29 August 2016

For Hydration Purposes Only

This lady is riding a road that may or may not have been part of a Tour de France route.  And her preferred hydration substance is one that more than one TdF rider--as well as riders of other races--have used, whether on or off the bike.

Her name might give you a clue as to what she imbibed:  Madame Lily Bollinger.

Yes, that Bollinger.  And even though the bottles bearing her family name have never needed advertisement, she was not shy about extolling the virtues (or pleasures, at any rate) of their contents:

I only drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.

All things in moderation, right?  

A bottle of Bollinger is surely not the cheapest way to hydrate.  But it might be the most elegant--unless, of course, you prefer Piper-Heisdeck or Veuve-Clicquot.  (Don't ask me which is better!)  But for those whose tastes--or desire for social cachet--exceeds their budgets, there are alternatives--like beer.  Of course, if you're a hipster or live in Portland, you don't drink any ol' brew:  You have to down a "craft" beer infused with passion fruit and vanilla beans--or cacao beans, or Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans, or some other ingredient that never would have found its way into mugs of Bud' downed by denizens of a real "dive" bar.

(Curiously, given how such viticulturally rich countries as France, Italy and Spain have dominated the history of bike racing, wine doesn't seem to have flowed as freely from Specialites TA bidons as one might expect.)

But what if you do not heed the "last call for alcohol"--or the first, or any in between?  Well, as I've mentioned in earlier posts, countless cyclists--including yours truly--have partaken of "the pause that refreshes".  The great thing about Coca-Cola is that it also doubles as an energy-booster:  Back in the day, we used to call it "rocket fuel".  These days, I rarely drink it, and I never drink any other soda at all.  But once in a while, I drink the Mexican version because it's the same as the Coke I grew up drinking.

As a kid, I drank stuff that's even less likely to be found on training tables.  Hawaiian Punch is one such concoction.  When I was a NORBA member,  I knew of a few mountain bikers who also drank it.  A few even filled their Camelbaks with it--and stuffed Pop Tarts in their pockets!

Now, of course, we drank Hawaiian Punch and Coca Cola the way Madame Bollinger drank er, um, bubbly grape juice:  strictly for hydration purposes.  Just like people add Jim Beam to their hot tea for medicinal purposes.


  1. Veuve-Clicquot gives me a headache but I would rather have two or three decent brands of sparkling wine than pay for Champagne... Not sure that any of them would be any good for hydration.

  2. i believe it was Eugene Christophe who, at a post-race interview, held up his bidon and said, "In the sprint, it is the drunkest who wins."

    IIRC, his rocket fuel of choice was creme de menthe...

  3. Coline--I often wonder how many people can actually tell the difference between a good sparkling wine and champagne. Either one is probably about as good for hydration as chocolate is for lubricating bearings.

    Mike--Creme de menthe, eh? Not absinthe?

    1. Probably absinthe after a particularly rough ride...

  4. Mike--It would have to be one tough ride!