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.



50 States in 62 miles

This weekend I rode the latest edition of the 50 States and 13 Colonies Ride, an annual fundraiser for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. The main route route ties together all 50 state-named streets in the District of Columbia and is known for many hills and intersections.

Going Past the Capitol

Going Past the Capitol


For the second year in a row, I rode the entire route. In the past Mary and I shortcut the route to shorten the time – the rolling average is about 11 m.p.h. – and get to the afterparty sooner. Last year I rode solo while Mary ran a marathon, and pushed all the way around, just to say I did it.

This year Mary joined me about four miles into the ride after a snafu upended her marathon plan and she rallied to come out to ride the course. I rode my refurbished ’87 Bianchi Super Sport with fat 650b tires, while Mary piloted her lovely Rawland Nordavinden.

Southwest DC -- The BEST

Southwest DC — The BEST


The weather was hot, well into the 90s, and the going was predictably slow. On my GPS track I count a minimum of 45 complete stops over the 62-mile route, and I would think that is undercounting them by a few. The route has about 3,000 feet of climbing, not all that much, but all in steep little segments that sap the legs.

The vibe is very celebratory for the first half, as talkative groups form to ride from stoplight to stoplight on quiet Saturday morning streets.

Jean and Mary at Union Station

Jean and Mary at Union Station


The riders break up after the midpoint after the hills of Anacostia, as more hills come into play in the Northeast and Northwest quadrants and legs get heavy.  It felt like an ultra-long commute:  more tiring from all the intersections and stops and starts and car traffic than the actual distance. We found a flat on Mary’s bike when we came out from lunch at District Taco, and that slowed us a bit more.

As such, we would never do it on tandem! The big bike would be too much to manage for me to pilot us around the cars, and for Mary having to get on and off the saddle all day.

WABA did their usual diligent job getting us started, though there were scores of people still checking in at the start at 8 a.m. in Adams Morgan. Everybody got out there in the end.

Signing In at the Start

Signing In at the Start


The rest stops were festive, including the annual one at mile 52 hosted by our cycling pal Mike and partner Lisa in Northwest at their home.

Mike and His Handy Floor Pump

Mike and His Handy Floor Pump


The Anacostia stop had a bit of homecoming scene, as we saw some of our randonneuring pals.

Dave and Kelly at the Anacostia River Stop

Dave and Kelly at the Anacostia River Stop


Thankfully, there was no rain, but it was just hot and humid going, especially when we were stopped at intersections. That gave us a chance to talk with fellow riders, however, including Boomer, who participates in Mary’s annual Coffeeneuring Challenge.

Boomer and Mary

Boomer and Mary


A number of Friday Coffee Club regulars lingered at the afterparty in Adams Morgan at the Mellow Mushroom, where we arrived after 3 p.m. I bought some WABA socks as a souvenir. We were pretty fried and the time enjoying a cold beverage and pizza with friends was really nice.

Bikes Outside the Mellow Mushroom

Bikes Outside the Mellow Mushroom


In case you want to see all my photos, I posted a little set.

We took Sunday off the bike. Both of us are feeling the recent miles, and Mary puts in a fair number of running miles each week in addition. It was a welcome break.

This coming weekend we’re back on the tandem at the Potomac Pedalers’ Back Roads Century in Shepherdstown, W.Va., one of our favorite towns in the region. Our pals Eric P. and Rudi R. are involved in the ride organization, so that got us to join the Pedalers this year and sign up for the ride.