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.

In previous years I’ve been able to do most of these outings from places not close to DC. The past two years’ worth had a lot of Utah stops. Every year (save one?) has had some New England stops.

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 lattĂ© (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)
Drink: macchiato

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