On latte and lycra.

Written by

Andrew Millar


July 19, 2011

I really enjoy the Tour De France.

It is a travel log for people on Valium… or at least it’s a travel log for exhausted people who have had a frantic day and a couple of glasses of red and want to sit and relax for a moment in front of a TV program that doesn’t have a body count of 15 before the opening credits have finished.

I really enjoy looking past the riders at the fabulous French scenery and this year have used it to plan an imaginary Tour de France of our own. We started writing down the names of places that looked worthy of a visit and quickly realised that all we need do is take this year’s magazine program with us and hire a Peugeot and drive the route maps. It is beginning to sound like something that might happen. It touches my sense of humour… driving the Tour de France… it’s a bit like going to Vegas and not gambling… (actually I’ve done that.)

I’m not the least bit interested in cycling. Probably because I can’t pretend that I would look anything but stupid in lycra. I also avoid groups where the major topic of conversation is the gear you own. I am not a ‘clubbie’. I know it is the ‘new golf’ but I don’t get it. All of these people on Sunday mornings wearing what appears to be sponsored outfits when quite clearly they are not in the least bit elite, athletically speaking. It’s like me arriving at the Clipsal 500 wearing a racing suite covered in badges simply because I drove my car there.

And then there is the invasion of the cafes each Sunday. I tried to have a relaxing cup with the Weekend Australian at a local spot a couple of weeks ago when the Peloton arrived.

Suddenly every footpath and walkway was blocked with bikes. It was like they had laid siege to the place. Having arranged their bikes, they then proceeded to rearrange the restaurant. I was asked 4 times if I needed the extra chairs at my table… while I don’t mind them being whisked away, it did leave me feeling as though locusts had denuded my part of the cafe. I thought they may as well have everything that was to do with my table that I wasn’t using, so I offered the pepper and salt, sugar, specials menu and napkins… but they apparently didn’t need them as they were there for ‘coffee!’.

And, as it transpired, coffee in every possible combination… Latte, Skinny Latte, Soy Latte, Double shot/extra hot/skinny soy, Cup of Chino (yes, I heard that and expected a bowl of men’s casual trousers to be served) and so on and so on… And of course there was the guy who sat eating his own banana who asked if they would fill his water bottle. The waitress had to start Volume 2 of the Order Pad to get it all down. And I could see she knew they were all going to want to pay separately… and with notes nicely dampened by cyclist sweat.

After an eternity of loud, boastful stories about ‘Nick leading the way up the climb’ and ‘Barry who has bought completely the wrong bike’ they departed… clop,clop, clop, clop… leaving the place littered with empty cups, damp napkins, Mr ‘I Don’t Drink Coffee’s’ banana peel and that sort of humid funky, smell locker rooms seem to always have.

I don’t know if this ‘coffee after a ride’ is a particularly Adelaide or an Australian thing. Drinking coffee while you exercise is counter to every piece of advice I’ve ever heard. I can hardly see Contador or the Schleck Brothers slumped in a cafe with their legs wide open, rearranging the padding in their shorts (sorry, knicks) and asking for a double shot cappuccino.. “…and make sure it’s really, really hot…”.

This all sounds a little intolerant of others and their desire to get in everyone’s way on the road and footpath… maybe I just need a break… maybe the back roads of France is the place to do it… but by car. Not bike.