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Stone Hollow

coffeeneuring 2017: new places aplenty

Another autumn means another of Mary G’s Coffeeneuring Challenges! I’ve always enjoyed riding my bike in search of a cup of joe. Or an espresso. Possibly a flat white. Or maybe a cortado…

Regardless, it’s always fun. This year, I once again couldn’t come up with a “theme within a theme.” Rather, I decided to do my coffeeneuring at places where I hadn’t previously done the challenge. So while a couple of these might be coffeehouses where I’d been before, none had previously seen me for some good old-fashioned coffeeneuring!

Read Mary’s intro piece for the rules (and they are rules in this portmanteau of “coffee” and “randonneuring,” the latter of these words being a form of cycling so laden with rules as to make me wonder why I’d want to lug around a control card… yet I kinda want to), then read along as I go on this year’s journey. As with last year’s post, clicking on the mileage will take you to the Strava record of each journey.

Stop the First:
Date: 13 October
Distance Ridden: 5.7 miles
Location: Qualia Coffee (Eckington location), Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (one block from a major east-west bike lane and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, but no real bike parking out front – Joel, the owner, invited me to bring the bike inside the shop)
Drink: cortado (beans roasted at the other Qualia location)

#Coffeeneuring stop the first of 2017: a cortado at @qualiacoffee’s new Eckington location! #caffeine #bikeDC

A post shared by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Lesson Learned: Qualia’s original location is in Petworth, run out of a converted house with a laid-back, homespun vibe. So when I’d seen signs advertising their new location in Eckington, a block from the Metropolitan Branch Trail and thus on my daily commute route (more or less), I thought I should drop in. The new space is airy and light, even though it’s not too huge. It’s part of the new Gale at Eckington apartment complex, and is still developing a local clientele. But the coffee is still the excellent quality stuff offered in Petworth – they just need a bike rack or two out front to make it a bit more cycling-friendly.

Stop the Second:
Date: 15 October
Distance Ridden: 5.7 miles
Location: Sugar Shack Donuts (Shaw location), Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (not a lot of space for bikes to park, but enough signposts for locking that keep bikes out of the narrow sidewalk right-of-way)
Drink: latté (Zeke’s Coffee)

Lesson Learned: sprite is also taking on the Coffeeneuring Challenge, and I’ve been happy to join her on some of her exploits. The coffee at Sugar Shack is made with beans from Zeke’s, a favorite local roaster, and was quite good. The donuts are also superb, and two of these we acquired by singing “The Hogwarts Song” from the Harry Potter series. I sang it to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” while sprite made up the tune as she went along (there is no proper music to this song, so why not make something up?). We also visited the Northwest One branch of DC’s Public Library, which was a really lovely library that replaced the kiosk-style Sursum Corda branch a few years ago. Read sprite’s account here.

Stop the Third:
Date: 19 October
Distance Ridden: 35.6 miles
Location: Bread & Water Company, Alexandria, VA
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (in a strip mall, easy to park bikes in front and sit next to them, and strip mall is on a bike-friendly road with a bike shop around the corner)
Drink: flat white (Caffe Lavazza)

Lesson Learned: Over the past year this stop has become a favorite one for coffee and awesome baked goods, so I make a point of going there whenever I ride south of Alexandria. I rode with my good friend, Ed, and we had a lovely ride with a tasty break. I bought one of the fresh baguettes as my snack and ate half of it at the bakery, packing the other half for the ride home. In a not-so-nice turn of events, I crashed my bike on the return to DC along the Mount Vernon Trail by DCA, suffering some contusions on my knee, partially separating my shoulder, ripping a favorite pair of cycling shorts, and doing in my favorite Kask helmet (it took a very solid hedge branch for the team). Luckily, #hip2point0 was just fine, as was my bike, and I rode the rest of the way home without any further incident (and I rode the 5.5 miles into work the next morning).

Stop the Fourth:
Date: 21 October
Distance Ridden: 4.7 miles
Location: Made in DC Pop-Up Shop (Dupont Circle), Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (staple racks and street signs outside, plenty of space to park the bikes without blocking the sidewalk)
Drink: double espresso (Small Planes Coffee)

Lesson Learned: another adventure with sprite, this time to the cool pop-up shop in our neighborhood that features only made-in-DC wares. Thus, the coffee is from a new local micro-roaster – it was tasty! The shop had a lot of great things for sale: food, drinks (I also had a local cider from Anxo), clothing, art (unsurprisingly, the Dupont Circle map prints were sold out), and jewelry. And the outdoor seating was perfect on this warm autumn day.

Stop the Fifth:
Date: 28 October
Distance Ridden: 69.5 miles
Location: The Little Country Store, Etlan, VA
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (it’s a country store, so parking isn’t a big deal, the proprietors are friendly, there’s a great view of Old Rag Mountain, and there’s a store cat – what’s not to like?)
Drink: drip coffee (nothing special)

Lesson Learned: I’ve been here many times before, as this little oasis is a welcome respite when riding along the foot of Shenandoah National Park. It’s a typical locals place: basic groceries, a deli, pit BBQ, and a few neighbors discussing the local news. The coffee there is nothing special (probably Folgers or Maxwell House), but it was a warm beverage on a crisp fall day. And the store’s elderly cat (some Siamese mix, I think) is always game for some lap time – and happily posed for pictures. The ride was one that had over 40 miles of gravel roads, and while I wasn’t on an ideal whip for the task (a road bike with 26mm tires), I held my own.

Stop the Sixth:
Date: 1 November
Distance Ridden: 5.5 miles
Location: Chuck Brown Memorial Park (Langdon Park), Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (nice park, hilly to get there but the roads are quiet, bike racks in the park though not near the memorial area)
Drink: French press (Starbucks Pike Place beans)

Lesson Learned: Ever since I started my new job with JUMP Mobility, my commute has taken me past Langdon Park, where the Chuck Brown Memorial was built a couple years ago to celebrate DC’s “godfather of go-go.” So I decided to make a “coffeeneuring in the wild” stop at this memorial – very cool! It’s a dynamic sculpture that captures the essence of the celebrations that were his concerts (full disclosure: never had a chance to see Chuck perform live). I love Chuck’s music – give his “The Party Roll” a listen!

Stop the Seventh:
Date: 4 November
Distance Ridden: 61.2 miles
Location: Extra Perks, Alexandria, VA
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (only a couple blocks from the Mount Vernon Trail, OK street parking tho sadly without bike racks, outdoor seating is nice, and a bike shop around the corner)
Drink: espresso (beans unknown but fairly good)

Lesson Learned: I’d already been to Vigilante Coffee in Hyattsville on this ride, but I’ve coffeeneured there before. So when we passed this place, I had to stop and get a quick espresso! Despite the name, Extra Perks is a British-themed eatery: full tea, English fry-ups, bangers and mash. But the espresso was a winner: tasty, not bitter, the size of a triple shot, and under $2.

Stop the Eighth
Date: 5 November
Distance Ridden: 2.4 miles (this is two separate Strava rides – the decimal is the divider!)
Location: Pear Plum Café (Mt. Pleasant), Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (we rode Capital Bikeshare for this one, and the nearest stops are a few blocks away. Otherwise, it’s not difficult to find racks or signposts for locking a bike, and Mt. Pleasant Street has a sharrow going each way.)
Drink: dirty chai (Oregon Chai and Counter Culture)

Lesson Learned: another ride with sprite, with a stop at the Mt. Pleasant branch of DC’s Public Library system, a lovely Carnegie-funded building dating back to 1925. This branch was devastated by a large neighborhood fire in 2008 and remained closed for repairs and renovations until 2012. The restored library is lovely, with bright, open spaces that invite a patron into the stacks. There are also lovely murals by Aurelius Battaglia, a DC native whose work is best known in the Little Golden Books series. After spending some time in the library (which also had a photo exhibit focused on Michelle Obama), we went to Pear Plum Café, which succeeded Flying Fish Coffee on Mt. Pleasant Street. Our drinks and pie were most excellent!

Stop the Ninth:
Date: 13 November
Distance Ridden: 9.6 miles
Location: Chinatown Coffee Company (Chinatown), Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (there is a single staple rack about 20 feet from the front door, though the owners will let you bring your bike inside if it’s not too busy. Located on a busy street in downtown DC.)
Drink: cappuccino (Intelligentsia… maybe?)

Lesson Learned: I was en route to a work meeting with the Metropolitan Police Department and wanted some coffee and a snack, so Chinatown Coffee was the place to go. I’ve been here before, though never while coffeeneuring. My cappuccino was perfectly executed, and the chocolate biscotti was a perfect contrast and was tasty when dunked into my frothy beverage. The meeting with MPD went well, and I made some important contacts within the department. Above all: they liked JUMP’s business model and our commitment to responsible parking of the bikes (JUMP bicycles are meant to be locked to a bike rack, signpost, or other out-of-the-right-of-way object).

Total Miles: 199.9

Cover image is from the fifth coffeeneuring adventure, taken in Stone Hollow, Virginia.

Hains Point blossoms

errandonnee 2017: I slack my way to… yeah

Here’s a brief write-up of my 2017 Errandonnee. I admit, I did it, but I didn’t really feel it.

Y’see, my hip – the old #projectfemur – is in a sad state. I’m now four weeks away from total hip replacement, and I can’t wait for that to happen. Until then, I’m dealing with a constant pain, mobility impingement, and cycling that is, frankly, not comfortable and thus not a lot of fun.

But I persevered and managed my errands. Here’s the quick recap:

Personal Care: I rode to a physical therapy appointment on March 21st, and to an appointment with my orthopedist on March 22nd.

Personal Business: I rode CaBi to go pay a dental bill on March 22nd.

You Carried WHAT?!?: Coming out of my orthopedist appointment on March 29th, I carried my surgical order on the bike. Yes, it’s a piece of paper, but it’s a mission criticial piece of paper for my hip replacement!

Arts & Entertainment: sprite and I rode CaBi to see the Hains Point cherry blossoms on March 25th.

Non-Store Errand: On March 26th, sprite and I went to the Shaw library to return some books and DVDs (see link under “Coffee”). And on March 30th, I visited our garden plot at West End Community Garden on the way back from a “work” ride (see link under “Work/Volunteer/School”).

Social Call: I rode for coffee on two days: to #fridaycoffeeclub on March 24th, and to The Coffee Bar with sprite on March 26th

Work/Volunteer/School: On the same day I paid the dentist (March 22nd), I also had lunch with a Liberty Mountain Race Team parent, Jawad B., at his awesome City Place Café. We discussed a lot of ski racing business, so that’s work. My second work errand was a ride and lunch on March 30th with Vic S., a parent of two of my Liberty Mountain Race Team athletes. We discussed ski racing, which is part of my work, so… it counts!

Store: On the same ride when I visited my orthopedist, I stopped by District Cycle Works to say hi to the gang and check out the cool stuff they had in the shop.

Wild Card: I made a “missed opportunity” ride up to La Madeleine in Silver Spring on March 21st to meet up with a friend. Due to foggy brain, I was a day early. But the coffee and the ride were nice.

TOTAL ERRANDS & MILES: 13 errands over 76 miles

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

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