A Theme Within a Theme Coffeeneuring Rewind: Visual Journaling with Kathy

Last year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge introduced a new option for participants: the theme within a theme. The idea took off with quite a few, including Kathy, the author and illustrator of today’s post.

Kathy took on the theme of visual journaling, and the result is a vivid set of watercolor pieces Kathy painted during the course of the challenge. Many thanks to Kathy for today’s post!

Remember, the Coffeeneuring Challenge kicks off on Friday October 7, and the rules go live next week. There is still time to comment if you have a suggestion to modify, add, or delete a rule for 2016.

Kathy’s Coffeeneuring Challenge: Watercolor Journaling Theme

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch
Not the bike I ride, just the one I decorate!

Hey there! I wanted to say how glad I am that I came across your blog and this challenge. I live in Northern Virginia and am retired. I would have liked to have stuck with weekend rides but was traveling at least 3 of the weekends, so I’ve added a midweek ride during those weeks.

In late September I saw an article in Bicycling Magazine about sketching rather than photographing rides. I started visual journaling and this just seemed a perfect fit as a ‘theme within a theme.’ Thanks. This was fun. Better than aimless web surfing.

Ride #1
Sunday, October 4
Star Nut Gourmet, McLean, Virginia
6 miles
Large Cappuccino
Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch
(c) Kathy Rosen

This was a grey and windy day that only brought me out to get started on this challenge. (Again, thank you for that ;).

Star Nut is not particularly bike friendly, but, let’s face it, neither is the entirety of McLean. Not my best artistic effort…the perspectives sort of look like I’m on hallucinogens, but now, and frequently to come, I will fall back on blaming my beginner artist status.

Ride #2
Wednesday, October 7
Shoe’s Cup and Cork, Leesburg, Virginia
34 miles on the W&OD Trail
Iced Americano

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

My husband played hooky from work on a perfect fall day and rode his new bike for the first time. We headed off the trail up into Old Leesburg for the restaurant and coffee shop in the old shoe store with the original neon sign still out front.

The back is a fabulous outdoor seating area with umbrellas, cool outdoor furniture (gliders!), a bocce ball court, and a bike rack. I love this place!!!

Ride #3
Tuesday, October 20
Green Lizard Cycling, Herndon, Virginia
31 miles on the W&OD Horse Trail

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

This is really not a another theme, but this fall I am riding the entire gravel horse trail that parallels the W&OD on my cyclocross bike. It’s surprisingly much rougher than I would think, with a fair degree of washout, rocks, a few hike a bike stream crossings, and fine gravel piled up and deep in sections. Almost went down a couple of times.

It’s not that long but since I have to go both ways, actually pay attention to where I put my wheel, and still have time to sketch and drink coffee (such burderns!), I’ve broken it into three segments. This was the second leg-Herndon to Leesburg.

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

Green Lizard is a great bike shop and coffee shop. And the building is rather pretty when you really look at it— which is why I like the sketching over the photographing. About as bike friendly as it gets!

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.
James E Starr

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

This is Mel, my trusty steed. She’s a divine ride christened with my favorite cycling quote in mind. The words adorn her chain stay.

Mel is a titanium cyclocross bike in Creamsicle colors and is sleeker-much, much sleeker-than she appears in this rendering. I love dirt and gravel…and so does she.

Ride #4
Saturday, October 24
Starbucks at Washington Harbour
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
14 miles on the Capital Crescent and C&O Canal
Iced Americano enjoyed in Georgetown Waterfront Park

My husband, Jeff, and I took off when it was a little grey and windy. He didn’t really feel like riding but came along anyway. When the first two coffee shops were inaccessible (too crowded and closed respectively), I became nervous about hunting around in a very crowded Georgetown looking for a caffeine source with him not very into the ride and the quest.

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

Reluctantly I settled on Starbucks in Washington Harbour, it being the only other thing I could find near the bike path. I had made a promise to myself that I would not go to a Starbucks for the Challenge, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

We walked around a little then he rode home and was happy to leave me behind to sip and sketch. It was a very nice ride despite the crowds. And I hate crowds.

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

Ride #5
Saturday, October 31
Vino 9 Market, Paeonian Springs, Virginia
21 miles on W&OD Horse Trail
Regular Coffee

This was the last segment of the horse trail I had to do and I had been looking forward to it. Unfortunately it was the worst of the three segments with no really nice scenic views and ruts covered with leaves. I had enough almost falls on the way out that I rode the pavement on the return trip.

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

I wanted to get closer to the car before I stopped to sketch so I targeted the Vino 9 Market which is right off the W&OD in Paeonian Springs. We’ve stopped here before and liked the food.

They don’t have a coffee bar per se, but the regular cup she brewed for me was darn good. Also had a nice brie, apple, and honey grilled sandwich.

Ride #6
Sunday, November 1
Rappahannock Roasters Arlington, Virginia
14 miles
Regular Coffee

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

A beautiful fall day and a nice ramble through the streets of Arlington. Rappahannock Roasters is ranked the #1 coffee shop on a couple of lists. Not so much. Not sure what that ranking is based on unless it was the most accumulated dust. Coffee was just ok and the place was just not cool or pleasant. The roasting room had ridiculous amounts of dust on the walls, vents, …

Nice ride though.

Ride #7
Sunday, November 8
Northside Social, Arlington, Virginia
9 miles

A fine way to finish off the challenge. It was a beautiful fall day and I’ve found I really enjoy these short little rambles through the back streets and bike lanes in Arlington.

Northside Social is hands down my favorite coffee shop. Maybe because it’s a wine bar too!

Coffeeneuring-Kathy sketch

On a street with a bike lane and having its own bike parking it’s like a salt lick for cyclists – I mean there are plenty of them – along with a diverse slice of Arlington. Although given the number of patrons today it was definitely an obtuse slice. Enjoyed a cappuccino and a wonderful sandwich, and sat and sketched.


  • This was really fun! Thank you.
  • It’s rather enjoyable not to wear spandex and ride fast and long.
  • There is a plethora of Starbucks and other chains and a true shortage of unique
    coffee shops in Northern Virginia. I wonder if the rent is just too high?
  • Even with the wonderful bike infrastructure in Arlington, it’s a rare shopkeeper who is making an effort to be bike friendly. Is a bike rack really that expensive?
  • Looking forward to next year!


  1. A great post with lovely images! Starbucks unfortunately is everywhere; I don’t know if the reduce the number of better shops, but they certainly make it harder to find better. Though I guess that might lead to longer bike rides.


  2. Mel rocks! I’d love to get a depiction of my trusty steed (2015 Surly Straggler). First though, I need to come up with a name for her. Nice post, and great blog. Thanks for sharing, MG!


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