Braking for bike cafes
Port Mac, as locals call it, was settled in 1821 for hardened convicts but today is a trendy beachside town with galleries, eateries and wineries. It is principally known for its great surfing and coastal walks, said Ihle. The newly opened café is in an old ambulance station, along with an art gallery and cycle shop. “It is decorated with blood red walls, stethoscope and other medical paraphernalia,” and the menu includes “heart-starter coffee,” and other items with hospital-themed names she said.
Even well-know biking cities have some undiscovered havens. Paviljoen de Duinen, or the Dunes Pavilion (2242 Wassenaar; 070-5117029), on the beach overlooking the dunes outside of Amsterdam, was discovered by Willem G Janssen, a lead agricultural specialist at the World Bank. “You can see the sea from there,” he said. “An interesting thing about this place is that the bike trail makes a sharp turn there, and if you don’t take care, you will end up on the terrace.”
The café is about 20 km north of The Hague, 45-50 km southwest of Amsterdam, on the bike path from Katwijk to Wassenaar, about 500m north of the Wassenaarse Slag and is accessible only by bike or on foot. It does not include a full fledged bike shop, but has ample bike racks, and most likely a pump. “They might have a few screwdrivers and a little equipment lying around,” for tire changes, Janssen said.
Some travellers discover whole areas exploding with bike-centric businesses.
In May, biking and hiking guide book author and publisher Cosmic Ray, as he is known, from Flagstaff, Arizona, rode the first half of the EuroVelo 6, a bike route about 4000 km connecting the Atlantic Ocean in France to the Black Sea in Romania. The route is one of 12 in a network of bike paths that follow three of Europe’s largest rivers.
"There were fields of flowers and forests on one side along a slowly flowing river or ancient canal on the other," said Ray, adding that historic villages, small towns and “a concert of birdsong” punctuated the route from Saint Nazaire, France, to Vienna, Austria, in his 31 day, 1,650 mile ride.
It was his 21st bike trip through Europe and in the last five years he noticed some changes: more bike shops, cafes and bike hotels along the way, as well as beer gardens and campgrounds that "really cater to bicyclists", especially along the Danube in Germany and Austria. He said he believes it to be “largely due to government investment in improving the paved paths and signage”.
"When I'm riding along by myself, 70, 80 miles a day, legs and lungs working like a machine, blood flowing through the brain, mental wheels spinning, thinking, dreaming, planning, exhausting and exhilarating,” he said. “That's my idea of a great holiday."