TeamCBC Cycling Tip – How Bad is Alcohol for Cycling Performance?

A few years ago, I attended a 2-day Stress Management class required for our corporate executives. Not surprisingly, the topic of alcohol was discussed. The instructor used data from a triathlete to illustrate the results. It demonstrated the negative effect of alcohol on your heart rate, your recovery, and how well you function the following day.

After drinking alcohol, your body tries to get rid of it, starting with your liver. At best, this process delays your recovery and, at worse, it keeps your heart rate elevated half the night and you don’t recover nearly enough. You may sleep, but your body doesn’t rest. Alcohol also reduces the amount of REM sleep, which benefits learning, memory, and mood.

In the attached video, the GCN cyclists ride a course at maximum effort. A few days later, they attempt the same course again, but this time they have several drinks the night before. The results are that their times are slower, their power output is less and their heart rates are higher.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t drink. Like they say, everything in moderation. However, don’t drink too late in the evening which we tend to do after evening rides. For each drink you imbibe, wait one hour before going to sleep. Also, since alcohol is a diuretic, drink lots of water to prevent from being dehydrated.

Quote of the week: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

Here is an article with more information:

Here is a GCN video comparing performance with and without alcohol:

Stay safe!

Rick Bunnell

President, TeamCBC