Essay: On the Frequent Buyer Cards
(2018) Before we bid August – and essentially summer in the northern hemisphere – adieu there is always anticipation for what is next. Next weekend is the Bucks County Classic; a race by all approaches sounds the alarm on the 2018 road-racing season around here. It has been a long season, full of ups and downs, and a paradoxical eagerness to end my final season of racing has been setting in.
I set out to do a couple of races this year I had not tried. I am glad I circled the motorsports of Lime Rock, Connecticut. I also visited a well-entrenched race, the Tour of Somerville. I circled Media for the first year of that event. It would not be a summer of racing without one visit to Rodale Park for any number of rotating sponsor name bike races. Though I missed a handful of races I wanted to do, I have put in a good turn with one final obstacle remaining in Doylestown.
Amidst all the stress of trying to improve multiple years’ worth of race results, I have recently found myself eager for the off-season. Having a full calendar of races has given me focus. I would be lying if I said I was not concerned to get through trainer workouts in the winter. What would I be working towards for 2019? Outside rides have found me making a case for stopping at a favorite coffee shop and letting the heart rate come down. Once the autumn hits, I fully expect to find myself slid in a restaurant chair laying out my cycling gear next to a steaming cup of coffee.
The best part is I’m prepared for that to happen. Over the past few months I have been handing over my coffee punch cards to get marked. When one has filled up I stash it away and quickly reach for a fresh card. I have a couple of free coffee cards occupying my cycling wallet ready to be used the moment my race retirement starts. At events I have had a small gaggle of people ask if I write for creakybottombracket.com. I doubt anyone will come up to me at a coffee shop and inquire the same way.
I have wondered if cyclists around the world have collected multiple coffee cards to stash in jersey pockets and cycling wallets. What is there to lose? They weigh nothing but are valued around $2. They cost a dozen dollars to punch fully but all I see is free. I frown when I part with a couple dollar bills but pull a cheesy smile when I hand over the free coffee card. Like a break from cycling, the coffee card feels hard earned and deserving. This sort of belief must be global.
Last weekend’s ride saw me buzz past several coffee shops without stopping. I want to have a rewarding showing next weekend. I hesitated to carry on past Homestead Coffee, made more difficult by the fact I had to walk the bike over the bridge near their parking lot. Hopping onto 519 I could have continued south just a bit more and scooted my card across the counter at Rojo’s Roastery in Lambertville. Or maybe I could have stopped at Stockton Farmer's Market and traded a La Colombe dark roast for a piece of creased cardboard. I was focused enough on next weekend to carry on. Soon I’ll interrogate, ‘What does it matter if I stop or not’ and pull into one of these establishments.
For now I am focused on improving my performance in next weekend’s Doylestown criterium amateur race prior to the Bucks County Classic. Last year I admittedly was not in shape for the drubbing that took place swiftly and distinctly. This year I have put the miles in on the road and on the trainer. Once I roll out for my first ride since retiring I will focus on my next self-implemented challenge. I like how I think within a non-taxing location, say a coffee shop. I feel like a copious amount of coffee helps me focus more. Luckily I have collected enough cards over the past few months to keep myself covered for a bit. Perhaps I’ll have this whole retirement from bike racing thing worked out after all.