Coffeeneuring, with Some Tea in the Shenandoah Valley

Coffeneuring this year has been a stop-start affair. My first five stops were on the first, third and fourth weekends of the coffeeneuring season, with the other two taken up with family visits. I enjoy those visits a lot, but I don’t always get on the bike when we’re hosting.

That’s made me appreciate the available coffeeneuring weekends all the more. I really like the coffeeneuring-both-days weekends. It give the weekend some destinations, and of course, the promise of a relaxing cafe visit.

Every year I try to go to new places for all my stops. It’s not always possible, but the goal seems worthy: a new destination, a new experience, a chance to find something great, by bike. This is very definition of coffeeneuring, in my book.

In this, the third of the seven required stops, I even strayed from espresso drinks into the world of gourmet tea, out of necessity.

Bike parking outside Earth and Tea Cafe
Bike parking outside Earth and Tea Cafe

Coffeeneur Stop 3: Earth and Tea Cafe, Harrisonburg, Va.
Oct. 18
Distance: 43 miles
Bike Friendly? Not really. No racks. There was a large sidewalk planter box outside that was big enough to lay the bike down on.
Rating: Three stars.

MG and I went to Harrisonburg last month to check in on some randonneur friends, Matt and Kurt, and get to know more about the bike scene. Harrisonburg is close by a lot of good paved and gravel back roads in the Massanutten Mountain area and toward the West Virginia line, and has an active mountain bike community.

We have always passed through on brevets and tours, so we wanted to go have a closer look around. We ended up taking two very pretty rides, one in the valley on Saturday and another on Sunday up towards the West Virgina line.

A gorgeous Sunday ride.
A gorgeous Sunday ride.

After our arrival on Saturday morning, we intended to have the we-don’t-really-know-much-about-espresso espresso drinks they make at the Artful Dodger, a funky student cafe on the downtown square. We’d been there before, it was OK. There isn’t much else for espresso in Harrisonburg.

It was not happening this time. We were on the tandem, which is always a handful to park. Then we got shoo’d off by one of the smoking-break employees from leaving the bike out front even though there were no customers out there. None.

We decided not to bother and took a chance on Earth and Tea Cafe, just off the town square. The vibe was totally mellow, with none of that nervous energy of coffee shops. There were lots of college town folks in there, all looking and talking groovy.

So, this is how tea works. At least you get a whole pot of the stuff.
So, this is how tea works. At least you get a whole pot of the stuff.

I ordered a slice of cake (I tend to get nauseous if I drink hot tea on an empty stomach) and chose the closest thing they had to espresso: a black tea called Double Chococcino. Their menu description — yes, they had a menu for tea — was simply “with chocolate cappuccino taste.”

What arrived looked like very weak coffee when I poured it out. I could see through it to the bottom of the cup. Warily I took a sip and found it had a sweet chocolatey taste and a bit of bite. With the cake I managed to drink the entire precious little pot.

I should not have underestimated that tea. It had a real caffeine kick. I was buzzing for an hour. The cake was pretty good as well. We ate it all.

Tea. Not Coffee. Hmmm.
Tea. Not Coffee. Hmmm.

Had I not been on the coffeeneuring hunt, I don’t think I would have tried Earth and Tea. But now that we’ve been there, I’ll probably go back. Maybe they will have some bike parking next time.

Riding with Matt H. near Massanutten Mountain
Riding with Matt H. near Massanutten Mountain

5 thoughts on “Coffeeneuring, with Some Tea in the Shenandoah Valley

  1. Ed, I saw the picture of your ’95 Ritchey with the Bilenky fork – nice bike. My wife and I just went to 28mm wide tires so we could be a little more stable on gravel. She has a Serotta Fierte with short reach brakes. You may have this on the Ritchey, but Campy levers with Shimano brakes gives you two quick releases. That’s how we get 28mm tires thru my wife’s calipers.

  2. That’s what I thought, which is why I said you may have this on the Ritchey. I learned this long ago from the late Sheldon Brown who was one of the most ingenious bike mechanics around.

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