long distance cyclist
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Fremont, CA
Bikes: 1992 Cannondale 3.0 (primary), 1999 Reynolds Wishbone Recumbent (secondary), 1996 Raleigh M300 (beater)
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The article DXchulo posted states it pretty well and confirms my own personal experience. I have counted to date 7 experiences where I was "in trouble" and Coke / Pepsi has "saved" me, whereas Gatorade, Cytomax, sports gels, energy bars, V8, Cup-O-Noodles, etc. could not. Most of these experiences have been during double centuries or some of the longer triathlons. Note however that I completely abstain from cola or coffee otherwise (even when training or during endurance events where I'm not "in trouble") so my caffeine sensitivity is very high and good for "emergencies"...
I also have 3 friends from the local tri club who are also pretty hardcore and they swear by Coke / Pepsi too. The official Ironman triathlons will always have cola available during the run leg.
I first read about the Coke phenomenon in Greg Lemond's book (written in the 80's). (Unfortunately I gave away my book so I can't put down an exact quote.) I also seem to recall Lance Armstrong saying (in the early 90's, before he became a spokesman for Coke's Dasani) that Coke is what he would reach for first when he was in trouble. Miguel Indurain was particularly famous for having this big red Coke water bottle (which looked rather unaerodynamic!) attached to the downtube of his time-trial bike but wait, maybe Coca-cola was one of his or Le Tour's sponsors...