Monster v. Joe: A Scientific Study

For months, a question has been burning in my mind. What is the better cycling performance enhancer? Coffee or Monster? The answer to this question was not to be found in the New England Journal of Medicine. There was only one thing left to do. For the sake of science, I decided to taunt my hypertensive tendencies and do my own side-by-side comparison.

The horsepower touted by the 16 oz Monster was impressive…2000mg Taurine, 400mg Ginseng, and 5000mg of Energy Blend( Caritine, Glucose, Caffeine, Guarana, Inositol, Glucuronolactone, and Maltodextrin). Sh#t if that doesn’t make you go faster what the heck will?

Price at 7-11 = $2.59

16 oz cup of joe…300 mg of caffeine and water. Yawn.

Refill at 7-11 = $.85.

Seemed like a mismatch but there was only one way to find out….

I dug my heart rate monitor out from beneath my iPod , some cigar butts, Little Debbie wrappers, and a couple of beer cans and prepared to conduct my study.

The study consisted of 15 mile rides on The Road To Nowhere (this is what Mike and I have nicknamed our stationary recumbent). There was a 5 minute warm up followed by ten 1-minute sprints spaced 3 minutes apart and then a sustained time trial pace until the odometer read 15 miles. Tension would be set at a 6 on a 0-10 dial.

Wednesday morning was the control of the study. I drank a glass of water and hopped on The Road To Nowhere. Good effort. 47min59sec. Broke my old record of 48min30sec. This record had stood since the last time it was too freakin’ cold to ride outside. I hit a top speed of 24.9 and a max heart rate of 177. This was one of my better rides ever on the TRTN.

Thursday morning I chugged a 16oz Monster and began to wonder…”What would be the effects?” Monster has been my beloved pre-race beverage and confidence builder. Monster was to me what spinach was to Popeye. Was this a psychological crutch or was there some validity to Monster’s energy claims?

I strapped on my heart rate monitor and hopped on TRTN to begin my quest for the answer. The first two sprints I felt maybe a slightly superhuman but the TRTN dash and my heart rate monitor disputed this. A measly 168 HR and 24.6mph. Then, the third sprint came…the dash of the TRTN recorded a number never achieved before…29.1 mph. In the 10 years Mike and I have owned the TRTN, such a speed has never been recorded.

My God…the Monster is for real!

On the fifth sprint a number was recorded on the Polar HR monitor that tied a previous high…177. Shortly there after, the record set Wednesday for the fastest 15 miles was broken. I should say smashed…45 minutes 45 seconds! Almost 3 minutes faster than Wednesday on water… Sh#%! What a ride! I began to wonder….Was it the taurine? Was it the glucuronolactone? I was right all along. Monster enhances athletic performance! Cool.

Friday morning came. I chugged a 16 oz cup of Joe and began the process all over again.

The first sprint came and went with a yawn. Then came the second sprint….31.9 mph. Holy cow! Down with one record! The sixth sprint crushed the HR record. The Polar HR monitor crossed into the unchartered 180 something territory…183…I was getting a little dizzy but the excitement of hitting all of these new milestones was pretty energizing. There was one more number to go. I watched the dash on TRTN with baited breath….14.85 miles 44 mintes 10 seconds….14.90 miles 44 minutes 30 seconds. Then it happened…. Joe had slain the Monster! 44minutes 48 seconds to travel 15 miles down the road to nowhere! Holy cow!!

As much as I love the flavor and general performance enhancements of Monsters, I still gravitate towards the old school favorites of a cup of Joe. Joe is cheaper and his side effects are known and pretty benign. Joe is simple. Life should be simple. The ingredient statement of the Monster is complex, expensive, and still did not outperform Joe.

Go Joe!

I hope this scientific study will be of benefit to my colleagues in the cycling community.