Its tradition in many cycling groups to stop at a café half way round. But if you’re a triathlete or a cyclist training for an event you may be wondering how will this affect your training. And what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a café stop.

Part of the fun of riding in a group is the social aspect to it and having a café stop is a key part of this.  It can help break up the ride into more manageable chunks and gives the ride a destination. Also being able to eat some real food at a café can help with managing energy and nutrition on a longer ride as well as helping with a more comfortable call of nature. If your objective is a long aerobic endurance ride to get some miles in a café stop works well and helps to keep cycling fun.

Many people are not fond of café stops because of getting cold which can be a real problem in winter.  A tip If you’re stopping in the winter is to take a dry base layer, vest or hat with you in your back pocket to help avoid getting cold during or after the stop.

Another complaint is stiffening up making it hard to get going after the stop. A tip for dealing with this is to start of slowly after the stop and spin your legs back into action.

Of course if you have family commitments or are a triathlete with other sessions to complete then having a café stop adds unnecessary time and drags out your training.

So how about the actual training? Ideally your training will replicate the demands of your race, and if you’re a triathlete you’re unlikely to be stopping at a café for beans on toast during your race. So it makes sense for your key rides not to include a café stop in training.  This will be particularly relevant during build periods, during the race season or of course if you’re racing sprint and Olympic distance events your rides are likely to be shorter and higher intensity.  Riding without stopping will also help you to get used to how much energy you need on the bike and gives you the opportunity to practice eating and drinking on the move.

It also depends on your goals and your athlete history.  If you’re training for your first Ironman with a goal to complete and enjoy the race then using a café stop throughout your training for long rides can be a great way to get the training done. However, if you’re on your 5th Ironman aiming for a faster time, or an Olympic Distance athlete going to the World Championships then your training needs to be more specific.  You’re likely to be riding at higher intensities and are much less likely to include a café stop.

Of course it also depends on what you enjoy and how dedicated you are. But you’ll guess that I’m a firm believer that sport should be fun……so a bike ride is ruined without a good café stop!

My favourite café is:  Post  your favourite café in our facebook group.