It's the sort of job everyone wants where you don't consider what you're doing to be a job at all. Wellington cyclist Joe Cooper is your classic example.
The 23-year-old ex-Newlands College student spends his days riding a bike and drinking coffee the two things he loves most in life at the moment.
"When I left college I didn't want to go to uni so I needed something to fill in my time," he explains of his initial interest in cycling.
"I just picked up a bike and started riding, and I really enjoyed it. I'm glad I didn't go to uni now because I'm still living my dream of a semi-pro cyclist, which is pretty cool.
"It also gives me time to sit at cafes and drink lots of coffee."
Cooper says he covers 1000 kilometres (about 34 hours) in a big week of training, and 600km (about 26 hours) in a normal week. He freely admits to being a typical Wellingtonian he always takes $10 with him in case he feels the need for a coffee.
Wellington isn't flush with top fulltime cyclists and Cooper is regarded as the city's leading male, though he's hardly a household name.
He's been a member of the Subway-Avanti cycling team for the past three years, rides fulltime, has competed in Europe and the United States, and has ambitions of making it to the Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
The Johnsonville rider is also building an impressive CV.
He won the national under-23 road championships in 2006 and has gone on to claim tour titles in Queenstown, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay.
Last week he finished second to teammate Gordon McCauley in the national road championships, a field that included New Zealand's top road rider, Julian Dean.
"The first year in senior is a big step up, so you are just trying to get used to the different style of racing. There's a lot more endurance because you've got to ride for longer. I managed to struggle through 2007, but 2008 was good and I've started 2009 well, finishing second to my teammate, Gordon.
"Things have been building over the past couple of years, and getting a result like that at the nationals, it makes it all worthwhile because you know your hard work is paying off."
As for the rest of the year, making sure he doesn't have to get a real job is a big priority (living at home with his parents helps here) and he's looking forward to capitalising on Subway-Avanti's new-found status as the first New Zealand organisation to be given UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) continental status. The team is hoping to get invites to race in Asia and Australia.
"It certainly makes cycling a lot easier for me, so I can stay home and call myself a pro, but it gives a lot more opportunities to young New Zealand cyclists because they know they can make it in New Zealand now with this team.
"I'm sure a lot more teams will jump on board with this UCI status. It opens up the cycling channels throughout the world, with invites to big races. Hopefully we get a good result here and sell ourselves with that."
"I just want to keep riding for as long as I can and keep putting off the job aspect.
"I've got aspirations of going to the Olympics in a couple of years' time or even the Commonwealth Games something high to aim for to keep me motivated and striving to go forward.
"I just want to keep building my fitness on the bike, keep trying to reach new levels and help my teams to some victories."
And victory this week in his home tour the Wellington-Wairarapa Cycle Classic, which he is tackling for the fourth time would do just nicely.
"I pretty much know all the roads we race on so if I can put what I know into practice then hopefully I can help my teammates or myself get into a winning move and make it stick.
"I'm pretty sure we've got the firepower in the team to hold on to anything we get."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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