It’s fall again and that brings on the Coffeeneuring challenge. This takes place through the 7 weeks from the beginning of October into November. The abstract challenge — stay on that bike even as the weather turns cold and windy and the days get short. The more specific challenge – go on 7 different coffee/tea runs over the course of 7 weekends. More specific rules here. Below you’ll find the specifics of my 7 trips for 2015.
TRIP ONE – October 3rd, 2015 – approximate mileage = 12 miles
For this year’s first weekend of Coffeeneuring, Emma and I decided to arrange a kickoff meetup. The original plan was to have an outside event down by the river. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and for Saturday morning they were calling for steady rain and temperatures in the low 50’s at best. So instead I checked in with the folks at Thick Bikes who were gracious enough to play host to our event in their newly expanded shop. I got up early and made up a batch of homemade donuts and we swung by Big Dog Coffee in the Southside and got a airpot of coffee. We brought the kettle from home and a big box of PG Tip’s tea bags. We weren’t really sure if anyone would show up considering the weather but there ended up being seven of us there plus the Thick staff who were all too glad to have donuts and coffee at their disposal.
We had a fun morning of hanging out, checking out gear and talking. Towards the end of the morning we realized we could go ride bikes around in the basement, so we took a bit of time ripping around in loops downstairs.
All around a good time and hopefully we’ll throw another kickoff event next year.
TRIP TWO (attempt one) – October 4th, 2015
Rode my bike up to 61C in Squirrel Hill. When I walked into the shop I noticed that my friend Emily was working and then almost immediately saw that my old friend Joel was at the head of the line, so there was a lot of shouting of hellos. Joel and I had been meaning to meet up and catch up on some things for quite awhile, so he invited me to sit with him. So we sat and talked and I just never got around to getting to take a photo of my trip, so it didn’t count, but that’s ok because the spirit of Coffeeneuring was alive and I got out of the house and saw friends and enjoyed some delicious tea.
TRIP TWO (official) – October 11th, 2015 – approximate distance = 12 miles
After a weekend in the mountains, hanging out with friends and riding bikes through the woods at the Bicycle Times Adventure Fest, Emma and I got home, took care of actually putting away all our camping gear right away, got stuff cleaned up, ate some dinner and decided to get back on our bikes. We rode over to our friend Sara’s house in Highland Park and then made our way through Bakery Square and up Beechwood Ave to Squirrel Hill. We hit up the 61C Cafe again, allowing me to make up my previous week’s failed attempt. I ordered the same tea, an old favorite – Huang Shan Sunset – a black tea infused with some peach and flower blossoms. An excellent drink. It was a cool but lovely night out so we took the opportunity to enjoy sitting outside on the patio. Two other dudes on the patio excitedly talked about the movies “Man on Wire” and “The Walk” and the related book. Afterwards we rode down the hill through Chatham. A wonderful night to a great weekend.
TRIP THREE – October 17th, 2015 – approximate mileage = 13 miles
Emma was off doing the Fineview Steps Challenge, so I made up a PB+J sandwich, loaded up my new framebag on the new Salsa Fargo and headed off to Frick Park. Jumped into the trails from the Reynolds Avenue side of things and climbed my way back up to the top to hit the Iron Grate. While I was at the top of the hill, I tried riding around and finding where exactly Roller Coaster starts up there but couldn’t figure it out. Failing that, I hit Iron Grate. This was only my second time on a legitimate mounting biking trail with the dropbar mountain bike configuration and I was still getting used to it a bit. I took one tumble on the way down but nothing too serious. Took it a bit easier on the rest of the way down and ate my PB+J at the bottom of the hill. Realizing I had forgotten my water bottle at home, I decided to head right to my Coffeeneuring destination rather than do another section of trail. Hit Dinky Bridge on my way back up to Braddock Avenue and rode down to 61B. Got a pot of Scottish Breakfast tea.
Another fine Coffeeneuring day that was lovely and warm at times and chilly and windy at others. By the time I got home that day I felt thoroughly worn out and opted out of the other things I had planned on for that day – Brentwood Open Streets and the Greenfield Bridge Closing Party.
TRIP FOUR – October 18th, 2015 – approximate distance = 3 miles
We had planned on getting out for another mountain biking adventure and despite the weatherman telling us it was supposed to clear up, we continued to get a variety of light rains, occasional bits of flurries and something resembling sleet throughout the day. Thus we stayed home where I watched the football game and worked on zine layout. Finally things cleared up and I wanted to run to FedEx Office to print out some test zine pages. I announced my intention and Emma decided to come along. After making some quick printouts, we rode around the corner to the new(ish) Zeke’s Coffee location on Penn Ave. Neither of us had been there yet and it was a cozy little spot. We saw that they had a Black Maple Latte option and we both considered it, but Emma ended up going with a chai latte. The maple latte was a strange but delicious tonic. While there the barista played a fun variety of hiphop and R&B (Nelly, Lauren Hill, etc) and we sang along. We hung out until right before closing and then headed home to make some dinner.
TRIP FIVE – October 25, 2015 – approximate distance = 6 miles
Earlier in the day I had noticed that our friend Sara had posted on Facebook about going to Bookshelf Cafe in Morningside for her Coffeeneuring trip that day. This cafe is in the old location of the Morning Glory Cafe, a cafe where Emma and I spent much time a few years back before Jeffrey (the owner) closed it down and left town. I was eager to check out the newly re-opened space.
Emma was out of town for the weekend, so I took a solo trip after a full day of finishing zine layouts, burning silkscreen screens, cleaning the house and watching football. Around 4:30 I rode on over. The day had been a bit overcast but by the time I reached the cafe the sun had came out and it was feeling pretty nice out, so I got my pot of formosa oolong tea and had a seat outside. Got to see a few cute dogs and enjoy the waning light of the day while reading the newest issue of Sidetracked magazine. It started to cool off again, so only spent about 30 minutes there before hopping back on the bike and heading home.
TRIP SIX – October 31st, 2015 – approximate distance = 5.5 miles
Emma and I slept in a bit, hit the farmers market where we got a load of late season goodies, came home and ate an early lunch and then loaded up the mountain bikes to go to North Park. Emma hadn’t been out in a while and I hadn’t been out on the Krampus for over a month, so we both felt a bit out of practice. Also I think this was the first time we had been out this year since there had been such a layer of leaf cover on the ground. Despite this we both had a great ride, both of us realizing how the section of trail we did that morning seemed to go by so quick when previously it seemed that it would take us a whole morning and take so much out of us. We both have become such more accomplished riders. It felt good. After doing the section of the orange-blazed trails, we bailed at the ice rink (where we spent a few minutes trying to balance on the section of concrete curb surrounding the turnaround — getting better at that as well) and took the roads over to the OTB Cafe.
I think we had planned to have a more full lunch once we got here but neither of us were overly hungry. Instead we got some beverages (just a simple English Breakfast tea for me) and soft pretzels. As we are leaving, Emma went to take a photo of Elizabeth Kleven’s mosaic work behind the bar and inadvertently ended up starting up a conversation with the kinda drunk guy at the bar who was a photographer. He showed us a bunch of photos of he took and talked about driving all over PA and WV to get his perfect shots, including a tale of almost running out of gas at the top of a mountain. Eventually we found an opening and made an escape. We considered hitting the trails again for a bit but opted just to ride the roads back to the car.
TRIP SEVEN – November 1st, 2015 – approximate distance = 19 miles
Last year on the “Every Neighborhood” ride during Bike Fest, Brew on Broadway cafe was one of the rest stops. Emma and I remembered it being a nice cafe, so we decided to try to return there as part of Coffeeneuring. Looking at the maps, it looked like getting there had a couple dicey parts but nothing too terrible, so we just took Google’s directions and went for it.
Climbing up 18th Street in the Southside had been a challenge when we had done it as part of Pedal Pittsburgh back in 2012 but this year we kicked its ass pretty easily. The trolley tracks on Warrington Avenue were just as shitty as we remembered them from last year when we passed through during the “Every Neighborhood” ride. The real shitty section though was the section of US-19 to West Liberty Avenue that we had to maneuver. Google said to walk our bikes on 19, which we did. Trying to ride that would not have been smart. We ended up walking part of West Liberty and then sidewalk riding a bit as well. The final ascent up Cape May Avenue to Hampshire Avenue had some pretty steep parts but we continued to feel strong and climbed them nicely.
Once at the cafe I got a soy chai and we sat outside in the sun, enjoying a nice 60 degree sunny November 1st. As we contemplated dealing with the West Liberty/19 section again and looked at the T (that’s the trolley for non-pittsburghers reading this) tracks along Broadway Avenue, we thought “hey – why not take the T back to downtown?” A great idea except that we were perfectly timed to be aligned with massive quantities of people heading into town for the Steelers game. Rather than trying to jam in, we decided to just ride back and I’m really glad we did because bombing back down the 18th Street hill was really worth it.
Got a bit low calorie by the time we hit Junction Hollow, but pushed forth towards home, made a sandwich and was in time to catch the Steelers game in progress towards the end of the first quarter.
Another year, another Coffeeneuring complete. There are still 2 weeks left in the challenge period, so i’m sure i’ll get another one or two trips in but i’ve got my minimum of 7, so all is good.