Coffeeneuring 2016: Sipping The Fall Away

Well! This fall has been a busy one here in the TDR household. Mary and I are always on the run (in her case, with marathons, literally) nonstop from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. Coffeeneuring comes naturally as part of all that. I can hardly imagine the leaves changing color without stopping in our favorite coffee haunts as we ride around town and out into the Mid-Atlantic countryside.

This year I accomplished my sixth completion of the Coffeeneuring Challenge, but my first with a theme-within-a-theme: Classic Coffeeneuring.

Why is this, you might ask? It all got started because Mary shook the coffeeneuring world this year by amending the rules to allow weekday coffeeneuring rides.

This was all fine and good, but as an original coffeeneur, I’m happy to keep associating coffeeneuring with carefree weekends spent on the bike and not at work.

Stuck in the coffee mud, so to speak, I followed the old rules and kept my rides to Saturday, Sunday, and the one Monday holiday, Columbus Day. For that day I relied on the 2014-era Tara Rule that allows two qualifying rides on that particular three-day weekend.

Riding to Philadelphia with Mary and Carolyn

Riding to Philadelphia with Mary and Carolyn

 

This year I also went to familiar coffee shops in and around Washington and in Philadelphia, with just one new to my personal lineup. These places have become woven into my coffeeneuring fabric and I didn’t feel like much experimentation.

The sole addition, Gravel & Grind in Frederick, Md. is a seriously cool and unique bike shop and stellar coffee cafe that I’ve visited by car, but had yet to stop there more than once by bike. I recommend any lover of bikes, and coffee, stop there.

Maybe it was all the uncertainty surrounding the elections this year that led me to stick to tried-and-loved shops. Really, these locales are among my favorites on weekends and play a regular role in outings long and short. Life’s too short for bad coffee, OK? These places care and are all welcoming respites for the two-wheel adventurer.

Stepping down from the soapbox, I want to commend Mary. She gets the wave, a standing ovation and a gold star for running the Coffeeneuring Challenge again this year, which takes up a fair bit of her time.

There has been growing participation in the challenge around the world, which is always fun and inspiring to see up close. She and her homespun contest even got written about in Bicycle Times magazine (sorry, article is not online), and the Facebook Coffeeneuring group is full of tales that will warm your heart as the cold weather sets in.

So with utmost respect, I hereby detail my rides for certification by Mary. Caveat: I don’t rate coffee places on whether they are bike friendly – all the ones I visited were safe enough for locking up outside, even if they did not have bike racks.

Ride No. 1

Sunny Fall Baseball Sunday

Sunny Fall Baseball Sunday

 

  • Date and Location: Oct. 9, Peregrine Espresso, Eastern Market, Washington.
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Drink: Espresso
  • Companions: Mary
  • Observations: We coffeeneured to Peregrine at Eastern Market, one of my solid weekend stops, before going to the Nationals baseball playoff game. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. A nice little ride and a great way to start the coffeeneuring season. Plus, the Nats won!
  • Rating: ☕️ ☕️ ☕️ ☕️

 

Ride No. 2

I hope Chinatown Coffee never changes. Always an oasis in the city.

I hope Chinatown Coffee never changes. Always an oasis in the city.

 

  • Date and Location: Oct. 10, Chinatown Coffee, Washington.
  • Distance: 11.6 miles
  • Drink: Soy Cappuccino
  • Companions: Mary
  • Observations: A welcome Columbus Day holiday, invoking the Tara Rule here. Chinatown Coffee has both great espresso drinks and a welcome vibe. We got a few more miles around Hains Point to round out the lazy day off.
  • Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

 

Ride No. 3

Not quite artisan, but good flavor

Not quite artisan, but good flavor

 

  • Date and Location: Oct. 15, Caffe Amouri, Vienna, Va.
  • Distance: 88.6 miles
  • Drink: Soy Cappuccino
  • Companions: Ted, Jerry and Carolyn
  • Observations: Mary was out of town and I accompanied Ted on the “Leesburg Loop” ride with Jerry and Carolyn along for part of the way. No ride out on the W&OD Trail is complete without a stop at Caffe Amouri, another solid coffee & espresso cafe tucked among a sea of chain coffee places, with good pastries and light lunch options.
  • Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️

 

Ride No. 4

A Baked Joint. Warm outside. I took my Always Be Coffeeneuring Patch.

A Baked Joint. Warm outside. I took my Always Be Coffeeneuring Patch.

 

  • Date and Location: Oct. 16, A Baked Joint, Washington
  • Distance: 7.6 miles
  • Drink: Soy Cappuccino
  • Companions: Just Me
  • Observations: Mary still out of town. I finished Saturday’s ride with a noise in my front hub, so I took the wheel over to BicycleSpace at Franklin Square for service. Jerry, their wheel expert, was at the shop and said he could fix it then, so I went next door to ABJ for an impromptu soy cappucino. This place has really grown on me since I started working less than a mile away and we relocated Friday Coffee Club there while Swings Coffee Roasters renovates. The coffee drinks are always good and the staff are pretty groovy. Going five coffees on this stop, though without Mary it was a rather low-key outing.
  • Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

 

Ride No. 5

Out in the wilds of the Catoctins before finishing at Gravel & Grind

Out in the wilds of the Catoctins before finishing at Gravel & Grind

 

So Much Treasure

So Much Treasure

 

  • Date and Location: Oct. 22, Gravel & Grind, Frederick, Md.
  • Distance: 100 miles
  • Drink: Almond Cappuccino and Espresso
  • Companions: Jerry and Mary
  • Observations: We got out for a hilly century in the first serious cold snap of the fall. The rain held off, yay!, and we got around to our final rest stop at G&G in Frederick before riding on to the start/finish a few blocks away. James and Mel have built an incredible place in downtown Frederick, a place not known much for its cycling culture. It’s worth a stop to meet them and see the eclectic bikes, touring and bike camping gear, and enjoy the very good coffee and tasty cafe fare. The soup was a delight!
  • Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

 

Ride No. 6

Baked & Wired in Georgetown. Known for cupcakes, but we go for the espresso

Baked & Wired in Georgetown. Known for cupcakes, but we go for the espresso

 

  • Date and Location: Oct. 29, Baked & Wired, Washington
  • Distance: 101 miles
  • Drink: Espresso
  • Companions: Mary and Ted
  • Observations: A regular century ride of ours, the Sugarloaf Loop out into Maryland northwest of Washington, exits and re-enters the city through Georgetown. We rarely fail to stop at Baked & Wired, the companion location to the newer A Baked Joint (see above). Aside from the cupcakes, B&W has a high-end coffee bar, where a fine espresso is served. Mary, Ted and I stopped on the way out of town to wake up a bit more and get caught up, and it was worth it as always.
  • Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

 

Ride No. 7

Carolyn and Jerry know how to have fun on the bike

Carolyn and Jerry know how to have fun on the bike

Volo Coffeehouse, an annual coffeeneuring tradition

Volo Coffeehouse, an annual coffeeneuring tradition

 

  • Date and Location: Nov. 5, Volo Coffeehouse, Manayunk/Philadelphia
  • Distance: 29 miles
  • Drink: Soy Cappuccino
  • Companions: Mary, Jerry and Carolyn
  • Observations: Volo is our annual stop on the way into Philadelphia for the Philly Bike Expo on the Schuylkill River Trail. This year Jerry and Carolyn joined us for the drive to Phoenixville, where we left the car overnight and rode into the city. Volo was hopping as usual and the coffee was the same – fantastic. We also get lunch here so that once we get to the expo we aren’t looking for food. The day was one of the funnest of the year, and made a fitting end to a another satisfying and fulfilling Coffeeneur season!
  • Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

Conclusion: 342 miles.

I’m so glad Mary conducts this challenge, even if I am biased because she married me. In an increasingly complex and challenging world, coffeeneuring offers a way for us all to enjoy two of life’s simple pleasures. It also gets us out into that world, hopefully where we make our friendships stronger and start some new ones.

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