What's the deal with coffee & cycling?

New Rules: It's Coffee Ride Season

Written by Senta Scarborough

Here at Fierce Hazel, we adore cycling and coffee. And coffee and cycling. I mean, who doesn't? Now is the season of crisp days, perfect bike rides, and cups of warm coffee with friends. As the off-season approaches for many riders, we think it's time for a new bike season: Coffee Ride Season! We can think of no better way to enjoy a chilly ride than with a pit stop at your favorite café for a steamy cup of caffeinated love.

Good ole java brings us all together. At the start, middle or end of a ride, no matter what your speed or your route, no matter if you're in Los Angeles, Austin, or Paris—everyone enjoys some coffee and chit-chat. 

And it's not all talk. The caffeinated brew has many health benefits for all cyclists—lowering blood sugar, boosting brain and heart health, and, yes, it can even help power your legs.

Chugging a cup of Joe before a ride can increase circulation, alertness, muscle strength and even lower your pain threshold. This means you can go harder and longer, all the while our bodies are turning fat into fuel. According to research from Harvard Medical School, it can even reduce your risk of depression by nearly one-third. 

Coffee and cycling form a great duo—just like our Tour de Fierce Ultralight Cycling Case is designed to complement every cycling adventure. Especially a casual coffee ride with friends. Use the weatherproof case as a wallet—it will fit most phones, your credit card, a mask, and much more. Or use it as a tool case, so you'll be prepared for whatever the day brings your way.

Cycling and coffee are always the perfect blend and have become quite intertwined. Over the past two decades, an increase in coffee shops and the popularity of cycling has transformed into a host of specialty or cycling-inspired coffee shops worldwide. 

Kjeld Clark, co-owner of à bloc coffee shop in Los Angeles, took us on a ride down history lane of coffee and cycling. In fact, à bloc derives its name from the cycling term for riding as hard as possible. Fierce!

A lifelong cyclist, Clark explains that in the early days of the Tour de France there was no real food or drink support for on-route riders.

Cyclists would roll into small towns "swooping into cafes and bars, grabbing bottles of wine, beer and espresso to stave off the dreaded 'bonk,' a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy." Coffee and espresso, he says, would fortify them from the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.

"It was thought at the time that caffeine increased fat metabolism and glycogen preservation. These days the scientific consensus is suggesting that caffeine may lower an athlete's perception of effort, allowing them to maintain a higher level of output, meaning that the effects of caffeine may allow them to go harder than they otherwise would," Clark says.

Coffee and professional road cycling were so intertwined that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) set a precautionary limit on coffee consumption to eight shots of espresso per day. Luckily, that was lifted in 2004.

The open road has always been a home for high energy junkies, nature lovers, and freedom seekers—a place to enjoy the best of life, the great outdoors, and community—a well-balanced life.

Coffee and cycling, for many riders, is "a delicious and invigorating ritual start out on any ride." For others, it's a mid-ride stop or a post-ride treat. Before the advent of "coffee shops," Clark used to fire up his stove-top 'Bialetti Espresso Maker' to fuel his rides.

"I love coffee because it's a beautiful blend of agriculture, science, engineering and art. I often say that making coffee is like taking photographs, there's no wrong way, but when you get all the elements right, everyone knows it," Clark says.

Clark's Highland Park coffee house is home to local cycling enthusiasts, serving up local and specialty roasts including Corsa Pro Coffee

"Coffee and cycling have always been linked for me ever since I came to Los Angeles. It's a time to fuel up for a ride, and socialize after the ride—it creates community, which was a huge part of why we wanted to start Corsa Pro," says Jaime De La Cruz, co-owner of Corsa Pro Coffee

The idea for Corsa Pro came when De La Cruz and his wife, Susan, returned from a cycling trip to Europe and South America in 2016. Once home, they realized their favorite parts of the trip involved exploring cultures and meeting people over coffee.

"Italy has been particularly influential for us. Not only it is the home to major cycling brands, but also the home of European coffee culture," De La Cruz says. "In Italy, you can see that it is a part of the lifestyle there to have an espresso before and after the rides with your friends. This is also something that Los Angeles has—a strong cycling community that connects through coffee. Not only do we love coffee, but we love the community that cycling has built for us in Los Angeles and coffee is a huge part of that." 

Stay tuned for our next piece: "What's the deal with cyclists and beer?" 

Senta Scarborough is an award-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated producer.  She is the founder of Sentamatic Media focusing primarily on screenwriting, journalism and non-fiction projects. Her work has appeared in Adweek, Into, USA Today, E! News, US Weekly Magazine and Asheville Poetry Review, among others. She is a lifetime member of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist’s Association where she served as a board director for two terms. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California Riverside/Palm Desert. 
Find her on social media @sentascar

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