Getting out on your bike over the winter months can be a challenge. The cold and the damp always seem to find the cracks in your 15 layer thermal riding attire and a ride without a puncture (and the frozen fumbling that comes with them) is about as rare as a Belgian steak. No matter how much you prepare there is always the risk of a downpour or a mechanical failure, but there is one factor you can control. That factor is the route, specifically the coffee stop.
The coffee stop acts as a beacon of hope on winter rides. The promise of a scalding hot Americano, a generous slab of sugar-rich cake and a chance to warm your numbing extremities luring you in from the second you step out of your door. You might be pedaling squares and straining to get your post Christmas mass up the rises, but the coffee stop will reel you in like a floundering guppy.
In the past, these pit stops would often take place in a rural tearoom, a pub or a town centre coffee shop. This arrangement worked, but would require negotiating some tricky situations. Walking on tiled floors in cleats, whilst balancing a tray of hot drinks is the kind of activity that draws worried glances from onlookers and stern glares from those who spend their weeks working in health and safety.
But now a new phenomenon has blossomed in the UK, the velo café. These are cycling hubs, dotted around the UKs towns and cities in rapidly growing numbers. These great places tend to a cyclist’s every need, generally offering food, drink and repairs, as well as the chance to mingle with like-minded folk.
Poached eggs at the Brighton Velo Café, a personal favourite. ©Velo Café Brighton
So if, like us, you’re in need of a boost in your winter miles, why not give one a go? Listed below our some of our favorites. Let us know yours. Check back later for some more in depth reviews of their cakes and coffees. Happy riding!
Look Mum, No Hands! – London (www.lookmumnohands.com)
Rapha Cycle Club – London (www.rapha.cc/clubs)
Zappi’s Cycle Café – Oxford (www.zappisbikecafe.co.uk)
Velo Café – Brighton (www.velo-café.co.uk)
Ronde – Edinburgh (www.rondebike.com/culture)
Roll for the Soul – Bristol (www.rollforthesoul.org)