How alcohol can affect your riding

Stay in control and responsible in the saddle

In many countries it’s an offence to ride a bike under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control. Any amount of alcohol affects judgement and while a swift half is unlikely to cause major impairment, moderation is wise if you’re riding home from the pub.

Alcohol is cleared from the body at about one unit per hour (although this varies from person to person). Drink more than eight units and there may be enough alcohol in your blood the next morning to make riding risky.

Alcohol is calorific — a pint of beer contains about 180 calories, a 175ml glass of wine 160

What are the short term effects?

Drinking alcohol can result in dehydration due to its diuretic effects. This can be aggravated by sweating, which reduces performance and increases the risk of overheating.

The liver has to work hard to break down the alcohol and its toxins, so it is unable to release glycogen — an essential source of glucose for energy.

What are the longer term effects?

Alcohol is calorific — a pint of beer contains about 180 calories, a 175ml glass of wine 160.

It also interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and break down fat. Excess alcohol can also have negative effects on heart rate, muscle growth and recovery from injury.

Guidelines suggest a maximum of 14 units per week and no more than four units per day for men, three units per day for women — one unit equals a single measure of spirits, half a pint of lager or two-thirds of a 125ml glass of wine.

Adding at least two dry days a week will mean enjoying the odd tipple doesn’t undo all your hard work.

See drinkaware.co.uk, alcohol.gov.au or health.gov for more info.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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