Very enthusiastic triathletes obsess about training volume and intensity, thinking “More is Better”. But too much causes a plateau in improvement, declining performance during training and races, and worst of all: burnout.
As a piece of the puzzle, recovery is just as important, relieving your body of fatigue and allowing you to rebuild so you can get better. That’s where coffee rides come into play. But what’s a coffee ride anyway, and why should you do them?
Not Just About Drinking Coffee
Coffee rides are relaxing, slow-paced rides that don’t tax your aerobic or muscular systems, allowing your body to recover actively. It’s many experienced cyclists’ favourite kind of ride since they allow you to enjoy the social aspect of cycling with friends and getting outdoors.
True to its name, coffee rides normally start and end at a cafe. Coffee rides are best enjoyed in a small- to medium-sized group disciplined enough to hold an easy pace and allow the group to stay together. (Any time someone tries to go off the front, that’s no longer a coffee ride!)
Coffee rides should be the easiest rides in a cyclist’s week. They increase blood circulation through your legs, allowing your muscles to flush any fatigue or lactic acid buildup from more intense rides. This aids in recovery and muscle repair.
As you get older, your body needs more time to recover, so you need to adjust when to do recovery rides or take your rest days.
(There may be a tendency to overindulge in sweet treats on coffee rides, especially when the cafe has some great pastries. Moderation is key!)
Reprieve From The Stats
One of the reasons why coffee rides are great is because you can focus on enjoying the ride without having to worry about the numbers and the stats. MX Endurance member Tommy Morwood said it best: “Not all training has to be structured and tracked. It’s often really good to just get out and ride for the sheer pleasure of being with your friends and enjoying the outdoors! Coffee rides can be an excellent break from power, numbers, data and help you just rekindle your love of riding.”
Build/Maintain Fitness Base In The Off-Season
Consistency and habit in the off-season will drive your success when you start training and building into a race. Since the off-season is a cyclist’s downtime, doing coffee rides is an enjoyable way to maintain your fitness or start better habits to build a good fitness base.
MX Endurance member Robert Garren uses his coffee rides as an opportunity to ride where he doesn’t usually go. He says, “It’s something to look forward to. Nice to pick out new cafes and explore.”
Coffee rides are a part of cycling culture that should be celebrated and welcomed gladly any time they pop up in your triathlon training schedule. They allow you to meet with friends new and old, and are healing not just to the body but to the mind as well.