Back Roads Century: Hello Again PPTC

After a long time away, I rejoined the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club this year, specifically to ride the Back Roads Century.

The club moved it last year from its longtime location in Berryville, Va. to lovely Shepherdstown, W.Va., and routed it over the rolling hills of the state’s eastern panhandle.  The reviews were good and we know two of the organizers, Eric Pilsk and Rudy Riet, so that got me and Mary interested.

The forecast this last Sunday was mixed, with showers predicted, so Mary took the day off from riding while I grabbed a single bike and went out to Shepherdstown all by myself. I did everything I could to ward off the rain, such as bringing a rain jacket, carrying my rainproof camera and riding with full fenders, among other it’s-going-to-rain strategies, which involved a fair number of Ziploc bags. I even left my tinted sunglasses in the car and rode with clear lenses.

The rain never appeared, to everyone’s delight, and the support and route were terrific. I rode with a number of Friday Coffee Club regulars, just like at the 50 States Ride last weekend, but this time out on the open roads.

Here is the route at my Garmin page.  The full set of photos can be seen at my Flickr page.

Quick Stop at Lost Dog Coffee Before Leaving Town

Quick Stop at Lost Dog Coffee Before Leaving Town

I had to stop at Lost Dog, a Shepherdstown institution.  Here you can see the Rivendell Rambouillet I rode today.

Engle Molers Road

Engle Molers Road

The ride was well stretched out by the time I got on the route about 8 a.m. The hills did a good job in splitting up the big groups, which made for easy riding.

Mike R. and Me

Mike R. and Me

Mike was out there. It was our first time riding together with neither of us on tandem.

John Pickett Getting Down the Road

John Pickett Getting Down the Road

John had his Surly out and we shared a few miles.

Cindy and John on their Co-Motion Tandem

Cindy and John on their Co-Motion Tandem

These guys, like us, dabble both in the randonneuring and big event rides.

Jean and Dave and their cool Co-Motion Tandem

Jean and Dave and their cool Co-Motion Tandem

Jean and Dave always look like they are having fun. Today was no exception, and they gave me a nice draft on this section.

Gordon and Kay – Another Tandem Team

Gordon and Kay – Another Great Tandem Team

It was a delight to see Kay and Gordon, our touring companions from Labor Day weekend. They were decked out in red and black.

Lots of Food at the Rest Stops

Lots of Food at the Third of Four Rest Stops

The Pedalers did a good job at the rest stops. This one at mile 61 had hummus sandwiches and lots of mini-Clif Bars.

Last Rest Stop, Famous Potatoes

Last Rest Stop, Famous Potatoes

Though it was warm and humid at mile 83.5 at the Yankauer Nature Preserve, the potatoes hit the spot and got me back to the finish.

Eric Pilsk cresting one of the many small hills

Eric Pilsk cresting one of the many small hills

This coming weekend, Mary and I are off the bike for a trip to Pittsburgh to see my daughter, who is in her first semester of college at Pitt. We’re also going to the Thrival Festival to stand in a field with thousands of people and listen to modern music. See you next week!


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.

The Feeling Returns

When inspiration strikes, the feeling is magical. After this weekend, I’m enthused about spending more time out on the open road, now that summer is ending.

How so? Last week Mary and I decided to ride a DC Randonneurs 300K course, the “Contrary Mother of All 300Ks,” as a two-day, no credit tour. We’re randonneurs in the spring, but the rest of the year, we veer more toward touring and centuries, and this one is a beauty.

The West Virginia town of Romney, nestled in the hills, is at mile 102 and has a good hotel and dinner options. The second day would be about 90 miles, just as hilly but not as long. See the routes: Day 1 and Day 2.

We also put out the word on the DC Randonneurs listserv to see if anyone wanted to come along. To our happy surprise, another tandem team joined us – Gordon M. and his wife Kay T., on a lovely black Co-Motion tandem.

Gordon and Kay

Gordon and Kay


I’ve known Gordon for 20 years but only recently met Kay, a very active rider who has a successful masters-level bike racing pedigree. They were married just three months ago and are enjoying newlywed bliss.

We met Saturday in Middletown, Va. in the Shenandoah Valley, and pedaled off to the north and west into the rolling hills. Mary and I stuffed the Carradice with a few essentials, while they carried lightly loaded panniers.

The weather cooperated wonderfully with bright skies, low humidity, and moderate temperatures in the 80s. This after forecasts earlier in the week talked about possible rain from a tropical storm moving up the Atlantic coast. For once, the storm moved away and we were left with perfectly clear late summer weather — whoo!

This route is rarely flat and we were a bit quicker up the hills, but Kay and Gordon came on fast on the descents and flats and were rarely far away. We stopped to enjoy the orchard views and lingered at the rest stops, including a well-deserved late lunch in Capon Bridge.

Riding along the Capon River

Riding along the Capon River


Dinner at a local place that shall go unnamed in Romney was slow and kind of odd, but it gave us time to get better acquainted and learn more about each other’s bike collections. I’m afraid I took the prize for boring everyone with the nuances of 650b bikes vs. gravel grinders vs. singlespeeds, and so on. (See? I’m doing it now!)

Day 2: Sweet and Scenic


Sunday dawned a little overcast and cool. Mary and I rode by ourselves down into town to the Sheetz for a coffee-type drink and breakfast sandwiches, while Gordon and Kay lit out on the course toward Lost River ahead of us. The motorbike guys at the Sheetz asked us about the tandem and I found out a little about Honda Gold Wing touring motorcyles. Word is, the engines last forever. “The Cadillac of motorcycles,” one guy said.

A brief derailleur adjustment and photo stop

A brief derailleur adjustment and photo stop


On the way to Lost River we rode over one hill after another on quiet roads, with just the occasional herd of cows and sheep looking on. One little dog came out to chase us, but I was certain the chain would stop it at the road’s edge. Then we noticed the chain wasn’t anchored! It gave a hearty chase, dragging the chain. That pup won the day’s prize for spirit.

Speaking of dragging chains, we kept dropping ours past the small front chainring on uphills, and had to stop a few times to pull the chain up onto the ring and fiddle with the front derailleur. The hills were steep enough – one was 16 percent – that we really needed to use that ring, and were glad when we got things working correctly. Relieved is more accurate, actually.

The Lost River Grill was supposed to stop serving breakfast at 11:30 AM and we arrived right then, trailing Gordan and Kay by 20 minutes. He talked them into keeping the breakfast menu going a little longer for us. I had purchased a little bottle of maple syrup at the South Branch Inn in Romney and was thrilled to order a waffle to justify carrying it over the hills. Unfortunately I left it there by mistake, still half-full. Oh well. It was delicious syrup and worth having it.

We climbed up Wolf Gap and the Garmin GPS unit went haywire trying to route us, beeping madly about a turn that did not exist, and finally just shut down at the top of the climb. No matter, we’ve blasted down that descent a few times and know the drill. The Spectrum tandem handled the sharp turns with aplomb and we got down to the Larkin’s Store in Edinburgh with smiles on our faces.

The smiles turned to frowns when we discovered the store was closed for repairs from a fire. We read later that a drink cooler caught fire and the owner saved the structure by getting everbody out and closing all the doors to limit oxygen. They’ve promised to re-open, I hope soon. That place is a main stop for the randonneurs and other riders in that part of the valley. We made do with some pocket food and didn’t need water, so all was well enough.

Larkin's is closed, but repairs are underway

Larkin’s is closed, but repairs are underway


Back Road never fails to entertain and was lovely and challenging with its many rollers and wide views. I just wish there was a crossing of Rt. 55 without having to ride on it for a few miles first – fast traffic and no shoulder make it a little scary. We got back to Middletown in good shape, and greeted Gordon and Kay who looked fresh and happy as they rolled into town.

Yes, that was fun!

Yes, that was fun!


Mary and I went to dinner at Roma Italian at Stephens City, which made for a satisfying end note to the weekend.

Sometimes things just work out well without drama. I took a lot of inspiration from Gordon and Kay, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves – and Mary, who rode strong as always.  This weekend was a great finale to a fun and active summer.

The Spectrum Tandem, Bowie, and the Snow

Last week was a weird and long one. The death of David Bowie on Sunday hit me harder than I expected.

I saw Bowie perform twice. The first time was on the first U.S. stop of his monster Serious Moonlight tour in 1983, at the US Festival in California; there were 300,000 people there. Like many in the crowd, I suppose, I was a recent convert, having been drawn in by the Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and Let’s Dance albums.

My Vantage Point during Bowie's US Festival show

My Vantage Point during Bowie’s US Festival show

The show was a revelation in what rock music could be — both powerful and artistic. It was at that time and remains for me the most electric rock concert I’ve seen; a standard in terms of theatrics and raw rock sound that nobody else has equaled.

Up to then I’d always been a fan of his sound but I was more into the hits than his albums. I realized why his fans were so ardent.

I was on Team Bowie until I saw him at Merriweather Post Pavilion outside DC in 1990 on his Sound+Vision Tour, which was supposed to be his last tour singing his big hits. That experience was a letdown; he appeared to be disinterested.

After that Bowie’s output didn’t register, until the release of the Blackstar album on Jan. 8. It had that Bowie weirdness that caught my ear. It seemed Bowie was back in form — at age 69 — pushing current rock artists to do something really new (looking at you, James Murphy!).

Then his surprise death kind of knocked me down. The guy had cancer, kept it secret, recorded one final album about it, plus two eerie videos, then died two days after the release. This was an artistic act nobody else would pull off. Who does that?

Johnny Cash recorded three albums in his final years, but it was known that he was ill and was racing time.

As long as Bowie was still recording, it felt like I still had a living link to those days of youth; all that’s gone now. But we have something else.

Bowie’s final gift was his challenge to us to create, to push our own and society’s limits, while we still have time, right up until the final day.

I’m starting to dig into Bowie’s back catalog to hear the songs that didn’t get into compilations. I’m also interested to see whether renewed public attention to his work will spur some of today’s artists toward bolder directions.

The next album from Arcade Fire should be interesting and so should one planned by Murphy and his renewed LCD Soundsystem. Murphy played on Blackstar, so I hope that experience will have an impact.

Even in death, I believe Bowie is going to move rock music in ways we can’t yet predict.

The end of work on Friday came none too soon. With a three-day holiday weekend ahead, Mary and I got out the car on Saturday to take our new Spectrum road tandem back to Tom Kellogg’s workshop in Breinigsville, Pa. for a small fix.

The view from the car roof (courtesy Mary G)

The view from the car roof (courtesy Mary G)

He used internal cable routing for the rear brake and on our second ride the sleeve started to make a metallic noise inside the frame when we went over a bump. By phone, Tom suspected the sleeve was hitting a set of bottle cage bolt bosses that protrude into the frame tube.

Tom brought us into the warm confines of his shop at his rural home, and quickly confirmed the noise source was that sleeve. While we went to lunch, he injected some expanding insulation foam into the frame tube, which isolated the sleeve and stopped the noise.

We had a nice visit afterwards where we talked about bikes and riding. Tom gave us some free T-Shirts for our trouble.

A souvenir from Tom

A souvenir from Tom

On Sunday we decided to ignore the gloomy forecast for snow showers and took out the Spectrum, with Ted N., to Leesburg via the W&OD Trail. The skies were dark grey but the temperatures were enough above freezing, so we kept on going after Ted turned back in Vienna, about 20 miles out.

Not snowing, yet

Not snowing, yet

The frame noise was gone, so we were glad about that. The whole bike rolls really smoothly. It’s appropriately stiff but not as rigid as our Cannondale MTB tandem (super-stiff) or our Co-Motion Java (very stiff), and has a more agile feeling in turns.

By the time we got to Leesburg snow flurries had started and were gaining intensity, but were still melting on the ground, so we were OK. After getting hauled over the Potomac on White’s Ferry we rode through a fair squall and got cold and a little wet. This was a bummer! Riding a century in the January cold is never easy, is it?

You can see our ride details at my Garmin Connect page.

Waiting on White's Ferry

Waiting on White’s Ferry

The tandem discount. One bike, not two riders!

The tandem discount. One bike, not two riders!

We warmed up in Poolesville at the McDonalds while the snow tailed off, and by the time we got home in late afternoon the sun had come out. We rode around the neighborhood to make it an exact century, 100.0 miles, right outside our door so that we could claim some bragging rights on the Freezing Saddles challenge.

Warmup at McDonalds

Warmup at McDonalds

I’ll write up a separate post on buying a custom steel tandem; it took a long time to get and costs a lot, and then you find out how it rides. After our first century, in the snow, we’re satisfied, and expect the feeling to grow.

The Spectrum's first ride on Whites Ferry

The Spectrum’s first ride on Whites Ferry

Kick that Rut, the 2016 Version

At the beginning of the year I don’t make resolutions so much as I try to do something about the ruts I’ve fallen into. This is known in the Felkerino-Gersemalina household as the “kick that rut right in the butt” examination.

Ian, Ted and Me. Courtesy MG.

Ian, Ted and Me. Courtesy MG.

As adulthood continues on (thankfully!), ruts become a problem, it seems, as I try to figure out this living thing. Someone recently told me the trick to aging gracefully is not to die from the neck up.

In 2014 I realized I had spent too many years solely riding the bike as my main form of fitness exercise.  That was entirely justified, I figured, as I loathe gyms and my attempts at swimming are laughable.

I was a runner in high school and college, but had dropped it long ago in favor of cycling. Like, 30 years ago. So last year I decided to buy some running shoes, a GPS watch, and see if I could get my legs back in shape. Plus, MG and my daughter DF were running and I was sort of jealous.

It took a long time of mixed walking and running just to be able to run continuously without knee pain, and then run three miles. I finally got there in early March, finishing a 5K. My next goal was a 10K in the fall, which I accomplished in October.

For the year I managed 353 miles over 101 runs and didn’t ruin my knees.

My goal this year is to stick with it and run a 10-miler or half-marathon by the fall. I’ve enjoyed running again, expecially the contemplative aspect, so I expect to get there.

The other rut last year was planning my cycling life around the quadrennial Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K randonnee. I had gone the last four times dating back to 1999, with MG joining me in 2011 on tandem. It was a lot of fun, if exhausting.

We decided that it was an event we’d sorely miss in 2015 — FOMO, it only comes once every four years, and all that.

Yet we didn’t feel like flying to Paris just for a four-day event that we’d done before, and spending a ton of money and blowing two weeks of vacation in the process.

We took a pass and tandem toured for the third straight year, this time for two weeks in Montana and Idaho. That was right for us, though we really missed being there with all our fellow randonneurs in France.

On the other hand, Missoula was cool and we loved visiting the Adventure Cycling Association HQ.

We’ll try to go to PBP in 2019.

This year? We’re going to tandem tour again, likely two weeks from Sacramento to Portland via the Adventure Cycling Association’s Sierra Cascades Route. After riding the past summers in Colorado and the northern Rockies, it’s time to see other mountains by bike.

We’ve heard great things about Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake and the whole route. Plus we know some coffeeneurs in Portland and hopefully we can meet up before we return home.

We’re also going to try to put in more winter miles than last year, when circumstances and weather got in the way. To that end, Mary and I signed up for the Bike Arlington (Va.) Freezing Saddles challenge.

It runs from Jan. 1 to the beginning of spring. You get 10 points for each day you ride (1 mile minimum) plus a point per mile. They put you in teams weighted with both high- and low-mileage riders, so there is some friendly competition.

The competition is based on data uploaded to Strava, so we’ve both fired up our dormant accounts and linked our Garmin accounts. Last year I captured every bike ride, run and fitness walk on Garmin via GPS, so I’m in the groove.

MG is going to have to start using her phone or Garmin watch more than she has, but she’s already liking the “kudos!” you get from Strava.

I’d like to get 600 miles a month through March. We’ll see how that goes — my fallback is 150 miles a week when certain events don’t get in the way.

We’re also going to ride the DCR Fleche this year after skipping last year. We’ve glommed onto a new team and plans are being made with a certain English gentleman who loves to draw up routes, so stay tuned for more.

This weekend MG and I rode our first rando ride of the year, the easy RaceYaToRocco’s 102mi/165K RUSA permanent from Frederick, Md. to East Berlin, Pa. and back. Here’s a map and our GPS data.

It was hard to get up early, drive an hour to Frederick, and start out in the cold — I’ll acknowledge that up front. Getting in the base miles now means we’ll have more fun on the spring brevets and the fleche, though. Plus, we like riding in the winter once we warm up. Tandeming is always fun with MG.

Cold and damp, let's ride a century

Cold and damp, let’s ride a century

The weather was dreary to start — cold mist, in the 30s — but dried out mid-day, though the day was quite gray and foggy.

If you're wearing a buff, let it be reflective!

If you’re wearing a buff, let it be reflective!

The ham-and-bean soup at Rocco’s Pizza was a welcome warmup and tasted great. The folks there have been and always are nice to us randonneurs, and Saturday was no exception.

Rocco's, the randonneur destination

Rocco’s, the randonneur destination

We also had a nice visit at Gravel & Grind bike and coffee shop in Frederick before driving home.

We took the Co-Motion Java touring tandem, and it rode like a champ, comfy and confident. Nothing daunts that bike.

One tough randonneur

One tough randonneur

The new go-faster Spectrum tandem rides nicely needs a bit of tweaking next Saturday back at Tom Kellogg’s place in Pennsylvania before we’ll put it to hard use. Once I finish outfitting with the final bits I’ll write up a post with lots of flattering photos.

Today it was unseasonably warm in DC and I got out for a Freezing Saddles ride with Ted N. and we met up with Ian F. on Hains Point. I was tired but it was fun and we saw MG while she was out and her run.

MG, Ian and Ted

MG, Ian and Ted

If you too are riding more this winter, keep up the good work and let us know in the comments how to follow you on the social media.

If you are local to DC, see you out there!

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.


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?


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. 2: Mary and I Go to Baked and Wired, and See Ted

Destination: Baked and Wired Washington, D.C. Oct. 4.

Distance: 11.8 miles. See our route here.

Company: Mary for coffee and cake. Ted for a lap around Hains Point. A kingfisher bird.

Bike Friendly? Not really. There’s a lone rack across the street. We usually lock to the fence along the C&O Canal Lock nearby. A few outside tables and chairs let you watch your bike, but they are usually occupied.

Observation: The espresso here is high-quality. Mary got a gourmet hot chocolate. This is one of our favorite coffee stops — we always go there when we come into D.C. from the C&O Canal Trail or Capital Crescent Trail. Don’t let the line scare you off if you’re just having coffee.

Sunday was another dreary day in D.C., though warmer than Saturday, and the rain stopped. Mary and I finally got ourselves out the door in the afternoon, mostly to get some fresh air, and to snag another coffeeneuring outing.

I’d like to get 14 coffeeneuring rides in seven weeks — the unofficial perfect season — so this would complete the first weekend.

See the line back there?

See the line back there?

The many, many social media postings from the coffeeneurs around the country and overseas also gave us a lot of motivation. Twitter and Instagram have been so busy with all the updates.

We rode our single bikes around the Jefferson Memorial, past the few tour buses and Segway riders, who were sightseeing regardless of the heavy clouds and blustery fall wind.

Instead of riding north to the many hip coffee spots in the city center, we decided to go to one of our favorites over in Georgetown — Baked and Wired. They are known for their gourmet cupcakes, and have a line out the door on weekend afternoons to prove it.

The coffee side of Baked and Wired.

The coffee side of Baked and Wired.

But they also have a high-end coffee bar on the other side of the shop with its own much shorter line. They also sell some baked goods on the coffee side.

Hot chocolate on a cool day.

Hot chocolate on a cool day.

Today we got a soy cappuccino for me and a hot chocolate for Mary. We also got a rare empty table outside, where we enjoyed our drinks and a fabulous piece of mandarin orange coffee cake.

If there is a theme to our 2015 coffeeneuring so far, cake has been a part of both outings so far, so there you go.

Mary and Ted, on Hains Point.

Mary and Ted, on Hains Point.

We rode back towards the Jefferson Monument, and decided to go see how much of Hains Point was underwater from all the rain. Our Friday Coffee Club pal Ted N. was out on his Surly and we rode a lap at conversational pace.

The flooding had receded, so no swamps to report, but Ted pointed out a kingfisher bird that was hunting along the water. That was pretty cool.






Until next weekend!


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.