Coffeeneuring Challenge Submissions Homework and Housekeeping

Welcome to Monday and Thanksgiving week! I am a bit behind on my Coffeeneuring Challenge submissions so if you submitted something to me over the weekend, you may not yet have received any reply from me.

My homework for the next few days is to catch up on reviewing your write-ups, which I look forward to doing.

Friday Coffee Club, Pittsburgh Edition

You will receive a response from me indicating that your entry arrived safely. If more than five days passes and you do not hear anything from me, it means your submission did not arrive to Coffeeneuring Headquarters so please resend it.

If you need an extension past the 25th of November in order to send in your entry, let me know. This is a relaxed deadline affair.

Also, if you used the Coffeeneurs Facebook group to post your coffeeneuring, you can email me and tell me what name or names to search, and I can use that to review your entry. Easy peasy!

That’s all for now, I think. Thanks, everyone. Even though the official coffeeneuring season is at an end, I see people are still staying in shape for next year. Bikes and coffee forever!

Coffeeneuring Quotes 2015

The 2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge is winding down, and submissions are regularly hitting my email. Thanks to everyone who participated, and to those who have yet to submit, I look forward to your paperwork!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of what people are saying about coffeeneuring.

Why do I coffeeneur? To keep the wheels turning, the mind stimulated (all the planning requires mental enterprise!), and to enjoy my surroundings.
~AnnieBikes, Vermont

I would be remiss not to say, this was the best cycling challenge I’ve done. Challenges are so often about MORE… farther, longer, faster. This one encourages nothing more than the joy of getting on a bike and going someplace, new or familiar; a perfect way to be enjoying our fall weekends.
~Pasadena Gina in Northern Virginia

I am a bit sad to see the end of the challenge as I so enjoy doing the riding, stopping for the tea, and reading about everyone’s adventures.
~Nancy G. in Washington State

Photo credit Tom H.
Photo credit Tom H.

One more ride in celebration of this year’s challenge. Three cheers to Mary and hats off to all those who participated. Because of this we all got to make new friends from around the world.
~Midnight Rider in Massachusetts, who did a celebratory coffee ride with video!

Going straight from PBP to forced couch potato has been difficult for me. Coffeeneuring was just the motivation I needed to force myself to get out for *short*, relaxed, zero-stress rides. It’s been great for my mental health.
~Keith, Washington State

Theo and I had a blast completing the challenge, although there were definitely times where it was indeed ‘challenging’. The enthusiasm, stories, and, of course, delicious looking pictures from people all around the world really made the globe feel small sometimes.
~Dejah and Theo in Seattle

Photo credit to Bear T.
Photo credit to Bear T.

Emma called Coffeeneuring “a deeply rooted tradition” – which is true if, like Emma, you have been Coffeeneuring since you were 12.
~Charlie and Emma, Minnesota

We are coffeeneuring for glory. No, we did not ride long routes, nor invent exquisite ways. But we showed up for the challenge through the hardships of recovering bodies, Seattle weather and life demands.

And we finished, ending not with a loud gulp or a silent sip, but with a most resounding slurp. What could have been more glorious than flamboyantly tasting away tea in a in a Chinese tea house? In full bike gear after riding 4 whole miles? (Good thing we have Sevens, we were wisely told…)

Perhaps celebrating almost 12 years of close friendship, cultivated through movement – run, ride, walk – and warmth. Cheers, coffeneuring, you made our fall gloriously colorful!
~Ana and Rochelle, Seattle

Photo Credit Bill A., the ultimate coffeeneur
Photo Credit Bill A., the Ultimate Coffeeneur

Why would people look for excuses to ride their bikes to coffee shops? As with so many questions in life, the answers may be unique for each of us “coffeeneurs.”

For me, I enjoy the sense of community among people who love to ride bikes and have fun along the way. Making connections on Facebook has added a new component and the chance to see cyclists around the globe connecting.
~Biking Yogini in Northern Virginia

What a blast. I wound up not making it to any Virginia locations for this challenge, but I’m happy with the experience. There were rides with friends, meeting up with friends, looping the city, and meandering around. Just what lazy weekends were made for.
~Paris in Maryland

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity and incentive to visit coffee shops around my area.
~Chris in Iowa

Like a brevet control card, this report just doesn’t do justice to what a fantastic little game this was to play. In particular, it accomplished two things that I’m certain were intended along.

First, it reminded me of how deeply enjoyable it is to make your way through the world in the slow lane, to propel yourself forward by means of your own strength and balance, to be in your environment, to feel and follow your breath, to take pleasure in simple things, to foster community—even if traveling solo.

Secondly, it was a weekly celebration of exploration and discovery. The 2015 #coffeeneuring challenge offered me a chance for adventure in my own backyard. I visited two parks I’d never been to before, checked out a diner I hadn’t previously known about, practiced the art of making #coffeeoutside, and rambled down a host of dirt roads I had never been down. This has been remarkably fun.
~@velofolk, Michigan

Photo credit Becky and Laura
Photo credit Becky and Laura

Why do we Coffeeneur? The nice thing about Coffeeneuring is that it finds a happy balance between structure and creativity. Structure – you have to do a specific number of weekend rides, for a minimum distance, drink a beverage, and share your experience.

Creativity – you can ride whichever weekend day you choose (or both!), you can go short or long – anywhere you choose, you have lots of beverages to choose from, and it’s fun to see the wide diversity of photos and posts from all over the world.

Coffeeneuring also gives us the extra push to explore new territory and seek out locally owned businesses for our beverages and treats. We enjoy the quaint and quirky places we have found, along with the beautiful scenery.
~Becky and Laura, Washington State

This was so much fun! I’m so glad that we were able to find time to do this. Our schedule is so non-stop that we only have one day off each week, and usually that day is spent working. I’m so very glad we made time each Sunday (and one Saturday evening) to ride.
~Beth and Chris in Pittsburgh

A Marathon DNF: the Mustard’s Off the Hot Dog

After wrapping up the Marine Corps Marathon, I was riding a big post-marathon endorphin high. I’d run three marathons in six weeks, and my body had held up remarkably well. I felt a little tired, but had no notable lingering aches or pains.

Whenever I experience the post-marathon high, I tell myself to not make any decisions about the next run until after a week has passed. It’s too easy to let endorphins carry me into the next event, without giving more pragmatic thought to whether another event makes sense.

Unfortunately, I ignored my good advice because the recent marathons had gone so well. And because I was greedy.

For the first time in my life, I had completed four marathons in a year and I wanted one more. “Four is a good number,” I thought. “But five is better! Why have four when you can have five?”

C&O Canal and Quickbeam

I saw an opportunity to complete five marathons in 2015 and registered last-minute for the Potomac River Marathon on November 15, which is a double out-and-back course that starts by Carderock Recreation Area on the C&O Canal. This marathon would also give me another opportunity to ride my bike to the start, a 14-mile one-way ride.

I felt fatigued in the weeks leading up to the event– there were three weeks in between the Marine Corps Marathon and this one– but I told myself I was really feeling nervous, and nothing more.

The morning of the run, I woke up, threw on my marathon clothes, threw on my cycling clothes over those (I looked fairly insane with this ready-for-anything combination), and packed my running shoes on my Quickbeam.

I rode off into the last of the darkness. About 20 minutes into my ride, the sun rose. As pastels began to illuminate the sky, I gave thanks for my run. I was one of a few lucky early birds out and about in the quiet city.

C&O Sunrise Ride on the Quickbeam
C&O Sunrise Ride on the Quickbeam

En route to the start, I paused a couple of times to take photos. I had told myself to be all business, make no stops, and ride directly to the start, but as you can see, I’m not very good at following my own advice.

Parts near the river had frozen overnight. This was beautiful in its novelty, as was the light fog hovering over the canal water itself. Fortunately, I had left early enough to give myself a few sunrise photo opportunities.

I hastily removed my extra cycling layers, laced up my running shoes, and made my way to the start, where a small group had congregated. As is customary for these events, no one could hear the pre-run announcements. Someone played a nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on a clarinet, and after a couple more unintelligible announcements we were off.

I’ve had such a wonderful fall along the C&O. I watched the colors fill the trees along the towpath. I rode my bike over the autumn leaves soon after they fell and listened to them crunch and whir under my wheels. And this weekend I was back to see the final leafy holdouts while I peered through the baring branches out at the Potomac.

At the halfway point. Feeling A-OK!
At the halfway point. Feeling A-OK!

After about three miles of gradual thawing of my frozen feet, my run was progressing fairly well. The day was spectacular, with temperatures quickly rising to where I didn’t need my long-sleeve base layer. It felt great to run so lightly in November.

The trail felt good, and I finished the first half in what I thought was pretty solid shape. I briefly contemplated quitting then, but the ideal conditions and my greed for glory pressed me onward.

At mile 16.5 or so, pain sliced through the back of my right calf. “Bad pain,” I said to myself. This was not a cramp I could hope to walk off, but something that had pulled in my leg.

It wasn’t going away, and would only worsen if I continued. I didn’t push forward for very long, quickly determined I should call it a day, and walked-limped the 3.5 miles back to the starting area.

Many thoughts swept in and out of my head as I considered my circumstances. One, this was really no big deal in the grand scheme of things. Second, why was Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” playing on my rotation at exactly that moment?

I can’t stand DNFs (Did Not Finish) so not completing the run churned up a fair amount of cognitive dissonance. I believe that I went into this race, maybe not from a place of strength, but with the intention of completing it. And my conditioning was fairly solid, although as I said, I think the sequence of the previous three marathons had physically worn me down.

I could have pressed on, but walking the last 9 miles held no appeal. Finishing just to have an official time and risk further injury didn’t make a lot of sense, and wasn’t the experience I wanted.

I wanted the finish, but I didn’t want it through a long painful hobble to the end, especially when I’ve been so looking forward to getting back on the tandem for some real miles with Felkerino, AND when I needed to ride my bike home from the day’s run.

Mile 20. That's all for me today.
Mile 20. That’s all for me today.

However, by stopping, the glory was now out of the question. I then wondered why I decided I needed five marathons to achieve “the glory”. I suppose part of me wanted to prove that I could do it, and another part of me wanted to feel those endorphins again.

I’ve frequently seen a sign held up at marathons that reads some version of “Someday you will not be able to do a marathon. Today is not that day.” I’ve starkly sensed the marching of time this year, and that has contributed to exacerbated impatience.

I know the aging process will likely limit me from being able to do certain things so it’s made me want to seize opportunities. I worry time is racing away from me. I feel a need to try harder when I can. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, but in this case I definitely found myself pushing against my limits.

Riding into the morning light before the run start.
Riding into the morning light before the run start.

I limped to the finish line, people cheered me, and I told everyone that I had had to drop. I may have been a little melodramatic, but I did not want anyone to think that I had achieved something I hadn’t earned. Someone said that just getting out to run was more than she would have done, which soothed my ego somewhat.

Felkerino came to meet me and we had a little picnic before I switched back into my cycling clothes to ride the 14 miles back home. Since the path was flat, my calf gave me little trouble. I let my quads do the work to get me home.

We talked about my failed attempt at this marathon, and agreed that I had been smart to stop. My calf still burns a bit as I write this, and I know quitting was the right decision in order to promote healing and minimize any inactivity because of injury.

The ride home. Hard to be too upset, but wish the mustard hadn't come off the hot dog.
The ride home. Hard to be too upset, but wish the mustard hadn’t come off the hot dog.

Felkerino said that this marathon was like eating a full meal, but still wanting dessert. He said that I wanted to eat a giant sundae, I had eaten it, and it had made me sick.

We laughed. It was a great comparison, and made me think of the great Chick Hearn expression, “The mustard’s off the hot dog.” That was me. I should  have been content with four.

Many people sent encouraging words after they heard I hadn’t finished this run (thanks to all!), and my BikeDC friend Rootchopper, a former runner himself, had this thought: “A busted race is a sign that you are not afraid to push your limits.”

So maybe I should have stuck to four marathons for the year, but maybe it was okay to try, too. And while I may dislike ending with a DNF,  it gives me food for thought that will help me plan the months ahead. In the end, it was still a great day to be outside and to be a runner and a cyclist, trying my hardest to reach a new goal.

Coffeeneuring Challenge Final Weekend: Cross the Finish Line, Friends!

Hello readers and coffeeneurs, the sun is about to set on the 2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge with the November 14 and 15 being the last official days of the challenge.

UPDATE: Coffeeneurs who are not bound by weekend days, dates extended until Friday, November 19.

Urban Adventure League asked me in the comments about how the challenge applied to those who do not work a Monday through Friday schedule, and asked about extending the dates for eligible coffeeneuring trips to the following Thursday. For those non-weekender coffeeneurs (or if you have vacation or whatever other rule might apply to you in these final days) the contest officially goes until Friday, November 19, midnight in your area!

Where will you coffeeneur, and will your challenge go out with a loud gulp or a silent sip? I eagerly await your posts and submissions.

THE Tarik Saleh
THE Tarik Saleh

Over the last 7 weeks, social media has filled with #coffeeneuring vignettes from all over the world. It is a real thrill to be part of the growing community of coffeeneurs.

Also, many thanks to those who have logged their coffee stops on the Community Coffeeneuring Destinations Map. I know people have used it as a resource when seeking out new places to grab a cup of joe.

Coffeeneuring Challenge

Each time I’ve tried to put this post together, I have ended up reviewing submissions, perusing coffeeneuring maps, and looking at coffeeneuring posts on the various social media outlets. So I’m going to try to stay focused and give you a proper and brief update!

As of this writing, the Coffeeneuring Maps (of the Google, not Magic kind) look like what you see below.

Coffeeneuring Cities Around the Globe

Coffeeneuring Cities

United States of Coffeeneuring

Coffeeneuring states

This map includes 4 finishers from the District of Columbia.

As you can see, Pennsylvania is once again putting in a strong showing of coffeeneurs, and so is Oregon. Good job, coffeeneurs.

What is also exciting is to see the geographic distribution of coffeeneurs. The maps are filling in on a global level like I have not seen before. Today I received the first 2015 submission from Canada, and I’ve already received entries from England, Germany, Sweden, and Ukraine. And Texas, too (ha ha, couldn’t help myself!).

Tarik, Felkerino, and Rudi. No women in this pic, but I took the photo so 1/2 credit!
Tarik, Felkerino, and Rudi. No women in this pic, but I took the photo so 1/2 credit!

Thank you to all who are out riding and drinking. You make the Coffeeneuring Challenge a unique social bikes ‘n coffee time of year.

So tell me, a loud gulp or a silent sip? How will you end the 2015 coffeeneuring season?

Coffeeneuring Housekeeping and Prize Reveal!

Two full weekends remain to complete the seven critical trips that result in Coffeeneuring Challenge victory. That’s four days to complete four rides (or three, if you choose to substitute Veterans Day, per Rule 19).

If you have completed at least three rides, coffeeneuring glory can be yours. Get on your bikes and ride!

In answers to the “why coffeeneur” question that people often posit, including me,  Recycled and Recounted provides a nice response in his coffeeneuring wrap-up post.

Fall leaves and Quickbeam

Coffeeneuring Highlights

I will be assembling a more complete blogroll for 2015, but in the meantime, here are a few posts and blogs for your free reading pleasure:

  • Coffee is coffee, and there are many ways to prepare it. How about instant espresso, from Jims Brews Crooze? (I think Felkerino might be fainting right now :))
  • A fine roundup from Odds and Ends out of Pittsburgh, and a bit from her and from Hard Travelin’ Q about their kickoff event at Thick Bikes. Q made donuts. Great job!
  • Speaking of Pittsburgh, it’s perfect attendance for this five-time finisher and what I call “original coffeeneur”, Type 2 Clydesdale Cyclist. Congratulations, sir!
  • Four-time finisher keithmo of Washington State put together a lovely flip book of his coffeeneuring exploits.
  • Speaking of that Washington, the inspiration for the Coffeeneuring Challenge, Joe Platzner reached the official finish line for the fourth time this year.
The Prize!

Today I’m also revealing the Coffeeneuring Challenge premium. Each of the last four years the prize has been a patch so for coffeeneuring’s fifth birthday, guess what? Another patch!

Coffeeneuring Patch, design credit to Doug
Coffeeneuring Patch, design credit to Doug

Fellow coffeeneur and graphic designer, Doug, offered his talents toward this year’s premium. The patch above will be round, in case anyone wonders. I am so happy with Doug’s work, and glad that a fellow coffeeneur designed the patch. We currently await the final real deal patch.

The Housekeeping

Since submissions are picking up, a few things to keep in mind as you finish.

  • Even if you know that I know that you are coffeeneuring, please send me a final submission via email so I can note you as an official finisher. gersemalina “at” gmail dot com.
  • Please let me know if you would like a patch. Five dollars covers your prize plus shipping ($6 if you are an international entrant) and you can PayPal or snail mail that to me after you submit.
  • If you purchase a patch, please send me an address so I can mail your prize. If you do not want a patch, please provide your city and state so I can add it to the coffeeneuring maps! You can see the most updated maps at this link from the Northeast Regional Office of Coffeeneuring.
  • If your coffeeneuring includes a theme, please let me know that in your submission so I make sure to note it. I will be including these themes in the finishers announcement.

I think that covers it. Thanks everybody! And remember, Keep Calm and Coffeeneur On. Yeah, I know. I can’t help myself.


Why Do You Coffeeneur? Maps Update!

Why do you coffeeneur? The glory? A chance to stand on the annual coffeeneuring podium?

coffeeneuring red purp

I always like reading about why people take on the challenge. Some include their reasons in their blog entries and others in their final submissions. If you have a moment, let me know what inspired you to coffeeneur this year.

Entries have begun rolling in, with a total of five 2015 finishers reaching Coffeeneuring Headquaters as of this writing. That means it’s time for the Coffeeneuring Challenge Maps!

These maps are managed by the Northeast Regional Office of Coffeeneuring, and you can track the state and cities represented in this year’s challenge by following this link.

If you look at the global map, you will see that we have our first finisher ever from Ukraine. Congratulations to Chris for making this happen!

coffeeneuring map

Below is the map of the U.S. finishers. This particular map does not show D.C. (you can see that inset by going to the Northeast Regional Office’s post), but of the four U.S. finishers so far: two hail from the District of Columbia (the District is considered a state for purposes of all Chasing Mailboxes challenges); one from Des Moines, Iowa; and one from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Congratulations to these states for making the podium!

coffeeneuring u.s.

The Magic Coffeeneuring Map (colored pencils, NOT crayon) has yet to make an appearance, but here’s hoping it will. The staff person in charge of that map has not been performing very well so send motivation if you’d like to see that map.

On a last note about maps, the Community Coffeeneuring Destinations Map is become a good resource for people seeking out new places to coffeeneur, so please take the leap and enter your 2015 stops. The Northeast Regional Office can help you access this map to add your coffee destinations.

The challenge has really grown this year so I look forward to seeing all the final submissions in the upcoming weeks. Riders have through November 15 (midnight in your area) to complete this year’s challenge. You can do it!

Dare I say… Keep Calm and Coffeeneur On.

For Eunice...
For Eunice…

A Marine Corps Marathon State of Mind

Sunday, for the fifth time, I joined more than 31,000 other runners in one of the largest running spectacles in the country– the Marine Corps Marathon.


Now that I have run multiple editions of this event, I treat it like a 26.2-mile tour and fun run. I don’t worry about time, and this approach helps minimize any distress about the moving throngs of people all around me. Continue reading A Marine Corps Marathon State of Mind

Coffeeneuring Challenge Update: Late to the Party? Start Now Start Now!

Coffeeneuring friends and scenesters! Have you wondered if it’s too late to participate in the 2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge? Wonder no more, you’re right on time.

If you start this weekend, you have just enough weekends remaining to successfully complete all 7 rides. Victory is still within your grasp, but you must start now. See the full suite of rules here.


It is true that coffeeneuring has its share of rules, but to help you see that they are not too too complicated, I share this link to @michaelseidel’s five-year-old explaining how coffeeneuring is done.

For a more complete, yet condensed rules breakdown, I share this post from @mikoglaces. The Coffeeneuring Challenge Rules Panel almost disqualified him for this bold move at simplifying the rules, but eventually reached an agreement that he could continue with the challenge. What relief.

Coffeeneuring Quickbeam in fall

So dust off that bike, air up those tires, adjust the straps on your helmet purse, and start coffeeneuring this weekend. For those of you who are already well on your way, keep it up! ¡Que viva coffeeneuring!

Coffeeneuring Around the Blogosphere and the Destinations Map

More coffeeneuring is happening than ever before, and it’s a treat to watch and be part of it all. Coffeeneuring is fun for everyone!

If you are participating in the Coffeeneuring Challenge this year, you can enter the locations you visit in 2015 on the Communal Coffeeneuring Destinations Map, which the Northeast Regional Office of Coffeeneuring maintains.

This link provides details with how to add your stops so you should do it! Those who previously had access to the map, should still have editing rights to it. Continue reading Coffeeneuring Around the Blogosphere and the Destinations Map

Freedom’s Run Marathon and C&O Bike Overnight

“It’s a privilege to run in the places you’ll be today,” Race Director Mark Cucuzzella said as we lined up at the Freedom’s Run Marathon start, the morning sun popping out over the tree-covered hills behind us. Continue reading Freedom’s Run Marathon and C&O Bike Overnight

From the Page to In-Person: Pondero Rivendell C&O Meetup

Pondero, a writer, rider, and Rivendell owner out of Texas, was in town this week for a combined family visit and a C&O Canal trip. Continue reading From the Page to In-Person: Pondero Rivendell C&O Meetup

Coffeeneuring Challenge Weekend One

Coffeeneuring is off to a grand start, with people near and far riding their bikes in pursuit of coffee (or related beverage). I can hardly keep up with it all. So much coffeeneuring! Continue reading Coffeeneuring Challenge Weekend One

October is for Coffeeneurs

It all starts October 3. You are ready.

Are you shaking your head saying those rules are too long, too numerous? Shake off your skepticism, friend, and dip your front wheel into the Coffeeneuring Challenge.


You have 7 weeks to do the following:

  • Get on your bike
  • Ride to a coffee shop
  • Drink a beverage
  • Take a picture
  • Ride your bike home (or elsewhere)
  • Repeat 7 times

You can do it alone, with friends, accompanied by your kiddos (or parents), in a “real” coffee shop, in a gas station, in a park. Twice in a weekend, one time a weekend, or any combination until you reach the magic number of seven. I think Marvin K. Mooney would excel at coffeeneuring.

Drink coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate, or whatever else catches your fancy (within reason). Share it on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, or don’t. It’s what you want it to be.

Hashtag it out. #coffeeneuring

Have fun, and I’ll look for you! Bikes + Coffee + October = Coffeeneuring Challenge

Becky and Laura’s First Coffeeneuring Challenge: Seattle, Washington

Time to highlight some of the coffeeneuring activity from the other Washington. Becky and Laura, two trail runners and cyclists out of the Seattle area, worked as a team to successfully meet the Coffeeneuring Challenge last year.

Cats, llamas, looky-loo loops, and yes, coffee too. They gave each of their rides titles, like chapters in a book. Lovely! Continue reading Becky and Laura’s First Coffeeneuring Challenge: Seattle, Washington

A Coffeeneuring Diary through Finland with Jussi

Jussi’s Coffeeneuring Challenge submission is a wonderful tour through his part of the world–from old forgotten places, fat bikes, meanders through forests and by rivers, to pastries I can’t even pronounce, and even a kuksa for coffee outside.

As he writes at the post’s conclusion, “For some reason, these logs turned to journals and almost travel brochures.” It made me put Finland on my list of places to visit with my bicycle. Grab a drink, relax, and please enjoy this lovely coffeeneuring entry.  Continue reading A Coffeeneuring Diary through Finland with Jussi

on two wheels in washington, d.c.


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