Coffeeneuring 2017 Finale: The Coffee Bar and Chinatown Coffee

The fading afternoon light, the cold winds, the Thanksgiving holiday planning – all signs that the coffeeneuring season is coming to an end. And so this year’s challenge wrapped up for me this weekend with the final two rides I needed to complete an official finish and get the Coffeeneuring patch (and the not-so-secret official bandana)!

Eric and Pancho, on Beach Drive

 

Saturday was a loop ride into the country north of D.C. with friends. Sunday was a little coda with Mary in downtown D.C. to one of our favorite quiet shops, Chinatown Coffee, on the last official day of the coffeeneuring season. The Sunday outing crowd tends to pack into A Baked Joint, which is fantastic, but gets overcrowded. Chinatown Coffee, just off the Gallery Place tourist zone, is more for reading, laptop work and savoring, and they let us bring the bikes inside.

Saturday: The Coffee Bar

This week I reached out to local cycling personality and the mastermind behind NFS lube, Josh Simonds, to line up a ride on Saturday. Mary was out of town until early Sunday, visiting family in Iowa. By Saturday our group was four, with randonneur pal Eric Pilsk and another Friday Coffee Club regular, Pancho Bate, who is involved with the youth-mentor organization Phoenix Bikes. Eric offered his personal ride, Tour de Burbs, a real gem. See my Strava file here.

The Ritchey goes to The Coffee Bar.

 

Going into the weekend I needed two more coffeenering rides. The first came Saturday at The Coffee Bar in Shaw. Pancho and I are both D.C. residents and he met me there before we went to join Eric and Josh on Beach Drive. I had a head cold starting and wasn’t feeling my best, but a good cappuccino and a pastry got me propped up. Pancho was not actually coffeeneuring, but the meetup for a hot drink before the ride qualifed as fulfilling my “friends and family” coffeeneuring theme this year.

Pancho arrives!

 

Our ride was a total of 96 miles up to Clarksburg and back on pictureseque back roads. We unfortunately did not get any more coffee, but we enjoyed the day thoroughly despite some heavy cloud cover and a bit of light rain. The route went though Laytonsville, a jumping off point for Potomac Pedalers rides. It used to feel so far away when I drove to Pedalers rides there. I liked the idea of getting there and home on my bike.

The rain held off and we were all done before 3:30 p.m., beating the sunset and the rain & winds that came through in the evening.

Me and Josh, out in Laytonsville.

 

Country roads on a gray fall day

Sunday: Chinatown Coffee

Mary was due back from Iowa late in the morning, so I had some time to hang out. I watched European cyclocross on TV and made espresso. It was kind of exciting at first (the bike race) but then became a time trial with the tall Dutch guy winning his fourth pro cross circuit race out of four this year.

Chinatown Coffee, bike friendly!

 

We got out in the afternoon with limited ambitions – Mary came back with her own cold, so we picked a place where we’d find seating and was close to home. Chinatown Coffee was just right.

We got the window seats

 

Mary had a hot chocolate and I had almond milk cappuccino (though it was served in a big latte cup), and split a chocolate chip cookie. After all the hoopla that comes with the annual coffeeneuring season, a simple 4.4-mile outing to a local favorite and some conversation with Mary after a few days apart was a perfect way to complete my finish.

The holiday market, open on Friday

 

Afterwards we stopped by the downtown outdoor holiday market, which opens on Friday. I wished a fond farewell to fall and the official 2017 coffeeneuring challenge.

Coffeeneuring 2017, it’s been a blast

 

Thanks for all the work Mary on the annual Coffeeneuring Challenge, and congratulations to all the finishers for getting out there on two wheels in search of hot drinks and community. See you on the road soon!

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Coffeeneuring 2017 No. 4 and No. 5: Close to Home

After some recent weekends on the road and regular long days at work, Mary and I stayed around home Saturday and Sunday. The D.C. Randonneurs yesterday ran a brevet on the Eastern Shore (The Flatbread 200K), but neither of us had the drive to get up before dawn and ride in the 20s and 30s.

Swings on Sunday

 

The upside was that I was able to get my 2017 coffeeneuring program back on track. I needed two rides in Philadelphia to give myself a buffer, and got just one. That means I had to coffeeneur both days this weekend and get out there both days next weekend to claim an official finish. The end of coffeeneuring comes way too fast!

Mary displays the new limited edition coffeeneuring bandana

 

Saturday we did a minimalistic 3.7 mile ride (Strava file here) to the Velo Cafe coffee bar at District Hardware and Bikes in the new Wharf development. The Wharf is just down Maine Avenue SW from our place, less than a mile away. Mary and I took a longcut via the grocery store by Nationals Park (an errandonnee, if you will) to get the required two miles.

Velo Cafe at District Hardware and Bikes

 

I had an almond milk cappuccino and Mary asked for a decaf macchiato. Mine was ok but a little bitter; Mary realized after we left that they did not make hers a decaf. Oops!

The cafe appears to be still getting its legs and though they grind Vigilante beans, there is room for improvement. We’ll check back in a few weeks.

Living the dream at the Harris Teeter parking garage

 

Mary takes to the bleachers

 

Sunday we had another errand to accomplish – handing off a winter cycling jacket I sold. We agreed to meet the buyer at Swing’s Coffee Roasters in Alexandria and rode the Spectrum tandem there. The distance is about eight miles each way. Temperatures were warmer today and we had a pleasant ride with a lap around Hains Point on the way back. The full 21-mile route is here.

The paths around the Mall and Potomac River were pleasantly unpopulated. I like that part of winter in D.C.!

Tandem coffeeneuring, the best

 

Next Saturday Mary is away – I’ll need a riding buddy to go coffeeneuring with me to keep my “friends and family” theme intact. Or I’ll have to designate one of my bikes as family, which they kind of are.

 

 

Coffeeneuring 2017 No. 3: Philly Bike Expo!

Last weekend (Nov. 3-5) I completed my third coffeeneuring ride of the season in conjunction with our now-annual weekend at the Philly Bike Expo. The actual coffeeneuring ride took place on Sunday, when we stopped at Volo Coffeehouse in Manayunk. It’s become one of my traditional coffeeneuring stops since we started attending PBE in 2013, and it’s always good.

Mary riding in on the SRT. Coming in on Friday meant easy cruising.

 

Heading into Manayunk

 

Volo is about eight miles outside Philly on the way to Phoenixville (see the route here), where we leave the car and ride in on the Schuylkill River Trail, or the SRT as it is known locally. The total distance is about 29 miles to the convention center. This year we rode in to Philly on Friday, Nov. 3, so that we could go to see Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile at the Tower Theater (great show, nice crowd too!).

We had a lovely coffee at Volo on Friday but it did not count for coffeeneuring because I’m on the classic approach, so only weekend stops for me.

 

Volo Coffeehouse. Almond milk cappuccino for me and a hot chocolate for Mary.

 

The Expo was its usual over-the-top amazing collection of poeple, bikes and gear. Here are the highlights:

  • A great talk with Dwan Shepherd of Co-Motion Cycles about our next tandem.
  • Quality time with the guys from Velo Orange. Congratulations to Igor and Adrian on their new baby boy!
  • Hanging out with Deb Banks, head saddler of Rivet Saddles, and Ely Rodriguez of RuthWorks Bags, who shared a booth. Both fun people and great products. I ended up buying my first Rivet saddle, an Independence, as I restock my bikes after giving up on Brooks B17, which no longer works for me.
  • Meeting up with friends wandering the show, and talking with the exhibitors. We had some great conversations! This year we also ran into Mary’s relatives from Richmond, who were there helping out a business friend who had a booth.
  • Checking out all the cool gear. I took advantage of the opportunity to test the Elite Direto smart trainer – I want to add some structured workouts to my cycling.

Here are some photos:

Mary conquers Philly, again

 

Dwan of Co-Motion and me.

 

Barb, Ron and Joe. Great to see you guys!

 

Velo Orange goodness.

 

University of Iowa bike design professor and amazing rider Steve McGuire was there again.

 

Deb Banks and Mary. Yay Deb!

 

We met the BiKyle guys, and they were a lot of fun.

 

Thanks Philly and Bina Bilenky for an awesome PBE2017. See you next year!

 

Coffeeneuring 2017 No. 2: Small Wheels in Pittsburgh

This weekend I did not do any coffeeneuring, which is kind of sad because the weather on Saturday was gorgeous. Mary had a solo event lined up, so I went and rode the DC Randonneurs’ Civil War 200K brevet from Frederick. I did not buy any coffee before or after the ride, though I did stop at Gravel & Grind afterwards.

They closed early for a special event, but James was there and sold me a Berthoud Aspin saddle, which made the trip worth it.

But! I did get in my second 2017 stop last week in Pittsburgh, so here’s the belated report.

Chris and Mary at Thick Bikes, with the Coffeeneuring Patch

 

We drove up on the 20th to visit my daughter Dagny, who is in her second year at the University of Pittsburgh, or Pitt to you folks from the Keystone State.

The BikePGH Headquarters

 

Saturday was a pefectly sunny warm day and we hoofed it around Lawrenceville, checking out some locales on the community artist tour and a small farmers market. Later we went to the South Side to check in at Thick Bikes, which celebrates coffeeneuring season with a kickoff party.  We bought some fenders for a project and Chris threw in a cool Thick buff for us.

Great place. Espress a Mano in Lawrenceville

 

Farmers market in Lawrenceville

 

Dagny and me

 

Dagny doesn’t ride so we made the most of our feet and that was great, actually. We stopped twice at Espresso a Mano, my personal choice so far in PGH, located in Lawrenceville, so all was good.

Sunday morning Dagny had to put in some hours at her work-study job, leaving time for me and Mary to get in our coffeeneuring ride. We took folding bikes because they stash easily in the car and are suited to short rides. Mary took her Bike Friday Tikit and I took the funky Dahon Hon Solo singlespeed.

Small wheels! Bike Friday Tikit for Mary, Dahon Hon Solo for me

 

Our destination was Commonplace Coffee in Squirrel Hill, just past Shenley Park. We went here on the same trip last year. It is about three miles from our hotel near Pitt and we didn’t have to drop down to the river – the ride back up would have been a walking affair with the Dahon.

Mary rolls with small wheel pride in Shenley Park

 

Commonplace pulls a really nice espresso, and make an equally good cappuccino. The pastries were quite tasty and fresh. Commonplace feels a bit old school but it’s only been in operation at Squirrel Hill since 2010. It is an expansion location for Commonplace, which started in Indiana, Pa.

We noodled a bit in Shenley Park and around the Pitt campus as the day warmed up. Total: 8 miles. Thanks again for the good memories, Pittsburgh!

Cool mural outside Iron City in Oakland

 

This Friday we are off to Philadelphia for our weekend at the Philly Bike Expo. We have some coffee faves there that make the weekend special, along with the amazing bike show.

Have a great week and enjoy all the coffeeneuring! It’s going strong and worldwide this year – see the latest roundup from Mary at Chasing Mailboxes.

 

Coffeeneuring 2017 No. 1: Shenandoah Sojourn

I consider the annual Coffeeneuring Challenge the best time of the year for cyclists who love coffee, tea or just taking a relaxing break during a ride.  It’s a wonderful segue into the fall after a long year of happy riding.

Me and Jerry, also coffeeneuring

By now Mary and I have enjoyed/completed in 2017:

  • the winter mileage buildup (and the Freezing Saddles challenge) and an early season marathon for Mary;
  • the DC Randonneurs spring fleche and brevets;
  • an unsupported two-week July tandem tour in the Rockies;
  • late summer long rides for both of us and fall marathons for Mary.

These days we continue to ride, but we also like a long stop more than usual. What better way to enjoy the fall weather than a ride and a nice destintion for hot beverages?

If you’ve stumbled onto this blog and are unaware of the growing attention to Coffeeneuring, read all about it here at Mary’s much better blog (compared to this one) Chasing Mailboxes. It was launched seven years ago and attracts a global following.

She encourages theme-within-a-theme approaches, so I am adopting two:

  1. One will be Classic Coffeeneuring, with my qualifying outings only on the weekends.
  2. The other will be Friends and Family. No solo rides, you have been warned, pals and relatives. The success of my plan depends on you!

I kicked off the challenge this year on Saturday by joining Mary (best friend/spouse) on tandem with our pal Jerry S. (riding friend/actual friend) for a 115-mile loop from Marshall, Va. to Luray and back via Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley. It was a shortened version of the 200K route “We Can See Clearly Now” that includes two gaps — Edith and Thornton — the latter going over iconic Skyline Drive. You can see the full route here and our version here.

We got the tandem up Edith Gap

The day started out foggy and cool, but by mid-morning bright sun broke out and the temperatures rose into the mid-70s with light winds. The roads had relatively little traffic except around Front Royal and coming down Rt. 211 after Thornton Gap.

Atop Edith Gap

Our Coffeeneuring stop was at Gathering Grounds restaurant and espresso bar in Luray. I had a pretty decent cappuccino with soy milk. Jerry coffeeneured with a standard cappuccino, and Mary had a Coke (so no real coffeeneuring for her). We also had sandwiches and the three us shared two slices of apple pie.

Mary asks that we rate our stops on bike-friendliness. GG has no formal bike parking out front, though they do have a lovely Mercian hanging from the ceiling inside. There’s no real attempt to cater to cyclists, but that’s normal in these small Virginia towns.

Jerry leaned his sturdy Independent Fabrication sport-tourer along the front window and we parked the Spectrum around the side of the building. Not totally safe, but Luray isn’t very sketchy. Next time I’ll figure out how to lock.

Downtown Luray

The ride back to Marshall was just about perfect, though we started slowly with all the food to digest. After the climb over Thornton Gap the route takes the sublime Gid Brown Hollow and Harris Hollow roads, with some gravel, through quiet hills and forest to “little” Washington, Va.

Fodderstack Road to Flint Hill was bathed in late day golden sunshine. We stayed on Crest Hill Road from there all the way back to Marshall, cutting off four miles from the route, which normally goes over to the Orlean Store and then comes back to Crest Hill.

Fodderstack Road

We wrapped up with almost an hour of daylight left. The early sunsets are a thing this time of year, even before we set the clocks back.

I feel like we kicked off coffeenering the proper way, on a warm October day that will contrast nicely with the final weekend in November when sunset comes early the temperatures are likely to be a fair bit colder.

Until Ride No. 2, happy coffeeneuring!

 

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.

Coffeeneuring 2015: Philly Finale!

The 2015 Coffeeneuring season, as usual, came and went way too fast — just like the best days of fall itself.

As I write this, the leaves are long past their peak color, if they are still on the trees at all. Washington has overcast skies and temperatures in the 40s. Winter is coming after all.

I fired up turkey and bean chili in the crock pot cooker on Sunday, in a nod to the Thanksgiving week and the loss of the warmer weather we enjoyed in October.

That said, it’s been a great fall and one to remember.

As most of this blog’s readers know, I have the great honor (and unbelievable good fortune) of being the spouse of Mary, @Coffeeneur on the Internet, the chieftain of The Coffeeneuring Challenge.

MG SRT

The peaceful Schuylkill River Trail

Coffeeneuring is more than just a bunch of fun coffee rides in this house. Global coffeeneuring becomes a thriving topic before, during and after the official season.

Mary tracks posts, fields all kinds of creative rules requests, and logs in the submissions. “The first entry from Canada!” and “did you see Paul Rozelle’s kids rode a metric century with him?” are typical of the conversation banter in our home these days.

This is all very much fun, and your reports are a source of motivation to go, see and do.

Looking back on our coffeeneuring rides this year, the theme is clearly  “friends and family.” All my coffeeneuring outings this year were with Mary, and most of them were with riding pals.

I’ve gone for a solo outing at times to get to seven official rides — not this year. For Mary, for loyal friends and for all you amiable fellow travelers, I’m thankful.

It’s who we ride with, more than where we go, isn’t it?

Manayunk

Caffeinated and ready for expo-ing

My final official ride involves another theme for 2015 — familiarity. We  chose places this year that we’ve visited previously, mostly because they make such good espresso and stand above most others.

I’ll seek out some new coffee stops next year, but it felt good to go back to shops that make the stop worthwhile.

That was truly the case for my final official ride — another one both familiar and with Mary — from Phoenixville, Pa. to the annual Philly Bike Expo.

This was our third attendance to this quirky and welcoming two-day show in downtown Philadelphia, organized by Bilenky Cycle Works.

As in past years, we drove up and parked the car in Phoenixville on Saturday morning. From there we rode the 28 miles to downtown Philadelphia on the quiet Schuylkill River Trail, with a coffeeneuring stop at Volo Coffeehouse in Manayunk.

MG Phoenixville

Leaving the car in Phoenixville

Cyclists of all stripes stop here for coffee and food; the beans are from Colombe Coffee Roasters and the staff knows what they are doing.

There we met up with expo first-timers Carolyn C. and Jerry S., who also drove and rode. They parked closer to Manayunk, about eight miles from downtown, so we had a nice meetup. Much merriment ensued! It was cool and cloudy but we sat outside anyway.

From there we rode into downtown and dove into the expo after handing our bikes off to the bike valet volunteers. We had a nice time seeing a number of our friends from the Bike DC scene and from the greater northeast.

Oh, and we looked at a lot of cool bike stuff and talked to a number of nice vendors, like Peter White and Ethan from Co-Motion. We like the show, and we plant to continue going.

Maybe we can get a bike train going next year. Care to join us?

Mary Philadelphia

So long, Philly. See you next year!

Here are the details:

Coffeeneuring No. 7

Destination: Volo Coffeehouse, Philadelphia, Pa., Nov.  Oct 18.

Beverage: Espresso and Soy Cappuccino.

Distance: 29.2 mi. See my route here.

Company: Mary, Carolyn, Jerry.

Bike Friendly? No actual bike racks, but plenty of lockable poles and fencing. We locked the bikes together and kept an eye on them. This is a cyclist hangout so someone has to be pretty brazen to lift a bike from outside.

Observation: Volo Coffeehouse does a great job with coffee drinks. It’s something of a high volume place that nonetheless takes pride in quality. They also make excellent  sandwiches. I had a sandwich both going to and coming back from Philly the next day and they were delicious.

That’s a wrap for this year, folks. All the thanks in the world to Mary and all of you riders who make coffeeneuring special this year.

 

 

 

 

Coffeeneuring No. 5 and No. 6: Weekends in Motion

We were busy on all of the weekends last month, taking advantage of October’s waning daylight and warm afternoons. That’s my introduction for this flashback post to rides a couple of weeks ago as I try to get caught up on my coffeeneuring reports.

For most of us, the last day to complete the challenge was Sunday Nov. 15. The completed submission reports are coming in fast to Mary from all over the world, so I better get cracking.

On the road to Poolesville under a bright October sun.

On the road to Poolesville under a bright October sun.

 

Coffeeneuring heralds both the start of October and gives us excellent reasons to get out on the bike as the night comes earlier each day (before the hammer drops and we turn the clocks back) and cold weather sets in.

On Sunday, Oct. 18 we combined coffeeneuring with a delightful impromptu ride that came together late in the week via word of mouth at Friday Coffee Club and on the interwebs.

I mentioned that we should undertake the latest irregular French Toast Ride. A number of folks thought this was a good idea, and by Sunday it was a real thing.

This is a simple out-and-back jaunt from D.C. to Poolesville, Md., a staple destination for local riders via River Road in Montgomery County. Then we put a theme on it by going to Bassett’s Restaurant in Poolesville and ordering french toast (or pancakes). Voila — concept ride!

The French Toast Riders. Courtesy Mary Gersemalina.

The French Toast Riders. Courtesy Mary Gersemalina.

 

The air was crisp with our first dose of fall cool, but no matter, the sun was out and our group of nine had a fun ride. We also had the pleasure of hosting Pittsburgh duo Noah and Sarah, who came to D.C. to ride the C&O Canal Towpath and GAP Trail back home.

Cool enough for layers and gloves.

Cool enough for layers and gloves.

 

Also along were mileage eaters Ted, Rachel, Eric and Rod, and our regular compadre Jerry S. In sum, a mix of friends new and old — that’s my kind of bike ride, folks. Some of us ended the ride at Room 11 in Northwest D.C. (see below) for some very good espresso drinks.

Back in Rock Creek Park. Courtesy Mary Gersemalina.

Back in Rock Creek Park. Courtesy Mary Gersemalina.

 

The weekend of Oct. 24 Mary saved her legs for the Marine Corps Marathon and was not up for a ride, so I coffeeneured on Saturday when I met up with Jerry, and other randonneur pals Eric (The Wise), Eric (The Younger), and the debonair Roger H. for a long permanent ride from D.C. to the Antietem battlefield.

Our randonneur group, at Gapland.

Our randonneur group, at Gapland.

 

We began and ended at an outlet of the Mermaid-logo coffee chain, about six miles from home, and I had  soy “latte” before we started — quotes because their version is a big sugary concoction with a dose of harsh burnt espresso thrown in. Anyway, I could claim it as a “not part of an event” coffeeneuring ride.

However, I’m not counting it because there are much better locally-owned spots in D.C. to publicize.

I’m going to count Sunday the 25th instead — sorry guys! Mary successfully completed her fifth MCM (way to go, whoo!) and we went coffeeneuring together. As we have arranged in past years, I rode the Co-Motion tandem to the finish line with her Sidi shoes and helmet.

On the 14th Street Bridge, Mary stops for a picture.

On the 14th Street Bridge, Mary stops for a picture.

 

After crossing the finish line and getting her medal, we pedaled up to Eastern Market for lunch and coffee. I find it romantic that Mary comes back from her big triumph with me.

Medal earned, Mary is ready to do some coffeeneuring.

Medal earned, Mary is ready to do some coffeeneuring.

 

I still have to comply with the coffeeneuring bookeeping rules, so here are the details.

Coffeeneuring No. 5

Destination: Room 11, Washington, D.C. Oct 18.

Beverage: Soy Cappuccino.

Distance: 76.4 mi. See my route here.

Company: Mary, Jerry, Noah and Sarah from Pittsburgh.

Bike Friendly? There is a rack outside on the sidewalk, and a window view of the bikes from the small room by the espresso bar. Thumbs up.

Observation: Room 11 is another repeat visit from past coffeeneuring. It’s a small place but they make some seriously good coffee drinks (from beans by D.C.-based Madcap and San Francisco-based Four Barrel roasters) and sell awesome bakery items, with a dinner menu in the evenings.

The cappuccino was terrific. I like an espresso or espresso drink after a long bike ride as a little reward. The cappuccino here and the company really made for a lovely end to the day. I just wish Room 11 was closer to our house.

 

Mocha. Cappuccino. Cookie. The good life.

Mocha. Cappuccino. Cookie. The good life.

 

Noah and Sarah, tourers and coffeeneurs.

Noah and Sarah, tourers and coffeeneurs.

 

Coffeeneuring No. 6

Destination: Peregrine Espresso, Eastern Market, Washington, D.C. Oct 25.

Beverage: Espresso.

Distance: 12 mi. See my route here.

Company: Just me and Mary.

Bike Friendly? Good. Sidewalk racks nearby and lots of poles and fencing. If you sit outside, your bike is within arm’s reach.

Observation: Peregrine is one of the premier espresso shops in D.C. and is a regular stop for us at Eastern Market. They serve strong, super-short shots and I normally get a triple (or, “triplo” if you are Italian). I like going there, but I’m glad they are a bit out of my normal orbit as I’d end up hanging out too much.

It was great to coffeeneur there with Mary, who was enjoying the glow of finishing her marathon (her third this fall).

Next Time: Coffeeneuring Finale in Philly!

 

 

Coffeeneuring 3 and 4: Mary and I Go Running in Harpers Ferry

Coffeeneuring No. 3

Destination: Lost Dog Coffee, Shepherdstown, W.V. Oct 10.

Beverage: Espresso.

Distance: 11.6 miles. See my route from Harpers Ferry here.

Company: Just me.

Bike Friendly? No dedicated bike parking outside, but there are racks along German St., or just lean your bike somewhere, it’s a mellow scene.

Observation: Lost Dog is a funky small college town place that makes really good espresso. There’s not much pretense. I’m a fan.

Early Saturday morning outside Lost Dog in Shepherdstown

Early Saturday morning outside Lost Dog in Shepherdstown

This weekend, Mary and I repeated a bike & run trip we made last year, again to Harpers Ferry, W.V., so she could participate for the third time in the Freedom’s Run Marathon on Saturday. In an unexpected turn of events, I decided to end a decades-long absence from running and signed up for the 10K option.

I ran quite a lot in high school and some in college, but gradually quit in my 20s and then got into cycling in my 30s. (Ha ha, see that I’m not telling you how long since then?)

As a New Year’s resolution, I set a goal to get my running legs back in shape, and complete a 10K in the fall. I ran two or three times a week, up to 4 miles at a time, and this was the run I targeted. Freedom’s Run is a smaller event with a lot of charm and support, and we like Shepherdstown — where the 5K, 10K and half marathon were staged — and where the point-to-point marathon finished.

Mary rode out Friday afternoon on the C&O Canal Towpath. I rode out the 67 miles after work on the alternate route, via the paved W&OD Trail to Leesburg.

From there I took back roads to Brunswick, Md., and then the C&O the last few miles to Harper’s Ferry, arriving at 11:30 pm.

Early Saturday I rode just before dawn to Shepherdstown, and arrived at Lost Dog as owner Garth was setting up inside. Two other runners were also waiting. He opened at 7:30 and I had a delicious espresso and some banana bread.

Then I went over to the run check-in at Shepherd University. I managed to finish the 10K in 54:27 (track is here) without injuring myself — I think/hope! My left knee has been achy but I got through without any pain.

Gathering for the 10K

Gathering for the 10K

A nice bonus was seeing Kirstin C., also known on Twitter as @ultrarunnergirl, who is a regular at Friday Coffee Club and an experienced ultramarathoner. She and husband/ultramarathoner Tom where there with her parents. Kirstin ran with her mom on the 5K course and we greeted each other as I stumbled past.

This was a big accomplishment for me. Thanks to Mary, of course, for the guidance and encouragement this year, and Kirstin, her parents, and Tom for the congratulations at the end.

Afterwards I went back to Lost Dog for another espresso and another treat, then rode out on the course and caught up to Mary as she hit mile 22.

Mary was smiling and having a good run. The day was perfect for running — dry and slightly cool, with bright sun.

She finished in 4:42, which is what she hoped, and looked great coming into the finish.

Nearing the end, mile 23, running strong.

Nearing the end, mile 23, running strong.

After some celebration and lunch at the Bavarian Inn, Mary took the shuttle bus back to Harpers Ferry and I got a third espresso (!) at Lost Dog to revive me before riding back to our hotel. I was tired, but the day was so nice and I decided I could manage the 11 miles. It was worth the effort.

Coffeeneuring No. 4

Destination: Beans in the Belfry, Brunswick, Md., Oct 11.

Beverage: Soy Latte.

Distance: 68.4 miles from Harpers Ferry to D.C. Our route via the C&O Canal Towpath is here.

Company: Mary, and lots of touring riders and runners and walkers and their dogs and kids.

Bike Friendly? Yes. BITB has space for bikes out front and a hose for spraying off the dirt from the unpaved C&O.

Observation: Beans in the Belfry is about all you get for decent coffee along the C&O south of Shepherdstown, and they have good sandwiches and other lunch fare. We always stop there. You’re better off getting a latte (my choice today) or cappuccino rather than an espresso.

Leaving Harpers Ferry on a cool fall morning.

Leaving Harpers Ferry on a cool fall morning.

Mary and I got up tired on Sunday morning, but it was another cool, dry and clear day, so no complaints. We trundled the bikes across the bridge over the Potomac River and down the C&O to Brunswick for coffee and breakfast sandwiches.

Back at Beans in the Belfry, everybody's favorite stop in Brunswick, Md.

Back at Beans in the Belfry, everybody’s favorite stop in Brunswick, Md.

A bunch of C&O touring riders came in, leaving their hybrid-y mountain bikes with camping gear outside. We gratefully sat for a good while, pulled ourselves together and updated our social feeds.

Mary sports her marathon T-shirt. Well earned!

Mary sports her marathon T-shirt. Well earned!

Back on the trail, we made our way back to D.C. with a stop for snacks at the White’s Ferry store.

Rest stop under gorgeous skies at White's Ferry

Rest stop under gorgeous skies at White’s Ferry

The C&O Canal Towpath was busy with camping riders.

The C&O Canal Towpath was busy with camping riders.

The trail was pretty active with walkers around Great Falls, but otherwise we had smooth sailing.

Mary manages to keep smiling on the C&O, despite tired legs.

Mary manages to keep smiling on the C&O, despite tired legs.

My bike started making a weird ticking noise just as we rode into Georgetown for a celebratory stop at Baked & Wired, our regular haunt when we come in from C&O. With both of us having Columbus Day Monday off from work, we enjoyed the prospect of a full day to recover from the big weekend on and off the bikes.

There is definitely something satisfying about riding out to our weekend adventure — especially in the fall with the great weather we had.

Until next week!

Coffeeneuring 2015 No. 1: Mary, Jerry and I Go to DC’s The Coffee Bar

Destination: The Coffee Bar, Washington DC

Distance: 7.2 miles. See our route here.

Company: Mary, Jerry, Carolyn, John A., a big piece of cake, and friends.

Bike Friendly? Thumbs up. Racks outside, a front outdoor sitting area to keep an eye on the bikes.

Observation: Low-key neighborhood hangout spot. Great for a casual weekend outing. The coffee is spectacular.

Coffeeneuring season has returned, and in honor of this auspicous event, I’ve oiled the chain and pumped up the tires here on TDR. I’ve been on a long hiatus from blogging, waiting for inspiration and motivation. There’s nothing better than Coffeeneuring to get back in the saddle, so to speak.

Mary (the very inventor of The Coffeeneuring Challenge) and I were signed up to ride the Seagull Century on the Co-Motion tandem, but the organizers canceled the big annual event because of the dire weather forecast.

There we were yesterday, hanging around the house, when Jerry S. emailed about getting together to inaugurate the Coffeeneur season together. The big rains didn’t materialize, though the day was grey, cool and misty, making it perfect for a little ride in DC and some hot beverages.

Jerry and Mary and the streets of DC.

Jerry and Mary and the streets of DC.

 

I paused in my push to complete the building of my new Velo Orange Campeur touring bike. This bike is going to be my daily commuter and grocery-getter, with the occasional foray into the country. It replaces my 1992 Cannonade T-700, whose frameset has been hung up. It had some problems I got tired of dealing with.

We do most of our country riding on the tandem these days. I’ll probably take the VO to Harpers Ferry this coming weekend to the Freedom’s Run event, where Mary is running the marathon and I’ve entered the 10K.

Back to yesterday: Jerry came by our place and we talked bikes and Nitto front racks for a few minutes in The Dining Room Bike Shop. Off we went with Mary through mostly-deserted streets of DC. I rode my Rivendell SimpleOne singlespeed bike, which doesn’t get much use but is always a pleasure to ride.

The Coffee Bar on a Saturday afternoon.

The Coffee Bar on a Saturday afternoon.

 

The Coffee Bar is billed as an “eco-chic coffeehouse offering seasonal specialty drinks alongside bagels & pastries in a cozy space,” housed in an old hardware store. I’ve coffeeneured here before.  The vibe is hipster&laptop, but the staff are all really nice and the espresso is top notch.

It’s a good landing spot for apartment-dwellers in the Logan Circle area who wear nice clothes and appreciate good coffee and tea.

A Portrait of the Coffeeneur.

A Portrait of the Coffeeneur.

 

We saw two other riders we know there, and John A. came out to sit with us. He had already claimed credit for his coffeeneuring trip of the day at another place, so this was a bonus-level stop for him.

Mary, Jerry and John (and your photographer in the window).

Mary, Jerry and John (and your photographer in the window).

 

We spent a pleasant hour outside in the fall air discussing the nature of the states that are in the Midwest (Dakotas? Kansas?) until Carolyn and friends rode up after brunch, and that led to some nice conversation about bikes and city riding.

We complimented Carolyn on the fine chocolate and raspberry cake that she made, which Jerry had brought along for us to sample.

All together now. Coffeeneuring!

All together now. Coffeeneuring!

Oh, the coffee: I had an espresso (which was excellent) and a soy cappuccino (which was also excellent). Highly recommended.

Afterwards Mary and I got pizza dough and other stuff at the grocery store and went home, under more mist. Twitter was buzzing with people posting their Coffeeneur outings yesterday, and I was glad we got out on Day One to join them.