They say it’s not good for you. They say it’ll make you gain weight. They say it has no true purpose.
But they’re all wrong.
OK, actually, they’re pretty much mostly right, but Coca-Cola definitely does do one thing right:
IT STOPS THE BONK.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at any pro peloton, and tell me what you see them cracking into. Yup, cold cans of Coke. In fact, a few years back, I picked up a bottle thrown by a Team CSC rider in the Tour of California. It was still one-third full of brown, carbonated, sugary, cola. Yup, true story. While the pros use cola for a variety of energy-related reasons, the most useful one has to do with the sudden energy burst related with the sugar-laden, carbonated goodness. When you’re deep into your energy stores, and you’ve just hit that sunken-cheeked feeling of barely being able to tick over your easiest gear, Coke will get you home. So limp up to the nearest gas station, and grab a can or two for the road.
Why Soda Is Your Best Bet
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating replacing your fancy electrolyte drink with sodas. But if you’re in need of a boost to bring you back from the brink, Coke will give you not only quick energy, but also lift your spirits a little to help you enjoy your trip home. The sugars are a source of ultra-quick energy, the caffeine will open your airways and get you moving fast, and the sodium can help replace any salt you’ve sweated out.
Personally, Cherry Coke and I go way back. It’s something of an addiction that I can sometimes control. So there’s nothing quite like feeling vindicated in guzzling down a quick 12 ounces or so. Although it’s generally better to have adequate nutrition for your ride to prevent the bonk altogether, if you’re deep past your reserves, then soda will get you home–maybe even make you amazingly strong for a while.
But fair warning, unless you’ve bought yourself a 12-pack, the effects of one soda will only last for about 30-40 minutes–and then you’ll drop back to the bonk. So, get home quickly! Although maybe you just keep drinking and ticking off the miles. Heck, I know people who’ve run the marathon leg of an Ironman with mostly Coke to keep them going. I’m not recommending it, but it sounds like it would either cure you of your soda habit or make running somewhat worth it.
Coke: It’s Not All Bad
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating Coca-Cola to replace adequate nutrition, or as a new staple for your training. It will most likely make you bloat, and probably undo some of the work you’ve put into your training. But, in my experience racing and training, Coke can definitely be useful when you haven’t got anything else on hand. Plus, it’s not a bad recovery drink. Maybe with some nachos.
What ways do you stop the bonk? Flapjacks? Snickers bars? Let us know your secret weapons!