Souffrance revisited

As the GC contenders in this year’s Tour de France take their second rest day, the complaints over their edentulous attacking in the mountains so far seems to be becoming a cacophony. None other than former Tour winner Stephen Roche was reported by Bicycling as saying: “After watching the stage to Plateau de Beille, I wondered, ‘Why not just have a grand fondo until, say, the last five kilometers and then race a little bit to the top?’ Guys are lacking personality. They have ambition, but lack personality.”

This site revisited his legendary Tour win of 1987 in a post on souffrance, the art of suffering. For recent readers, who have yet to sample some of the older posts, you can read this in full here.

A recent visitor this this site is the editor of a new blog, Patisserie Cyclisme. I think we can all agree that coffee and cake are indeed “fundamental components” of our sport. Your author is a particular fan of espresso and is always on a quest to seek out the best-pulled iterations of this essential beverage. A recent glance at the photographic archives revealed a gem from the past: espresso and cake from Mario’s in Deep Cove.

A ride is not always its own reward.

Unfortunately, Mario’s café is no longer in operation. In its time, however, it proved to be a welcome resting spot on many a long training ride and a surprising good source of coffee. Mario, if it was indeed him behind the bar, was a man of few words with a tenebrous demeanor. On most occasions he would take my order wordlessly, with barely an acknowledgment. But it was clear that he had a soft spot for espresso drinkers (we can be quite rare in Vancouver, it would seem), perhaps for cyclists as well, and would regularly slide the cup across the counter with a muted: “For you, I make a triple.”

Needless to say, a triple shot espresso was always most welcome. Deep Cove is a picturesque location, with a spectacular view of the local mountains as they plunge straight into the dark waters of this sheltered inlet. The outlook was always worth the ride, and the coffee more so. Mario is missed. But on what was perhaps the final visit, Mario was more upbeat, happy to acknowledge a familiar face and to make small talk. Perhaps he already knew he was moving on and was looking forward to new opportunities. Something had changed. It didn’t feel quite the same.

And he only made me a double.