Bicycling and coffee have a strong connection. Riders have been congregating at cafés since the sport became popular in Europe in the 19th Century, and coffee can certainly stimulate the system before hitting the trails -- so it is no surprise that cafés catering to cyclists have cropped up in recent years. Bike cafés are now proliferating in biking-friendly cities, like Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Riders can get air in their tires and a tune-up, socialize before and after rides and drink excellent coffee.
“This is definitely
becoming a boom across London,”
said Ben Owen, a fundraiser for a homeless non-profit in the city. He has been
to a handful of local bike cafés, including Look mum no hands! where he watched the Tour de France
recently. “It’s just great fun to have a café that invites cyclists to be a
part of the brotherhood,” he said, “to be among people who love and enjoy and
share a passion for cycling”.
The trend has a popular
appeal that has reached farther-flung cities in the US, like Pittsburgh, Louisville and Orlando, and international cities like Melbourne, Taipei and Bangkok.
Most bicycle cafés are
in cities, but urban or rural many capitalize on their proximity to trails. Sedona
Bike & Bean is across the street from a major trail head
in Sedona, Arizona; Uphill Grind
Bicycle & Coffee is on the Ironman Wisconsin bike route in
Cross Plains, Wisconsin; Velo Rouge Café, in San
Francisco, named for the red bicycle that hangs above the entrance, is on a
bike path that begins in Golden Gate Park and leads to Marin County; Ride
Studio Café in Lexington, Massachusetts
is near the Minuteman bike path; and the Cog
Bike Café is near Dandenong Ranges National Park in Mt Evelyn, Victoria,
Australia, at the beginning of the Warburton Trail.
“You just roll out of
the bike shop and can be on the trail,” said Damian Auton, who owns the Cog
with his partner Libby Evans. “As riders ourselves, we wanted to be where the
The Cog repairs bikes
on the spot, rents bikes and sells hot and cold drinks, smoothies, energy bars
and freshly baked muffins. It is the latter that “are really our specialty”,
said Auton. Favourites include the white
chocolate and berry (the café is near an orchard).
The café, about 42km
from Melbourne’s city centre, opens early and closes when the sun sets to meet
the rhythm of its guests, and offers an informal atmosphere where riders can
learn about new trails, swap ideas and tips on routes, grab maps, post notices
about events and meet other riders to put together groups for long-haul bike
trips. Two patrons recently told Auton that
the café “is like our church -- it inspires us to continue to ride,” he recounted.
A Cog2 is in the works to open in about a month – at the end of the Warburton
On the other side of the
globe is the Lakeland Pedlar Café, in Keswick, England,
the gateway to the country’s Northern Lake District.
“There is fantastic
mountain biking right on our doorstep as well as excellent road biking,” said Maggie Doron, the café‘s
owner. Keswick is surrounded by mountains and lies on the C2C, the popular biking “sea to sea” cycle
route that crosses the country from the Irish to North Seas.
Decked out with paintings,
drawings, posters and cycling memorabilia from around the world , the Lakeland
Pedlar specializes in vegetarian whole food, and serves “good, no fuss, fresh
food in a relaxing atmosphere,” Doron said, to fuel-up before and replenish
after, a long day out in the
there are no comprehensive directories,
exactly how travelers find bike cafés is largely luck and word of mouth. Even in
cities where there are many, there is usually no resource that lists them all; even cycling associations
and professionals often do not know where they are located.
Julie Ihle, a Sydney based freelance writer and author of the blog Bike walk eat, discovered Casualties (23 Clarence Street; 02-6584-3375) in Port Macquarie, about a five-hour drive north of Sydney, while vacationing earlier this year. “I was surprised to see it has a vibrant bike culture.”
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.
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.
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