Coffee and Cycling, a Winning Combination!

In it’s natural form, caffeine is a somewhat bitter, xanthine alkaloid that works as a great stimulant. Previously, caffeine was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which had set a limit of approximately 8 shots of espresso a day.Its always been a favourite of mine however on my commute to work by bicycle! This was until 2004, when they lifted this limit to allow the stimulant as a legal performance enhancing drug.

Several high profile individuals have been busted using drugs for cycling, which made the sport especially dirty. Thanks to the much safer caffeine alternative, cycling has made a drastic improvement for the better. The pair go hand in hand, like two sides of the same coin, or like Fred and Ginger.

While many cyclists get their fix from flat coke and tea, most take it from what some people refer to as coffee-based beverages. The professional cyclist leaning against a counter while on a bike in the depart sponsor area of the Tour de France is the trademark cyclist and coffee money shot. But there is a deeper connection between caffeine and cycling. In the 1960s, Faema – an Italian manufacturer of espresso machines – sponsored a professional cycling team in a bid to promote their innovative machines. The E61 espresso maker in particular, came with features that are still found in modern machines including a mechanical pump that delivers pressurized water at about nine bars.

This cycling team, which was sponsored by Faema between 1956 and 1970, included star riders like Vittorio Adorni (world champion and Giro d’Italia winner) and Rik Van Looy (king of the classics). Even the great Eddy Merckx wore a Faema shirt for his first victory in the 1968 Tour de France. In fact, while the official acronym for Faema is Fabbrica Apparecchiature Elettromeccaniche e Affini, fans would humorously refer to it as Faites Attention, Eddy Merckx Arrive (alert, Eddy Merckx has arrived!).

Again, around the 1990’s,Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (a business cooperative) funded a Latin American cycling team, which saw Luis Herrera take the Vuelta a España cup home under theCafe de Colombia team in 1987. Italian home espresso machine maker – Saeco – also sponsored a professional cycling team in the 1990s, which was headed by sprint legend Mario Cipollini.

Many professional cyclists today are coffee experts, which goes to show that coffee and cycling simply go together. The morning cup provides enough energy boost for the first few hours of riding. Cruisy days call for easy coffee shop spins, whether you are in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Australia, or America. It is often normal to come across a seamless road bike belonging to either a professional or amateur cyclist parked outside a bike shop.

In the UK, the world of coffee and cycling also comes together in the increasing number of bike cafes. For instance, there is Lock7 and Look Mum No Hands in London, and Mud Dock cafe in Bristol. But the Velopresso is perhaps the most complete representation of coffee and cycling fusion, which is basically a pedal-operated espresso trike. The idea was born from 2Royal College of Art students (based in London) as a graduation project, which Lasse Oiva and Amos Field Reid now aim to put into production.

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