We cyclists tend to be serious people. We like speed. We like distance. We talk about suffering in offhand ways, such as “I was really in pain on that last climb”. We love bicycle tech. There are a lot of ways we show our love of cycling. Not all of us are serious to the same degree; there are quite a few subcultures among cyclists, but on the whole cyclists tend to take themselves seriously. Having said that, sometimes you just need to stop. Stopping can be an art form.
Most cycling rest stops have a purpose. At events, you can refill bottles, grab a snack, maybe even get your bike looked at by a tech on site, but it’s just a scripted rest in a larger event. Some club rides take rest stops at particular places – as a way to pick up more drinks and snacks and recharge. The point of such stops is to get back on the plan and keep moving before you get too cool, or too hot, or your body starts to think you’re done before you really are. Normally, a rest stop lasts about 10 minutes or so. Often less.
Then there is another kind of stop, the kind that doesn’t have a time limit or a purpose. Sometimes it isn’t even planned. Even if it is, what you want from it is time to slow down and talk, or fuel up with style. That is the Cafe Stop. A Cafe Stop can’t be rushed. It has to include some genuine joy in itself. It’s about taking time OFF the bike. As I write this it’s an extremely hot day in July. In order to get a ride in with any hope of comfort, some friends and I decided to take a short ride and leave early in the morning. The point was to warm up, have a fun ride, and be done before the heat got oppressive. We did, but near the end, we decided on an impromptu Cafe Stop. It was just the right thing to do.
A Cafe Stop has to be the right thing to do in the moment. Whether it’s planned, or you decide on one at the spur of the moment, time has to wrap around it. At a Cafe Stop, relaxation rules apply. No rush. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the company. Enjoy your surroundings. Soak it all in. The ultimate Cafe Stop might have you locking your bike and taking a meal, or a long coffee or tea break, or just sitting around a table with friends having a laugh off the bike in the right surroundings. The magic is in the moment, and the moment doesn’t involve movement, but a meaningful pause.
Some people are natural Cafe Stop artists. Some people don’t know much about them or don’t care for them, but there is a time for one. A moment when that pause makes perfect sense, or defines a perfect moment. I love Cafe Stops, and I don’t do them as often as I could or should, but they can make an unremarkable ride unforgettable, or a good ride magical. They add a luster to the experience. Sometimes the key to enjoying exercise is to know when to enjoy a pause. There are times when you have to appreciate the art of the Cafe Stop.