Martin Coffeeneuring

Coffeeneurs International: Martin in Ye Olde England

It’s not every day that someone says coffeeneuring has the potential to change his or her life. Coffee and bike riding can be powerful stuff, however, so who’s to say it isn’t these little pleasures that have great impact on us over time?

I will let you ponder that, as I share this post from Martin, who resides across the ocean from my house, and traveled many places in the completion of last year’s challenge.

This Coffeeneuring Challenge is ideal for me. And in a small way might even change my life.

I entered the challenge in absolutely the correct spirit because it came after a year in which I felt I was living on the bike. This is because all through the bitter cold of the winter months I was riding 200 kilometres each month to achieve my small red badge that is the mark of the Randonneur Round The Year.

At the same time I was also training to ride from London to Edinburgh and back in a 1,400 kilometre event. So you see the opportunity to ride just a mile and have a nice day beverage each week was an opportunity not to be missed.

In fact I started to enjoy riding my bike. So I might just make a point of coffeeneuring all year round. It is certainly much more enjoyable than setting an alarm for 3 o’clock in the morning and riding a bike in sub-zero temperatures for 14 hours. And to make matters worse this was a really cold winter in England.

As you can see from the list of coffee shops I visited, I also rode my bike across northern Spain from from Madrid back to France.

This was all good fun and provided some fine opportunities to drink coffee but crossing the Pyrenees in a torrential rainstorm was rather more character building for me than I would have liked…

So here is the list of what I did and where I drank coffee, and many thanks for arranging the challenge. I tweeted about my coffee and sent a photograph with the tweet. (Editor’s note: The text of each Tweet is included below each photo.)

Ride 1
October 9

Saw this: had to stop for #coffeeneuring at the Six Bells pub in the  English village of Chiddingly @coffeeneur

Saw this: had to stop for #coffeeneuring at the Six Bells pub in the English village of Chiddingly @coffeeneur.

A delightful 150 year old small pub called the Six Bells in the small Kent village of Chiddingly.

Distance ridden about 30 miles.

Ride 2
October 14

My "weekend" so time to tell @coffeeneur I am #coffeeneuring - while buying a stove windshield for my next expedition

My “weekend” so time to tell @coffeeneur I am #coffeeneuring – while buying a stove windshield for my next expedition.

The Pret a Manger coffee shop in the centre of my local town.

Distance exactly 2.2 miles.

Ride 3
October 21

Popped on the bike to pick up money before next expedition to Spain on the bike, @coffeeneur is, I hope, jealous

Popped on the bike to pick up money before next expedition to Spain on the bike, @coffeeneur is, I hope, jealous.

A small coffee shop near my bank where I picked up money for my ride across northern Spain.

Distance 2.2 miles.

Ride 4
October 28

My weekly #coffeeneuring ride, this time in Spain. @coffeeneur will be pleased to hear this was part of a 110k day.

My weekly #coffeeneuring ride, this time in Spain. @coffeeneur will be pleased to hear this was part of a 110k day.

A small Spanish town where we were the only customers in a tiny coffee shop.

Distance about 70 miles.

Ride 5
October 30

Hope @coffeeneur is envious I crossed the Pyrenees in a freezing rainstorm yesterday: today #coffeeneuring is this

Hope @coffeeneur is envious I crossed the Pyrenees in a freezing rainstorm yesterday: today #coffeeneuring is this.

A small coffee shop on the border between France and Spain. The sun was shining and it was a real delight – and much nicer than crossing the Pyrenees in a storm the day before.

Distance about 45 miles.

Ride 6
November 4

#coffeeneuring with time for reading. Hoping @coffeeneur would be proud of me. An independent coffee shop, as well.

#coffeeneuring with time for reading. Hoping @coffeeneur would be proud of me. An independent coffee shop, as well.

A newly opened coffee shop in town.

Distance exactly 2.2 miles.

Ride 7
November 11

Enjoying #coffeeneuring cycling challenge so much I might do it every week of the year. @coffeeneur  wouldn't mind...

Enjoying #coffeeneuring cycling challenge so much I might do it every week of the year. @coffeeneur wouldn’t mind…

The closest coffee shop to the bicycle rack in the centre of town. I could see my bike from where I drink coffee.

Distance exactly 2.2 miles.

So that’s it.

Thank you again, Martin, for your delightful summary. This year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge starts October 4!

Sea Gull Century

Flat, Fast, & Camaraderie-Filled: My First Time at the Sea Gull Century

Crowded and flat. Windy. Dangerous. The words often used to describe the Sea Gull Century out of Salisbury, Maryland, did not endear me to it.

For more than 10 years I had avoided the Sea Gull, telling people that I wasn’t sure if it was the ride for me.

Sea Gull Century

This year two registrations fell into Felkerino’s and my laps thanks to our BikeDC friends Ted and Jean, and with a near-perfect forecast on the horizon I cast my reticence aside and made up my mind to see what all the fuss was about.

In the No Surprises Here department, we rode tandem. Recently tuned up, our Co-Motion comes in handy in a headwind, and it’s what we’ve been riding all summer. I actually feel out of practice on my single bike, but that’s another story.

Brompton
Brompton

The Sea Gull Century route covers Maryland’s Eastern Shore, including the towns of Berlin and– the highlight of the ride– Assateague Island. It’s non-undulating, you might say.

Having been quite taken as a child with the story of Misty of Chincoteague, I was also curious to see the wild ponies of Assateague.

I imagined noble elegant ponies with heads held high, like something out of The Man From Snowy River, but friends warned me that the ponies were mangy and crazy. “Don’t look them in the eye!”

Brompton
Brompton

Despite my aversion to flat terrain and deranged wildlife, I found myself looking forward to this century. We’d have plenty of company (this ride draws approximately 8,000 people) and I considered it a nice reward for my legs and my fitness after spending almost all of the last six months doing long rides in the hills.

I was a little worried about the danger aspect, since I was not sure of the skill level of the other riders, and crashing did not appeal to me no matter how much drama it might add to my day.

Andrea and Bones

Flat, fast, and full of camaraderie, the Sea Gull Century exceeded all my expectations. We never rode alone, and the riders around us all held their lines and pace well.

Level terrain made it easier for us as a tandem to be around single bikes, as the differences in our momentum were not nearly as noticeable when compared to a rolling or hilly course.

1974 Raleigh
1974 Raleigh

We saw fatbikes, hand cycles, racey road bikes, velomobiles, folding bikes, and several tandems of varying make and vintage. I even saw a person on a unicycle. It was like being part of RAGBRAI for the day, only on the Eastern Shore. And no kringla. But there was pie and ice cream, apparently a tradition at the 85-mile rest stop.

Time out for pie at mile 85
Time out for pie at mile 85

And ponies! In Assateague (mile 63), I was feeling a little disappointed about not seeing the mean-spirited wild horses, but all my Sea Gull dreams were meant to come true, I guess, because as we left the island we saw at least three of them on the roadside opposite us.

The horses didn’t seem so crazy to me. I didn’t go over and introduce myself, but from what I saw they seemed hungry for green grass and nonplussed by cyclists. The wild ponies of Assateague were not the noble animals of my childhood imaginings, but they had a primal beauty about them.

Wild pony sighting!
Wild pony sighting!

After we finished, I could not believe how quickly the time had flown by. 100 miles, and that was it. Done for the day! It was a feeling only made possible by the big rides done earlier in the season.

I had no regrets about waiting to take on the Sea Gull Century, but I realized that I had overlooked all the ride’s up-sides.

This is probably the largest paid century in our area so you are likely to see at least one person you know, either on the route or at the finishing area. It may not be the most scenic course, but there are wild ponies!

Sea Gull Century

You see cyclists of all abilities. For some, this is their first century ride ever. For others, it’s the only century they do in a given year. And for people like us, it’s a welcome change of pace. I liked being part of this large circle of riders.

I’m not a fast rider, but Felkerino and I were able to maintain an 18.5 miles per hour moving average over the course of the day and take an hour off the bike, without flailing ourselves. This course is good for a person’s ego.

Felkerino and me. Photo by Andrea Matney
Photo by Andrea Matney

I do wish there had been more real food to eat (or maybe if all the rest stops offered pie, ha ha!), but if I ever rode this again I’d probably tuck away a sandwich and potato chips in the Carradice.

The ride organizers totally know what they are doing. It’s easy to park, find the start, grab your cue sheet, and go. Professional photographers are positioned at various spots along the course. The route is clearly marked throughout and course marshals and local police keep riders flowing through the intersections so stops and starts are minimal.

#BikeDC boys at the finish.
#BikeDC boys at the finish.

It was really a great day on the bike. Many thanks to our friends Jean and Ted, who were unable to ride and gave us their Sea Gull Century registrations. Without them, I’d still be wondering what all the fuss was about. Now, we’re seriously considering riding the Sea Gull again next year.

My full set of pics here.

Jason Coffeeneuring 3

Team Coffeeneuring with Jason in Lancaster, PA

October 4 is when it all starts– the 2014 edition of the Coffeeneuring Challenge. Yes, it’s less than a week away so I hope you’re getting ready.

There’s no one way to coffeeneur. You can do it by yourself. You can do it with your friends. You can pedal to an actual coffee shop, or you can go to a gas station that sells what is supposedly coffee and call it good. And there’s always the option for a Coffee Shop Without Walls, too.

While you develop your own strategy, I’m sharing Jason‘s Coffeeneuring Challenge summary from last year. Jason was the first person from Lancaster to ever complete one of my challenges. His summary is full of fall riding with bicycling buddies, and tasty coffee beverages. I do hope you enjoy it.

Introduction

I’m a very active bicyclist here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and my passion for biking is well-known within my circle of friends. Upon discussing my plans to complete the challenge, many of those friends expressed interest in joining in as well. I wasn’t sure what to think or how to approach this, as many of them are casual bike riders.

I offered a pre-challenge group ride to a local favorite brunch the weekend before the Coffeeneuring Challenge was to begin. Six of us rode thirteen miles to The Tomato Pie Café in nearby Lititz, Pennsylvania, for brunch & coffee drinks.

I had never led a group ride before let alone plot a route. The ride was great, brunch was great and we laid out plans for the next seven weekends. We would assemble a group of anyone willing to join us, ride somewhere to a café, have a bite and a drink, then head home.

I could not have anticipated just how much these rides would affect the participants. Our group stayed small but grew for each consecutive ride, finishing with twelve riders on my seventh coffeeneuring ride.

Each weekend, my circle of friends looked forward to getting out on bikes and visiting a coffee shop. I took suggestions from the group, one coffee ride devolved into a beer ride, at least the participants had never ridden a “real” bike for any meaningful distance. In the end, our seven coffee rides totaled 23 unique participants, collectively riding a total of 157 miles!

In closing, of just like to thank you again for creating this great event and I can guarantee you a contingent of finishers from Lancaster, PA for the next challenge.

Sincerely,
Jason I.

Jason Coffeeneuring 1

Ride #1
10/6/13, 4:30 pm
With Lauren, Rob, Jessica Tim, Erica, & Kaley
Original destination: Grand Central Bagel
Actual destination: Chestnut Hill Café
Total distance: 14.5 miles
Drink: Frozen Pumpkin Spice Latte

We originally planned to ride 7 miles to Grand Central Bagel but upon arrival, learned that they close early on Sundays. We regrouped and headed back to town for a drink at Chestnut Hill Café. 7 of us rode together, some friends, some strangers.

All together, a very nice ride, despite the unforeseen change of plans.

Jason Coffeeneuring 2

Ride #2
10/12/13, 3:30 pm
With Jessica, Erica, Tim, Nathan, Eddie, Dan, & Zeke
Destination: Prince Street Café
Total distance: 19.4 miles
Drink: Swirly Squirrel Latte (caramel, hazelnut & cinnamon)

Today’s ride took us through some rolling neighborhoods and into Amish farmland before turning for home & ending the ride at the very popular downtown Prince Street Café.

I had a yummy latte and a delicious raspberry coconut muffin and our group of 8 riders had a great time once again.

Jason Coffeeneuring 3

Ride #3
10/13/13, 3 pm
With Lauren, Jessica, Erica, Tim, Dan, Rob, Brett, Erica, Jay, & Holly
Starbucks Lincoln Hwy
Total distance: 19.5 miles
Grande iced caramel macciato

A study of contrast. We headed south today, through neighborhoods & farmland, our destination was the most commercial, the Starbucks at the outlet mall along the very busy Lincoln Highway.

The return trip traveled through other neighborhoods, a quiet business park and more quiet neighborhoods. Most have agreed that this was the best ride to date. Participants have started inviting their friends along!

Jason Coffeeneuring 4

Ride 4
10/19, 11 am
With Lauren, Jessica, Nathan, Zeke & Isaac
Tomato Pie Café, Lititz
Total distance: 25.8 miles
Drink: Caramel Apple Cider

A small group today because of iffy weather. We made the best of it with a return visit to Tomato Pie. The place was packed so we took our food & drinks to go and had a picnic in the park across the street.

Out return trip included hijacking the course of a Zombie Run 5k. Yikes!

Jason Coffeeneuring 5

Ride 5
11/2/13, 10:30 am
With Lauren, Jessica, Erica, Nathan, Zeke, Isaac, Dan, Kaley, Jake & Nancy
Grand Central Bagel Shop
Total distance: 15 miles
Drink: Pumpkin Pie Chai Latte smoothie

This time they were open, and good thing, we had a big group of thirsty bikers! The weather was warm enough to justify frozen drinks for many of us and we further enjoyed the sunshine by relaxing on their patio for nearly an hour.

Good conversation among good friends included plans for our final coffee ride in two weeks.

Jason Coffeeneuring 6

Ride 6
11/9/13, 10:30 am
With Lauren, Jessica, Nathan, Dan, Kaley, Dan, Fran, Heidi & Tim
Higher Grounds, Mount Joy
Total distance: 38 miles
Drink: Dark roast coffee, cinnamon scone

Three beginners joined our caffeinated cyclists for a trip suggested by one of our own. Not a short trip, but not an easy one either.

We were rewarded with yummy drinks & snacks and a chance to return via a portion of rail trail in full fall foliage. Certainly the longest of any of our rides.

Our group finished at Lancaster Brewing Company as it was agreed that we’d earned burgers & beers.

Jason Coffeeneuring 7

Ride 7
11/16/13, 1:00 pm
With Lauren, Jessica, Erica, Nathan,Zeke, Dan, Kaley, Erica, Justin, Jay & Brett
Café Chocolate, Lititz
Total distance: 25 miles
Drink: Frozen Strawberry Chocolate Blast

Even on our last coffee official ride, we managed a new recruit! The ride was an already familiar route to many in the group, with a new destination, a place many of us had hoped to visit for the first time.

We were lucky in the weather once again, with unseasonably warm temps. Again our ride finished say a local watering hole, this time The Fridge, where we were met by four other folks who couldn’t make the ride.

We had a nice little wrap up session and then continued on further with a sushi dinner to close our 2013 coffeeneuring adventure.

Congratulations once again, Jason, and thank you so much for your friend-filled guest post!

Riders on PBP 2011

All Dressed Up For PBP: The Towns Along the Way

This is the latest in a series of posts I’ve been planning about the incomparable international randonneuring event, Paris-Brest-Paris.

Previously, I wrote about Drew Buck, who completed PBP 2011 on a 1900 Peugeot, a as well as the tandem bicycles (Post 1 and Post 2). Today I’m talking about the towns along the PBP route. Continue reading

3Dan

Family Coffeeneuring: Dan, Owen, and Elaine in Pittsburgh, PA

Coffeeneuring isn’t just for grown-ups, as 5-year-old finisher Sally proved last year. Coffeeneuring can be for kids, too. It can even be fun for the family. Plus, who can resist the great photo ops Family Coffeeneuring provides?!

Many thanks to Dan, Owen, and Elaine for representing the Family Coffeeneuring contingent, as well as the fine city of Pittsburgh, in the previous edition of the Coffeeneuring Challenge. Please enjoy their guest post.

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Mailbox on the 1000K

Chasing Mailboxes: The Pursuit of Something More

Where does your energy go? What do you choose to pursue? Does each day pass in a blur of routine, or do you save a sliver of time to wonder about the existence of something deeper? You don’t know what the something deeper is, exactly, and you are not convinced it is a thing.

You hold onto an optimistic belief that if you go out in the world, if you work out, read more, eat better, if you try and stretch yourself in some way, eventually you will find it. Your personal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The sense that your something deeper is out there helps you wake up each day.

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Illustration 1: My bike by the pretty flowers

A Coffeeneuring Meander with Cindy C. in North Carolina

Cindy C. of North Carolina participated in the Coffeeneuring Challenge for the first time last year. The descriptive recounts of her rides, diverse beverage consumption, and her conclusion that bicycling might be the cure for the common cold make for excellent pre-coffeeneuring reading.

Enjoy, and thank you, Cindy for the guest post!

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Coffeeneuring

Fourth Annual Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge

Coffeeneuring season has arrived! Hard to believe that the Coffeeneuring Challenge is now in its fourth year, but I looked at my calendar and it really is true. From 12 participants that first year to over 125 last year, coffeeneuring continues to grow. I hope you will consider giving it a go this year.

Coffeeneuring is based on an idea from Joe Platzner, of the Seattle Randonneurs. As he discussed life after the 2011 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris, he noted:

A bunch of us have trained pretty hard for PBP. After PBP, I’m probably going to lobby RUSA for an official “Coffee Shop Run” medal. To earn it, you need to ride your bike slowly to a nearby coffee shop and enjoy a fine beverage.

Coffeeneuring, I thought. It’s perfect! I launched the Coffeeneuring Challenge that year.

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