Set the grind just right – it’s a little humid out so just a tad coarser than usual. Tamp it down and give it a nice polish. Right twist and it’s in. You flip the switch and the hot water begins it’s journey through the machine and into the puck – picking up the subtle flavors of the bean and beginning the transformation into espresso. Emulsion falls down into the silver pitchers, filling up just right until it takes a blonder sheen to it’s dark and tan ribbon. The switch is flipped back and the magic trick is complete. The shot has been pulled.
Cycling and coffee seem inexorably tied. Whether it’s the coffee stop in the dead of winter which, lets be honest, is really the only reason to go out at that time. The best machines for both usually are Italian in origin, but the fancy gadgets and gizmos tend to come from Japan. Both are a simple process on paper. Coffee has a variety of brewing processes, but generally the formula remains grind (beans), temp (water), time and occasionally the addition of pressure. Cycling is still just two wheels and a geared system with which to propel them. Even with the simple concept, both can be made more complicated than one person alone can process, requiring computations far and above what the human mind can accomplish.
But both, at their heart, require something more than numbers can provide. With the addition of the human element, they become art as opposed to science. Numbers can build a better bike, but the Ride is governed by forces far outside of an R&D room.
In the same way that you’ve noticed the conspicuous absence of a cycling computer on the bars of a rider you admire – the measurement has long been forsaken in favor of the experience. Timers, computers, labeled glass pitchers for the shot to fall in, all of these are just a counter in some way. One ounce, 2nd place or 30 k.
Quantification is all fine and well, but motivation should be based on more than an arbitrary result of a magnet turning or the buzzing of a small, white clock. Take off your computer mounts and turn off the timer – take a chance at riding blind – I think you’ll like the result.