Today I have the pleasure of featuring a guest post from Will, who lives on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., in northern Virginia. Will is a coffeeneur who also rides for transportation as well as sport, and here is what he had to say about one of his recent coffeeneuring experiences, the bikes he’s riding to coffeeneur, and the types of riding he does.
He also poses a couple of excellent questions to the group at the end of his write-up so be sure to check those out and give your input!
Thank you, Will, for guest-posting and for being part of the Coffeeneuring Challenge!
1) Where do you live?
McLean, Virginia, about 3 miles north of the W&OD Trail, around the Falls Church section.
2) How did you decide to coffeeneur?
I saw a few mentions of coffeeneuring on Twitter/Strava/etc., last year and recognized a few of the locations which I’ve meant to visit (such as Filter in DC).
This seemed like a great excuse to try them, and having done some errandonneuring earlier this year, I discovered these challenges are more fun and varied than just logging plain mileage.
3) What bike are you using as your coffeeneuring bike? What makes it a good coffeeneuring bike?
Whichever I feel like riding on the day – I don’t believe in owning a bike I don’t ride regularly. I’m four trips into coffeeneuring and I’ve ridden three bikes so far:
- my Kona cyclocross bike (probably the most suited since it has a good balance of tire width, efficient riding position, wide gearing, and all-conditions braking);
- the singlespeed conversion (these days my favourite ride – but it’s a little overgeared and I suspect the headset and possibly the bottom bracket need some work); and
- the beater-mountain bike (since I have it set up for a front child seat, and I brought my 2 year old along on one of my trips).
My folding bike will probably get a use eventually but the small stiff wheels on bumps make it a bit jarring on my still-sensitive collarbone which I broke in May.
My usual default road bike has been on a short hiatus mostly because I need to replace the PowerTap batteries but also because I don’t use it as much for short trips or on trips where I need to lock up the bike.
4) Where did you choose to coffeeneur for this coffeeneuring trip?
For my most recent trip, I picked Caffè Amouri. I’ve heard of it before but never visited, and it’s only a suburb (or two) away, and very close to the W&OD. I do prefer trying independent places.
5) Is the coffee shop beautiful and the coffee delicious? Tell us a little about your coffeeneuring locale.
From the outside it’s definitely not beautiful, but once inside it was charming, cozy and cool! The coffee was indeed delicious too, and I appreciated the latte art. I had a 16 oz. cappuccino.
6) What other types of riding do you do besides coffeeneuring?
Commuting/transportation is easily the bulk of my riding but I do like to get out and ride on weekends (or before or after work) when I can, often with others, and sometimes organized shop rides/events/Gran Fondos/etc. especially if a lot of climbing is featured.
Most of my cycling pals are spirited but friendly road-leaning riders who also commute, though plenty enjoy gravel grinding and the odd CX race as well. I also pick up and drop off my 5 year old at the school bus stop a few times a week: a very short but regularly fun ride that requires no kitting up or prep time.
7) What else did I forget to ask you that you want to share?
What about bike parking, accessibility, and friendliness? I’d be interested in reading others’ experiences with that. Some places have bike racks (of varying quality) for parking and some just have street signs, lamp posts and railings.
The suburban places I’ve been to have been adjacent to parking lots, and so far only Caffè Amouri so far has had a bike rack available nearby (supplied/sponsored by Bikes@Vienna).
In terms of friendliness, did the business or the clientele have any particular leanings towards (or untowards) cyclists or cycling in general?
Caffè Amouri had a few flyers up inside about local cycling, which was nice, and I saw another person in running gear, so I wasn’t the only person loitering around in technical fabric.
So what do you think, coffeeneurs? What have the places you’ve visited been like in terms of parking, accessibility by bike, and overall friendliness to cyclists?
St Elmo’s Coffee House in Del Ray has an on-street bike corral that is pretty darn convenient. I am actually shocked that M.E. Swings, home of the Friday Coffee Club, doesn’t have bike parking in front. The place is packed with cyclists on Friday morning.
I thought the same about Swing’s, though I guess for half the year the group just occupies that outside space. And actually between the parking meters and constant stream of pedestrians there isn’t a ton of space for bike racks. Those iconic FCC bike photos look better without u-locks anyway.
The Java Shack (Clarendon) – 1 u rack, and 1 parking space converted into some bike parking (2 u racks). Also, across the street from a Cabi Station. Apparently big supporters of local race club/team or something (pictures on the wall and reputation).
South Block (Clarendon) – looooooaaaaaadddds of bike parking. I seriously have never seen so much bike parking in one place! Also on the wall inside is a cute and colorful bike with a blender on the rear rack and a sign nearby that says “blender bike parking” or something like that. Safe bet that this place is bike friendly!
Northside Social (not quite Clarendon, but almost) – a decent amount of bike parking, but very often full, which is good…but inconvenient for me. Across the street from Cabi.
M.E. Swings (Del Rey) – one pretty crappy rack, rebar style. But it is right in front, visible through the plentiful windows, so there’s that.
Mishas (Del Rey) – bike parking sucks.
Rappahannock (Columbia Heights, Arlington) – non-existant, but the railing around the handicapped spot comes in handy for this purpose.
Twisted Vines (Columbia Heights, Arlington) – 1 u rack, usually empty.
I’ll be checking out Killer ESP (Old Town) in the next week or two, so we’ll see how they stack up!
Good to hear about Caffe Amouri’s bike rack, as I’ll probably make that one of my final two coffeeneuring trips!
Parking: Not sure I “count,” since in such a rural area there is always a tree or picnic table to lock up with. Even in towns, there is a lampost or bench. On the other hand, there isn’t much in the way of coffee shops in a ten-mile radius.
Friendliness: Well, it is New England, so many need to know someone for 200 years before friendliness is an option, cyclist or not:-)
Clothing? On the other hand, whether friendly or not, it is a tourist-driven economy. Cycling clothes, tennis or golf regalia, skiing gear? Money to spend on coffee, who admits to caring?
Bike parking from first 4 coffeeneuring trips:
Sofra, on the Cambridge/Watertown line – just posts traffic signs. The only two legal ones (two others for a handicap parking spot are not legal) were occupied, one by my bike. They don’t seem to notice cyclists one way or the other.
Starbucks in Arlington Heights, MA – there is a bike rack not far away. I left my near the outdoor seating with another cyclist, who I later talked with. Cyclists – they get two group rides each weekend so they must know there are cyclists using the shop. They piggy back on the Trader Joe’s rack.
Ride Studio Cafe – limited inside parking (which I snagged) and a town sponsored bike parking lot in season, adjacent to a mini parklet, all of which occupies 2 or 3 parking spaces. This business revolves around cycling and it shows.
Starbucks in Arlington Center – not much bike parking for any of the many businesses in this area. I’d love to see more racks here.
So this is what it feels like to be a bike blog celebrity (for a day)? 😀 Thanks for featuring my post – next time I’ll try not to be completely humourless!
An update of sorts: last week the (left) crank arm fell off my singlespeed on a commute home. A product of my own laziness/handiwork, and actually the bottom bracket’s fine. (I did replace my PowerTap batteries though.) Hope to resume my coffeeneuring soon.
Great to read your write-up, Will!
Tryst in Adams Morgan has about 5 racks right in front of it, that’s the one with the most plentiful parking. I noted the bike parking factor for all the coffeeneuring stops we did last year, here: http://www.ultrarunnergirl.blogspot.com/p/coffeeneuring-challenge.html
our first coffeeneuring trip was to discuss a scheme to get cafes to install plantlocks (integrated planters and bike racks) so by definition no cycle parking! Other than that two places have had bike racks, one had handy railings and one actually puts its tables out blocking the bike stand, which is annoying.
Once I’m off my bike I don’t really look like a ‘cyclist’ anyway so there was no way to test their friendliness or not towards bikey people