some studies show that coffee reduces the ergogenic effects of the caffeine.

Similarly, be extremely cautious when consuming pills and powders as they are prone to overdose. Controlled intake such as gels is a better option to take caffeine in minimum dose to attain the targeted performance.

Finally grab a Coffee for yourself & Checkout Foster’s Sports Centre:

Satisfy your craving for a dose of Caffeine with the best coffee available at Bank ST, Ottawa. While you are in the area, visit our store Foster’s Sports Centre where you can walk in on any day, check out some bikes, and walk out with a new bike. 

We have been serving the local bicycle community for over 50 years and have had the pleasure of outfitting entire families with bicycles and sporting equipment.

Our skilled and experienced mechanics ensure that your bike stays in perfect condition to let you enjoy your ride to the fullest. Be it basic maintenance or some major adjustments, we are here to address all your concerns, assess your bike thoroughly, and provide you with the best bike service in Ottawa.