I went for a 2-hour ride yesterday out in the country with two great people. They are smart and interesting and a lot of fun to talk to. However, it's hard to talk when you are staring at each others rear ends. Not to mention the wind blowing, the motor homes honking at you, and the lack of air in my lungs. In an ideal world, we would be able to ride in pairs in a nice wide shoulder on the highway. Instead, we were barely fitting into 2 feet of shoulder with cars blazing past.
Cycling can definitely be a social sport in the right places with the right people. I have been on many a ride with interesting conversation. It's especially great if the ride is not exceptional for scenery or just plain boring. Not to mention, it tests your fitness. If you can't talk, you are probably riding beyond your level by too much.
That's where the post-ride coffee comes in. Have a snack to replenish some energy and a nice coffee to enjoy while you reflect on your the two wheel journey. It's the time to talk about the ride, life in general, or some fascinating new topic that your riding partners can teach you about.
When it comes to the coffee, I personally like the mochaccino best. It seems like dessert after I have had a good ride. If it's made right, it is the perfect blend of sweet, bitter, and richness. I have my favorite mochaccinos around my city, but every time I travel, I search out the best mochaccino I can find (send me your suggestions ... I don't care where they are ... I will travel).
The cafe and the bike go together. You pull up to the outdoor patio, park your bike, and sit down to relax the motors. If you ride a bike, you tend to love the outdoors - they kinda go together. The outdoor patio is a must. And the indoor part of the cafe isn't too shabby when you get caught in the occasional thunderstorm and need refuge. True cycling cafes honor the sport, but they aren't too common (at least where I live). It's good to see some of your heroes on the wall, a classic road machine from the past, or a television showing some two wheel events. Motivation to be like your idol - admit it, you want to be Merckx.
The pre-ride coffee is a different animal. Many people love the caffeine and carbs before a ride. I'll be honest, I don't have the time or the organizational make-up to enjoy this. I'm lucky if I get to the meeting place on time with everything I need. However, in theory, the pre-ride coffee is a good idea. Plan your route, get psyched up to challenge each other, put in that last little bit of caffeine and energy, and launch your assault on the 10 km climb up a mountain pass you've been planning for (or the neighborhood bike paths).
In the end, there is no bad time for a coffee shop stop. Enjoy the ride and the caffeine.
What are your favorite cycle cafes? Where is your favorite mochaccino? Do prefer the pre- or post-ride coffee?