Why ride?

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 15-May-2015

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Social stimulant: Coffee is the real reason cyclists get out of bed so early. Photo: Dion Jelbart.
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By CHRIS LIGHTFOOT

Why do we ride? It’s good for us, keeps us healthy, helps control our weight, it’s fun and so on. Mostly true, if boring! However, there is really only one answer on which most riders, even the professionals, agree.  
Coffee!

On any morning at coffee shops around Australia, there will be one or more cyclists enjoying a well-earned coffee. This “life-giving nectar of the gods” is the secret to many riders rolling out of bed at least an hour earlier than they would normally and hitting the road.

How did coffee become part of the cycling culture? The stimulant nature of caffeine is one answer. The more accurate link between cycling and coffee is the social element.

The social element of a coffee after a ride is too often undervalued. While riding, we sometimes have brief opportunities to converse with the cyclist next to us before we roll past. Other times we are too busy struggling for breath as we try and hold the wheel in front to be able to speak.

After pushing or “punishing” ourselves for anywhere between 20 and 200 kilometres we need to recover. Recovery takes three forms: physical, mental and emotional.

The physical is well discussed in other media by others with more knowledge. Mental recovery comes because of the concentration required to maintain the fluid integrity of the bunch. This can be exhausting and coffee provides a mental break and the opportunity to unwind. Emotional recovery is the social conversations.

These conversations range from the serious – “I thought that ‘roo was gonna bring down the bunch!” and “the new bike is super stiff and light!” – through to the humorous – “Growing the winter coat on the legs early this year?”

These social conversations are enormously important in maintaining societal connectivity and emotional mental health. The opportunity to laugh at the respectful banter of others over coffee provides some with the release they need after a tough week.

Many of the conversations that take place are open, honest and genuine and they can only occur when there is a sense of personal safety and trust. This trust is built through riding in the bunch and continued in the conversations over coffee.

Coffee is more than a stimulant to most social riders. It’s the true reason we all crawl out of bed on cold and dark mornings to ride our bikes.
 

 

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