Once again I did the Coffeeneuring Challenge, as hosted by Chasing Mailboxes (a.k.a. Mary G. and her Trusty Intern). As usual, the rules are simple: ride a bike/run/walk to get coffee/tea/cocoa/cider/beer, cover at least 2 miles per outing, no more than two outings per week, over a seven week period. Document the trips. Then submit your outings for assessment.
This year? Just one Connecticut stop, with all the others being in the greater DC area.
I tried for a theme of “cheap coffee” with all the stops being convenience stores, gas stations, or chain budget coffee places (e.g. donut shops). I didn’t quite pull that off – oh, well, it was all good. And I did end up going to a place or two I’ve been to before, which is something I try to avoid but can’t always manage.
At any rate… here goes! To see the rides and their routes, click on the links next to “Distance Ridden.”
Date: 10 October
Distance Ridden: 63.49 miles
Location: Cumberland Farms, Stafford, CT
Bike Friendliness: 4/10 (this is on a main road with high speed traffic and zero bike/micromobility accommodation, and there’s no bike parking at the store; there’s a clean restroom and you can refill bidons at the soda fountain for free, and there is plentiful space to lean your bike outside and still see it from inside)
Drink: drip coffee (limited-edition seasonal blend, non-flavored)
Lesson Learned: I was up in Connecticut for sprite’s dad’s birthday weekend, which typically falls around Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This year was a monumental birthday for Bob, so we spent some of our trip at Cape Cod at a luxe resort. After returning to Somers I was able to ride a route that I’d cued in RideWithGPS many years ago. Back when I cued it RWGPS didn’t know dirt roads from paved. Turns out I’d routed myself on some prime abandoned roads in Yale Forest – almost 8 miles of them! This route tested the abilities of my Moots Vamoots DR – and it did great! The coffee at Cumberland Farms has come a long way since I lived in New England – this roast was quite good!
Date: 13 October
Distance Ridden: 33.46 miles
Location: Starbucks, Alexandria, VA
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (on a street with sharrows and low-speed traffic; no bike rack at the store, but easy to lean bike outside and have it remain in sight; clean bathroom, free bidon fills by the baristas – with ice if requested; plentiful seating outside and nearby at the waterfront park 75 meters away)
Drink: pumpkin spice latté (as you do)
Lesson Learned: So I knew that my mom’s old Audi A4 Quattro was not doing so well. It only had 93,000 miles and change on its odometer, but it was also 22 years old – it was an “elderly teenager” in car parlance. It had issues and given I need reliable transport for ski coaching season it was time to find something new. So this ride took me to Beyer Subaru to test drive and put a deposit on a new car: a 2023 Crosstrek! I ended up getting a the base model with 6-speed manual transmission and only a few options, but it’s been a great car thus far. As for the Audi: a friend in Vermont bought it as a project car for his twin teen boys. He’d previously fixed a similar vintage A4 so he knew the issues and was ready to take them on. Thank you, Eric G!
Date: 18 October
Distance Ridden: 22.84 miles
Location: Gregory’s Coffee, Navy Yard, DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (big, accommodating plaza/sidewalk outside with bike racks and New Jersey Ave SE has a non-protected bike lane; shop has restroom, free bidon fills with ice; plentiful outdoor seating)
Drink: drip coffee (Gregory’s House Blend)
Lesson Learned: I wanted to go for a bike ride and see the progress on the New Frederick Douglass Bridge. The inbound side multi-use path wasn’t officially open but people were using it! I’d never been to a Gregory’s location before and this was a welcome surprise: friendly barista, brew was fresh even though I was there near closing.
Date: 23 October
Distance Ridden: 20.30 miles
Location: Sheetz, Thurmont, MD
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (no bike racks but plentiful places to lean bikes within eyesight; great outdoor seating; bidon fills with ice a soda fountain; good restroom)
Drink: drip coffee (Sheetz Columbian with just-in-time grind-and-brew)
Lesson Learned: I’d spent the morning at Liberty Mountain at my ski team’s fall meeting and I brought my bike to ride after lunch was done. I did a standard loop in the Catoctins. I also had my first go at the self-service checkout at Sheetz which was… OK. It worked. The Ridge Supply Arsenal kit got noticed and people liked it (it is a stunner).
Date: 29 October
Distance Ridden: 2.70 miles
Location: “Coffee in the Wild” at Union Station, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (it’s Bikeshare – not difficult to criticize ample parking outside the train station that’s connected to both a multi-use path and multiple protected and non-protected bike/micromobility lanes; restrooms are fine; note that I would not lock my personal bike here at the racks – it’s a haven for bike thieves)
Drink: drip coffee (Salt Lake Roasting Company Morning Thunder – my favorite!)
Lesson Learned: I took Amtrak to the Philly Bike Expo with Ricky joining me. We both rode Capital Bikeshare from our respective homes. I packed a HydroFlask filled with homemade drip (brewed with Morning Thunder blend from my hometown roaster, Salt Lake Roasting Company). It was early – pre-dawn – and the route to Union Station was mostly deserted. I used the Q/R Street bike lanes to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, parking my bike at the CaBi station on the east side of Union Station. The train was on time!
Date: 2 November
Distance Ridden: 34.10 miles
Location: Broad Branch Market, Chevy Chase, DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (a bike rack in front of the store and ample places to lean a bike, along with plentiful outdoor seating; restroom for customers; on a quiet road with speed tables and some suggested bike wayfinding)
Drink: drip coffee (Swing’s Diplomat Blend)
Lesson Learned: This year I discovered the awesomeness that is Broad Branch Market. Tucked away in tony Chevy Chase, CD, and kitty-corner from Lafayette Elementary School, this place has a wonderful deli (sublime salads and pizza), a fun candy and ice cream counter, and quality drip coffee. My brew wasn’t particularly fresh as I was there in late afternoon but it wasn’t bad – the beans used were good. I had a wonderful conversation with a young child who rode to the store “on [her] own” with her dad to get an ice cream.
Date: 10 October
Distance Ridden: 75.01 miles
Location: Dunkin Donuts, Accokeek, MD
Bike Friendliness: 4/10 (it’s in a strip mall on a major arterial road and has zero bike racks and limited space to lean a bike without good viewshed; restroom is clean; no bidon filling option)
Lesson Learned: This was a ride with Jonathan and it allowed me to introduce him to roads south of the District, between Oxon Hill and Fort Washington/Accokeek. This is a go-to route for me when I need something different, and both of us enjoyed an unseasonably warm day. This was the first time I’d ever actually gone into the historic fort – it’s awesome!
Total Miles: 251.9
Total Climbing: 13,388 feet