Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Coffeeneuring 2015

It's that time of year again- The mornings are crisp and cool, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it's time for the Coffeeneuring Challenge write-up! This is my fourth consecutive year, and the rules have remained very much the same- 7 different weekend bike rides to 7 different coffee shops, etc. "Coffee shops without walls" count for those of us who like to make coffee in the wild, and this year they added a "Theme Within a Theme" category! I have always imposed the rule of no corporate chain coffee shops on myself (with mixed success) and I've always tried to visit 7 shops I haven't coffeeneured to before (with no success.) I decided that my Theme Within a Theme would be 7 different bikes! My problem was that at the start of the challenge I only owned 6 bikes that were rideable, but since I had a couple of frames and way too many spare parts in storage I figured I could cobble something together… Imagine my surprise when I visited one of my favorite shops, Oak City Cycling Project and they had a beautiful used chrome Bianchi Pista in my size just hanging on the wall and begging me to take her home. So I slept in the doghouse for a week, but I had my 7 different bikes… My "weekend" days are Sundays and Tuesdays thanks to a retail job, so here we go!

Coffeeneuring #1 Sunday Oct. 4th, Boulted Bread in Raleigh, NC

I rode from home in Garner to downtown Raleigh, about 17 miles round trip to visit Boulted Bread and meet up with my friend Geof who was out & about on his Sunday ride. My bike choice was my 1973 Nishiki International, I've owned this frame since I was 13 and bought the bike with $50 I'd saved up from mowing lawns. It spent a long time rusting away in my Mom's basement until 5 or 6 years ago I brought it back to life and converted it to a single speed commuter. Geof and I enjoyed coffee and apple turnovers, then I headed back home since it was looking like rain.

Coffeeneuring #2 Tuesday Oct. 6th, Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham, NC

I've been telling the guys at OCCP about coffeeneuring- it's right up their alley! Plus their shop is closed on Tuesdays, so they're some of the only folks I know with the same days off I have. Anyway, I managed to convince David and Brandon to join me for a coffeeneuring jaunt. Of course, their idea of a quick coffee run was to ride from the shop in Raleigh 50ish miles to a great little coffeeshop in Durham and back! Sure, it's 100 miles round trip, but only 50 miles for coffee (the other 50 is riding home…) They had a route planned, and knowing that they love mixed terrain I brought my Soma Doublecross. This is my "Swiss Army bike." I can do anything with it- randonneuring, gravel, commuting, cyclocross, etc. Sure enough, we were on roads, flooded greenways, American Tobacco Trail, and the gravel roads of Umstead State Park. I enjoyed a drip coffee and a chocolate croissant- nowhere near as good as the pain au chocolate I enjoyed so much in France, but quite edible. By the time we got back to Raleigh I was worn out, but it was a great ride!

Coffeeneuring #3 Sunday Oct. 11th Velo Coffee Roasters in Chattanooga, TN

We were visiting my sister-in-law and her new baby in Hixson, TN and I was bringing a bike to go ride a mountainous 200K on Monday, so Sunday I got up early and rode about 15 miles into Chattanooga to visit Velo Coffee. I rode my Scott CR1 Team, what I call my "plastic bike." It's basically an off-the-rack mid-level components carbon road bike- black, white, and red like they all are these days, but it's great for climbing mountains! I had an iced coffee, then explored downtown Chattanooga for awhile before meeting up with the family for lunch.

Coffeeneuring #4 Tuesday Oct. 20th Cup-a-Joe on Hillsborough in Raleigh. NC

Another Tuesday outing, I again convinced David and Brandon to join me. They were going out to ride gravel at Umstead, but I just rode the 9 miles from home through the NC State Campus on my new fixed gear, the Bianchi Pista I just bought from their shop. Mainly I wanted to show them the changes and upgrades I'd already done to it… We enjoyed coffee at Cup-a-Joe where I forgot to take a picture and then we rode over to the Roast Grill- a Raleigh landmark and home of the famous Roast Grill hot wieners. It was David's first time, and I'm betting he'll be back!

Coffeeneuring #5 Sunday Oct. 25th Aversboro Coffee in Garner, NC

We had lots of rain in central NC in October. This Sunday I got up early and there was a short break in the rain, so I got out the old steel Nishiki Manitoba mountain bike and rode 2 miles over to Aversboro Coffee, my favorite local shop. Had a medium coffee and some blueberry mini-muffins, then rode the bike over to check out the local trails. Of course they were too wet, and it's good to stay off the trails when wet so we don't destroy them. I got back home and my wife and I headed into downtown Garner for a food truck rodeo. Mmmm...

Coffeeneuring #6 Sunday Nov. 1st "Coffeeshop Without Walls" in Garner, NC

After a solid week of rain I decided to just take a quick trip over to Lake Benson Park, about 2 miles from my house in Garner and make some coffee outside. I rode my Douglas Titanium S&S coupled travel bike- this is the bike I rode at Paris-Brest-Paris back in August. I brought along my camp stove and all the fix ins to make a pour over dark roast. Got some really strange looks from a few of the hearty runners who were out despite the drizzle- the park is popular for joggers. I half expected to have to start fixing coffee for everybody, but I guess they didn't want to approach the weirdo making coffee on a rainy day at the park shelter, so nobody asked!

Coffeeneuring #7 Tuesday, Nov. 10th- 5th Avenue Coffee in Garner, NC

I may have saved my favorite bike for last. This is my early 80's Ciocc San Cristobal that I carefully restored a few years ago. I waited till it warmed up a bit in the afternoon, then rode from home about 14 miles down to The Coffee Mill in Clayton, but they were already closed. So I headed back to Garner and stopped in at 5th Avenue- not my favorite shop but it got the job done. Just had coffee and an apple danish. The Ciocc is a dream to ride and just a beautiful, elegant bike so it's always fun even if the coffee is sub-par. I got nearly 30 miles in and finished just as the Sun was going down- a fitting end to this year's Coffeeneuring Challenge for me!

I learned something with my 7 bike Theme Within a Theme... my mountain bike sucks. Other than that one I really love all my bikes. Each has a specific purpose, or fills a niche, or just has sentimental value. But I'm going to have to think about a mountain bike. Truly, the optimum number of bikes is N+1!

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