Recollections of the harvest and farmers working fields long past sundown. Walks across campus, heavy book-filled backpacks on our shoulders, feet drifting through drying leaves. The donning of long sleeves to absorb the chill of mornings that advise of even colder times to come.
It’s odd how this time can feel like a stopping point. The end of one cycle, and the beginning of another. Maybe that’s because I grew up in rural Iowa, lived according to a school calendar for so long, or work in a place with a year that marks time from October through September.
With fall’s arrival, I have an urge to pause accompanied by a yearning to be outdoors basking in autumn’s fleeting colors. A desire to take stock while I keep accumulating memories until the waning daylight and chill truly take hold.
This weekend Felkerino and I fought against the feelings of curling up with a good book, and took to the winding pavement and dirt outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Back into the hills after a month of even terrain.
The George Washington National Forest makes a good backdrop for a ride. They say fall already peaked here, but it still looks good to me.
The trees lull me into a contemplative state. I reflect on recent rides, mull upcoming possibilities, and gradually drift back into the present.
This weekend I received an unexpected note from the coffeeneuring team of Janice and Jayne. What started out for them as a regular coffee ride turned into something much much more.
The idea was to ride 2 1/2 miles to the store/deli in Boyer Junction, have lunch and coffee and retrace our steps up the hill and home.
When we were eating our lunch at the deli, Jayne asked me if I’d seen the kitten on the side of the road on our way down the hill.
“No,” I said. “What kitten? There was no kitten!”
We finished our lunch and started back. I heard him before I could see him and I started saying, “No, oh no!”
He ran out from the grass and across the road right up to us. Jayne was off her bike and holding him before I could even roll my eyes.
Of course, we weren’t going to leave him there, though he was a wet muddy mess, his eyes were goopy and there was a big open gash on one of his legs.
We figured out that we could just fit him into the rear pocket of my wind breaker and we made it up the hill and home. Jayne hadn’t been on a bike for some time but she rode up that hill at a pretty good clip. Amazing what you can do if you want to!
Jayne had an appointment set up for the kitty a couple of hours after we got home.
He’s now had various treatments including meds for his eyes, his upper respiratory infection (he’s in isolation because that is contagious), and his worms. And his leg has been stitched. A VERY EXPENSIVE coffeeneuring experience.
Thank you for providing us with the opportunity for adventure….more than we looked for.
Janice and Jayne, this story of your coffeeneuring kitty warms my heart. Wishing you well with your remaining coffeeneuring adventures (although it’s okay if you don’t rescue a kitten during every one).
Some people have said coffeeneuring is now a movement, but it’s really always been there. I just gave it paperwork, a name, and a prize. Thanks to everybody who’s helped make the Coffeeneuring Challenge the robust event it has become.
I created a Coffeeneuring 2014 Blogroll page that I hope to roll it into something that includes blog write-ups from the coffeeneurs of yesteryear. Check it out, and if you are blogging, please make sure I’ve included you on this list.
Thanks to those who are including information about the bike-friendliness of locations visited. This is excellent field research for the coffeeneuring community.
As I wrote yesterday, functional fitness embodies the type of activity I favor, and coffeeneuring is one piece of that. I favor the pastries, too, though they probably do not fit under this fitness (or any fitness) label. Oh well.
Have a great weekend everybody, and please feel free to share any Coffeeneuring Challenge news you have via a comment here or through your preferred social media outlet (or even an email or letter, if you like)!
Today I ran into work, my eyes soaking in the fall colors as I breathed the aroma of wet ground from yesterday’s rain and the dying leaves on the pavement. Despite overcast skies, the 60-degree temperatures and quiet air made for delicious running conditions.
I recalled my life in the city last year at this time, when the federal government shut down for two weeks and I was furloughed. I remembered how much I wanted to be at work (who knew?!), and all the time I spent outside pondering things like government budgets.
As the shutdown ended and we returned to business as usual, I wrote about observing the Washington area’s transition to fall, the familiarity of the trees, and how the brilliance of the leaves’ emerging colors prompted my own daily stresses and fears to fade. Watching the trees reminded me to pay more attention to what really matters in this life.
I stopped taking my surroundings for granted. The trees, ground, and sky change frequently. All I have to do is step outside and look around to see it.
I also found new appreciation for my work and the daily trip to the office. Morning commutes are still the best. Car traffic might be heavy and the downtown sidewalks hectic, but side streets and areas along the National Mall are still waking up to the day. I try to route myself through these quieter places when I can.
I am fortunate to live in a city where my feet can easily carry me to my job, as well as other essential destinations in the life of a grown-up. I’m lucky to have a level of health and fitness such that my two feet and my bicycle can be my primary means of transportation.
I’m not an athlete, but to me, accomplishing daily activities under my own power is the heart of functional fitness. Daily outings and errands may not be as exciting to experience as things like an extended bike tour, a long brevet, or even my recent eventure.
But they can still be significant and beautiful in their own way. All I have to do is open myself to the city around me and embrace my body’s movements to experience this everyday joy.
No cheating. You’re only cheating yourself, as one of my old workout instructors used to say.
1. What is a word that has two Fs, three Es, one N, and one R?
2. When I go coffeeneuring, should I drive my car?
3. When I go coffeeneuring, should I drive a school bus?
4. When I coffeeneur, should I ride my bicycle?
5. When I go coffeeneuring, can I go to seven shops in one day and submit my entry saying that I completed the Coffeeneuring Challenge?
And I hope you were mixing it up with decaf, if you attempted this. Only two trips max per week.
6. If I coffeeneur with the same person for all trips, can we send in one Coffeeneuring Challenge entry for both of us?
7. Should I take a picture of my coffeeneuring?
If you forgot, get creative about providing something that evidences your outing.
8. What is the hashtag for the Coffeeneuring Challenge on Twitter and Instagram?
9. If I drink a pop while I’m out, can I call it coffeeneuring?
10. Isn’t coffeeneuring just riding your bike to get coffee with a whole bunch of rules?
One point per answer. Add up your score. How did you do?
Scores 9-10 points. Good job. Keep doing what you’re doing. Unless you you think you are coffeeneuring when driving. Don’t do that. 6-8 points. Better brush up on your coffeeneuring skills. 5-0 points. Close to hopeless. Coffeeneur at your own risk.
Any questions I missed? Maybe they’ll make a future quiz
Just before PBP 2011, I interviewed a group of 12 randonneurs to get their perspectives on various aspects of long-distance cycling. I talked with both men and women who were members of clubs throughout the United States. I called it the Randonneur Q&A.
The Randonneur Q&A covered big-picture randonneuring themes, including insights over the various brevet distances, and what it is about randonneuring that keeps drawing people back to it. With PBP 2015 less than a year around the bend, I thought it might be informative and inspiring to revisit these interviews.
We’re almost one week into the Coffeeneuring Challenge, and already I’m amazed by all the people riding their bikes to tasty beverages all over the land.
Some ride to four-walled establishments, and others enjoy beverages in the open air.
Much of the coffeeneuring activity is taking place on Twitter (search the #coffeeneuring hashtag), the Coffeeneurs Facebook group, and it’s also going strong on Instagram (also on the #coffeeneuring hashtag). If you’re on flickr, the Coffeeneuring group is here. Please join in as you like.
In this week’s update, I would like to draw your attention to the Coffeeneur Challenge bloggers. Here’s what I know:
The Daily Randonneur rode from D.C. into West Virginia, over the weekend and stopped at one of our favorite coffee places in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Lost Dog Cafe.
Captain Overpacker adds a coffeeneuring trip onto a day of riding for a cause and throws in a reference to one of my favorite movies when I was a teen, Pretty in Pink (I wanted to make my own prom dress, too).
Red Riding goes team coffeeneuring with some of the Pittsburgh crew.
Joe Flood checks out the Old Caribou that is now a Peets on his first coffeeneuring ride in Washington, D.C. Maybe I’ll check it out myself.
It’s an almond milk Cafe au Lait for West Coast coffeeneur Rosie on the Move. Atlas Coffee sounds delicious!
I first participated in Freedom’s Run Marathon in 2009, its inaugural year. I remembered loving the course — the way it rambled around Harpers Ferry, traveled along the C&O, and eventually crawled away from the Shenandoah River into the beautiful, hallowed, and hilly place that is Antietam Battlefield.
I even liked the mileage loop out and back to Murphy Farm Overlook, although it can be a little crowded on the relatively narrow footpath. It’s a good spot to watch the sun come up.
I returned to Freedom’s Run this past Saturday for the second time. It fit well into my eventure scheme and I wanted to know how, if at all, the run had changed.
The course is as spectacular and scenic as ever. The rolling hills in the battlefield have not become any less rolling, and the vistas the course offers throughout are remarkable.
It’s the only marathon I’ve ever run that requires me to descend a staircase (the Spiral Staircase, as many of us know from our rides out that way), and one of few where the course spreads out quickly and such that you have plenty of time for contemplation. Freedom’s Run is a rare treat, and if you ever have a chance to do it, you should.
Participation appears to have grown some, although a look through the results showed that fewer than 500 people completed the marathon this year. I think Freedom’s Run draws people like me, who are looking for a scenic event with a small-town feel, and it also appeals to out-of-towners who want to run a marathon in all 50 states.
There is not a lot of fan support, but there are enough people out and about cheering and volunteering that I never lost the feel of being in an organized event.
Water stops were located every three or so miles, negating my need to carry water, although I generally like to bring my own bottle so that I am not wasting plastic cups. All in all, Freedom’s Run is a well-organized event that travels an interesting route and maintains low-key informality.
Play by Play
At 6 a.m. I departed my hotel for the marathon and proceeded to lose myself in the campground down from the hotel en route to the start. I thought about returning to the hotel and bagging the run, figuring if I was stupid enough to lose myself in a KOA that maybe that meant I didn’t deserve to run this day.
I sought help from my friend and fellow runner Kirstin who was waiting at the run’s packet pickup. She remote controlled my sad self to where I needed to go. Thank you, friend!
The run began and after running with Kirstin for a bit I was on my own. The small field quickly spread out and this gave me plenty of time with my thoughts. Just me and my thoughts, thinking together.
“What shall we think about, thoughts?”
“Let’s think about whether this bike-run-bike combo is a very good idea!”
I pitter pattered along the C&O, contemplating my life choices.
My thoughts and I bantered and concluded this was not a good idea. Note: this conclusion was reached around mile 15, when nothing seems like a good idea. Most everyone has their marathon low points and recently mine have come around then.
At the time, I thought my low point was at mile 13, but it turns out that I had lost count of the miles I’d run. Mile 15 showed up and I realized I had experienced a marathon miracle!
Around this time Felkerino rode past me on his Atlantis, and he then kept me company for the next three miles or so. That was fun and his presence, encouragement, and picture-taking lifted my spirits.
And then… Antietam. Felkerino had taken off to coffeeneur in Shepherdstown so I was running solo. I did not mind that at all, though, because running through Antietam is amazing.
The terrain constitutes big scenic rollers and as I said, there is something holy about that place. I took a few photos with my cell phone, and ran/walked along while savoring my time there.
Felkerino met me again at mile 23, and we talked for a couple of minutes before I set my mind to finishing. I dutifully plowed my way to mile 26.2, and finished in what I believe is my second slowest marathon time ever.
Oh well, I still earned a t-shirt, a medal, and a commemorative pint glass for my effort. My body had the normal aches and pains after a long run, but overall I felt good.
The mental game had proven the most difficult, as I was unsure how a 67-mile bike ride the day before would affect my running in addition to thinking that I had to save enough energy for the ride back to D.C. on Sunday.
Many thanks to Kirstin and Tom C., Felkerino, the weather, and the volunteers for making Freedom’s Run a great way to spend 26.2 miles in West Virginia.
And thank you again, Kirstin, for getting me to the start line after I lost my bearings in the campground. Next time I’ll know better! Maybe!
And now, we return to our regularly scheduled Coffeeneuring Challenge programming…