I'm not a coffee drinker.
Hard to believe, I know. The moment I turn down a cup I immediately come under suspicion. My credibility as a real cyclist is called into question. Thank God for all the Che Guevara t-shirt-wearing hipsters among our ranks or I might next be accused of being a Communist (or a Socialist or a Fascist or a Kenyan Antichrist or Saul Alinsky - not sure which is most feared or historically acurate)...
I guess I just didn't get the memo. It was probably on the same page that said stoplights are now stop signs and stop signs are now yields. Or the one that stated that there are no safer bikes to ride in the city than fixies without brakes. For all I know, Greg Lemond may have been photographed sipping an espresso as he crossed the finish line at Le Tour de France. There's no telling how these rules get established.
When someone suggests we meet for coffee, I reluctantly agree and pray that the place offers a real fruit smoothie somewhere south of ten bucks. I'm not a big fan of five dollar bottled water, but I'll pay the toll for using a cafe's public meeting space and free wi-fi.
When I read this morning on The Atlantic Cities website about a new Chicago "store for bike snobs (and coffee lovers)", it gave me great pause.
It had little to do with my personal distaste for coffee (pun intended) or my inability to make the coffee and bicycle connection. Truth be told, one of my favorite shops in Minneapolis, One On One, pioneered the blend (yes, I know, another pun). This trend has been brewing in Portland for quite awhile, as well (alright, I'll try to stop).
My dilemma arises not from the permanent destruction of the coffee-appreciating portion of my palate nearly three decades ago in the UIC student union. It comes from a genuine conflict of interest. I am not a professional journalist. I work for a bicycle manufacturer and my brand is sold at a shop in Lakeview (On The Route Bikes).
The newly opened establishment, The Heritage General Store, is located in Lakeview and offers its own brand of handmade bicycles. It will also offer the Bowery Lane brand - a limited line of city bikes made in NYC*. Both brands are prominently displayed along with Stumptown coffee and freshly baked pastries.
It's probably a good idea to add a Chicago-made line of city bikes along with the Broncks and Breukelen models made by Bowery Lane. Those names may not be palatable to diehard Chicagoans. As long as Heritage doesn't offer a green and yellow bike with a cheese logo, it should be able to appeal to the locals' strong sense of regional identity.
As a cyclist, nothing makes me more excited than seeing bicycling move beyond its personal freedom / good for the environment / fun form of fitness, quirky yet maligned / subcultural roots to greater mainstream acceptance. An upscale gathering place that marries (notice I didn't say blends) the coffee experience with the cycling experience can only expose more people to our ultimate goal - sharing the road.
At the end of the day, that's what this blog is all about - encouraging more people to throw a leg over a bike to experience the feeling of personal empowerment that only a bike can offer.
Keep riding and be safe!
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*corrected from earlier version. (Maybe I should start drinking coffee in the morning...)