When I first got my road bike*, or racer as my old man might call it, there was one particular thing I was looking forward to experiencing. Above all others.
It wasn’t the struggle I had with a set of clipless pedals. Landing on the deck the first time I used them.
Nor was it the bib shorts. Like a fat bloke in braces, on his way to another Madness gig.
No. The thing I wanted to experience – to taste and embrace – was the café rides.
The idea of setting off early from home and fuelling with caffeine and pastries, as I wound my way through the Yorkshire countryside. Town to town. City to city.
This morning I woke up early. So rather than lay in bed until a child appeared asking for breakfast or a laptop plug; I got up. I got my bike out of the garage. Loosened the spring on my SPD pedals. And set off on a café ride.
To The City
In many ways, it was a virtual ride. For whilst I was out on the roads, dodging pot holes and smashing my phone screen in the process. There were no coffee stops. No pastries to be had.
I rode from home to Laynes Espresso. Imagining I was stopping on the bench outside. For a flat white and an almond croissant.
I then skirted around the front of the train station. Through City Square and in to Bond Court. For a cappuccino and Cornetto alla Crema at La Bottega Milanese.
Long Drag Home
By now I could feel the undulating nature of the city in my legs. I needed to ride towards the Parkinson Building. To stop off at Opposite Cafe. The first real coffee experience I had in the city. From those days of hiding from work at the University.
Which is not a great place to stop. Neither up the hill or down. Though I still made it to the Library Pub. From where I could see Coffee on The Crescent. My heart telling me to avoid another pastry. Something iced. To combat the sweat.
Then a final leg. Over another hill. Past the imaginary crowds in fancy dress, completing the first section of the Otley Run.
To Bare Coffee. For a bacon sandwich. A reward for the pedal strokes turned over.
Only Bare Coffee was twitching to life at that stage of the morning. The others closed up, but returning. Gradually.
Today’s café ride felt less about the bike. It was more about the memories and hopes that I will be able to visit these places again. Not just on my bike, but it will definitely come in handy if I eat as much as this post suggests.
* Giant Content 1. Bought on the back of getting a Brompton on the Cycle to Work scheme. Likely to be upgrade as soon as I have paid the other bike off