Giving Thanks for Bike Rides

Ten years ago I began life as a daily bike rider, after years of mass transit and more driving than I care to remember.

My bike was my tour guide, encouraging me to explore and familiarize myself with the city.

Because of bike rides, I gained physical strength and confidence.

Surly LHT in DC
Surly LHT in DC

Through a friend of a friend I learned about the D.C. Randonneurs, and soon began clipping in with them on brevets and flèche rides.

The D.C. Randonneurs welcomed me, and their bike rides taught me that I was tougher than I knew and could ride more miles in one go than I ever imagined, in weather I previously considered un-rideable.

Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
Trail Ridge Road, Colorado

Because of my daily bike rides and weekend brevets, I began to feel a sense of belonging to the city and a connection to people that I hadn’t during my initial years residing in Washington, D.C.

It was thanks to a bike ride– ten years ago– that I met my tandem and life partner, Felkerino. We rode 100 miles on our first date (my first time on a tandem), and we just kept on riding together.

Our bike rides have taken us to places I never thought I would see, at least not from the perch of my saddle.

Igor and Felkerino at the Philly BIke Expo
Igor and Felkerino at the Philly BIke Expo

Through my daily rides in the city, I began meeting other local cyclists. I’ve shared good bike talk, friend talk, Friday Coffee Clubs, and miles of pedaling along with good #BikeDC friends.

Eunice and me: coffeeneuring
Eunice and me. #BikeDC meets #BikeNC through bikes rides and coffeeneuring

My bike rides inspired me to begin this blog and, later, to launch the Coffeeneuring Challenge and the Errandonnee.

These events, which are all about using your bike to go places, led the way for me to connect virtually with other bike riders, some of whom I have had the unexpected good fortune to meet in real life.

Self-confidence, fitness, friendship, camaraderie, laughs, and true love. I found them all through bike rides.

Potts Mountain, Virginia
Potts Mountain, Virginia

Happy Thanksgiving, bike rider buddies.

Hard Reset

I came over to this computer intending to write a Coffeeneuring Challenge update (entries due this Monday!), but instead I’m pondering other matters– small changes in my own life that have altered my daily routine and energy levels for the past few months.

One month ago– though it feels longer– I completed my second marathon of October, the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a stimulating event that turned out to tip my emotions and fitness into unexpected fatigue. I lost most of my enthusiasm for riding and running, and ate too much during the lull.

I fell out of balance, which sometimes happens to me after a period of intense activity.

In addition to post-marathon tireds, I had been interviewing for a new professional opportunity– turns out I can’t be a professional blogger and coffeeneur after all– and wasn’t aware of the ways this self-imposed pressure and commitment eats away personal energy.

Scheduling time for interviews, packaging and presenting one’s professional self to new people, the nerves before and after meetings– these all overlaid my daily routine for at least a couple of months.

Won't be taking this commute route much longer.
Won’t be taking this commute route much longer.

I’m now across the finish line of many goals I set this year: full Super Randonneur series; one spring marathon and two fall marathons, including one that I bookended with a mini-bike tour; a two-week Colorado bike tour; a 1000K brevet; and securing a new job. Invigorating and satisfying, yet tiring at times.

While not the most active person, the pursuit and accomplishment of these various endeavors wore steadily on me. Looking back, I know I could have done things to keep myself running a little better, but it’s ironic how losing one’s balance can create a situation where healthy choices about things like diet and sleep are not made. Instead I thrash unsteadily about, grind my teeth, munch on junk, and sleep poorly.

This week I’ve been working my way back to improved equilibrium, particularly as it relates to my food and sleep habits, and I’m feeling better.

I’m packing up my office, saying farewell to my current routine, and looking ahead to a new job and a different commute. I’m reading the rumblings that have begun about Paris-Brest-Paris, and I’m trying to figure out how I can make that happen in 2015.

I had so many programs running at once that a system crash was inevitable. Fortunately, I saved all my work so I can calmly drink a cup of coffee while the hard reset happens. To get everything going again will take effort and yeah, I’m a bit nervous, but also ready. I’m ready for change and this hard reset.

Thanks for reading. We now return to our regular schedule of coffeeneuring activities.

2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge Update!

The final weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge has come and gone, and the time to submit summaries and compile results is upon us.

Thank you to everyone who has participated and supported the challenge this year. You are awesome!

Coffeeneuring outings were frequently visible on Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram. I’m currently addicted to Instagram, and I blame all the good coffeeneuring photos.

David L., of the Seattle area, had a great idea to establish the Coffeeneurs Facebook group last year, and it made an excellent virtual coffee shop of sorts for coffeeneurs all around the world to interact.

As of this writing, the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge boasts 68 official finishers, and I imagine many more are on the way.

Here are some final notes as you prepare your entries:

Submissions. You will receive an email from me once I have received your entry. If I have not responded to you within 24 hours, that means I did not receive your submission and you should send it to me again.

The prize (or “the trophy,” as someone called it). This year’s Coffeeneuring patch is being offered at cost, which is $4 per patch ($5 for international entries). It is a different design than last year, and it is still in the process of being made or I’d provide a sneak peak of what it looks like.

You can submit payment to me for the patch via PayPal or send it to me via snail mail. Email address to arrange both is gersemalina “at” gmail “dot” com. Either method works so choose whatever you prefer. You will receive a note from me confirming receipt of your payment.

Community Coffeeneuring Destinations Map
Community Coffeeneuring Destinations Map

Community Coffeeneuring Destinations Map. If you have not already done so, please feel free to add your coffeeneuring stops to the Community Coffeeneuring Destinations Map. It’s looking good. Here is a link to the full map and the directions for contacting the Northeast Regional Office of Coffeeneuring for editing access in order to add your locales.

2014 1117 Coffeeneuring Cities Map
2014 Coffeeneuring Cities

Coffeeneuring Cities. This map shows all the cities where 2014 coffeeneurs are represented. When I receive your submission I will make sure to add your city to the map, if it is not already included.

It’s a little difficult to see the cities here, but I can’t make WordPress work with Fusion tables (boo) so you will need to go here for a more satisfying view.

2014 Coffeeneuring States
2014 Coffeeneuring States

51 States of Coffeeneuring. Finally, a quick look at 2014 Coffeeneuring states, as of this post. I have included the District of Columbia as a state, since this is my blog as well as a contest that I operate, and people should be able to have dreams.

I eagerly await your submissions in order to keep shading in this map! I also need to make some additions to the Magic Coffeeneuring Map, but I am not sure where it is right this minute. Maybe one of my unpaid interns borrowed it? Who can say.

Suggestions! If you have any suggestions for making the Coffeeneuring Challenge even better, please let me know either in your email with your summary or as a comment below. This is a sample of the kinds of suggestions I have received.

  • What about a Birthday Coffeeneuring Rule (i.e., you can coffeeneur on your birthday)?
  • How about considering a change to the Weekend Rule to allow coffeeneuring trips outside of the weekends (currently, there are few exceptions to the weekend rule.

Deadline for Submissions. Midnight in your area, November 24!

That’s all for now. Thanks, everyone.

We Love Coffeeneuring, Featuring the Ultimate Coffeeneur for Final Weekend Inspiration

In the great city of Portland, there is a person who has coffeeneured more than anyone I know. His name is Bill, and in the course of 94 weekends he visited 110 distinct coffee shops.

That accomplishment is a testament not only to the preponderance of Portland-area coffee shops (yay, alliteration!), as well as Bill’s passion for coffeeneuring and his determination to seek out new shops.

In honor of the final weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I share with you this interview with the Ultimate Coffeeneur. Continue reading We Love Coffeeneuring, Featuring the Ultimate Coffeeneur for Final Weekend Inspiration

We Love Coffeeneuring: A Talk with Four-Time Coffeeneur John R. in #BikeDC

The final weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge approaches, and as part of the final week festivities I took the opportunity to chat with four-time challenge finisher John of #BikeDC.

You may know John from Twitter (@dirteng) or through his blog, Portajohn. John used concepts from the Coffeeneuring Challenge and created a beer and bikes challenge known as the Brewvet. (The Brewvet is a springtime challenge so you have plenty of time to practice up for it.)

A cyclist, coffeeneur, and explorer, John loves to combine bikes and coffee whenever he can (unless he’s opting for a craft beer instead). We recently talked about the appeal and expansion of the Coffeeneuring Challenge as well as other bikes ‘n coffee-related topics. Continue reading We Love Coffeeneuring: A Talk with Four-Time Coffeeneur John R. in #BikeDC

Coffeeneuring Challenge: 2 Weekends 2 Go


Two full weekends remain in the 2014 edition of the Coffeeneuring Challenge. What plans have you made?

Felkerino and I will be attending the Philly Bike Expo and coffeeneuring when we can. We’ve got coffeeneuritis, my auto-correct tells me.

If you’re also heading to the Expo, say hello if you see us. Oh, and if you know of good coffee spots downtown, please let us know!

Enjoy the weekend, all!

We Love Coffeeneuring: A Talk with Original Coffeeneurs Tara and Simon in Maryland

Today Chasing Mailboxes talks with the coffeeneuring duo of Tara and Simon. You may recognize this pair from previous guest posts, or perhaps Tara’s name rings familiar to you because of the “Tara Rule” (This year it’s Rule #16).

Tara’s suggestion that people be allowed to coffeeneur on Columbus Day sparked not only the creation of this rule, but also the approach that rules can be subject to modification (or added!) based on participants’ input and well-reasoned arguments.

Tara and Simon are the original team coffeeneurs, and have successfully reached the Coffeeneuring Challenge finish line every year that it has been offered. I’m pleased to feature them in this post. Continue reading We Love Coffeeneuring: A Talk with Original Coffeeneurs Tara and Simon in Maryland

Big Dummy Family Coffeeneuring with Judy, DS, and DD in Toronto, Ontario

Today’s guest post may require you to employ your conversion skills, because it’s kilometers-centric. Yes! In addition, get ready to enjoy a peek into bicycling life with kids and a Big Dummy.

Judy, of Toronto, completed the challenge this week, managing several rides with DS and DD. Thanks so much, Judy (and DS and DD, too!), for the great guest post! Continue reading Big Dummy Family Coffeeneuring with Judy, DS, and DD in Toronto, Ontario


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