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.


Family coffeeneuring is a great deal of fun. Sure, the mileage is a bit less (okay, an order of magnitude less), but it’s a great excuse to get the kids out even when the weather is less-than-perfect. Eight trips for myself, seven for my eight-year-old Owen, and six for 4-year-old Elaine, for two successful completions and one near-miss.


Coffeeneuring Count: 1/8 Dan, 1/7 Owen
16.2 miles
Marty’s Market, Pittsburgh


Riding the Fuji tandem turned into a spur-of-the-moment coffeeneuring trip, with a stop at Marty’s Market in the Strip District. Mocha for me, cocoa for Coffeeneuring Cadet Owen, and some yummy lavender shortbread cookies to be shared.

Coffeeneuring Count: 2/8 Dan, 2/7 Owen, 1/6 Elaine
2.5 miles
Crazy Mocha Southside, Pittsburgh

At first it looked like this
At first it looked like this


And 30 seconds later it looked like this
30 seconds later it looked like this

Tanzanian Peabody drip for me, cocoa for the kiddos to share, and a Cookie As Big As My Face for all three of us.

A lovely ride. Started at the Swinburne St trailhead, then over Hot Metal to the Crazy Mocha. A jaunt down the trail a bit, then back to see if the new riverside segment below Hofbrauhaus was yet open (it wasn’t). Lunch at Qdoba, then back across the river to the car and home.

Ride highlight: Elaine discovered that she could stand up to put some more oomph into the pedals on the tough climbs…few things cuter than a 4-year-old dancing up the hill out of the saddle on a pink be-streamered bike.

Coffeeneuring Count: 3/8 Dan, 3/7 Own, 2/6 Elaine
3 miles
Delanie’s Coffee, Pittsburgh



Hot chocolate all around, plus homemade oatmeal cream pie and a peanut-butter-and-chocolate brownie aptly dubbed “the brick.”

Chilly day, but pleasant trail riding. A few folks out and about in costume, affording much amusement to the kids. “Look, a ghost!” “Look, a spider!” “Look, a Minion!”

Coffeeneuring Count: 4/8 Dan, 4/7 Owen, 3/6 Elaine
4.2 miles
La Prima Espresso in the Strip, Pittsburgh


Macchiato for me, another hot chocolate for the kids, plus white chocolate macadamia biscotti. In the expert opinion of my youngest, “Best hot chocolate ever!”

More brisk than the previous day’s ride, but still pleasant. The kids and I initially headed for Klavon’s, but found them closed for undisclosed reasons. Undaunted, we made our way to 21st St and La Prima Espresso to salvage our coffeeneuring plans, then to the river and followed the trail most of the way to the Point.

This was also notable as the first day that either kid did any real street riding when not somehow attached to me; the Strip on a Sunday is so low-traffic as to be ideal for novice road riding.

Coffeeneuring Count: 5/8 Dan, 5/7 Owen, 4/6 Elaine
5.3 miles
Big Dog Coffee, Pittsburgh


Another Oakland->Hot Metal->Southside trail ride, with various and sundry digressions. Hot chocolate for the kids, mocha for myself, and some form of lemony vanilla home-made stuffed cookies which, if there were any justice in the world, would put the Oreo brand out of business in one fell swoop.

Also, Elaine’s longest ride ever! As one local cyclist observed, “I wonder how many kids have ridden more miles than years they’ve been alive.”

Coffeeneuring Count: 6/8 Dan, 5/6 Elaine
2.2 windy miles
Peet’s Coffee Southside Works, Pittsburgh
dark roast/cocoa.


Owen was a bit under the weather, so Elaine and I went coffeeneuring without him. We delayed our departure until late morning, as the skies were a bit ominous; then over to Elaine’s favorite starting point at the Swinburne St trailhead.

While no rain manifested, the headwinds were significant; steady 15-20 mph, with gusts up to 30s. This was Elaine’s first experience with headwinds…she held up well, but was a little dismayed when she stopped pedaling and found herself rolling backwards. I encouraged her to get behind me, and had her “draft” me until we crossed the river and got out of the full force of the wind.

We encountered friends srpit and Vannevar on the Hot Metal Bridge; they, while already done with their formal coffeeneuring, were on their way to Big Dog, site of our coffeeneuring trip last weekend.

We made our way to the Peet’s Coffee (formerly Caribou) on Carson in the SouthSide Works, enjoyed our warm beverages, then meandered back to the trail. After crossing the river again, Elaine discovered that tail winds are lots more fun than headwinds…she was spinning out at a blistering 7-8 mph the whole way back to the car. 🙂

Coffeeneuring Count: 7/8 Dan, 6/7 Owen, 6/6 Elaine
3.2 miles
Lofts Cafe, Pittsburgh


Per recommendation from @Vannevar and @srpit, we parked in Millvale and rode down the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to the Heinz Lofts, former manufactory site of world-renowned Heinz 57 Varieties Ketchup.

Unfortunately, they were out of/didn’t carry any hot chocolate; fortunately for the kids’ coffeeneuring ambitions, I had an emergency package of Starbucks cocoa in my bike bag. We enjoyed our beverages, shared a pizza for lunch, then headed back up the trail.

Coffeeneuring Count: 8/8 Dan, 7/7 Owen
2.1 soaking-wet miles
Coffeeshop Without Walls (Gillot Field, Bellevue), Pittsburgh
powdered ick/instant cocoa.


Given the rain, Elaine was not terribly interested in going for a bike ride (demonstrating once more that, even at the age of four, the female of the species possesses significantly more common sense than the male) so Owen and I girded our collective loins and ventured off into the steady rain.

No specific destination…we merely hopped on the tandem and started cruising some of the less-traveled roads in our area, looking for a sheltered spot to set up coffee camp.

After a minimal amount of aimless wandering, we found a shelter at nearby Gillot Field in Bellevue, just across the valley from our house.

This was our inaugural use of the Jetboil stove I just picked up at REI; I was quite pleased with how rapidly it boiled our water, less pleased with how poorly the spark igniter worked. All in all, though, it could have been far worse.

This was Owen’s seventh coffeeneuring trip, so I’m happy to say he’s official. I’m even happier to say that, while riding back home in fairly heavy rain, he asked me “Can we do this again next year?”

Thanks for the inspiration, Dan, Owen, and Elaine! Remember, the Coffeeneuring Challenge kicks off again on October 4.

One comment

  1. Even though coffee is my usual hot beverage of choice, a couple of those cocoa’s looked mighty tasty. I might just have to log in a trip to the chocolate capitol of the world as one of my destinations to toast Elaine’s pedal dancing prowess and Owen’s indoctrination….uh, introduction…to the joys of all-weather riding. Great job to you both!


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