Feeling the guilt of eating a packet of Allsorts during the commute home, I seized the golden sunshine of the early evening and went for a post work ride.
Picking my line through the potholes I’m on the cobbles of Belgium, ‘dancing’ on the pedals up the climbs I’m Contador, and tucking into an aero position on the flats I’m Wiggins or Froome in time trial mode, before summoning Cavendish in my mind for the final leg busting sprint to the end. As I cross the finish line into the back yard, with the tank empty my cycle computer beeps – I’ve done it, a 40km PB.
Fuelled by liquorice, I must be getting good. Maybe I’ll ride le Tour de France next year?
In anticipation of my pending entry to the greatest cycle race in the world, I investigate how my new 40km time compares to the best. An average of 32.7kph – the same as the entire 1950 edition of the Tour de France; all 4774km of it; up and down the Alps and Pyrenees, before they had carbon bikes, aero wheels,
fancy energy gels, electrolyte drinks, and ultra-light & tight shorts.
It seems I won’t be making it to the Champs Eleysee anytime soon after all.
Part of the beauty of cycling is that as a proven absolute amateur, I can ride the same roads as the elite, for example, taking in the climbs and descents of the Yorkshire Grand Depart last year just a day before the pros demonstrated how it should be done, I can ride the same bikes (if I saved up enough pennies), and I can stop off at the same cafes as the pros.
Cafes, coffee & cakes are as synonymous with the pros as the amateurs. From the top of the
sport to the very bottom – we all love coffee and we all love cake.
For example, Team Sky stopped off at Longley’s in Holmfirth last summer for a slice of carrot cake, and Team Giant-Alpecin enjoyed their cake-based feast in York before this year’s Tour de Yorkshire. The team buses all have coffee machines installed, and several of the peloton are trained baristas – some even
own coffee & cake establishments!
So, although I may not be able to conquer Mont Vonteux at any more than walking pace, I feel cake is an area where I have the beating of Froome et al. For as long as I’ve been riding, I’ve embraced the café stop and planned all parcours based upon the location of a good coffee and dedicated myself to perfecting this aspect of the professional sport.
There are specialist riders in the world of
cycling – some excel at climbing, others at sprinting, others at time trialing. I have chosen to focus on the cake and coffee, with most of my training taking place not in the wind, wet and cold but in a nice warm café. A smart career decision I’d say.
I may deserve a yellow bib more than a yellow jersey, and my palmares reads like a Cake Stories menu, but when I’m watching the pros ride fast, longer, harder than I could every dream of, I will be happy in the knowledge that I’ve beaten them at the café stop, eaten more cake, drank more coffee and easily collected more coffee club stamps than they have Maillots Jaune. And without the hassle of having to ride all those miles.
So next time you’re in Cake Stories Coffee House & Cakery, I feel it’s legitimate to consider it as training for your cycling career, excelling beyond the pros in your specialism of coffee, cake and treats.