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!


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 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 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.

Coffeeneuring 2014: The best of Washington & Philly

Let me get something off my chest: I love coffeeneuring! And, not just because it is the creation of my lovely and strong spouse, Ms. Coffeeneur herself, though that certainly helps.

MG created The Coffeeneuring Challenge, but sometimes wonders if she should keep it going. Heck yes, I say!

I’m glad to be a part of it. I am one of the original coffeeneurs who have completed all four editions, and I don’t want my streak to end.

One of life’s simple pleasures is to ride to a coffee shop — in any season, but especially in the fall after all the year’s big events are done and the temperatures cool down. Good coffee shops are a real oasis among the urban jungle and offer a welcoming respite from the road when we tour.

What made this year special was that the coffeeneuring season coincided with a mostly-warm East Coast autumn, and included our 2nd annual jaunt to the Philadelphia Bike Expo, where we stopped at two of our favorite places in that fine city.

I’ll dispense with the further pleasantries and get down to recapping my final four rides. My great plans to blog each ride were waylaid by my job and my need for sleep, and of course, coffeeneuring outings. My earlier rides are here and here.

Adding the love at Nagadi Roasters.

Adding the love at Nagadi Roasters.


Coffeeneur Stop 4: Nagadi Coffee Roasters, 9325 Fraser Ave., Silver Spring, Md.
Oct. 25
Distance: 53 miles
Bike Friendly? Enough. Located in a warehouse complex, there’s no bike racks but plenty of places to lean the bike.

Our touring friends Steve and Lynn invited us up to their neck of the woods to Nagadi, a small roastery that opens its doors in the mornings. The owner has a couple of chairs and a table in the front of their workspace, but not much else.

Steve and Lynn. It was great to see them.

Steve and Lynn. It was great to see them.


I rode up from our place in Southwest D.C. solo (MG sat this one out) via the Metropolitan Branch trail and then zig-zagged at the direction of  my GPS computer. It was hard to find, set off in a group of warehouse spaces near Linden Road with no obvious signage. Steve came out to the road and waved me in after I stopped to call him.

After some warm greetings, I ordered espresso, the true test of a high-end coffee roaster. The espresso beans were were carefully ground on a custom machine and weighed before a shot was pulled.

It was about perfect. Strong yet smooth. Tons of flavor and a heart-quickening kick.


Seriously good espresso.

Seriously good espresso.


I bought a bag of whole beans to take home. It wasn’t cheap, but was worth the trip. I rode back via the Sligo Creek Trail, which was new to me, and treated myself to a bonus stop the The Coffee Bar in Northwest D.C., which was awesome as always.

Rating: Five stars.


My Rivendell Atlantis on the Sligo Creek Trail

My Rivendell Atlantis on the Sligo Creek Trail


Coffeeneur Stop 5: Compass Coffee, 1535 7th St N.W., Washington, D.C.
Oct. 25
Distance: 8.5 miles
Bike Friendly? Not so much. Typical D.C. urban setup, no dedicated bike parking. I locked to a fence guarding the adjacent property.

Compass Coffee, sparse bike parking.

Compass Coffee, sparse bike parking.

MG got up early to run the Marine Corps Marathon and I was on my own until she came around the course and I had a chance to cheer for her. I rode up 7th Street Northwest in warm weather to check out Compass, a new shop that opened this fall just north of the Washington Convention Center.

Compass Coffee, modern interior.

Compass Coffee, modern interior.

It has a big airy room and modern furniture, and built-in espresso machines at the service bar. A gleaming roasting machine sits in the rear behind glass. There was a lot of thought put into Compass in terms of aesthetics.

I decided to employ the espresso test again and Compass passed handily. The pull was excellent, full of flavor. I didn’t get too much warmth from the staff, but they looked pretty busy trying to get the shop up and running for a busy Sunday morning ahead. Service was fast and efficient.

I wouldn’t hesitate to return, though they do need a bike rack out front. After my stop there I had plenty of get-up-and-go to find MG on the course. She had a great run, as always.

Rating: Four stars.

MG got the finisher's medal!

MG got the finisher’s medal!


Coffeeneur Stop 6: Volo Coffeehouse, 4360 Main St., Manayunk, Philadelphia
Nov. 8
Distance: 30 miles
Bike Friendly? Not really. There are some places to lock up on the sidewalk.

For the second year in a row, MG and I took out single bikes by car up to Phoenixville, Pa. and rode the Schuylkill River Trail into the city to attend the Philadelphia Bike Expo.

The trail comes into lively Manayunk just before downtown, and Volo is a regular stop for the recreational and sport riders heading to and fro from the city. The interior is bright and clean, if cramped with lots of tables full of people out and about on a brisk autumn day.

Volo has a line, for a good reason.

Volo has a line, for a good reason.

We got there around the lunch hour and the line was long but their service was very efficient.

Very happy to be here.

Very happy to be here.

I had a soy latte and lo, it was good. They just know what they’re doing there. I like to explore new coffee places by bike, but some, like Volo, will always have a place on our coffeeneuring itinerary if we are passing by.

The show was a lot of fun. We attended both days and stayed overnight at a downtown hotel.

Outside the Philly Bike Expo.

Outside the Philly Bike Expo.

On Sunday we had morning coffee at tony Elixr Coffee with the sweet gang from Velo Orange, who let us tag along to dinner with them the night before. An artist left postcards out that she was to send after you dropped it in a box. I sent one to my daughter, that felt kind of cool.

Rating: Five stars.


With the Velo Orange folks at Elixr.

With the Velo Orange folks at Elixr.


Coffeeneur Stop 7: The Wydown, 1924 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Nov. 15
Distance: 8.6 miles
Bike Friendly? Sorta. Planter fencing out front suitable for locking.

MG and I decided to take it easy on the final coffeeneuring weekend, and rode out from home for a fun-odyssey to check out The Wydown, which MG had read about, and Slipstream, an ultra-modern combination coffeeshop and cafe, both on 14th Street Northwest.

We stopped first at Slipstream. No bike parking, but we were able to lock the bikes together outside the expansive front glass doors. The setup was confusing; the front area is a cafe with tables and table service, while there is a takeout coffee bar farther back.

A mixup ensued in figuring how to get served. We ordered at the bar in the front area (I unwisely waved off the menus offered to us), then after awhile with no espresso coming, I motioned to the server that we’d order from the back bar — or so I thought. Then he brought our drinks in fancy glasses, just after I put in our order at the back bar.

The guy at the back bar had not pulled our shots, and was cool about my mistake. He gave us our pastries and an extra macaroon cookie for the trouble.

It turns out items ordered from the front bar are pretty expensive — not the $3 espresso posted on a sign when you walk in. That’s for the back bar. The bill for two double espresso shots ($8.50) and two pastries ($4 each) with tax was $17.60. I’m not used to a place with different prices for the same thing.

The espresso was fantastic, I’ll give them that. I mean, it was awesome. But Slipstream got knocked out of my coffeeneuring lineup this year with the funny business.

We did run into a BikeDC acquaintance there, Andrew, who works nearby. He told us the place had grown on him. I’ll give them another try sometime and pay more attention.

Hey it's Andrew at Slipstream.

Hey it’s Andrew at Slipstream.

The Wydown, farther up 14th Street, was a more straightforward high-end coffee experience. Get in line, place your order, pay, wait to hear your name called.

We locked up the bikes to planter fencing outside The Wydown.

We locked up the bikes to planter fencing outside The Wydown.

It’s a small modern place that was filled with folks on their Saturday morning outings. We had more espresso, which came quickly and was just great. It had more of a high-volume feel, space was tight, but you felt kinda cool going in there.

Rating: Four stars.

The Wydown. No surprises. All good.

The Wydown. No surprises. All good.


And so ends another fun year of coffeeneuring. Too bad. Can’t wait for 2015.

I’d like to thank my spouse MG, my parents, my teachers, all the gentle people at Friday Coffee Club (Rootchopper! Mr. T in DC! Bilsko!), and everybody else out there who get around by bike and keep these fine coffee establishments in business.

See you on the road and in line for espresso/coffee/tea/and hot chocolate, fellow coffeeneurs!

Coffeeneuring, with Some Tea in the Shenandoah Valley

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

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

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

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

Bike parking outside Earth and Tea Cafe

Bike parking outside Earth and Tea Cafe

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

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

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

A gorgeous Sunday ride.

A gorgeous Sunday ride.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tea. Not Coffee. Hmmm.

Tea. Not Coffee. Hmmm.

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

Riding with Matt H. near Massanutten Mountain

Riding with Matt H. near Massanutten Mountain

Living the Coffeeneuring Dream: The Cinematic Outing

When your spouse is the originator of The Coffeeneuring Challenge, the coffeeneuring season arrives with a flurry of excitement. As many of you know I am the spouse of, and tandem partner with, the inimitable MG, A.K.A. “Coffeeneuse Prime,” Twitter’s own @coffeeneur. I get regular updates on all the interesting coffee places you coffeeneurs seek out, not unlike a front row seat at NASA flight control.

The good news is that I LOVE coffeeneuring. We’ve combined cycling and coffee stops on our randonneuring brevets and touring rides since, like, forever, so I’m all over this one.

In case you haven’t heard of this particular challenge, the objective is simple: ride a bicycle to seven different coffee shops over seven weekends (starting on Oct. 2) for a coffee or other hot drink. But wait, there’s more: document your adventure with a photo and submit the particulars to MG directly or via links to social media.

The distance is fairly easy. One merely has to ride at least two miles round trip. Read all about it at MG’s Chasing Mailboxes blog.

For 2013, my goal has been to do something mildly interesting on every coffeeneuring ride, and try to rack up some long-distance miles (that’s the -euring part for me) in the process.

I’m going to work through my first five coffeeneur trips over the next few days. Here’s the first.

My daughter DF was in D.C. on the weekend of Oct. 5, the day after the opening of the space disaster movie Gravity. This is surely the the best high-concept remake of The Poseidon Adventure yet.

It seemed like an apt connection to coffeeneuring:

1. You leave home to visit a beautiful yet unforgiving environment: the Washington urban grid on a weekend day with distracted tourists and errand-runners.
2. You encounter threatening space junk: Metro buses and drivers making sudden moves while trolling for parking.
3. You undergo a stunning rebirth that arms you with the steely will to get home: the rush to the head and heart brought on by delicious espresso and the great outdoors!

Espresso at Tryst. Very Good.

Espresso at Tryst. Very Good.

We rode to lunch at The Diner in Adams Morgan before continuing to the historic, single big-screen Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park. The Uptown is simply the best venue in the city to see blockbuster movies, with sumptuous sound, a balcony, and a massive curved screen. DF and I rode the “Lead Sled” Cannondale tandem and MG rode her trusty Rivendell Quickbeam singlespeed bike.

Upon arriving at The Diner, I ducked next door into Tryst next door for my coffeeneuring stop. A self-titled “Coffee house/Bar/Lounge,” Tryst is a cavernous student and college grads-with-laptops-and-scarves hangout and was packed on this warm day. I ordered a triple espresso and took it back to the diner to drink while we awaited our food. It was delicious. They make really good espresso here.

Tryst. Espresso. Style.

Tryst. Espresso. Style.

Back on the street we met up with local resident and Friday Coffee Club regular Ryan S., who was finishing his morning bike ride. Here’s a photo to prove it!

Ryan, me & MG. Additional show added! (Photo courtesy DF. )

Ryan, me & MG. Additional show added! (Photo courtesy DF. )

The movie was scary and visually amazing, if a little simplistic in the character development department. But good for Sandra Bullock, though, who at age 49 looks not that much different than the young-and-beautiful people in Tryst.

The ride home from Cleveland Park is fun because it is mostly downhill toward our co-op building on the Potomac River in Southwest D.C. We saw our friend Mike’s daughter Claire on her Soma and chatted — that was fun. When you see a Soma Saga ridden by a stylish woman with rack, fenders and a generator light, say hi for us.

Total miles: 13. Total multi-billion dollar Space Shuttle and space stations destroyed: Zero. Mission accomplished.

Back home, safe and sound.

Back home, safe and sound.