It’s no secret that many cyclists appreciate a good cafe. It turns out that one of my local cafes appears to appreciate me too.
In amongst the pretentious reading material about coffee, organic veg, and fashion, they’ve now snuck a copy of Rouleur magazine. It seems they are chasing the ‘cyclist dollar’, so to speak.
Incidentally I have a regular cycling mate who was actually quite taken with the ‘Take Ivy’ book in this photo: “One of the finest publications known to man”, were (almost) his exact words.
He is, you see, a man who likes a spot of menswear.
He’s also the most neatly turned out cyclist I’ve ever ridden with. I can kit myself out in my freshly laundered and most expensive Sunday merino wool and still – inexplicably – feel like a scruffy git!
As I mulled over this Rouleur-related development and took a seat outside I surveyed the scene, and did a quick appraisal of the five other cyclists who had decided to punctuate their ride with coffee and cake.
There was an older chap with a beautiful and shiny steel framed Colnago, in blue, which matched perfectly his ‘Italia’ emblazoned kit. He sipped an espresso and fiddled with his azure casquette.
“Have I taken a wrong turn and ended up in Tuscany”, I thought to myself. “Since when did Lancashire care so much about how it looked?”
The other four cyclists were together – two husbands and two wives, by the looks of it. They had arrived on unremarkable and mid-range carbon bikes, but all were decked out in a variety of Castelli, Rapha, and Assos kit.
I would conservatively price up their combined clothing at approaching £1,000.
Just to be clear, I’m not in the habit of looking complete strangers up and down and mentally pricing up their wardrobe, I’m just illustrating my point.
Lancashire has become really quite the peacock when it comes to cycling kit.
This isn’t a criticism, you understand; if these people want to spend their money on high end apparel then why shouldn’t they? They looked very stylish. Well, apart from the Assos clad fella, obviously.
He just looked like a bloke wearing Assos. Kind of neutral, y’know, but pricey nonetheless.
Do these fellow cyclists frequent this café because the cake is so good, or the coffee is suitably artisan, or do they just come to read the communal copy of Rouleur?
Perhaps they have spent so much money on their kit they no longer feel justified in splashing out a further £10 for their own copy of Rouleur – a common problem for the modern and style conscious cyclist, I believe.
For many years the mark of a proper cyclist’s café used to be large portions of unpretentious food, a signed shirt from some local hero on the wall, energy gels and GT85 for sale over the counter, and groups of men clad in shiny and brightly coloured kit, steam rising from them as they talked gear ratios and lugged steel bike frames.
Whatever you think of this Rapha and Rouleur version of the cyclist’s café, for my money the people are better looking and you get a better cup of coffee.
And let’s face it, at £10 a time it makes sense to share a copy of Rouleur.