Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Baguette and a Coke

My favorite mid-ride fuel is undoubtedly a baguette and a Coke.

Coke has a long history with cycling, and it's one of those things that is such a part of the culture of the sport that it defies logic.  At one time it was considered a sports drink, but has fallen out of favor as more advanced electrolyte beverages have become available over the last twenty or so years.

I remember being on a long training ride with some college friends and we stopped about 65 miles in.  My friend Nate bought a Coke and poured it directly into his water bottle.  I was mortified.  Nate was (and still is) a guy I admire greatly- he's committed to the sport, has worked his way up to being a regional elite racer, trains hard, doesn't talk smack and has background in sports training and nutrition.  So what the hell was he doing with a Coke?

The answer is similar to the reason why cycling caps are always made from cotton.  Even though there are theoretically better options out there it's part of the culture of the sport.  You can buy Gatorade as newbies always do, but if you need a little extra in the last part of a ride you get a Coke.  It's definitely bad form to start a ride with Coke in your bottle, it's only mostly through or immediately after.

There's nothing wrong with Gatorade, but it's the beverage equivalent of the greatest hits album- it has what should be the right combination of all of the right elements, but somehow when taken out of its original context is just not the same.  You'd never admit that your favorite Pink Floyd album is Echoes, would you?

And then there's the baguette.  Every hard ride during last year's France trip (which was all of them since I was chasing Wayward) featured a stop at a Patisserie or Boulangerie.  Good bread was so abundant that it quickly became a standing assumption that in any small town we could stop at a bakery that would have a great selection of high quality baked goods for small dollars. 

Here in the US good bakeries are fewer and farther between, and those of quality usually charge top dollar.  Sometimes you can find a true baguette, and when you do it's a win.  Whether you split it with a friend or inhale half and stuff the other half in a jersey pocket doesn't matter.  Just enjoy it and make sure you make that your regular refueling stop every time you pass through.  

By necessity that baguette gets replaced by peanut butter crackers, or worse yet a dastardly Pop Tart.  It's all fine really, and certainly better than hitting the wall, but I'd prefer a baguette.

And always with a Coke to wash it down.


  1. Not even a proper Coke either- it's a special Christmas can leftover.