I love coffeeneuring season – I really do! Mary Gersemalina has been ably assembling a worldwide movement (cue Arlo Guthrie) of people on bikes (and in running shoes) going places, drinking coffee (or tea, or cider, or gluhwein, or beer, or…), and logging the adventure.
And as with anything devised by a randonneur, there are rules.
So many rules.
If you suggest that I go out on a bicycle, the answer is inevitably “YES!,” followed by the typical logistical back-and-forth. And as coffeeneuring requires some sort of itinerary (mainly to avoid duplicating venues, which is against the rules), a wee bit of thought needs to happen.
For what it’s worth, I have no real theme this year. Being underemployed is taking up a lot of my mind’s time (please hire me if you need a micro-mobility consultant or perhaps some IT project management expertise), so the planning of a theme wasn’t going to happen. I simply wanted to get out there, find my coffee, and enjoy the rides for their decompression value. So I’m treating this like a book: chapter and “verse,” loosely bound by the theme of bicycles and coffee. That’ll do, right?
FYI: if you want to see where I went (as well as additional photos for each outing), click on the mileage and the Strava track of each ride will open up in a new browser tab.
Date: 12 October
Distance Ridden: 19.6 miles
Location: Shelburne Falls Coffee Company, East Longmeadow, MA
Bike Friendliness: 5/10 (no bike parking outside, tho plenty of space to lean or lock bike in front of the shop. Free water bottle fills, clean restroom. The shop is in a strip mall that abuts a somewhat busy but not overly bike hostile road near the center of town)
Drink: spiced maple latté
Lesson Learned: Riding a bike after spending too many hours driving a rental car with crappy seats followed by too little sleep is… tough. But it was a nice ride, and a stop at Competitive Edge Ski and Bike was a treat. Also a great shakedown ride for my recently overhauled 1997 Marin Indian Fire Trail MTB, which now has drop bars and is an excellent “iron cross” gravel bike. I used it the next day in the inaugural Great River Gravel Ride, where it was an ideal weapon for the day.
Date: 19 October
Distance Ridden: 41.6 miles
Location: Vigilante Coffee, Hyattsville, MD
Bike Friendliness: 9/10 (plentiful bike parking outside, free water bottle fills, clean restrooms, on a quiet side street close to two on-street bike routes and a short ride from a multi-use path.)
Drink: drip coffee (single-source from Peru)
Lesson Learned: Get here early for the best selection of their admittedly excellent baked goods. We didn’t, so we had to make do with what they had (in my case, a ham-and-cheese croissant). Rode here with my friend Ed, who wanted to get in a nice spin. We rode south from Georgetown, over the Potomac to Alexandria, crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Oxon Hill, then up the Anacostia River Trail to Hyattsville. Happened upon Ted and Jean, who were also coffeeneuring that day. After this, parted ways with Ed – he headed to the U.S. Arboretum, I headed to DCCX. As my coffee was in a HydroFlask thermal mug, I brought it with me to the races.
Date: 21 October
Distance Ridden: 37.4 miles
Location: Rapha DC Clubhouse, Georgetown, DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (bike parking outside and inside, free water bottle fills, clean restroom albeit shared with other building tenants. As Rapha is a bicycle clothing company, they have many of the details down pat.)
Lesson Learned: The return springs on Campagnolo dual-pivot brake calipers fatigue over time and will break. The one on my front brake did at the second coffee stop in Hyattsville, so I rode home with only a front brake. It was fine, but a bit slower as any stops needed advance planning.
Date: 28 October
Distance Ridden: 37.9 miles
Location: Bike Lane Brewing, Reston, VA
Bike Friendliness: 10/10 (bike parking outside, direct access from the W&OD Trail, clean bathrooms. It’s a bike shop, so they’d better not miss on these details.)
Drink: double espresso (M.E. Swing’s) and a beer (as they brew their own)
Lesson Learned: Before this ride I had no idea The Bike Lane brewed its own beer. Thanks to Rachel for letting me know about this and suggesting I meet her there to ride with her back to DC. I also stopped for coffee at Caffé Amouri in Vienna on the way out to Reston.
Date: 29 October
Distance Ridden: 11.9 miles (note that 2.6 miles were not recorded by Strava due to operator error – those are noted here.)
Location: Trader Joe’s, Union Market, DC
Bike Friendliness: 9/10 (bike racks outside, clean restroom, bottle fill-up at drinking fountain, and protected bike lane outside the store – albeit one that gets little respect from drivers.)
Drink: drip coffee (“honey-washed” El Salvador) in a wee shot cup
Lesson Learned: There are far too many Christmas/winter holiday things on sale before Halloween at Trader Joe’s. And I didn’t use my HydroFlask, as I think it’s a bit too cheeky to use the free coffee sample station for filling a 20 fluid ounce mug – so the paper shot cup will have to suffice. This Trader Joe’s isn’t quite as crowded as their stores in northwest DC, but it’s gaining traction as more people move into the blossoming Union Market neighborhood – one that now sports at least three craft coffee shops.
Date: 3 November
Distance Ridden: 35.7 miles
Location: Starbucks, Potomac Village, MD
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (plenty of places to park a bike outside, free bottle fill-ups with ice, clean restroom – this shop gets a lot of weekend traffic from the #bikeDC scene. The shop is in a strip mall with drivers who are often inattentive, and both roads abutting the mall are congested at this intersection. Riders need to be on their toes, especially outside of morning hours.)
Drink: pumpkin spice latté
Lesson Learned: This was one of the first longer rides on my new Moots Vamoots DR bicycle, and the first ride with some concerted descending, so I learned a bit about how much faster you can push into corners on descents when you have the stopping power of disc brakes. Didn’t bring the HydroFlask on the ride as I didn’t think it would include coffeeneuring, but when Juliana proposes stopping for coffee, who am I to disagree?
Date: 4 November
Distance Ridden: 15.4 miles
Location: Ellē, Mount Pleasant, DC
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (no bike parking outside, tho plenty of space to lean or lock bike in front of the shop. Bottle fill-up is free, clean restroom. The shop is on the north end of Mount Pleasant Street, so it can have a lot of bus traffic, but it’s fairly bike friendly as the speed limit is low and often heeded.)
Drink: drip coffee (Ceremony Roasters)
Lesson Learned: Riding on Beach Drive during morning rush hour isn’t as bad as it would seem, as traffic doesn’t really move very fast. And even with the road being open again along its full length, it seems that most drivers’ altered patterns from the long closures have stuck in terms of being the “new normal” of commuting – hooray! And Ellē is a wonderful addition to the Mount Pleasant dining scene. While I miss the gargantuan doughnuts that Heller’s Bakery offered (seriously: they were easily a foot wide), this new addition excels at tasty coffee, fresh baked goods, and creative dishes. The window seating provides a wonderful people watching experience.
EIGHTH CHAPTER (because eight is great):
Date: 11 November
Distance Ridden: 3.4 miles
Location: Zeke’s, downtown DC
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (bike rack outside, free water fill-ups, unknown about restroom situation. This is a small, hole-in-the-wall location, but the outdoor seating is often sun drenched between 11am and 3pm.)
Lesson Learned: This block of 15th Street NW needs a lot more bike racks, as racks on both sides of the street were full, with planter box perimeter fencing acting as overflow parking. I rode downtown to meet up with sprite for lunch and warm beverages, as I flew to Salt Lake City later that afternoon. We enjoyed the warmth of the sun – the benches in front of Zeke’s are a lovely place for enjoying some natural vitamin D, company, and conversation.