Back in February of last year, I was riding with some friends along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail just outside of Victoria.
One of my friends was looking behind him as he rode and started crossing the yellow line. Another rider, coming from the opposite direction was doing the same thing. I caught this at the last second and yelled ‘Heads Up!”. What could have been a catastrophic collision was merely a near miss and I rode away a hero. Obviously.
A wave and apologies were exchanged as we continued in our opposite directions and we left without an idea of who the riders were that we nearly collided with.
That evening, at the Fernwood Inn, a local pub at which there was a wind-up for the Victoria Wheelers cycling club, I met Kyle Denny, the man behind the Eleven Speed Coffee micro-roastery, which was in its infancy at that time. Kyle explained that he was riding alongside his friend who almost collided with mine earlier that day and apologized, unnecessarily. Jokingly, I said that he could make up for it by crowning me the winner of a contest he had announced on the Eleven Speed Instagram page earlier that day. My networking mastery shone.
Well, I won, in honest fashion and found myself at his place getting to know him and his process, and picking up some beans a few days later. It was then that I suggested to him that I be an ambassador for his coffee and a friendship bloomed.
At this point, I was an occasional drinker of hot bean water. I had only just started and I thought dark roast was the cat’s pajamas. I also hated stopping while out on training rides, which meant that coffee stops were out of the question.
Kyle is responsible for helping me out of that ignorant rut.
Slowly but surely, I started consuming the dark fluid more regularly. I gained an appreciation for different brewing methods, different roasts and origins, and developed preferences as well. He introduced me to natural process beans, which ultimately are responsible for my transition to a multi cup-a-day consumer of coffee.
This change in my consumption habit is reflected in my lifestyle and riding in innumerable ways.
Most profoundly, it has made riding so much more social for me. I love getting together pre, during or post-ride with my ride comrades for a coffee. I look forward to stops during rides now and find that it even makes some longer rides more bearable. Knowing that I can have a hot cup of coffee immediately after – or shortly before – a cold, wet ride makes it so much easier to get through the tough ones.
When it’s dark at 5 am and raining, the coffee warms and wakes me, and out I go. Sometimes it’s so hard to convince myself to get out the door, but this little bit of motivation encourages me to seek the inevitable reward and satisfaction of completing the ride.
Not only do I sit at cafes with my friends, but I’ve even been inspired to host people at my own house for a brew. Kyle supplies me with the means to provide a drink for my friends and now I feel a regular inspiration to create an occasion. Honestly, this is often my favourite part of riding.
I feel that genuine connections occur over coffee. Connections with my fellow riders who become friends as we sit and share stories and reflect.
Coming from a background in corporate coffee, Kyle’s new personal and micro approach to roasting coffee reflects his true passion and appreciation for the drink and its social surroundings, and has inspired me to find that same appreciation and sociability.
Sure, the coffee fuels me on the bike and when I’m studying, but more importantly than that, it fuels what I do surrounding the bike and who joins me. It makes riding a bike about more than just riding, which is essential.
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.