COFFEE & CYCLING – Do they make Happy Bedfellows?

The satirical Cycling Widow explores commonplace drugs which too often fall under the cyclist’s radar…  [A short piece adapted from a book in the Cycling Widows series by Alannah Foley.]

Given the vast amount of deaths, the dismal stories, and the dodgy side effects reported over the years at the hands of drugs, it’s easy for the Cycling Widow, at least, to see that such drug-taking activities should be avoided.  However, due to their headline-grabbing nature, it’s also easy for more commonplace drugs to fall under the radar.  In the original book from which this article has been taken, I demonstrated how drugs such as nicotine, alcohol and coffee can pose unwitting threats to riders.  Today, we shall touch only on coffee.

Now, you’ve probably just done a double-take at that statement, haven’t you?  Why on earth would anyone mention these drugs – it’s not as if they’re in the same league as EPO or testosterone, now, is it?  Well, I hope you’ll bear with me as I delve in a little deeper and explain my rationale here.  By the time I’m finished, you’ll see that, whilst coffee, nicotine and alchol may be law-abiding, these substances are far more insidious than they may first appear, often proving to be a hazardous, and sometimes lethal, combination to both the drug-taker and those around him.

So, you’re on the Sunday club ride keeping pace in the peloton as you whoosh by pedestrians out walking and jogging…  All seems to be going along smoothly until you realise one of the riders with a stonking hangover has got the shakes – not only from the booze in his veins but the copious amounts of caffeine he’s downed that morning, thus making him an unsteady candidate on the road.

Importantly, it is recommended that a rider not partake of coffee and cycling at the same time.  But our jittery cyclist is craving more.

Should a rider be reckless enough to try drinking a hot beverage on a bike, this would leave only one hand perched on the handlebars.  What’s more, takeaway coffee can be surprisingly hot, the scalding temperature not always apparent due to the thick, insulating properties of the paper cups generally provided.  So just imagine how hazardous the situation would be if a rider were to take a sip and inadvertently suffer the blistering shock of a lip-burn.  He’d be lashing out in pain, likely to jettison steaming-hot liquid all over his fellow riders.  If such a rogue biker were slap-bang in the middle of a peloton, not only would they have a flailing cyclist on their hands, ready to topple fellow riders like skittles in a bowling alley, but liquid spillage lining the route would cause the added danger of slippage, especially with thin road-bike tyres entering the mix.

If you transfer this same scene to the pavé routes of Belgium, the danger is magnified, with the smooth cobblestones making the riding surface even more slippery.  From this, I’m sure you can infer that a trip to check out the Tour of Flanders route is better celebrated with a blond beer post-race than a hot cappuccino along the route.  Take the latter course of action and a rider will not make friends!

Unfortunately, coffee is often seen as a good boost to cycling, ‘naturally’ enhancing performance.  Caffeine is not only condoned, but actively encouraged by wider society, with outlets for the drug peppering every high street, making it readily available both day and night, giving the impression that it is not only acceptable but safe.

But, as we’ve seen here today, combining coffee and cycling is a risky business!

As always, though, I say that knowledge is power.  And if you’re a Cycling Widow, you are now in a position to use your discretion to do your bit and ensure your spouse’s safety wherever you are able.

Some addictions can be cured.  Others, like cycling, and bike porn just have to be managed.

Good luck to Cycling Widows everywhere with that!

*  *  *

This has been a short piece adapted from the satirical book, Cycling Widows 2, by Alannah Foley.  To read more, why not get the complete Cycling Widows Collection?

Cycling Widows books

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You can also visit he author’s website direct for more information on the Cycling Widow’s website at


About Alannah Foley

Alannah Foley... aka 'The Pyjama Writer' Author of Light Mysteries, Short Fiction, Travel Tales, and more... To find out more go to
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