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Coffeeneuring during foliage season

coffeeneuring 2016: something old, something new…

It’s autumn, so it’s time for another round of Coffeeneuring. Still being underemployed (seriously, folks: somebody hire me!), I didn’t really jump on the challenge like I did last year. Perhaps it’s the general malaise of being extremely constricted financially, perhaps it’s that my hip is being pesky (let’s just say that, once ski season is done, that hip replacement can’t come soon enough), or just exhaustion from a contentious political season that left me emotionally spent.

Let’s face it: it’s been a tough 2016. I’ve had some great highs and some awful lows. As the year nears its end, my level of optimism isn’t particularly high. But there are bit of hope. Ski season is nigh, and I’m enjoying the challenge of being Head Coach for Liberty Mountain Race Team. The holidays always bring friends and family together – and these connections matter more than ever during low times.

And without fail, the bike provides escape to a more carefree world – a needed batch of smiles and freedom, if only for a while. Get your escape where you can, right?

Following in last year’s footsteps, I didn’t choose a secondary theme. This is likely because of my general “meh” feeling of late – I just couldn’t be bothered to think up some funky way to bind all of these rides together other than “well, they all have a coffee break in the itinerary.” So that will have to do for another year.

As with last year, if you click on the mileage numbers you can see the Strava recordings of each ride. These contain additional photos from each adventure and are worth the click!

Adventure the First:
Date: 10 October
Distance Ridden: 67.5 miles
Location: Middle Ground Cafe, Stafford Springs, CT
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (on a main drag through the center of a New England mill town, so not a lot of bike parking adjacent to the shop, though the town is sleepy enough that leaning your bike outside the shop is fairly safe; lots of great food options here)
Drink: double espresso (Counter Culture… I think?)


Lesson Learned: My first coffeeneuring outing for 2016 happened over Columbus Day weekend while sprite and I were in Connecticut. My initial plan for this day was to ride a full 100 mile century visiting Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts with three or four stops for coffee. However, the day started out a bit more chilly than planned, so I got off to a later start and had to scrap the three state itinerary. I decided to improvise my route instead, while still making at least two coffee stops. This was the first stop, and one I’d been meaning to visit for some time. It was worth it: fun staff and a really great pull of espresso. I also stopped at Coriander Café in Eastford, one of my stops in 2015, and enjoyed lunch in the sun. The new route introduced me to some lovely gravel roads through scenic and peaceful woods, as well as a country store that offered many kinds of candies for 2¢ per piece – score! I arrived home just before sunset. Tara Rule invoked.

Adventure the Second:
Date: 22 October
Distance Ridden: 14.5 miles
Location: Armed Forces Retirement Home grounds, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 5/10 (not a place you can ride outside of DCCX, but the roads are fun and winding, and it’s a splendid venue for cyclocross, roads to access the AFRH have bike lanes and nice pavement)
Drink: drip coffee (Ceremony Coffee from La Mano Coffee)


Lesson Learned: The plan for this coffeeneuring day was to do some on-the-spot brewing for The Bluemont Connection and District Cycle Works at their DCCX tent. However, the weather was very windy, so any hope of running a camp stove to heat water was quickly quashed. Luckily, Idit was able to stop at La Mano Coffee and brought hot coffee and chai for folks to enjoy. The racing was spectacular – so cool to have a UCI cyclocross race within the District of Columbia! I also got to cheer on many friends in their races, catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and take in a place in DC that I’d only seen from the windows of National Rehabilitation Hospital back in January 2014. Coffeehouse in the wild.

Adventure the Third:
Date: 5 November
Distance Ridden: 48.4 miles
Location: Spokes Etc., Belle View (Alexandria), VA
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (it’s a bike shop, so it’s bike friendly by design, though the road it’s on has a decent amount of traffic; there’s also another good coffee shop in the same shopping plaza)
Drink: drip coffee (Dunkin’ Donuts)

#latergram of my #coffeeneuring at the @potomacpedalers maintenance clinic at @spokesetc in Belle Haven.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: I was at Spokes to help teach a bicycle maintenance clinic for Potomac Pedalers. The coffee and donuts were procured from the Dunkin’ next door to the bike shop. The class was held in the basement of the store, where Park Tool classes are typically conducted. There’s also a large storage area down here, where Spokes keeps hundreds of bikes at the ready to sell. I rode to and from the clinic, and after the class concluded I went on a ride around the Fort Hunt area with my friend Ed, who was fresh off a multi-week trip to the Canadian maritimes. It was a great day for riding a bike, and the foliage at Fort Hunt Park was spectacular!

Adventure the Fourth:
Date: 6 November
Distance Ridden: 5.6 miles
Location: Grace Street Coffee, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (easy to get to and has lots of tasty food with its fellow co-location businesses, but there’s a lack of good places to lock a bike in front of the store, and a narrow sidewalk preventing the installation of racks – though there is a bike rack at a plaza adjacent to the C&O Canal Towpath approximately 200 feet west of the shop entrance)
Drink: latté (Grace Street Coffee Roasters)

#coffeeneuring in Georgetown – cool new coffee house in the ‘hood. #alwaysbecoffeeneuring

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: The new coffee house in Georgetown is a funky little place, and opened just before this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge commenced – splendid timing. The space is shared with a juice bar and a brick-and-mortar location of SUNdeVICH, a well-known food truck. It’s also on the same street as the awesome Dog Tag Bakery (another solid coffee stop) and Chaia (vegetarian tacos!). The crew in there is always in motion, which is good, as they became backlogged with orders due to a lack of barista manpower. The space seems like a good place to hang out or even get some work done. There’s a cute little patio in the back of the space that gets sun at some points in the day. sprite and I ended up enjoying our beverages and edibles (the latter from Dog Tag) in the little plaza outside of HOK Design, next to the C&O Canal.

Adventure the Whateverth:
Date: 12 November
Distance Ridden: 78.1 miles
Location: Zaglio’s Bakery, Poolesville, MD
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (tasty treats, friendly staff, and a good bathroom here, though no bike parking in the strip mall location)
Drink: drip coffee (roaster unknown)

#coffeeneuring and #granddonut? Yum!

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: This coffeeneuring stop was the main rest stop on a lovely weekend ride with Ted. We rolled out to Poolesville via both well-traveled and less-well-known roads, making Zaglio’s our primary coffee and snack stop. My donut there was awesome: light and fluffy, with chocolate, caramel, and coconut flake toppings. The foliage on this ride had some spectacular flourishes (see the headline image for this post as an example), though it was definitely heading into a past-peak state along many parts of our route. We made quite a few stops for pictures, as the weather and the light were ideal for this. Early in the ride, we saw Dru Ryan at the Starbucks in Potomac Village Shopping Center – great to finally meet him in person. He was rocking some excellent A Tribe Called Quest socks, appropriate given their new album dropped the previous day.

Adventure the Whateverth-plus-two:
Date: 13 November
Distance Ridden: 5.1 miles
Location: Kristina’s Cafe and Pastries, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (on a side street off of the lower end of MacArthur Boulevard, no bike racks but plenty of deck space for parking a bike, clean bathroom inside, and decent food options)
Drink: latté machiatto (Illy Coffee)

#latergram of my #coffeeneuring outing with sprite to @kristinascafe in Foxhall Village. #latte #caffeine #bikeDC

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: sprite and I spent some Sunday afternoon time on this coffeeneuring outing to the new café in Foxhall Village. Our route involved a couple of sidewalk stretches to avoid cresting the hill at the intersection of Reservoir and Foxhall Roads, taking us instead through the lovely British pastiche of Foxhall Village. The café wasn’t busy – it was late in the afternoon – but the one outside table in full sun was taken by another patron. We managed to move another table into the sun, which was nice. Our cupcakes were underwhelming: small and nondescript. My latté was better than the cupcake by far, though I wish this place used coffee from a local roaster – nothing against Illy, but given the wealth of local options in coffee roasting, it seems odd to go with “the Starbucks of Italy.”

Adventure the Whateverth-plus-a-few:
Date: 19 November
Distance Ridden: 66.8 miles
Location: Cafe Kindred, Falls Church, VA
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (1.5 blocks from the W&OD Trail, 1 block from Bikenetic, )
Drink: double espresso (Vigilante Coffee)

#coffeeneuring stop the whateverth-plus-a-few: espresso at Cafe Kindred. #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: This day was the last one predicted to be really warm for a while (likely for the rest of the year), and my available days for riding on weekends are coming to a close with the approach of ski season. So I gathered some friends and went on a lovely bike ride in northern Virginia, all the while logging my final coffeeneuring stop for the season. The ride spent a lot of its outbound leg on the W&OD Trail, and it was great to see the new segment of trail in Vienna: wide, smooth, with good sight lines. There were a lot of people on the trail, but nothing like the density of mid summer. Once in Reston, we ventured north off the trail toward Great Falls. The sunny, pleasant weather was perfect for riding, and a bit of die-hard foliage greeted us along Beach Mill Drive. Ed led us down an unpaved, slightly rough trail to Great Falls Park. We had a snack stop at Yas Bakery in Vienna, a favorite Persian market, where sour cherry nectar was the drink of choice. On the way back to DC, Marc and I had a lunch, espresso, and beer break at Cafe Kindred – so good! As we left, a dark wall of clouds approached from the west. The air grew colder, the wind started to gust. By the time I reached Georgetown, gingko berries hit me like rocks due to the stiff, gusting wind. I sought shelter at District Cycle Works, then made the rest of the ride home just before the rain began to fall. Winter definitely rolled in with fury.

Total Mileage: 286 miles

Coffeeneuring 2015: When You Have The Time… (updated 22 Oct)

Another year of Coffeeneuring is in the books. As I’m currently without a job*, there was a bit more freedom in my ability to adventure and log stops (I’ll also note any supplemental stops in another posting).

There is the suggestion of a “theme within a theme” in this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge. The closest I could come up with is “places that also serve baked goods,” but I think I’m going to settle on the approach of Monty Python’s “Bruces” sketch and claim that my secondary theme was to have no secondary theme. I simply enjoyed the rides too much, and relished the tasty beverages to the point of throwing the secondary theme out the proverbial window – that’s OK, MG, am I right? 😉

Note that you can see the route and additional pictures from each Coffeeneuring outing by clicking on the link in the “Distance” line – visual reference is a good thing, right?

Adventure the First:
Date: 3 October 2015
Distance: 6.1 miles
Location: A Baked Joint, Mt. Vernon Square, Washington DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (bike shop adjacent, though no bike racks anywhere to be seen, free H2O refills)
Drink: latté

#coffeeneuring stop the first: A Baked Joint! And a rainy ride to get here.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: A Baked Joint is a wonderful space, their bread is fantastic, and their coffee drinks are every bit as good as those at Baked & Wired (without the cupcake-driven crowds). Given BicycleSPACE is next door, it’s bewildering that there isn’t a bike rack out front. We rode through rain and drizzle during almost all riding parts of this adventure.
Also Visited: 5th Street Hardware (they offer many fun sodas from all over the country – bought Frostop root beer and red birch beer), Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods (these last three in search of panang curry paste – a fruitless endeavor).

Adventure the Second:
Date: 7 October 2015
Distance: 60.3 miles
Location: Dunkin Donuts, Hyattstown, MD
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (on a busy road, no bike racks tho none needed)
Drink: double shot of espresso

The most twee little espresso cup for a weekday #coffeeneuring outing in Hyattsville, MD.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: This stop was during a test ride of a Potomac Pedalers route. Espresso shots at Dunkin are the cheapest coffee drink on the menu: 69¢ per shot (sometimes as expensive as 99¢), and it’s a generous shot that tastes quite good. The espresso shot cup at Dunkin is the cutest little cup. Crossing MD-355 to Clarksburg is not too appealing, though once past the new condo subdivisions there are some spectacular farms and quiet, shaded roads. Unemployment/Retirement Rule invoked.

Adventure the Third:
Date: 12 October 2015
Distance: 53.9 miles
Location: Coriander Café, Eastford, CT
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (many great, bike-friendly roads lead there, no racks for locking but no need, staff love cyclists, free H2O refills, cyclist-friendly to-go snacks – e.g. homemade oat bars)
Drinks: pumpkin latté and double shot of espresso

The goods: pumpkin latté, double espresso, danish, and an oat bar for on-the-bike noshing. #coffeeneuring

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: Eastford is a big town with a tiny commercial center. Coriander Café’s food and drink are first class without the prices typically associated with such lovely fare. The riding to and from traverses Yale Forest, which is peaceful and beautiful, with one route through the woods on smooth, blissful dirt. Tara Rule invoked.

Adventure the Fourth:
Date: 14 October 2015
Distance: 8.0 miles
Location: Block Island Ferry en route from Block Island to Point Judith, RI
Bike Friendliness: n/a (it’s a ferry – bike parking is ample and secure, I guess)
Drink: hot cocoa

The #coffeeneuring beverage of choice is hot cocoa on the @blockislandferry – yum!

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: Block Island is a beautiful place, though if you go after Columbus Day many businesses are shuttered for the season. This made for tough hot drink discovery. We had sub-par hot drinks at Mohegan Café and Brewery (the drip coffee was decent, the hot tea was very blah), so the Block Island Ferry was the better option – and a more unique venue (the Atlantic Ocean) for a hot drink after 8 miles of lovely bike touring on the island. Vacation Rule invoked.
Also Visited: North Lights Fibers (alpacas in the yard!), Southern Point lighthouse, Mohegan Bluffs, Crescent Beach, old burial ground, airport.

Greetings from Mohegan Bluffs! #coffeeneuring #bikeRI #radlerlife #blockisland

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Adventure the Fifth: DISQUALIFIED (more than two stops in a week)!
Date: 16 October 2015
Distance: 7.6 miles
Location: The Coupe, Columbia Heights, Washington DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (bike lane adjacent, plentiful racks, free H2O refills)
Drinks: hot cider with bourbon, espresso shot

#coffeeneuring stop the fifth: bourbon hot cider & espresso for me, lavender cocoa for sprite at The Coupe.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: The Coupe’s menu is very veggie/vegan friendly. Their PB&J sundae flip-turns the concept, with concord grape ice gream and peanut butter sauce (delicious). Vacation Rule invoked.
Also Visited: Upshur Street Books, The BakeHouse.

Adventure the Sixth:
Date: 17 October 2015
Distance Ridden: 5.2 miles
Location: Dublin Coffee Roasters, Frederick, MD
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (busy road, easy to leave bike outside but no easy locking places, free H2O refills)
Drink: drip coffee plus bean purchase


Lesson Learned: Woman owned-and-operated coffee roaster where no beans for sale are more than 4 days from roasting. Big spaces inside used for community meetings (can be reserved). Raise money for many local charities. Can buy a bottomless mug of in-house drip coffee and have hand-pours of anything they have recently roasted. Across the street from Monocacy Brewing Company (must visit next time). did this ride after a scheduled Potomac Pedalers ride (Feats of Strength).

I also bought some freshly roasted beans at @dublin_roasters – yummmmmy! #coffeeneuring #bikeMD #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Adventure the Seventh:
Date: 18 October 2015
Distance Ridden: 2.1 miles
Location: Teaism, Dupont Circle, Washington DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (bike lane adjacent, shortage of racks but no shortage of lock-to objects, free H2O refills)
Drink: hot chai

We polished off the chai before we snapped the pic – we wanted warm drinks! #coffeeneuring

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: The only location I’ve been to before (as it is 1.5 blocks from my house). New menu is OK, though the new, locally-sourced flatbread is inferior to the not-as-local naan they used to serve.

Bikes en route. #coffeeneuring #bikeDC #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Adventure the Eighth:
Date: 19 October 2015
Distance Ridden: 65.5 miles
Location: Main Street Daily Grind, Front Royal, VA
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (no official bike parking, tho easy to lean bike against shop exterior within clear view, clean bathrooms, quiet road)
Drink: latté

#coffeeneuring stop the eighth: latté at Daily Grind in Front Royal, VA. #bikeVA #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: I’d never been to this coffee shop in Front Royal, and it’s a lovely place. Yes, you need to leave Shenandoah National Park to get to it, but it’s worth the 1.5 miles of detour. The foliage on Skyline Drive was peak to slightly past peak, quite lovely though not as fluorescent as I experienced in the Berkshires. Dustin, my riding mate, was a good rabbit – my legs were shot by mile 50 or so, with my core being in suffer mode all day due to four (!) core workouts the day before.

 

* – Yes, I’m without a job right now. I’m in search of a job in transportation/cycling consulting, or IT project management that skews toward transportation or urban design. Consult my other site for CV info.

coffeeneuring 2014 (sure, this is #projectfemur, why not?)

Riding in the pursuit of coffee (or reasonable substitutes) is a great way to keep #projectfemur in shape.

Yes, I’m riding my bike again – have been since August 8th – but haven’t written about it. That will come soon, but for now? Let’s talk coffeeneuring.

Once again, Mary G. has rallied the cycling troops for the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge. The basic rules: over seven weekends, ride in pursuit of coffee, tea, cider, or craft soda, document the experience, and, well, end up writing it all up for folks to enjoy.

Easy, right? So here we go!

Stop 1:
Date: 5 October 2014
Location: Country Convenience, Blue Grass, VA
Bike Friendliness: no racks, but safe to lean bikes against front porch of store – guard cat on duty.
Drink: Pure Leaf Sweet Iced Tea
Distance: 89.3 miles
The store cat at Country Convenience, Blue Grass, VA
Notes: This is a favorite ride of mine, especially during foliage season. The second rest stop is at a classic country store, where the store cat is still loving as ever. While the coffee is somewhat blah, I tend to go for cold beverages at this stop (thus the iced tea, which quickly made its way into my bike bidon). The foliage in the Blue Grass valley was stunning and at peak color. The only damper on the day: Chris’ crash only a few miles past the store, which resulted in a broken clavicle (and our having to shortcut the route – and add 500-or-so feet of climbing – due to the wait for EMS to arrive).
Jonathan rides past Blue Grass Valley foliage.

Stop 2:
Date: 13 October 2014 (Columbus Day)
Location: Starbucks, East Longmeadow, MA
Bike Friendliness: no rack, but felt OK leaving bike outside for 5 minutes.
Drink: double espresso
Distance: 22.9 miles
The Rudi Projekt and a double shot.
Notes: This was a recovery ride and foliage excursion the day after the Great River Ride, so the pace was mellow. The foliage at Hurds Lake was stunning (see picture below). I stopped to say hi to Chip at Competitive Edge Ski and Bike (he’s due for hip replacement this fall). As it was late afternoon, I decided to take the most direct route back to Somers on Route 83, which passes a Starbucks. The barista knowingly asked if I wanted a lid for the espresso (I didn’t), and the hand-pulled (!) double shot was very tasty. Glad I had my full set of lights on the bike, as I rolled home after dark.
The foliage at Hurds Lake, Somers, CT

Stop 3:
Date: 15 October 2014
Location: Farm Market, Peterborough, NH
Bike Friendliness: outdoor park, no rack, but no worries about theft.
Drink: coffee bean purchase from Parker House Coffee (micro roaster)
Distance: 6.3 miles
Parker House Coffee beans, Peterborough Farmers Market
Notes: This was a lovely pre-dinner/pre-movie ride with sprite. By exploring the roads heading north out of Peterborough, we experienced a lovely Rotary-kept park with spillway falls and vibrant foliage. We found the local farm market, which moved from its former location in the center of town, where coffee beans were bought from the owner/operator of Parker House Coffee (he had samples of brewed coffee to try, which was a tasty treat). We then rolled to Ava Marie Chocolates for us to enjoy “hot” chocolate – the quotes needed as the milk was barely tepid, so the chocolate flake hardly melted. I chalk this up to a tired staffer who was worried about scalding the milk. After this, we returned to our car, locked up the bikes, and enjoyed our dinner and movie. Dinner was at Harlow’s Pub, featuring excellent food and drink (I really enjoyed my pumpkin black-and-tan with a cinnamon rim), and the movie was the excellent My Old Lady.
Spillway at Rotary Park, Peterborough, NH

Stop 4:
Date: 17 October 2014
Location: Amy’s Bakery Arts Café, Brattleboro, VT
Bike Friendliness: no racks, but lampposts and parking meters for locking.
Drink: maple latté
Distance: 7.0 miles *
Hot beverages (cider and maple latté) at Amy's
Notes: We initially attempted to ride in NH, but the road on the other side of the Connecticut River was a bit too crazy for our tastes, so we rolled back into Brattleboro and had drinks and food at Amy’s. We love Amy’s: great drinks (including the best maple latté you’ll ever have, made with locally-roasted beans from Mocha Joe’s and maple syrup from a local farm), and the food there is equally fantastic. The view from the dining area is a technicolor feast in the autumn. After lunch we rode to Grafton Cheese and the Retreat Petting Farm along Route 30. After rolling a little further out, we turned back toward town. I broke off to see the town ski jump, which is up a steep hill. After re-connecting at the town green, we rolled back into town and had fun at Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, the Brattleboro Co-Op, and Mocha Joe’s.
Harris Hill Ski Jump, Brattleboro, VT
(* – The Strava recording is partial, as the app stopped recording along Route 30 – the full route is plotted here: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/6315947)
The Rudi Projekt at Retreat Petting Farm, Brattleboro, VT

Stop 5:
Date: 18 October 2014
Location: Hot Chocolate Sparrow, Orleans, MA
Bike Friendliness: on CCRT, plentiful racks at store.
Drink: iced coffee (outbound) and quad espresso (inbound)
Distance: 46.2 miles
The Rudi Projekt outsde Hot Chocolate Sparrow, Orleans, MA
Notes: sprite stopped here en route to Coast Guard Beach via the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I’d already taken said trail to Dennis and then back, and met her here for an iced coffee. After we finished our drinks, we continued to the beach where we saw surfers and seals battling for best wave rides. The water was chilly, but pleasant, though I did nothing more than soak my feet.
Shadow waves, Coast Guard Beach
We rode back into the sunset via Sparrow, where we purchased more hot beverages (tea for sprite, a quad espresso for me) and baked goods (pumpkin coffee cake for me, warm blueberry pie for sprite – both delicious), then charged our phones for a spell. It’s good that we had our lights, as the last few miles back to Nickerson State Park (our campsite) were in the dark on the CCRT.
sprite in sunset light on the CCRT, Wellfleet, MA

Stop 6:
Date: 19 October 2014
Location: Savory and the Sweet Escape, North Truro, MA
Bike Friendliness: no racks, but safe to leave bike outside shop while I ate inside.
Drink: coffee
Distance: 53.7 miles
Coffee, bagel, taillight, Truro
Notes: This outing had multiple purposes. I wanted to see sunrise over a Cape Cod beach (something I last did on my 21st birthday, when I was a student at Connecticut College). This meant leaving camp before dawn and riding the CCRT by headlight, encountering foxes and rabbits along the path – and not a single cyclist. I saw sunrise (muted by low clouds on the horizon), then set off toward my second goal: getting all the way to Provincetown. However, a persistent strong north-northeast headwind (20mph) and a hilly route after the CCRT ended made this a tough go, especially given time constraints (had to break camp and head back to DC). I saw folks setting up the Wellfleet Oyster Festival – something to try next time, I guess. I threw in the northbound towel in Truro at this lovely café, having ridden the whole 32 miles to this point on no food at all. The coffee and bagel were most welcome! On the return ride I enjoyed the tailwind (and a more direct start via Route 6) back to Nickerson SP to strike camp.
The Rudi Projekt outside Savory and the Sweet Escape, Truro, MA

Stop 7:
Date: 26 October 2014
Location: Capital Teas, 8th Street SE, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: bike rack outside DC Doughnuts.
Drink: darjeeling tea (hot)
Distance: 10.2 miles
Helmet, doughnuts, teas, Barracks Row
Notes: sprite and I had wanted to try District Doughnuts at their new brick-and-mortar location, so we set off to do just that. When we arrived, the sign said “CLOSED,” but the staffer inside saw our sad expressions and motioned us to enter. Although the shop had technically been closed for 15 minutes, there were plenty of doughnuts, and we bought a half dozen to share with our friend, Sarah, who was meeting us to pick up some unpasteurized cider that sprite had procured for her. We bought teas at Capital Teas, and took our loot to a pocket park at the south end of Barracks Row, enjoying the sunlight and friendship. On the way back to The Burrow, we stopped at the National Botanical Garden and took in the lovely plants and afternoon sunlight.
The bikes and District Doughnut

TOTAL DISTANCE: 235.6 miles

Once again, coffeeneuring was a fun adventure! It was fun to do a few outings with sprite, and fun to visit the coffee venues, new and old.

You can see all of the pictures from the various coffeeneuring stops here.

Days since surgery: 289

coffeeneuring 2013: will ride for coffee

For the third year in a row, Mary G. is hosting the “Coffeeneuring Challenge.” And for the first time, I’ve taken part.

And it was a ton of fun!

As my readers know, I participated in Mary’s “Errandonneuring Challenge” earlier this year (the posts are here. That was fun, but this was better. It was a good excuse to go bike riding with sprite, to explore areas both familiar and new, and to try some new-to-us coffee, tea, and chocolate shops.

Stop #1:
Date: 5 October
Destination: Orlean Store, Orlean, VA
Miles: 77.2 (Strava map)
Drink: hot coffee (with ice)

 

Notes: an impromptu ride with my usual riding buddies, leaving from Gainesville, VA, and rolling through Warrenton and Orleans, where our rest stop happened. They had fresh hot coffee, but it was toasty outside, and I wanted something cold. So I had the owners of the shop add some ice to my cup – all good! I love this little store, which seems to be finding its groove with the new owners.

Stop #2:
Date: 16 October
Destination: Ana Maria Chocolates, Peterborough, NH
Miles: 4.4 (Strava map)
Drink: hot chocolate w/whipped cream

 

Notes: sprite and I were on vacation in New Hampshire, so we decided to take our bikes from our campground at Monadnock State Park to the nearby town of Peterborough, a lovely little mill town with a vibrant arts scene. We rode on the Common Trail, one of over 60 miles of rail trails in southwestern New Hampshire. The trail was a tunnel of vibrant foliage. The cocoa was really decadent – exactly what you’d expect from a chocolatier. And as we were on vacation, we counted this as a weekday ride exception (per the rules of the challenge).

 

Stop #3:
Date: 19 October
Destination: Brewbakers Café, Keene, NH
Miles: 30.4 (Strava map)
Drink: pumpkin latté

 

Notes: rode from Gilson Pond Campground at Mt. Monadnock State Park to Keene, where I met up with sprite at the end of the Cheshire Rail Trail. We rode into town for the Pumpkin Festival, which was a treat: over 30,000 jack-o-lanterns were on display, all with real candles inside that were to be lit before 6pm, when the Guinness Book of World Records would officially certify this year’s display as the largest-ever display of lit pumpkins.

 

We stopped at two coffeehouses on Main Street: Prime Roast, where I bought some beans; and Brewbakers, where we both bought beverages. We both agreed that Prime Roast was probably the better place of the two. My pumpkin latté was just OK. Fortunately, we were able to drown our sorrows in hot cider, pumpkin soup, and other tasty treats from the Pumpkin Festival.

Stop #4:
Date: 20 October
Destination: Taste Budd’s at Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck, NY
Miles: 11.7 (Strava maps for leg 1 & leg 2)
Drink: latté and cocoa

 

Notes: after our time in New Hampshire, we visited old college friends, Erica and Eric, in the upper Hudson River Valley in New York. The four of us rode bikes from Red Hook to Rhinebeck to visit the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. We had a great time, with scenic riding both ways. I had two drinks from Taste Budd’s: a latté, and their sublime hot cocoa (made with their homemade chocolate ganache – mmmm).

Stop #5:
Date: 27 October
Destination: Bar di Bari, 14th and R Streets NW, Washington, DC
Miles: 3.2 (Strava map)
Drink: latté

Notes: a new-to-us local joint, not far from our home, so we wove in a stop by Walgreen’s in West End to extend the distance. We rode fairly late in the day, and it was a bit chilly, yet we insisted on sitting outside. Our server was friendly and affable, and we wondered if she was a bit miffed that we wanted to be outside, while she was in short sleeves – brr! But the coffee, tea, and munchies were tasty, and the sunset down R Street was most beautiful.

Stop #6:
Date: 3 November
Destination: The Coffee Bar, 12th and S Streets NW, Washington, DC
Miles: 2.6 (Strava map)
Drink: cardamom latté

Notes: sprite and I had both seen this place, yet we’d not paid a visit. The vibe here is relaxed and friendly, and the place is certainly popular with the neighborhood. Their cardamom latté is quite wonderful. Saw two Friday Coffee Club irregulars, Paul and Brook. I’d injured my left Achilles over the weekend, so this ride was extra mellow.

Stop #7:
Date: 9 November
Destination: Big Bear Café, 1st and R Streets NW, Washington, DC
Miles: 5.3 (Strava map)
Drink: latté

Notes: my ankle still in rest-and-recovery mode, this was an easygoing ride. We first stopped at BicycleSPACE to shop for bike bags (sprite bought a lovely little handlebar bag), and Phil shared his homemade banana bread with us (splendid). We then rode up to Big Bear Café, another new-to-us place that we’d seen many times driving back into DC from points north and east. The place is quite nice, though the service was extremely slow, the cashier seeming to forget some of our orders. We weren’t in a hurry, but still, it was noticed. We sat outside until it became too chilly to bear.

Stop #8:
Date: 10 November
Destination: Port City Java, 7th and North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC
Miles: 9.0 (Strava maps for leg 1 & leg 2)
Drink: drip coffee

Notes: I went to Eastern Market to gather ballot petition signatures for my good friend, Charles Allen. Given I was stationed outside of Port City, a coffee was a must.

Stop #9:
Date: 17 November
Destination: Qualia Coffee, 3917 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC
Miles: 6.0 (Strava map)
Drink: drip coffee (hand pour) and bean buying (two bags, one full caf, the other decaf)

 

Notes: one final stab at Coffeeneuring, and another new-to-us place (though I’d had Joel’s beans before). The hot drinks were great, the butternut & blue cheese quiche was awesome, and the view from the front deck was relaxing.

 

A more complete set of photos from my Coffeeneuring adventures can be seen here.
All-in-all, this was a fun exercise. Thank you, Mary, for issuing the challenge!

weekending (or how i didn’t ride long distance this week)

Two weekends ago, I went on two awesome bike rides – one in the Virginia hills, one closer to home. They were a ton of fun, but there was a pesky side effect: I strained my left Achilles tendon. My ankle was swollen, there was pain. Professionals advised me to curtail any high-intensity cycling. Commuting was fine, as were leisurely rides, but not anything close to my normal weekend riding.

But my weekend was chock full of good things:

  • Cooked a lovely Moraccan tagine for Friday dinner.
  • Watched an episode of Top Gear.
  • Discovered that Chuck is finally available on Netflix streaming (and added it to my instant queue).
  • Slept in on Saturday morning – it was luxurious!
  • Did a lovely coffeeneuring ride to Big Bear Café, a place new to sprite and me.
  • On that same ride, stopped by BicycleSpace, where sprite bought a lovely handlebar bag at a hefty discount, and I ogled cyclocross and cargo bikes.
  • Watched the CBS Sunday Morning reporters explain Twitter to the more senior audience that makes up a large percentage of said program’s viewership. (For the record, it was a good profile of Twitter and its founder, the weekend after the company’s IPO. But it still seemed like a “let’s explain the Tweetie to the old folk” story.)
  • Collected ballot qualification petition signatures for my good friend, Charles.
  • Went to the garden with sprite, where we picked all remaining tomato fruit, pulled the associated plants, and dug up quite a few potatoes (white and purple) and sweet potatoes.
  • Met the rest of the Liberty Mountain Race Team coaching staff at the first organizational meeting of the season. I’m coaching the U16 racers.
  • Watched an episode of Doctor Who (one of the last of the David Tennant episodes).
  • Followed that tense show with a more lighthearted episode of Psych.

For those counting: I only rode 14-or-so miles at a fairly mellow pace over the weekend, compared to my more typical 130-150 miles at a more intense pace. The ankle is healing, which is a wonderful thing.

Intrepid readers: how were your weekends? Post in the comments!

a quote to wrap up the weekend

I really have nothing substantive to write about today. My Sunday featured two bike rides, some gardening, a visit to a wonderful little coffee shop, some lovely edamame and spaghetti squash for supper, and a viewing of the first episode of Inspector Morse.

One of the bike trips and the coffee shop will figure in a future post, but the shop’s menu is a corker. It featured a selection of coffee-related quotes, and this one stuck out to me as particularly prescient in a house where I drink coffee and sprite drinks tea:

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” – Abraham Lincoln

So… there’s Sunday for ‘ya. Back to standard time, and the end of the weekend.

(This is – you guessed it – another NaBloPoMo post. Three days in a row – who’da thunk it?)

my top coffee roasters (a response to thrillist)

sprite forwarded a link to me: Thrillist’s list of the “top 11 coffee roasters in the nation.” It’s a good list, but one with which I take some exception.

My main beef is the critics polled in the Thrillist piece are supposed “coffee experts.” But they play it safe in their ratings. Almost all of the roasters in their top five have regional and/or national reach. They are the giants of craft roasting, the Boston Beer Company analogues in the coffee industry.

Let’s look at their top finisher: Counter Culture. I love and loathe Counter Culture coffee. Their beans are typically well selected and roasted. And they are one of the biggest supporters of independent coffee shops in the United States: they train baristas to do proper hand pours and espresso pulls; they equip shops with good tools for preparing coffee; and they provide long-term support for up-and-coming coffee shops.

But the price they exact on coffee culture is almost as damning as Starbucks. When a shop takes their training courses or signs up for their support, they are in the Counter Culture net for a while. Counter Culture often requires shops to be either a single-source vendor of their coffees, or to give the coffees preferential treatment. And while they train their baristas very well, it makes for a coffee experience that is almost as uniform and blasé as Starbucks: predictable, yes, but not unique.

I tend to like roasters who are even more small-scale than my faves on the list (Madcap, Stumptown, and Intelligentisia, FYI). Granted, I am limited to places I’ve been, but I am also a stickler for high-quality coffee, and the beans make up a lot of the equation.

Here’s my list, in no particular order:

* – Denotes a “micro roaster” who roasts beans in small batches. In the case of Jack Mormon, they roast one pound at a time, to order. They also lack a website right now – not a shock.

Prime Roast Coffee/Monadnock Coffee Roasters (Keene, NH) may make this list in time. The beans I bought there are exquisite.

This is the first post for my November NaBloPoMo effort – whee!

the errandonnee: a wild card and 61.2 miles for coffee

It’s getting down to the wire with the 2013 Errandonnée, so I put in two long rides this weekend that contained, oddly enough, errands!

Saturday I got together with my friends, Chris, Jonathan, and Ed, to ride our bikes from Riley’s Lock out to Sugarloaf Mountain, with a rest stop in Dickerson at their small convenience store – a nice, 52.1 mile round trip.

I’d like to count this as a Personal Care & Health ride, if only because it took me to the snow – and anybody who knows me knows that a winter without any snow makes me bitter and grumpy, so this could count as a mental health destination. But I’ll field it as a Wild Card entry, just to keep things even with Mary G. 😉

Ready to roll from Riley’s Lock. I left on my rear fender due to the damp roads (I figured it made me a nicer riding companion, not spraying my friends with road gunk):

Ready to roll from Riley's Lock

Jonathan and Ed prepping to roll after a cocoa break at the store:

Jonathan and Ed

Sugarloaf has tinges of snow on its flanks!

Snowy Sugarloaf in the distance

Snow on the leaves of the shrubbery as I climb Sugarloaf:

Snowy shubbery

Snow at the high traverse between East and West Lots:

Snowy traverse

Sunday was too cold and blustery for a good bike day, so yesterday’s Presidents Day holiday was the other long riding day. It was also a great day to get my Coffee control taken care of.

Jonathan and I met at Allen Pond Park in Bowie, MD, to roll an easygoing, 61.2 mile route to North Beach, along Chesapeake Bay. Our coffee destination was Sweet Sue’s, where the coffee is excellent and baked goods are sublime. I even wore my new socks (thanks, sprite!) to celebrate this sunny day ride:

Socks!

We enjoyed a mellow ride through the beautiful country in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties. Here’s Jonathan taking a pull:

Jonathan takes a pull

I decided to smile for the camera, too:

Self portrait while riding

My bike wanted an “in motion” picture, too, as I glided downhill:

The cockpit

As we approach North Beach, I dig out the iPhone and don’t notice that the lens has misted up in my pocket. Thus, this “Streisand filter” shot of Jonathan:

Jonathan's Streisand shot

We pull up to Sweet Sue’s and… IT’S CLOSED! We didn’t realize they were closed on Mondays. So we rolled up to Rose Haven, to Honey’s Harvest.

Honey's Harvest

The deli

This place used to be a crummy, dirty, poorly-stocked convenience store, but it recently found new owners who renovated the place, revamped the menu, and made it quite lovely. I had a coffee, along with a cinnamon scone and a honey-laden Greek yogurt:

The bounty

After 25 minutes of R&R at Honey’s Harvest, we got back on the bikes for the return to Bowie. Along the way, I took advantage of the extremely clear air to snap a picture of one of my favorite views, over Fairhaven toward the eastern shore:

Looking at the eastern shore

We rode through more woods:

Jonathan rides through the woods

I also snapped a shot of this “clean one-owner” house near Deale:

The clean one-owner

What a lovely way to get a cup of joe! 😉

I need to crunch to get my 12 tasks (though I have all 7 controls) finished by end-of-day tomorrow, but I think I’ll make it.

Total errandonee mileage to date: 134.3
Total controls: 7 (Work Commute [x2], Breakfast/Lunch [x2], Dinner, Grocery Store [x2], Bike Shop, Wild Card, Coffee)

the errandonnee: a bit of shopping and dining

After my early morning run to Heller’s, my third day of acting errandonneuring involved some shopping and some dining.

The first order of business was a post-work run up to Rodman’s in Friendship Heights to pick up a few missing pieces of sprite’s birthday present, as well as some provisions for a dinner and movie party that takes place tonight.

The rush hour traffic on Wisconsin Ave NW is thick, and not particularly friendly to cyclists:

Rush hour traffic on Wisconsin Ave NW

My bike outside of Rodman’s (which is a great place to find imported food products, as well as wine, beer, and other yummy things):

The Rudi Projekt outside of Rodman's

The provisions: tea and chocolates for sprite, mustard for the house larder, and some yummy beers for me (including two from Epic Brewing: 825 State Porter and Brainless Imperial IPA):

Provisions

Stopped by HTO on the way back home to price some locking wheel skewers for my mountain bike (it may soon see more use as a daily commuter with less-than-reliable parking). Didn’t buy, but nice to see what’s out there:

HTO

Riding back down Wisconsin Ave, back toward downtown, with far less traffic (and less sunlight):

Wisconsin Ave at Tenleytown

Much heavier traffic on Mass Ave, just past Observatory Circle. This was painful:

Traffic jam on Mass Ave

sprite chose to have dinner at Pete’s Apizza, DC’s best pizza place, and while we took the bus to Mt. Pleasant, we rode Capital Bikeshare back. Note sprite’s petticoat – very fun:

sprite on CaBi

Total errandonee mileage to date: 26.0
Total controls: 5 (Work Commute, Breakfast/Lunch, Dinner, Grocery Store, Bike Shop)

ten on tuesday: soup-tastic!

Once again, Carole has posted another lovely 10 on Tuesday topic for consideration: favorite soups. And I see that Sarah has already taken the bait, and now I do – and on the proper day, no less!

1. New England clam chowder. And not just any recipe for this dish, but the version served at Market Street Grill and Market Street Broiler in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s the best chowder I’ve ever had, and they have been generous enough, over the years, to let the recipe into the wild. Here it is, from the source.

2. Chili. I’ll argue the chili is a form of soup or stew, so it fits in here. Chili is a year-round staple at The Burrow, and the recipe is almost always improvised: sometimes with beans, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes with corn, etc. The inspiration for my recipe is the 1977 Texas Chili Cookoff Champion, “Buzzard’s Breath” (as found in the Chili Madness cookbook).

3. Borscht. And I’m not talking about the sweet, chilled beet-and-cabbage soup you find in a New York City deli. I’m talking about Russian peasant food: beet based, with either a beef, oxtail or mushroom stock, with onion, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and cabbage, slow cooked to a lovely perfection. It’s simple peasant food, and topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, it’s perfect winter soul food for me.

4. Chicken and dumplings. Simplicity again: basic chicken soup with egg-and-flour dumplings added shortly before plating.

5. Cream of broccoli. Reminds me of ski season, as it was the most reliable soup at the old Inspiration Station at Solitude Ski Area. In a bread bowl, it was perfect lunch fare.

6. Tom kha gai. This Thai soup is a marriage of chicken, coconut, lemongrass, scallions, hot peppers and oyster mushrooms. I dig it.

7. Icelandic lobster soup. I recently discovered this, and it’s awesome: basically a tomato chowder with chunks of lobster in it- yum!

8. Kjotsuppe. This is a basic lamb and vegetable stew, standard European fare. It’s filling and very tasty, and my mom used to make it often.

9. Gazpacho. Cold tomato soup? Bring it on – especially if it’s spicy!

10. Lentil stew. I’m partial to the Moroccan recipes and their spices.

(Honorable mentions: Campbells Bean & Bacon; tomato bisque; beef pho; miso with dried tofu and shredded nori.)

How about you: any soups you must have that I must try?

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