Where I’m from, walking into a cafe in lycra isn’t quite as acceptable as it is in Australia (well, is it ever really acceptable?). Here, the cafe after a ride is akin to a men’s locker room after the big game where we wind-down and shoot the breeze. A ride just isn’t a ride without it.
Last week my wife and I watched in horror as an adrenaline pumped group of cyclists rocked up into a quiet cafe swearing within an earshot of kids and sat down smelling like a bunch of sweaty barn animals. Is this the brush I’m being painted with when I walk into a cafe in lycra?
After this incident I went around to a few cafes and had a chat with some staff and asked them about their stories and gripes with cyclists. Most had a goodhearted laugh about it but some had a few shocking stories to tell.
It’s a common scene for most of us. After a ride we’ll head to our favorite cafe, lean a dozen bikes up against their clean windows, clip-clop in, move 2-3 tables together, then take our sweaty helmets and gloves off and lay them all over the place. Then we’ll settle in, loudly discuss anything and everything cycling and woo at the pretty girls passing by. There’s always one cheapskate in the bunch who won’t order anything and will eat his own muesli bars and ask the waitress to fill his waterbottle.
(One cafe owner told me about a recent incident where a cyclist was wringing out his wet gear in the middle of the cafe floor after being caught in the rain. Yes…this stuff happens!)
When the waitress brings the order to the table she’ll need to interrupt some epic tale of”that time when Joe Blog smashed everyone on the climb”, and consequently needs to announce “soy latte” four times before someone realises it’s their order. Then of course there’s always the guy who says “this coffee is $hit” loud enough for everyone to hear.
We’ll then split the bill into 13 separate $3.50 orders and pay with $50 notes drenched in sweat. After we make a monumental mess of the place leaving sweaty napkins and banana peels on the table we all ask to have our waterbottles filled. Then we all stand around on our bikes outside blocking the footpath while we wait for everybody to get ready.
Does this ring a bell? Indeed, this is how the outside world views us on a Saturday morning.
I love my post-ride coffee just as much as the next guy and cyclists are only one example of a tribe who throws away social etiquette as soon as they get into that bubble. I see it with golfers on the 19th hole and footie players or fans after a big game at the pub. And don’t get me started on those mother’s clubs cackling away in the cafe after they drop the kids off at school. Do they have any decency at all?
Enjoy your weekend and ride safe. I hope see some of you at the Dirty Deeds Cyclocross prologue tonight and getting rowdy at the cafe afterwards!