THE SIMPLICITY & SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BELGIE & BREW
With the backdrop of Covid & the global pandemic, 2020 has been a period of time like no other. Navigating from lockdown to lockdown, restrictions to restrictions, following the science or not following the science, our day to day interactions & activities as we used to know them quickly became a thing of the past. In the weeks & months that followed that initial lockdown period, it was clear that many people were trying to adjust to this new way of doing things.
I remember clearly in that initial lockdown those feelings of worry & the uncertainty of it all were prevalent. But as the days passed, those feelings gave way to the stillness and quiet of it all. The roads were empty, and constant whir of traffic and motion were replaced with the calm of nature. You could hear the birds, hear the wind, and even at times it felt that you could taste the cleanliness of the air. Nature making her presence known. And in some way the usual roads or gravel paths that we cycled now felt new; they felt undiscovered, uncharted and unspoilt. There rose an excitement about making the most of the calm, and taking the opportunity of being on your own to discover new roads and new paths. It was refreshing to see people treating those days as an opportunity for new perspectives, new adventures and Beauty amongst the Chaos.
Under those first regulations, as cyclists we were unable to ride in groups, and at the very start of it all any outdoor exercise had to be solo. This certainly came as a blow to many of us, who spend hours on the bike, shoulder to shoulder with friends week in week out. That framework of support and conversation being removed had a big impact … and one not easily filled by Zoom calls! It was also a timely departure from our beloved Tuesday morning Belgie routine. The Belgie has become a bit of a local legend… paying homage to the original Belgie Ride in Melbourne started by our good friends at Curve. What is the Belgie you ask? It’s simply a full gas gravel loop of 30km or so, that starts and finishes at G!RO, and ran every tuesday at 7AM without fail...The Belgie waits for no-one. In the months before Covid, a faithful and growing group of riders would meet every tuesday at G!RO - no matter how perfect or horrendous the conditions - to do the Belgie loop, return to G!RO for coffee, brekkie & usually to warm up! But under Covid, the Belgie lived on… Each week we were tagged in people’s social media, sharing their Solo Belgies. It was amazing to see. And even started a hotly contested battle for the fastest time on Strava. Long Live The Belgie!
As weeks turned into months of various restrictions and guidelines, what became clear was the negative impact that lack of personal connection was having on many. So it was a welcome shift when the guidelines were changed to allow exercise in pairs and then groups of 6, and then pairs again! It felt like the first day back at school after summer holidays… eager to tell lockdown stories & tales, and excited to share new roads & loops recently discovered. So too was the Belgie ridden with others once again… as the days were getting lighter, the pre or post work Belgie took root & so too the feeling of being out in the woods, on your bike, sharing something you love with someone else. In the context of not being able to share these moments previously, it was magical!
“Why don't we brew a coffee on the Belgie this week?” Jon Skinner and I said to each other before heading out on one dawn Belgie. That was all it took to kick this off. We actually filmed a video of it which you can see here: https://youtu.be/keJvpZhAz4U. Brewing outdoors is by no means our original idea… far from it. Many a bikepacking trip has had coffee as a necessary ingredient to its success!! Readers may remember we even did a feature on Brewing in the Wild as part of our Flashpacking Weekend with Workshop Coffee back in 2019. What a weekend that was...here’s hoping for more in 2021!!
It makes sense though...G!RO has been built on the beautiful harmony between Coffee & Cycling. How the coffee shop acts as a hub for a community of riders to meet up, talk & connect over a cup of coffee & some food. It’s so familiar that it can so easily be taken for granted. This year more than most. But here on the Belgie, there was something special about taking time to carefully prepare a coffee for you and a friend, with nature as the backdrop. It turned a bike ride into a time to talk, reflect & connect with one another. A break from the norm, but centred around something familiar that we love.
It’s coffee & bikes.
It’s so simple, yet so significant.
Of the many things this last year has taught us, the one that stands out is the importance of community & friendships. But when faced with the reality that you are unable to meet with your friends freely, or even pop down to the coffee shop to grab a brew and have a chat, after time it certainly took its toll... Each in their own way. And entering this most recent of lockdowns, the importance for connections and friendships is more evident than ever. We are ticking into nearly 12 months of life under Covid, and you don’t have to look far to see the impact it is having on people. I’m encouraged by people like Nick Frendo who have made a stand to bring Mental Health to the fore of people’s conversations, and his Meaningful Miles is a wonderful initiative that is inspiring many to speak up and look out for each other. Thats one of the beautiful things of riding a bike with someone… it offers a wonderful opportunity to ask ‘Are You OK?’. Now more than ever, such an important question to ask.
The importance of time spent with others is significant, especially for those who live alone, or work from home, or have had to manage home schooling etc. And equally the importance of taking a moment to step away from the noise, and find some calm in nature is not to be overlooked. The Belgie is a loop of 30km that winds across paths and commons locally, right on the doorstep of the M25 motorway and some of the busiest traffic in the country. But amongst the trees that surround, the noise softens, giving way to clarity and peace. Nature again making her presence known. If you look for it, you will find it.
And so the Belgie & Brew lives on. Taking the familiar, and adding a moment to connect with those around you. To do something different opens up the opportunity for a different outcome. In the last few months, the Belgie & Brew has paved way for many a good conversation on personal matters, business ideas, or just space to find some calm amongst the noise and stress. And recently it's been amazing to see more people doing their own Belgie & Brews. All built around the premise of riding your bike and taking a moment to grab a coffee with Nature as the backdrop. Chapeau.
We can list all the gear we have put together below we have figured out to make it happen easily. But the important thing is to start somewhere, and see what happens.
Get out there and try it.
Belgie & Brew Kit List:
MIIR Pourigami: https://www.girocycles.com/products/miir-pourigami-portable-v60
Hand Grinder: https://g-ro-cycles.myshopify.com/products/rhino-hand-grinder-for-aeropress-v60
Handlebar Bag: https://www.girocycles.com/pages/skin-grows-back
Bike: Curve Kevin of Steel :https://www.girocycles.com/products/curve-kevin-of-steel-iii-batch-2-0-preorder
Clothing: Attaquer Adventure Line: https://www.girocycles.com/products/adventure-bib-short-black-white
AlpKit Kraku Stove: https://alpkit.com/products/kraku
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Here at G!RO we continue to share our ways of beating the global pandemic and keeping morale high! Jamie tells us how his year sampling a new style of riding on his Downrock has been a godsend in this unprecedented year!
Wow! It’s been nearly a year since that giant box, containing my new favourite bike arrived! It was March 2020, things were starting to head south globally and the UK was a few short days away from Lockdown 1.0, but spirits were high as me and head mechanic Danny tore into the box containing all the parts, and the beautiful Downrock frame Curve had just shipped us. Days were getting longer, weather was getting warmer, riding was getting easier and ignoring the global pandemic things were looking up… Except, how can you ignore a global pandemic... That’s right, you can’t!!!