Caffs, little islands of tea-scented warmth floating in a sea of cold. Cake-selling beacons of light in a world of darkness and hurt. There is no finer sight on a ride than respite and refuelling made flesh in café form. Think of the number of times that you've been freezing cold, close to blowing with your legs doing a bad impression of a sewing machine and still with miles to go when the café hoves into view to save you.

Slowly you begin to feel human again as the tea hits its mark and the conversation is all about the last descent or the crash that almost got you and what about that walker who just wouldn't move and the latest forks. Everything bar the long ride home that you've still got to face. Ten miles into the wind and rain with your legs lulled by the fire in the corner and no desire to step outside ever again. You pick at the remnants of the food hoping the moment will never come, but eventually someone cracks and starts making to leave. You struggle into your damp waterproof and fiddle with the rest of your kit, taking as much time as possible so you don't have to face up to reality outside the door. But eventually you leave, swilling down the last drops of tea and going to your bike, hoping that your legs will carry you home.