A thermal mug that fits in your bottle cage is the greatest gift you can give yourself this winter, and I feel like an idiot for not realising this sooner.
I’ve been riding bikes through the winter for years, supping at a near-frozen bidon of Baltic water and lamenting its glacial output, but never really addressing the problem.
I did briefly experiment with putting hot tea in an insulated bottle of the kind normally used to keep drinks chilled in summer. However, quaffing Lady Grey from a rubbery nozzle just felt gross, giving me a sense of unease much like the one I get when a well-meaning houseguest serves my morning Twinings in a mug I have mentally designated as coffee-only. You can’t cross the streams, okay?
Anyway, distributor Moore Large recently sent me some ETC bike lights (the ETC Watchman appears here), and included in the box was a small thermal mug with a flip-up top.
It’s unclear whether this thing is actually designed for on-bike use and indeed its tapered shape means it rattles in some bottle cages, but I soon fell into a habit of filling it with coffee for chilly rides, and good grief it is wonderful.
I’ve never been a particular fan of winter cafe stops for the simple reason that I don’t like warming down in the middle of a ride. Heading back out on the road after getting too comfortable indoors is a physical trauma my slight frame can do without.
In any case, the UK is in (another) Covid lockdown right now, and that means cafes are very much closed.
With my new mug, I can smugly roll to a halt, smugly extract a chocolate biscuit from my bar bag – I’m a bar bag guy now, too – before washing it down smugly with a delicious filter coffee I smugly made myself at home.
If there’s a downside to this, it’s that I need to urinate approximately seven million times on every ride, but it’s totally worth it for the joy of drinking coffee on the move.
There’s nothing nicer than pausing for a quiet moment in the forest on a gravel ride, coffee cup in hand.
Before you comment, I’m aware all of this is blindingly obvious. Who would have thought consuming hot liquids would be pleasant in cold weather? And that the technology exists to transport them by bicycle?
Indeed, the drum-up was part and parcel of the traditional club ride for many years – the cafe stop may even be a relatively new phenomenon – but when I got into riding the custom had all but died out.
Now that I’m hooked, I’ve decided I need a mug that fits better in cages, so the nice people at 2Pure are sending me an Earthwell Roaster mug, which I’m told is the right size – thanks to Instagram follower and friend of BikeRadar @zetlandcycles for the tip.
I’m optimistic this stylish vacuum flash will only burnish my gravelista credentials.
Are you a fan of hot beverage portage? Do you have a favourite mug for the bike? Let me know your thoughts below.