On our ride yesterday I got really excited about the idea of an espresso-maker that you could operate while cycling. Someone — I think our head coach, K.Sue — had noted that it was a beautiful day (at that point — later, just after the ride, it would get yucky) and the surroundings (in Pleasanton, or maybe it was Livermore just then) were lovely (rolling fields, distant hills, cows, horses, vultures [!]) and asked, rhetorically, how it could possibly be better. I thought: a fresh, hot espresso drink! A drink that we could prepare and consume even as we continued to ride! But how?
My first idea was a kind of modified Beer Hat. I’ve never actually worn a Beer Hat (I don’t drink beer very often), but as a slothful person I’ve always admired a device that could deliver beer (usually to a fan at a sporting event) without requiring even the exertion of one arm. The problem with that plan, as best I could tell (I have no engineering background, nor in fact do I have any documented relationship to the physical world), was twofold:
- The tubing (rubber, I’d imagine) might melt from the heat of the fluid.
- The device (especially the tubing) would probably get gunked up with espresso residue, and might be difficult to clean.
So I moved on to what seemed like the next natural idea: An old-fashioned espresso machine that could be secured to one’s handlebars — a Handlebarista™, if you will. To be sure, there would be challenges, among them:
- Keeping yourself and your bike in balance while operating the machine.
- The risk, as you frothed your milk, of some of it getting windblown into a fellow biker’s face.
- Running out of sugar or tiny lemon peels.
But people probably brought up just as many objections to the Wright Brothers. And sometimes you just have to show the world that something new can work before anyone will believe you.
As I tried to mentally hash over various capitalistic issues relating to the Handlebarista™ — how to fabricate all the parts locally, finding a fair price-point, permitting the Sur le Table chain to rename it Le Handlebarista™ — we finished a long stretch of flatland and began our ascent along the Altamont Pass. Now, as often happens when I’m climbing, I thought mostly about the unfairness of our economic system, the shocking apathy of our universe toward human suffering, and how mean James Blount was to me in the sixth grade (though, from all reports, since then James has become an exemplary person).
Then came a brief, exhilarating descent, and all was (briefly) right with the world.
But that’s wrong, what I just wrote: Yes, all was right with the world when I was zipping (carefully) downhill — but really, it was just as right during the previous climb (and the tougher climb that followed). Because I was alive, and my teammates were alive, and my loved ones were alive, and the woman our ride had been dedicated to by her law partner — a woman whose bone-marrow transplant is apparently not taking, and who faces enormous and terrifying uncertainty — is still alive.
At the top of the most difficult ascent, two of my teammates had paused so one (Lisa) could take a picture of the other (Chris) in front of a lamb. (Maybe a sheep — I’m iffy on this stuff.) I asked to have my own photo taken in front of this same lamb (or sheep). (Mostly, I was grateful to be able to stop for a few moments and catch my breath — the last little stretch of climbing had been a doozy.) And though the lamb remained silent (as is reportedly their wont), I thought I could feel it beam its spiritual encouragement of my Handlebarista™ concept. Creatures know the importance of comfort.
I’m biking with Team In Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. By March 9 — when I do my second Solvang Century (near Santa Barbara) with TNT — I hope to have gotten at least $2,250 in donations. If you’d like to contribute — which would be awesome! — please click here.
We do our training rides every Saturday (weather permitting), and after each one I post a description here on my blog. Below you can see a map of yesterday’s ride; if you click on it, you can get all kinds of details (like speed and altitude) — though I forgot to wear my heart-rate monitor this time, so no pulse data (but trust me, my heart was beating the whole time).