Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Favorite Things, What They Say about Me, and What Yours Say About You.

These are a few of my favorite things.
Photo Courtesy of Big E's Cycling

Has anyone seen The Sound of Music? If not, I will spare you the agony of having to watch that musical and just tell you that it features a song called "These are a few of my  favorite things" by Julie Andrews . There are some things which as cyclists we eventually develop a taste, an affinity, or even a dependency for. One of these things is coffee.

The Coffee Loving Bicyclist

I am a coffee loving cyclist. In fact, I love coffee so much that I regard myself as a coffee connoisseur. Having had a brief stint working at Starbucks has also reinforced my coffee knowledge, and this was shortly before taking up cycling again. Coffee knowledge is something that personally goes beyond cycling and Starbucks for me. It is a knowledge that has been passed down for generations of coffee addicted Puerto Ricans. In Puerto Rico, Folgers and Maxwell House don't exist, or are very irrelevant to society otherwise.  Nope, in Puerto Rico, one only drinks the pure, undiluted, fine granules that come from high up on the mountain tops.  The coffee is always strong with a low acidity, which gives mental alertness without the constant urge for urinating oneself.

Add to that my love of cycling, and that further inflames my passion for coffee. I could even say it's the other way around, because coffee often times gives me the energy to go on long bicycle rides. I have also been drinking coffee way before it was the cool thing to do, starting at the wee age of six (it didn't stunt my growth or anything like that, I'm an average 5'10").

My love of both coffee and cycling might be running on a parallel course with the rise in popularity and coexistence between these two activities among members of society, specifically millennials entering into their late 20's and early 30's.  But speaking in general terms, excluding my personal background and the fact that in some unfounded sense of grandeur I might even say that I founded this trend, coffee drinking and cycling can say a lot about the person who does so.

Like I just mentioned, most of this crowd is made up of millennials. Who are millennials? They are people who were teenagers during the first ten years of the new millennium, or the 2000's. Those years were a lost generation for us, with societal views and world events which would shape the career choices and lifestyle for many of us who lived through that period. During this same decade, Starbucks started to globalize and become popular among young people, first for it's sales of Frappacinos,  then for it's sales of coffee once we found out how fattening Frappacinos were. Starbucks was a common ground that all young people shared, it didn't matter our walk of life or our popularity, Starbucks took care of us.

Having been a millennial that also makes the implications for other outlooks and personal tastes which many of that generation have a common ground on. Societal views during the 2000's worked against our interests as young people looking for advancement opportunities. Back then there were little if any pre-college credit courses and schools were polarized in the way they taught their students. All the football players in school got a free pass and all of their grades doctored up without so much as a peep from anyone. If you had to dropout of a AP course because you had to work to support your single parent, you were out of luck if you were truly an intelligent person. You now had to share class space with Brutus the Brute. The end result, you may ask? Many millennials are smart people with unfinished college degrees. That means that many of them are either self employed, work freelance, or are very underemployed. That's where the bicycle comes in. As a money saving tool, bicycles give millennials a means of transport without having to spend money on rising gas prices. It is also a form of recreation but can get burdensome, especially on cold days. That's where Starbucks comes in. In cold or inclement weather we retreat back to our comfort zone which supported us during the many times we had nowhere else to go. 

The 2000's and the Bush years also marked the end to what I call the "Build it bigger, bigger is better", years. The financial collapse in 2008 and the great recession of 2011 proved that outsourcing jobs that could be done locally, building subdivisions faster than people could move into them, building superhighways that cut off the lifeline of small communities and putting a Megalomart in every town had left the economy in tatters. By this time, though, the burden of responsibility has been left to our generation of young adults to shoulder. So what is another side interest we enjoy as coffee loving cyclists? Many millennials believe in New Urbanism. If you don't know what that is, it's the movement that really isn't. Its just the result of the surburban sprawl of the early 2000's. Therefore many coffee loving cyclists are also into working at bike shops, cooperatives, organic grocers, privately owned businesses and any other establishment that gives back to the local community. Being that the bicycle also serves a purpose as transportation, many New Urbanists believe in closing distances from home to work by using bike lanes, trains, and other facilities that will enable us to get to where we need  to go by using a car to a minimum or not at all. New Urbanists believe in the concept of having mixed use zoning between commercial and residential spaces, in other words having an apartment building on top of a coffee shop. 

During the years of the financial collapse and the great recession, without a promise of a job many millennials had to rely on their own talents in order to turn a profit. Therefore, many coffee loving cyclists are also artistically inclined.

The bicycle also serves another purpose for the coffee loving cyclist. Many millennials, as a result of a shaky job history or working for themselves, are uninsured or have really bad private insurance. The bicycle serves as a means of keeping us healthy. 

Roadies and Coffee

I'm not going to ignore the correlation between roadie cyclists and coffee. Many in this category are not millennials but are actually ex yuppies from the 80's decade or boomers. That dates many in the roadie coffee category to be in their 50's to 60's. Yuppie roadies like coffee because Starbucks became popular around the time they were having a mid-life crisis, Boomer roadies like coffee because it is considered "Italian" when paired with cycling and thus are trying to emulate the movie "Breaking Away".

Yuppie cyclists have stable jobs and are usually going to be found in the technologies or medical industries. Their bikes are usually brand new and they usually ride in full kit. There is not much difference in the choice of bike for the Boomer, except the Boomer is probably retired and bought the bicycle using his 401K. Both covet and respect vintage Italian road bikes, which I own and they don't (hahahaha). 

Newer roadies, or the sons of yuppie roadies, are not known as coffee drinkers. They usually stick to their food gels and Chamois Butt-r  to get their nutrients from. They also tend to be millennials graced with not having to go through what their less privileged counterparts went through.

I say all of this, generally speaking. There are millennials that probably don't like coffee (I'll disown you if you are my age and don't like coffee) or newer roadies who have the good sense to love coffee. It's not to say that any of these scenarios aren't interchangeable and can be reapplied to the opposite group. But, as a general and broad rule of thumb (I don't want to get accused of stereotyping) this is usually how it goes. This isn't to say that neither of these groups are not relate-able to each other either. The key is to want to relate, and that goes for millennials, yuppies, boomers, the nouveau yuppies, and the nouveau middle class (in this economy, there's not enough nouveau riche, we'll just leave that one out) and anyone else I may have left out, who is a lover of cycling and coffee. 

One thing I can safely say about the coffee loving cyclist, no matter who they are, they love to travel, have an appreciation for the outdoors, and are usually all around good people. By the way, I don't think Lance Armstrong drinks coffee, he just thinks he does.

In conclusion my background as a millennial, my pre-existing love for coffee, art and cycling influences my tastes for my employment, urban development and holistic outlook where quality of life trumps social or economic gain. Not to mention that cycling is also one of my hobbies that are among my favorite things. It stands in the same category as artisan coffees, Italian wine, painting a landscape, vintage photography, playing guitar, hole in the wall restraunts and sitting by the ocean.

 Where do you fit in the picture? What are your favorite things? How does coffee and cycling influence you? Drop me a line in the comments section if you would like to share. Stay tuned and subscribe to my blog for more in depth articles like these. 

1 comment:

  1. Some of the best coffee I ever had was back in 2007 at the El Conquistador Resort in PR, I'm pretty sure it was locally sourced. But I heard from my local coffee connection, in NJ, that PR coffee is no longer available here in the states. Cant say I'm a fan of the green mermaid and her offerings. And as for Iced coffee, ick...