doubtless, hidden in the vaults of a modern university, there is a substantial, quality bound treatise, submitted as part of a body of research on just why it is that the act of eating cake and drinking coffee is so closely associated with the act of riding a bicycle. if that is indeed the case, i for one would be more than happy if it was released for public consumption, for it has long been a question worthy of avoidance in the mobile conversation that is the sunday ride. based on no research whatsoever, it seems possible that the continuation of the myth is entirely due to hereditary conversations such as the sunday ride previously mentioned.
examine the evidence as currently presented: having somehow become impressed with the notion that cake and coffee is the true substance of life, i have managed to pass on this exclusive information to those who have seen fit to join me for any number of bike rides around the principality. not for nothing does the ride of the falling rain begin and end at debbie's in bruichladdich; a double espresso for the off, ending with a soya cappuccino and some carrot cake in the name of recuperation purposes at the end of a long day. should anyone decide to join us on the sunday ride, they will unwittingly be indoctrinated into the luxury of coffee and cake.
the same procedure has likely happened all across the globe. on a recent trip to portland, oregon, having been thoroughly trounced by slate olson both uphill and downhill, on meeting ira ryan and his fiancee, it was a logical choice to pedal a mile or two for coffee and cake, before riding home. however, taking this last happenstance into consideration, had i not been in the company of portland residents well acquainted with the international custom, i may have found it somewhat less appeasing to trail around on unfamilar streets trying to find one of the town's finer establishments.
you may think i do protest too much, but a few days later in my trip, flying solo, i was able to pop into an hostelry known as java, surely one acquainted with the finer aspects of baristahood? ordering a soya cappuccino was not a problem; drinking the resultant gloop was considerably less amenable. in fact, i left the paper cup more than half-full. and though not at all related to cycling in all its many diversities, i was recommended to lunch at beaverton bakery in portland international airport. the breads on offer, along with a whole patisserie section were positively to die for, and lunch would have been a delight were it not for the utterlay appalling froth offered as a cappuccino. with those two examples, i was totally disavowed of the notion that it was all but impossible to order a disastrous coffee in portland, home to a myriad of individual coffee roasters.
i count myself fortunate that i have good friends in such far flung places, but it is of concern for those who visit, bereft of any indigenous companions. how would they ever know the best of coffee and cake? surely someone ought to produce a guide to britain and the world's finest along with the less than savoury, possibly based on reviews by real people. before either you or i have time to pat myself on the back, i should perhaps introduce you to louise mullagh, mastermind behind patisserie cyclisme a celebration in pixels of all we have discussed so far, and now released to an eager cycling public.
though perhaps a stunningly obvious question, what gave louise the idea for a website featuring cafe reviews for cyclists? "It all started last winter (2011) when I was going through a bad bout of depression. To get me out I started riding via a local cafe and the concept of a review site just came to me while eating my cake one winter's day. I started a really basic blog which became popular, so I developed it to the point at which there were over 100 reviews and I thought it was time to get a proper site that worked and looked lovely."
as professed above, i have never sat myself down, opened a copy of psychology for dummies and tried to figure out the connection between coffee, cake and cycling. i doubt i'm alone in this, for if there's time for that, there's time for cycling, so all is conveniently forgotten. does louise have any theories of her own as to why cycling, coffee and cake are such fine bedfellows?
"There is definitely the basic stopping to refuel aspect, but there is something more, something which I haven't quite managed to put my finger on as yet. The old cafe raids of old in the grand tours where the domestiques would storm into cafes along the route to plunder what they could is certainly great in terms of history and partly where the cycling cafe came from. I think also a lot of cafes run by keen cyclists have a lot of memorabilia in them and it is the atmosphere that adds a certain feeling that you don't get in other sports (except for maybe the mountain cafes loved by ski fans).
"Certainly in this country there is an element of hiding in cafes for a hot drink when the weather is bad!"
i am happily not beholden to anyone other than mrs washingmachinepost when it comes to the ministrations associated with the post. yes, there is advertising that intersperses each day's scribblings, but none request endless site statistics and analytics to ask if their advertising pounds are being well-spent. something that's probably just as well, for i am less than well versed in the art of interpreting numbers. however, the meanderings that occupy these black and yellow pixels do not, to my mind, lend themselves to commercial exploitation; they can hardly be construed as providing a service of any kind. a website that could conceivably benefit those in the cafe, coffee and cycle trade is a whole 'nother prospect. is patisserie cyclisme a labour of love, or is there a commercial edge?
"It all started as a labour of love, and it still is, but there is potential to turn it into a business. There is the tension though between maintaining an independent, high quality site and attracting advertising, which is the usual way of making websites pay. However, this has a foot in the real world in terms of the potential to sell products online, but also within cafes themselves. I actually begin a cycling related phd in October, so I'm aiming to write a business plan and spend more time on it. I'm lucky to have brilliant support from my husband jamie and friends Dan and Tom who help out."
the world of football/soccer has already conclusively proved that there is a market for clothing associated with objects or subjects of desire. inexplicably, aficionados of the game perhaps move a stage further than the regular cycling fraternity, by fearlessly wearing team strips when shopping in the local supermarket on saturday mornings. such cyclical restraint does not, however, prevent fans of many a cycling venture from purchasing team kit. witness the jerseys worn by velo club d'ardbeg.
louise has already offered a patisserie team kit to an eager public, and with such an effective logo and premise behind the venture, will several more desirable artifacts follow? "I was really surprised at the kit orders that came in and seeing people wearing it means a huge amount to me. The shop will be launched next with coffee/tea/espresso cups, more kit and some musettes. That's just for starters too, the logo and brand looks fabulous and really looks great on products, but it's a case of working out which ones at the moment and also how we start to fund it, being a small venture."
it will not have escaped the notice of many an employer, that the benefits of having employees are numerous, not least the fact that reasonable bidding can be effected within a definable period of time. not only that, but regularity of service can be almost guaranteed. in the case of patisserie cyclisme, however, the employees if i may use that term, are unpaid. if louise is relying on the great unwashed to provide reviews for her site, how else does she intend to keep it current and contemporary?
"I'm hoping word will spread via word of mouth. Once the site is up and running, I'm going to be contacting all the cafes featured with ideas for collaboration. I'm also going to be looking for writers to contribute articles on food, drink and cycling culture as well as getting some interviews lined up with people from the cycling world."
there are many who see the launch of a website as the final step. all the prevaricating, procrastinating and writing get to see the light of day across several organised pages, eager and willing to inform the target audience. as those who have made greater inroads to the interweb will be more aware, the website is perhaps more akin to that first step. it's all very well sponsoring a formula one racing car, but then you have to tell people that you've sponsored a formula one racing car. now that the chic and trendy site has been exposed to the world, how does she propose to spread the good word about coffee and cake?
"Through the site mainly, but also word of mouth, as that is something that's really important in cycling. People riding round in the kit is a brilliant way of getting people to look at the site, but I'm planning to actually have some kind of presence in cafes. It would be brilliant to have a Michelin style scheme where the Patisserie Cyclisme logo is displayed, so that cyclists know they will get great cake! I also keep being asked if I'm going to do a book. If I can find a way of making it work then I will!"
could it be that this process will be augmented with cake recipes and perchance a select patisserie ground espresso coffee? "Yes! There are recipes on site now but I'm going to develop this further by asking cafes to contribute their recipes, as well as cyclists. The shop will also be selling a tea and coffee blend from my local brilliant merchant Atkinsons (@coffeehopper), so I'm hoping those will sell well. We are going for an extra caffeinated option! "
as those who have been here for a while will be well acquainted, there is no rhyme nor reason to thewashingmachinepost. this very article has sprung up today because the new version of patisserie cyclisme is being launched, and i am nothing if not attempting to be contemporary. there is no five year plan, nor a three year plan; if i'm perfectly honest, there's not even a five minute plan. in the spirit of this randomness, is louise making it up as she goes along, or is there, as baldrick would say, a cunning plan?
"So far it has been a case of going with it and working evenings and weekends on it but now I'm starting my Phd I'm going to actually write a business plan. It would be a real shame to not make the most of the support I have been given and I seem to have managed to tap into something right at the core of cycling. I love what I have built up so far and the future of it really excites me! I have been really lucky too in that a friend is a hugely talented designer and web designer and it is thanks to him really making the brand look so great that it has taken off."
earlier this month we were regaled with the news that the chaps at cern, playing with their large hadron collider, had verified the theory of peter higgs and discovered one of team sky's sprinters, eddy higgs boson. any who are familar with the television series the big bang theory will be aware that the grasp of reality exhibited by the scientific community sometimes defies logic. such was the case in the cern announcement of their discovery, which was released to the world in a press release composed in the typeface comic sans. this was a typographical situation that even the font's designer found wholly inappropriate. i caught sight of a rumour that patisserie cyclisme newsletters would be scribed in this very font. say it ain't so lou?
"I would be disowned by my designer Shaun. And myself!"
the new version of patisserie cyclisme should now be online at patisseriecyclisme.com. if it's not, check back until it is. coffee and cake will never be the same again.
tuesday 17th july 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................