Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Cold & Blustery BikeDC Hot Chocolate Ride (aka, the Chocoride)

Pitango sipping chocolate. So good!

Pitango sipping chocolate. So good!

Having spent the bulk of the last four days in self-imposed isolation, I busted out of my hibernation state today and joined the Hot Chocolate Ride for a few miles in the saddle and hot beverages with BikeDC buddies old and new.

Lisa and Crystal, Chocoride organizers!

Lisa and Crystal, Chocoride organizers!

Organized by velocipedestriennes (my new favorite word!) Lisa and Crystal, this casual ride (or #chocoride, as it was known on the Twitterverse) toured four locales offering hot chocolate as well as other warm drinks and treats:

Today was ideal for a Chocoride ride. A sunny December day with a cold bite in the air. Blustery like nobody’s business. Chilly miles spent outside were rewarded with long stops in cozy places serving warm sweet things.

Chocoriders in the L Street Cycletrack. Tell your friends you saw us here!

Chocoriders in the L Street Cycletrack. Tell your friends you saw us here!

Roads were also quiet on this post-holiday (and pre-holiday!) Sunday in the city. Have you ever biked around D.C. during the holidays? It’s one of my favorite times to ride here. Traffic dwindles. Gridlock ceases to exist.

Cyclists move  freely through the city, and the cars that think they are king recede to the suburbs. Today, we owned this town.

Chocoride group shot (c) Ted Nigrelli

Chocoride group shot (c) Ted Nigrelli

This Sunday also offered a rare opportunity to ease up on the pedals and meander the city streets with the only destination in mind the next coffee/hot chocolate stop. Timeframe? Whenever we arrive.

So often I find myself riding around trying to get somewhere in the city. To work. To the store. To the doctor. On time. On a schedule. I navigate purposefully in the morning and again in afternoon rush hour amid other people (most of them in cars) missioning to their own destinations.

Chocoriders arrive at Union Market

Chocoriders arrive at Union Market

Not today. Our leisurely riding allowed me to soak in the rare quiet of our city. Our stops gave me time to thoroughly appreciate my beverages and engage in holiday chatter with the group. It was lovely.

Also, Lisa and Crystal did an excellent job of scoping out the hot chocolate hot spots, as each place had plenty of space for our group (about 15 or so people) to mill around, drink, and talk.

I made sure to treat myself at every stop. At Dolcezza, I indulged in a pre-ride cup of Intelligentsia coffee.

The barista at Pitango fixed me a rich, but not too sweet, cup of sipping chocolate.

Kate and John. Sipping chocolate at Pitango takes away some of the shivers

Kate and John. Sipping chocolate at Pitango takes away some of the shivers

Lot 38‘s decaf Americano and zucchini bread was just what I needed to make it the next five miles to Union Market.

Waiting for my decaf at Lot 38

Waiting for my decaf at Lot 38

Peregrine’s Union Market location did not disappoint with its double espresso.

Joe at Peregrine (Rootchopper in background)

Joe at Peregrine (Rootchopper in background)

The Chocoride crew completed its hot chocolate tour by looping back to Dolcezza where I allowed myself another cup of sipping chocolate and a churro.

Back at Dolcezza for a final cup. Well, a few of us anyway.

Back at Dolcezza for a final cup. Well, a few of us anyway.

The challenge of my ride was balancing the beverage and treat choices so as not to end up with a tummy ache or overbuzzed on caffeine. My choices worked out perfectly and I returned home 20 miles later satiated, happy, and sans stomach pain.

My other pro move ended up being the decision to bring my own steel travel mug. This allowed me to keep the hot beverages flowing throughout the ride. No worries about having to chug my beverage at any of the stops or wasting a paper cup (though most locations offered real mugs and cups).

Peregrine dble espresso in a demitasse cup

Peregrine dble espresso in a demitasse cup

It was a beautiful day on the bike. I particularly liked the sunny tailwind sections and the moments spent indoors. However, I would not have appreciated them nearly as much without the headwinds, miles on the shady side of the street, and the general wintry feel of the outdoors.

  • Rootchopper was there and wrote up a summary of his day, too. He braved the headwinds all the way from Old Town so his beverages must have tasted extra good.
  • Lisa, the co-ride leader, also has her take on the day here.

I have more Chocoride photos for you. View them on my flickr page.

Many thanks to Crystal and Lisa for organizing this special seasonal ride. BikeDC 4 evah!

2012 in Review: Variety is the Spice of Life

Another December passes, the sun sets on 2012, and I find myself reflecting about the activities of the past year.

Sunset on Day 1 of the Colorado High Country 1200K

While Felkerino and I focused on preparing for and completing Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011, our 2012 cycling proved more varied.

We commuted, completed a Super Randonneur series with the D.C. Randonneurs, trained to ride the Colorado High Country 1200K, rode more dirt roads, and planned a weeklong bike tour of Southern Virginia.

Bike touring in Southern Virginia

Bike touring in Southern Virginia

We also organized the D.C. Randonneurs 400K, which gave us new appreciation for all the work that goes into executing the brevets.

Waiting up for the 400K Riders (c) Bill Beck

Waiting up for the 400K Riders (c) Bill Beck

I ran two marathons (one in March and another in October) and spent more time cross-training at the gym. I enjoyed mixing up the running and the bike rides. Running is a different pace and perspective, and it works my muscles and mind in ways that are distinct to cycling.

2012 Rock and Roll Marathon Bib and Finisher's Medal

March 2012 Rock and Roll Marathon Bib and Finisher’s Medal

Because of the unfortunate state of our Co-Motion tandem, I also rode a fair number of weekend rides on my single bike. That made for an invigorating change of pace.

Riding the Rivendell Romulus on the D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K (c) Felkerino

Riding the Rivendell Romulus on the D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K (c) Felkerino

The best part of 2012, though, ended up being all the people I met and spent time with via the various riding Felkerino and I did.

Friday Coffee Club. Through Friday Coffee Club, a weekly morning gathering of D.C. bike commuters at Swings Coffee, I came to know the #BikeDC community.

Friday Coffee Club

We often encountered each other during local event rides, like this fall’s 50 States Ride.

#fridaycoffeeclub peeps on this summer's 50 States Ride

#fridaycoffeeclub peeps on the 2012 50 States Ride

Some even made the daring cross over to randonneuring.

Chris from Friday Coffee Club and Felkerino on the DCR Flatbread 200K

Chris from Friday Coffee Club and Felkerino on the DCR Flatbread 200K

BrevetsRandonneuring rides provided a venue (and the time, lots of time) to catch up with old rando-pals and to meet new ones.

George, Christian, and Rick on the Warrenton 300K

George, Christian, and Rick on the Warrenton 300K

Alec, Eric, and Mike on the Urbana 200K

Alec, Eric, and Mike on the Urbana 200K

Barry B. on a training ride out of Middleburg

Barry B.

CoffeeneuringOver 60 people participated in the Coffeeneuring Challenge, some of whom (like Lynne from Oregon and George of New York) I met in person and others I connected with through the ether.

Lynne F., Oregon randonneur and coffeeneur

Lynne F., Oregon randonneur and coffeeneur

George Swain, randonneur and coffeeneur

George Swain, New York randonneur and coffeeneur

To all of you who coffeeneured and utilitaired and wrote up the stories of your rides, a huge thank you!

Colorado High Country 1200KNot only was the course awesome and the weather perfect for all four days of the Colorado High Country 1200K, but we also rode with friendly and good-spirited people. Many laughs, rich conversations, and sublime moments happened during that ride.

Colorado High Country 1200K

Colorado High Country 1200K

Felkerino and Bill on the Colorado High Country 1200K

Felkerino and Bill on the Colorado High Country 1200K

Rabbit Ears Pass on the Colorado High Country 1200K

Rabbit Ears Pass on the Colorado High Country 1200K

Dave, Bill, and Felkerino on Day 4 of the High Country 1200K

Dave, Bill, and Felkerino on Day 4 of the High Country 1200K

The FlècheAnd our flèche team? Well, I love our flèche posse. I can’t imagine a better 24 hours of pedaling.

2012 Fleche Team (c) Bill Beck

2012 Fleche Team (c) Bill Beck

Thanks to everybody who made this such a fun and fulfilling year. Thank you for reading, commenting, and riding with us.

I don’t know what awaits us in 2013, but I’m hoping for more days full of friendship, fresh air, and adventure.

<3

Happy Holidays (and a Book Recommendation)!

Co-Motion Tandem in Rock Creek

Happy holidays!

If you have any breaks from the hustle and bustle this week, I recommend a read of this lovely book, The Velocipede: its History, Varieties and Practice , by J.T. Goddard.

Written in 1869, The Velocipede offers an informative look back at the bicycles and bike culture of the time. It even includes a chapter of comprehensive instructions for the beginning rider, and another that focuses on the possibilities of cycling for ladies, i.e., velocipedestriennes.

Those who like bicycles and have any interest in their history will enjoy Goddard’s book. Also, what do you have to lose? The book is absolutely FREE from Google Play. I love how accessible publications like this have become.

All the best to you this season, dear readers. I hope you are surrounded by peace, love, friendship, bicycles, and good coffee.

WABA’s Women & Bikes and the Hains Point 100

Megan of WABA, completes the Hains Point 100

Megan completes the Hains Point 100

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) recently launched a Women & Bikes initiative. WABA describes the intent of Women and Bikes on its website, stating:

The mission of Women and Bicycles is to get more women on two wheels through mentorship and peer-to-peer learning, between those who already ride and those who would like to ride. The program consists of dinner parties, workshops, bike rides, and celebrations.

Megan, a member of the BikeDC community, organized a century ride on Hains Point to raise money and awareness for Women & Bikes on December 23. Hains Point is a well-known 3.2-mile loop located in the Southwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., and is a popular training spot for the area’s roadies road riders.

Megan’s organizing impressed me. She encouraged people to show up and support the event, even if they did not or could not ride the full 100 miles.

I also admired her for taking on a Hains Point century. Even though Hains Point is flat, wind can blow stiffly off the water. Completing a ride as flat as Hains Point is a different kind of challenge than a rolling ride, as rolling terrain offers opportunities to use different muscle groups and easily move out of the saddle. And finally, 32 laps of Hains Point? It’s hard to fathom.

By the day of the Hains Point 100, Megan had raised more than $1,000. It appeared that a sizeable group showed up at the start and a steady stream of people came and went to support the event and complete a lap or two (or three or four) throughout the day.

Felkerino and I ventured out of the city for the majority of our Sunday ride, but stopped by Hains Point in the later afternoon to do a couple of laps and observe the event’s finale.  We had a great time, meeting and greeting several people we know from the Twitterverse, Friday Coffee Club, and even D.C. Randonneurs.

We encountered our friend Ben B., who is now one of the co-owners of Proteus Bicycles in College Park.  Ben had pedaled down to the event from College Park, Maryland, riding a recently-acquired bright yellow tall bike.

We rode together for a partial lap, and then Ben departed to get in some last-minute shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market. I wasn’t sure how that big beast locked to a rack, but Ben was carrying an Abus chain lock and seemed to have it all figured out.

Ben B. and his tall bike on the Hains Point 100

Ben B. and his tall bike on the HP100

We finally met Alex B. (straight out of Twitter and into real life!), who is a recent addition to the WABA staff. Alex was riding her sparkly new Wabi single speed.

Alex on her new Wabi

Alex on her new Wabi

Kate C., also known as Girl on a Bike, was out riding her trusty cruiser bike, Betty. Betty was all decked out for the season, including lights, tinsel, and a Christmas stocking. Both Alex and Kate completed more than 50 miles for the day. Well done, ladies.

Girl on a Bike and the seasonally decorated Betty at the HP100

Girl on a Bike and the seasonally decorated Betty at the HP100

Friday Coffee Club friends Pete B. and Aaron were there, too. Pete had decided to combine the Hains Point 100 into his fixed gear double-century ride. He’d been up since 3 a.m. Sheesh!

Pete B. and Megan

Pete B. and Megan

Aaron also rolled well into the triple digits, leaving Hains Point with over 117 miles in the bank.

Aaron heads for home at the end of the HP100

Aaron heads for home post-HP100

Kathy, an Arlington-based commuter, provided support to Megan and other riders throughout the day. She did a great job, and her positive energy and smile were completely infectious.

Kathy (complete with Santa hat) and Ben

Kathy (complete with Santa hat) and Ben

Nelle P., also on the WABA staff and an avid bicyclist, was also there, having just installed a new set of handlebars on her Raleigh the night before.

Nelle and her Raleigh

Nelle and her Raleigh

The most exciting moment of the day arrived when Megan put her foot down after meeting her self-imposed challenge of 100 miles– 102 when all was said and done.

HP100 in the bag. Time for a cupcake!

HP100 in the bag. Time for a cupcake!

She had done it! Megan rode thirty-two laps around Hains Point. She raised money and awareness for WABA’s Women & Bicycles initiative. And most important, she led by example. Thank you, Megan.

P.S. A few more photos from the day are here, and Felkerino took some photos too.

Note: I previously (mis)identified Megan as WABA staff. She is not a WABA employee, but rather a regular everyday citizen who put the ride together.

Unintended Consequences of Not Setting Goals: A Century a Month

Harpers Ferry, with Barry (c) Felkerino

Lately, I have been mulling over the question of what we can accomplish even when we do not set specific goals. This is a concept I was first introduced to when I read an interview with Leo Babauta, the author of the Zen Habits blog.

Babauta writes that goals foster inflexibility and turn activities into work, but that if you act on what you are passionate about, you will find yourself achieving even in the absence of goals. Also, because a life without goals is more flexible and open, you may find yourself accomplishing things that you did not even know you could.

Babauta’s ideas throw me off-balance. Life without goals?! How can you achieve anything if you don’t know where you want to go?

I love setting goals. Each year, I establish a few cycling goals. I even write them down. I set mini-goals about going to the gym each week. I throw in a running goal here and there. I’m into setting goals.

Considering a life without goals is difficult for me to grasp and yet, I saw Babauta’s theory at work last month. It started when I read a thread on the Bike Forums about being part of the 2012 Century-a-Month Club. I asked myself how close I had come to achieving that.

I dug out my workout diary for the past year and saw that I had logged one century a month from January through November in 2012. Not bad, I thought.

Wondering how far back my century streak stretched, I pulled out the 2011 activity record. A quick tallying showed that I had completed at least one century per month for the past 23 months.

Fall riding on the Romulus

I never imagined that I would have a string of that many consecutive months that included a century ride. While Felkerino and I ride our fair share of centuries throughout the year, the completion of a century a month for this long was never a goal for either of us.

Perhaps because of that, I never felt any pressure about getting in a century ride. I love bicycling and being outside. Felkerino and I encourage each other’s bicycling habit and it’s something we enjoy doing together. We often like our weekend rides to be a full-day affair. This all combined to make a monthly century a regular occurrence.

Having made this century-a-month realization in November, I couldn’t help but plan a December century in order to round out this accomplishment to 24. Yes, I made it a goal.

Ironically, my newfound awareness of my century streak put additional pressure on me to complete it. The day of the December century, two of our riding friends took a five-mile shortcut, but I did not dare accompany them because I “needed” to get the full distance. I probably would not have shortcut that day, anyway, but making the century a goal took away the option of considering any other experience.

As soon as I returned home, I made sure to note my century so that I could see all 24 months neatly highlighted with at least one century per month.

Final miles of the December century

I smile when I think of my 24-month century streak. While largely unintentional and not a goal until the Bike Forums Century-a-Month Club thread piqued my curiosity, it is still something I am happy to have accomplished.

My two years of consecutive monthly centuries also provided an opportunity to experience what it is like to achieve something largely without the intentionality of goal-setting, and to explore how goal-setting can alter a person’s mindset and approach.

Frankly, I’m scared to live without goals, and I never see myself living without them. However, I was heartened to see Babauta’s ideas play out in my century-a-month exercise. People do pursue their passions, even in the absence of a specific goal.

A Return to the Single Bike Lifestyle

A weekend century on the Rivendell Romulus (c) Felkerino

A weekend century on the Rivendell Romulus (c) Felkerino

This past year, we retired our custom-fit Co-Motion tandem. It wasn’t by choice. Over the six years we had owned it and an estimated 25,000 miles, it gradually developed a crack in the area near the stoker seat tube. Felkerino wrote a post about it complete with a photo of the crack, here.

As you can see in the post’s photo, the crack was located right at the stoker seat tube weld. I’ve been trying not to take that too personally. Co-Motion diagnosed that the crack emerged because the weld was not strong enough and we have since been working with them on a replacement tandem.

For a while we rode our back-up tandem, a Cannondale mountain frame also known fondly as “the lead sled.” I wrote earlier this year about the differences between the Co-Motion and the Cannondale. Aluminum versus steel, 26-inch versus 700C wheels, and a significantly shorter reach for me on the Cannondale.

The Cannondale tandem on tour this summer

The Cannondale tandem on tour this summer

This short reach became a problem on rides over 80-90 miles, primarily in my shoulder zone and lower back. I felt hunched and as though my shoulders were squishing my pectoral muscles. I called it the Quasimodo effect.

Additionally, as rides exceeded 70 miles or so, I would begin squirming in the saddle, as my lower back sent me signals of discomfort. Because of the shorter reach, I could not stretch out enough over the bike to distribute my weight well, and I think these two areas of my body were doing more than their share to support me.

The lead sled works well on gravel road rides, and the fit is fine for rides less than 80 miles or rides where we will do a lot of standing. However, it is not suited to being a brevet bike, especially when Felkerino and I both have single bikes that are extremely comfortable and carry us over brevet distances in a pain-free fashion.

The Rivendell Romulus

The Rivendell Romulus

Enter the Rivendell Romulus, which has now become my primary weekend bike. I had mixed feelings about this at first. I’d become accustomed to riding tandem on weekends. While I ride a single bike almost daily, it is usually for rides shorter than 50 miles.

Almost all long rides (centuries and longer) over the past few years have been on tandem. As a stoker, I like having someone to block the brunt of the elements. I could take both hands off the bars and reach freely into my jersey pockets. If I wanted to delayer, I could easily do so since I wasn’t steering.

Mostly, though, I just missed our sleek and elegant Co-Motion. It fit me so perfectly. I missed putting my head down on rides and gazing down at the beautiful burnt orange top tube. Felkerino and I had gone on many spectacular rides and tours with that bike.

The Co-Motion Tandem

The Co-Motion Tandem

It was harder than I ever imagined to say good-bye to the Co-Motion. Riding my single served as a reminder that I would never ride that bike again, and that initially bummed me out.

Am I being melodramatic? Yes, a bit, although I now see how people become attached to material objects. A tandem that I thought was beautiful, fit so well, and represented so many good memories has been a tough thing to leave in the past.

Riding the Co-Motion (c) Bill Beck

Riding the Co-Motion (c) Bill Beck

A couple of months have gone by since Felkerino and I started riding singles again on weekend rides, and I’ve since adjusted to and embraced my return to the single lifestyle.

The Rivendell Romulus is a beautiful bike, too. When I settle into the saddle and reach for the bars, my back stretches out happily and I feel at ease and confident.

I have total control of the bike, and don’t have to worry about synchronizing my movements with Felkerino (although he reported that we do stand simultaneously, even on single bikes). Steering, shifting, and braking are all in my hands now.

Weekend century on the Romulus (c) Felkerino

Pedaling away on the Romulus (c) Felkerino

Climbing hills is a treat, as it’s just me and my little single on the grade, as opposed to Felkerino and me hauling our cumulative weight. The Campy Ergo shifting is smooth, and comes in handy if I want to shift while standing. I do have to take the brunt of the cold, but I’ll take cold skin and watery eyes over back and shoulder pain any day.

With the exception of figuring out how to dig into my rear pockets and unwrap my food while wearing gloves, read a cue sheet, and keep the bike moving forward in a straight line all at the same time, I’m doing pretty well.

I can also see Felkerino’s face, as opposed to looking at his Camelbak all day. We can ride a few pedal strokes beside each other, or take turns being in front of each other. I find that a refreshing change.

Felkerino and the Atlantis

Felkerino and the Atlantis

When I ride tandem, it’s difficult for me to discern how much of my effort translates into the tandem’s movement. Riding a single bike gives me an opportunity to assess my conditioning and effort, as 100 percent of the bike’s forward momentum comes from my pedaling. I can see improvement in my leg strength and endurance over the last two years and that boosts my confidence as a rider.

(c) Felkerino

(c) Felkerino

I can’t wait for our new tandem to be built up and road ready, but in the meantime I’m reveling in the new-found freedom and routine of my single bike lifestyle.

A Coffeeneuring Map Made by a Pro

COFFEENEURING OFFICIAL BUSINESS: If you were a Coffeeneuring Challenge finisher or honorable mention, please send me your snail mail address via my gmail address OR the “Contact” page so that I may send out your PRIZES!

Earlier this week, I received a note from a North Carolina randonneur and blogosphere buddy. Andy had used the Coffeeneuring Challenge data as the basis for his on-line tutorial, “How to plot points on a map using Google Fusion Tables

The result of his plotting is a world map that shows the home cities of all 62 participants.

Andy's world map of coffeeneurs

Andy’s World Coffeeneuring Map

Coffeeneuring + Fusion Tables = World Coffeeneuring Map.

Awesome? Yes, awesome!

The world coffeeneuring map is easy to review and also gives the reader a fairly specific visual of the geographic dispersion of coffeeneurs. It also helped me see why Mike T. of Edmonton, Alberta, completed his final coffeeneuring ride using studded tires. I did not realize that Edmonton was that far north.

In perusing Andy’s blog entry, I know it would take me some time to create my own coffeeneuring map, but it is possible that I could shift from using the magic coffeeneuring map to the world coffeeneuring map.

Magic Coffeeneuring Map: domestic + part of Canada

One more look at the magic coffeeneuring map

It will be hard to give up the colored pencils, though, so I will likely use both visual aids.

Thank you, Andy, for creating the world coffeeneuring map. I look forward to using your tutorial for next year’s challenge! (Or I might just email you to help me!)

The People who Coffeeneur: Participation Rates of Women and Men

As I looked through the coffeeneuring submissions, I thought it might be fun to share a few more facts about the 2012 coffeeneuring community. So hang onto your helmets and be prepared to be wowed by my data mining skills.

Julie S. coffeeneurs (c) Julie S.

Julie S. coffeeneurs (c) Julie S.

The first topic I thought I’d cover is the participation of women versus men in the challenge. This is of interest to me because

  1. I am a woman; and
  2. Women currently make up far less of the general cycling population than men.
Miriam and Katrin go coffeeneuring in Minnesota (c) Charlie T.

Miriam and Katrin go coffeeneuring in Minnesota (c) Charlie T.

On its website, Bikes Belong mentions a 2009 study by the Department of Transportation that found women made up about 24 percent of total bicycling trips in the United States. The site notes another statistic from Scientific American stating that men’s cycling trips surpass women’s by at least 2-to-1. I wondered how the coffeeneuring participation rate of men versus women would measure up by comparison. Would it, like these studies, also reflect a much higher rate of male versus female participation?

The answer is “no.” The 2012 Coffeeneuring Challenge data show that both men and women like to coffeeneur.

Women and Men - Coffeeneurs

While more men than women participated in the challenge, the difference between the two groups was not great. Of the 62 total participants, 29 were women and 33 men. Overall, a fairly balanced participation rate existed between the genders.

Patti and George, Coffeeneuring in Delaware (c) Patti B.

Patti and George, Coffeeneuring in Delaware (c) Patti B.

A look at participation outside of the United States shows a total of six coffeeneurs, five women and one man. Of course, the participation rate outside of the United States only amounted to ten percent of total coffeeneurs, but it did surprise me that all except one were women.

International Coffeeneurs - Men and Women

What is it about the Coffeeneuring Challenge that encouraged such a high participation rate among women, when the average number of cycling trips in the made by women compared to men in the U.S. is 24 percent?

I don’t know the demographics of the blog’s readership by gender, but perhaps more women than men read it, meaning more women than men were aware of the challenge.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I identified ten two-person teams that coffeeneured together, and all of these were co-ed. Could it be that there is a social aspect of the challenge that appeals to women? Maybe the appeal of a bike ride with a steaming hot beverage in a local coffee shop as the destination equally appeals to both genders? If you have any thoughts on the matter, I’d love to read them.

S.R. Coffeeneurs in Pittsburgh, PA (c) S.R.

S.R. Coffeeneurs in Pittsburgh, PA (c) S.R.

I’m ecstatic that so many people took on the 2012 Coffeeneuring Challenge, and that both women and men  wanted to be part of it.

Coffeeneuring Challenge: Winners and Honorable Mentions!

While I still have a couple of Coffeeneuring Rewinds up my sleeve, it’s time to announce the winners.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the growth of coffeeneuring. In its inaugural year, 12 participants successfully completed the Coffeeneuring Challenge. In only its second edition, that number has grown to 51 coffeeneurs, each of whom visited 7 different coffee shops over a period of 6 weekends.

Of the original 12 coffeeneur champions, six returned to earn their coffeeneuring award a second year. Well done! (They are noted with an asterisk (*) in the list below.

The “I was going to complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge, but…” list, non-existent last year, ended up with 11 honorable mentions.

Coffeeneuring also experienced a geographic spread. This year marked the first international entries, with people from Canada (Ontario and Alberta), Ireland, and the United Kingdom submitting.

Domestically, new states were introduced to the coffeeneuring mix, with first-ever participation from the states of Arizona, California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina Utah, and Wisconsin.

Magic Coffeeneuring Map: domestic + part of Canada

Magic Coffeeneuring Map: domestic + part of Canada

Of all states submitting entries, Pennsylvania had the highest level of participation, followed by the District of Columbia (yay!). My graphic shows states as well as countries, but given that countries outside the U.S. had such small participation, I grouped them in with the states. This is not a political statement, only a quick way for you to see where the coffeeneurs reside. As you can see by the chart, Pennsylvania had the highest level of participation (12) followed by D.C. (8), Virginia (also 8), and Portland (6).

Coffeeneurs States

Four cities represented just shy of half of the coffeeneurs who participated. Those cities are:

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Arlington, Virginia

Coffeeneur Cities

People coffeeneured in more places than ever before. The magic coffeeneuring maps show a broad view of the various coffeeneuring destinations. They include: the United States (17 states and the District of Columbia); Canada; Ireland; Japan; Norway; and the United Kingdom.

States where people coffeeneured

States where people coffeeneured

Canadian provinces where coffeeneuring occurred and one trip to Japan (inset for convenience)

Canadian provinces where coffeeneuring occurred and one trip to Japan (inset for convenience)

Additional countries where people coffeeneured: Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom. This map photo is an injustice, but my photographer appears to have gone on strike.

Additional countries where people coffeeneured: Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom. This map photo is an injustice, but my photographer appears to have gone on strike.

More people teamed up. Last year, only one two-person team participated in the Coffeeneuring Challenge. This edition, I identified around ten teams participating. Coffeeneuring can be a fine solitary activity, but I know that I prefer many of my rides and lattes with a side of friendship and good conversation.

I have more information about places visited, and I may dig through it more to find more nuggets to share. For now, though, I’m going with what I’ve gathered so far from all entries. I’d love to scrutinize the information more closely, but things like my j-o-b and my bike riding keep getting in the way.

Drum roll, please. FINALLY, the lists of Coffeeneur Challenge Finishers and Honorable Mentions. In addition to the person’s name, city, and state, I have also included the individual’s blog, if he or she has one and used it for coffeeneuring write-ups.

Coffeeneur Challenge Finishers

  1. Bill A. the ultimate coffeeneur. Portland, Oregon*
  2. Crystal B. Aesthetics of Everywhere. (team with Adam) Washington, D.C.
  3. Dan B. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  4. Dana B. Arlington, Virginia
  5. Patti B. (team with George B.) Wilmington, Delaware (Thanks to Patti’s entry, I finally learned to spell this state.)
  6. Simon B. (team with Tara) Wheaton, Maryland*
  7. Kate C.  A Girl and Her Bike. Washington, D.C.
  8. Kirstin C. (team with Tom C.) Ultrarunnergirl. Washington, D.C.
  9. Tom C. (team with Kirstin) aka “the hubz.” Washington, D.C.
  10. Deb D. Arlington, Virginia
  11. Mark E. (Team with Sue E.)Tempe/Phoenix, Arizona
  12. Sue E. (Team with Mark E.) Tempe/Phoenix
  13. Felkerino. The Daily Randonneur. Washington, D.C.*
  14. Brian F. Park City, Utah
  15. Lynne F. Lynne’s Mostly Cycling Blog. Portland, Oregon
  16. Nigel G. (team with Joyce) Iron Rider. Philadelphia, PA
  17. Joyce (team with Nigel) Philadelphia, PA
  18. Rose G. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  19. Beth H. bikelovejones Portland, Oregon
  20. Hydie H. Cupcake Ride. Toronto, Ontario (Canada!)
  21. Ashley H. Aerochick. Wilmington, Massachusetts
  22. Tara H. (team with Simon) News and Commentary. Wheaton, Maryland
  23. Lauren K. Lauren Marie Says. Dublin, Ireland (!)
  24. Narayan K. My Rando Adventures. Seattle, Washington
  25. Liz M. Vienna, Virginia
  26. Jim M. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  27. Andrea M. Physics Girl on the Loose. Toronto, Ontario (Canada!)
  28. Marina M. Portland, Oregon
  29. Keith M. keithmo bikes. Woodenville, Washington
  30. Georgie O. Pennine Pedaling. Lancashire, United Kingdom (!)
  31. Susan O. Small Engine, Big Tank. Portland, Oregon
  32. John “Rootchopper” P. A Few Spokes Shy of a Wheel. Alexandria, Virginia
  33. Joe P. Seattle, Washington
  34. Vannevar. Type 2 Clydesdale Cyclist. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania*
  35. S.R. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  36. Michael R. Portland, Oregon
  37. Emma R. (Team with Mike “Q” R.) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  38. Bryan R. Miles to Go Before I Sleep. Research Triangle, North Carolina
  39. John R. porta-john. Washington, D.C.*
  40. Mike “Q” R. (team with  Emma) torley manor. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  41. Ken S. Alexandria, Virginia
  42. Ty S. The Crazy Randonneur. San Francisco, California
  43. Julie S. (Team with Steve S.) Silver Spring, Maryland
  44. George S. The Hudson Valley Randonneur. Hudson Valley, New York*
  45. Jonathon S. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  46. Mike T. Cruisin’ Downhill. Edmonton, Alberta (Canada!)
  47. Charlie T. (team with Katrin) Arlington, Virginia
  48. Jody T. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  49. Steve W. Singularity. Madison, Wisconsin (the lone Midwesterner)
  50. Hyla W. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  51. Suze. Suze, Cycling. the Berkshires (I think), Massachusetts

I was Going to Complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge, but… Honorable Mentions

  1. George B. (team with Patti B.) Wilmington, Delaware
  2. Katy C. ktchancey. Ottawa, Ontario (Canada!)
  3. Scott G., Velo-Orange Blog. Somewhere in Maryland.
  4. Adam G. (team with Crystal B.) Washington, D.C.
  5. Gary H. (team with Sara) Topsham, Maine
  6. Sara H. (team with Gary) Topsham, Maine
  7. Ted N. Washington, D.C.
  8. Steve S. (team with Julie S.) Silver Spring, Maryland
  9. Leslie T. bikesbytesbites. Arlington, Virginia
  10. Katrin T. (team with Charlie T.) Arlington, Virginia
  11. Kevin “I need my coffee to go get coffee…” U. Bicycle Bug. Washington, D.C.

Huge congratulations to everyone who completed the challenge and to those who attempted it, but fell short of the full shebang.

Coffeeneuring Challenge button, designed by Joe P.

Coffeeneuring Challenge button, designed by Joe P.

Prizes!

What fun would a contest be without prizes? This year’s finisher’s premium is a two-fer. All individuals who completed the challenge will receive a Coffeeneuring Challenge button designed by coffeeneur conceptualizer and Seattle randonneur Joe Platzner.

Additionally, all finishers will receive a pewter coffee cup pin, for those days when you’re going for a more subtle coffeeneuring look.

Coffeeneuring Premiums

Honorable mentions will receive a smaller version of the Coffeeneuring Challenge button.

Pins/buttons can be affixed to your lapel, saddle bags, sweaters, or whatever other article you decide is best to show off your Coffeeneuring Challenge accomplishment.

I will follow up with all the finishers and honorable mentions in the next few days in order that I may send out premiums.

Well done, everyone! It’s been a great couple of coffeeneuring months. Thanks to everybody who participated in and supported the Coffeeneuring Challenge. Coffeeneuring 4 evah!

P.S. If you think your name should be on one of these lists and it isn’t, PLEASE email me. Every coffeeneur who submitted an entry should have received a return email from me. If you did not, then I did not receive your entry.

Charlie T.’s Coffeeneuring Rewind (Bikeshare-centric!) in Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.

A surprise entry from Charlie T. is today’s guest post. Charlie is a D.C. Randonneur who I had no idea was coffeeneuring until I read a Velo Orange blog post by VO staff member and randonneur Scott G. that featured one of their coffeeneuring outings.

When I received Charlie’s “Coffeeneuring Paper,” as he called it, I brewed some herbal tea and settled in for a good read. Coffeeneuring with a little bit of everything: Bikeshare; family; friends; cool local coffee shops; the Midwest; the Mid-Atlantic; a group ride on a CaBi (!); myriad cappuccinos; and some reflecting about the benefits and beauty of coffeeneuring.

Congratulations to Charlie for his successful completion of this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge, and to Katrin and Scott for their honorable mentions!

After Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 I heard about a gentler, caffeinated cycling adventure called coffeeneuring but I forgot all about it. In fact I didn’t ride a brevet again for over a year until the October Old Rag 200K. Setting off in 30 degrees I rode in the company of a new randonneur, Chris N. I asked how he had decided on a rando ride. He told me about a Friday morning club of coffee drinkers at Swing’s Coffee on G Street– a stone’s throw to the Old Executive Office Building. He had met Ed Felker there. He also mentioned Mary’s annual Coffeeneuring Challenge, which was already underway. This time it stuck in my memory. Hot coffee sounded pretty good that morning of the first freeze warning of the year.

On the left, Chris the man unwittingly responsible for my coffee drinking (Bill Beck on the right!)

I was worried about Chris. On a Surly disc long haul trucker with loaded pannier and u-lock, he looked more prepared for a coffeeneuring excursion than 125 miles with plenty of climbing. He was riding pretty hard too and I was sucking air to stay abreast of him. As a randonneur with some experience I freely, and quite sillily, dispensed with the usual advice to people new to the sport. I told him not to overexert himself early in the ride and to save some for the meanies to come in the second half of the day. I warned him especially not to try to stay with two speedsters, Kelly Smith and Bill Beck. Later that day Chris dropped me and rode on to join Bill, but not before recommending the hot soup at the last control. It hit the spot.

As soon as I got home Saturday evening I thought of hot coffee and reviewed the fine print on the Chasing Mailboxes blog. This was not going to be easy. After the day’s ride I was toast; a spin for coffee was out of the question. The next morning I wanted to sleep in, take a long bath and generally laze around. Before I knew it I’d lost that day and another week- end for the challenge. I’d have to wait for next year. The following Thursday my wife Katrin and I were flying to Minneapolis to visit our daughter Miriam, who is building homes with Habitat for Humanity. We wouldn’t have bikes.

1. Mill City Farmer’s Market, 704 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota

In Minneapolis the next Saturday, October 20, Miriam told us to meet her at the Mill City Farmer’s Market downtown by the Mississippi on a square next to the Guthrie Theater, a fabulous building impaled on a giant cantilever running through its middle.

By now I’d been impressed by the large number of cyclists on the streets and the town had to have the largest number of coffeehouses per capita of any state I’d been to. Miriam had pointed out that there were bike cafes where you could have your ride tuned or pimped up while you drank fine pour-overs or French-pressed coffee.

Indeed local cyclists, she said, were hopping mad (Minnesotans drink as much or more good beer as coffee) that Portland had been named the most bicycle-friendly city in America this year. (A popular recreational activity was riding and drinking with a group of revelers on a dutch-made pedal-pub while touring the city.)

Coffeeneuring Report - Charlie

First coffee, Guatemalan drip

I’d noticed a station of pea-green “Nice Ride” bike share bikes a block from our hotel. It is operated by the same Montreal company as our own Capital Bikeshare. Katrin and I decided to ride a couple miles over to the farmer’s market.

Coffeeneuring Report

Katrin on a Nice Ride

It was chilly and the first order of business at the market was coffee. Two brothers were selling coffee from beans grown on their family’s Palmira estate in Guatemala. Will this count toward coffeeneuring, I wondered? Katrin snapped my picture and the quest began.

I had a delicious fresh cinnamon roll from a neighboring vendor. Looking at the calendar I realized I could miss only one Saturday or Sunday through November 11 to grab the steaming grail of coffeeneurdom. Total mileage was 20 or so, as we continued riding all over the city.

The view outside from a window inside The Guthrie

The view outside from a window inside The Guthrie

Another view of Mill City from The Guthrie’s cantilever

Another view of Mill City from The Guthrie’s cantilever

Miriam and Katrin

Miriam and Katrin

As it turns out we hopped on Nice Rides many times during our visit to crisscross the city on visits to museums, mills, breweries and, of course, cafes – if only all of them would have qualified for coffeeneuring I’d have been done in a single weekend. One of these, Sebastian Joe’s, had delicious rich homemade ice cream with arch flavors such as pothole choco named for a street cursed by cyclists.

2. Angry Catfish, 4208 28th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The next morning, Sunday, I left Katrin to pack up and check out while I rode a Nice Ride to the Angry Catfish, a bicycle coffeehouse with the highest rated coffee in the town. On the map it looked close but Minneapolis, beyond its downtown, is very spread out, and two inches of map on the cell screen turned out to be many miles. On the way I had to detour around the tail-gating and cheerleader pom-poming for the Minnesota Vikings game. Some bridges over the greenway I was following were under construction, requiring more detours.

The Angry Catfish was worth every drop in my cup, though. While waiting for a cappuccino I admired Surly bikes with the fattest tires I’ve ever seen awaiting the Minnesota snows in the weeks to come, and I settled up with the mechanic for a handmade glass pendant, purchased for Miriam, with an iridescent metallic catfish on the inside. Mileage estimated at 12 including bonus miles.

First Detour

First Detour

Second Detour around a Bike Bar of a Different Sort

The Angry Catfish bicycles + coffee at 4208 28th Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55406

Angry Catfish Cappuccino

And then it was on to Duluth, Minnesota, three hours to the north and 20 degrees colder. The coffee was good there too and the hills were as steep as the streets of San Francisco. Apparently they are heated underground so that cars can climb them free of ice in the winter. Every street was connected with a skywalk between buildings – we had seen many of these in Minneapolis too, which made me wonder if you could ride across the city by skywalk.

3. Northside Social, 3211 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia

Back in D.C. we somehow forgot to smell the coffee the next Saturday, and that added to the excitement. I couldn’t miss another week-end day. On Sunday, October 28, just before Frankenstorm arrived, I walked over to the CaBi station a couple blocks from home and rode a couple miles to Northside Social, the home to the best coffee, some say, in Northern Virginia.

CaBi station across from Northside Social

CaBi station across from Northside Social

The coffee is very good but I especially savored the chocolate espresso torte with hazelnuts, swishing it around in my mouth with the cappuccino froth. The baristas here are very accomplished at laying on designs on top of the foam. They usually sport intricate tattoos too.

Northside Social Cappuccino with Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Torte

Northside Social Cappuccino with Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Torte

Total mileage from home and back about 4 miles.

Coffeeneuring Report i

The art of the pour

4. Buzz, 818 North Quincy Street Arlington, Virginia

Saturday next, November 3, I decided to try a new coffee shop in the area, Buzz . It had received several thumbs up on Yelp for its baked goods. The pumpkin whoopee pie went down swell with the cappuccino.

One of the benefits of coffeeneuring is the discovery of new places and faces and Buzz was one of them. Total mileage about 3.

Buzz

Buzz

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with Cappuccino at Buzz

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with Cappuccino at Buzz

5. Java Shack, 2507 Franklin Road Arlington, Virginia

Until Sunday, November 4, all of my rides had been by bikeshare. That is no accident. Thanks to Capital Bikeshare I’ve rediscovered this year the joy of jumping on a bike in street clothes and not having to don bike shoes and helmet. Now I go to the library, Trader Joe’s, doctor’s appointments, you name it, on a CaBi.

I hopped on a CaBi at the station across the street from FreshBikes in Arlington and joined in one of their monthly Tuesday night 15-mile group rides. It is quite hilly but the three speed is geared low enough to make hills easy.

Unfortunately all of my rides had also been alone which diminishes some of the pleasure of coffeeneuring. The conversation that goes with the coffee, for example. But Sunday the 4th I managed to entice the fellow who got me hooked on randonneuring, my friend Scott Gater, into joining me for a 30-mile ride to the National Harbor on the Mount Vernon trail.

Our ride included a stop at Java Shack in Arlington. Strangely, even though I am an Arlingtonian and a cyclist, I had never been to this community café, a favorite among cyclists and a place where most of the locals know the baristas. For many years Java Shack has also sponsored Arlington’s cycling team Squadra Coppi. Now Scott takes his coffee seriously. He gave my cappuccino a hard look. The cup is way too big and you have more foam than coffee. But Scott’s company that morning, the catching up with each other while riding at a conversation inducing gait, was great.

Scott at Java Shack

Scott at Java Shack

Scott at Java Shack ( at 2507 Franklin Road Arlington, VA 22201)

By the time we got to the National Harbor I discovered I’d forgotten to capture my cap on camera. So back I went for another one, properly sized I think.

Java Shack Cappuccino No. 2 almost gone

Java Shack Cappuccino No. 2 almost gone

6. Beans in the Belfry, 122 West Potomac Street, Brunswick, Maryland

Scott was sold on another ride. We thought about the Flatbread 200K the following Saturday, November 10. A coffee-seeking ride afterwards would not feel celebratory. It would feel like obligation. And then there was the rising at o’dark hundred. Compare that with sleeping in again, meeting up at 10:00 am in Germantown – “you mean when it’s warm outside,” said Scott – and riding 30 miles to Beans in the Belfry in Brunswick, MD. I was sold. It is a magical place, a coffeehouse inside of an old church with all the stained glass intact, a pew alongside plush chairs, a balcony for a choir, and great pecan pie to go with my cap. Again there was too much foam, but fun it was!

Scott, basking in post-prandial sun at Beans in the Belfry

Scott, basking in post-prandial sun at Beans in the Belfry

Go ahead Scott, you've earned that...

.

Go ahead, Scott…

Coffee and Coke

Coffee and Coke in church

You’ve earned that coffee and coke in church.

Scott, top left, receiving the divine

Scott, top left, receiving the divine

7. Filter at 1726 20th Street Northwest, Washington, D.C.

Down to my last day, Sunday, November 11, it was back to the CaBi, and this time Katrin joined me for a 6-mile ride into DC to a serious coffeehouse, Filter. It had received Scott’s stamp of approval.

I ordered a 10 oz. pour-over of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe ECX. According to the menu, I was in for “a complex cup with notes of apricot and flowers, a honeyed sweetness, and silky mouthfeel with tea rose and perfume aromatics.” While I can’t say I discovered all of that in my cup of joe, I did learn serious coffee takes time; the cup was 10 minutes in the making. Total ride distance 13 miles out and back.

Ready to ride with the coffee molecule cap

Ready to ride with the caffeine molecule cap

CaBi Coffeeneuring. Katrin in front of Filter

CaBi Coffeeneuring. Katrin in front of Filter

Reading about the Tour de Farce at Filter

Reading about the Tour de Farce at Filter with my Ethiopian Yirgacheffe ECX

I like the coffee equation (top right). Itbeats the Angry Catfish’s Bicycles + Coffee.

I like the coffee equation (top right). It
beats the Angry Catfish’s Bicycles + Coffee.

Capping it off with another cappuccino and a Filter coffeeneuring souvenir

Capping it off with another cappuccino and a Filter coffeeneuring souvenir

Slowing down and taking time out to appreciate life is a key part of coffeeneuring, I think. Too many cyclists, especially on the club rides I go on, roll at one GU-fueled speed all year round.

Real fitness, mental and physical, comes from varying the speed. Coffeeneuring definitely fits into my fitness plan. And the coffeenées are chances to spend time with loved ones after the many times you’ve been away on randonnées. It can be more expensive than randonneuring, though. By the time I’ve tucked away a slice of pie and a coffee with an extra shot of espresso, and then another coffee because I forgot to take a picture of the first one, I’m way past the entry fee to a D.C. brevet.

Yes, it is true that coffeeneuring can run up a higher tab than a brevet, but most times I find it more pleasurable than gas station dining!

Thank you again, Charlie, for your thoughtful (and thorough!) writeup. Hope to see you on a ride again soon.