Another year of Coffeeneuring under our belts and Emma and I (and seemingly many others) took it down to the wire completing out last trip on the last possible day. Here’s my writeup. For those needing a recap on what exactly Coffeeneuring is, read here.
TRIP ONE – 10/9/16
Coffee Shop Without Walls, Frick Park, approximately 12 miles
After the success of last year’s rainy and cold Coffeeneuring kickoff event, we thought we’d try it again and hope for better weather…and we got it! While Coffeeneuring actually began on a Friday this year, we weren’t able to do the kickoff until Sunday morning because Emma was doing the Fineview Steps Challenge the day before. But that worked out great because we had much better weather on Sunday.
I made a batch of vegan donuts and Emma made blueberry muffins. We filled up our panniers full of baked goods and then headed towards Frick Park. We met up with Chris, who we had met at the Swift Campout earlier in the summer, along the way, working our way through Shadyside, around the Google complex and into Frick Park. We swung back out onto the roads and to the 61B cafe on Braddock Ave to grab an airpot of coffee.
Rolling back down into the holler, we commandeered the Falls Ravine shelter, where we hung up the Coffeeneuring banner Emma made. About 20 people showed up, kicking the airpot of coffee relatively quickly and necessitating the making of additional coffee on camp stoves. Not being a coffee drinker, I boiled up some water on the campstove and had some breakfast tea. Regrettably, I cannot recall if it was English or Irish.
Good hangouts were had. Many funny named dogs were met. Baked goods were consumed and then we were on our way, weaving our way back up the Tranquil Trail and back towards Bloomfield.
TRIP TWO – 10/16/16
Standing Stone Coffee Company, Huntingdon, PA, roughly 4-5 miles
Originally this weekend was supposed to be Bicycle Time’s Adventure Fest, but the fest got cancelled this year. The crew from last year’s Adventure Fest decided we still wanted to have an adventure, so we decided an Alligrippis weekend would be the thing to do. We rented out the 2 “adventure suites” at Rothrock Outfitters and had ourselves a weekend of trail riding, hiking, paddling and perhaps one “scary” story.
On Sunday morning we got up and rode across town to Standing Stone Coffee to get in a Coffeeneuring trip. We locked up all our bikes outside and hung up Emma’s banner across all the bikes. A couple of older women asked us what Coffeeneuring was and we explained it and they seemed stoked but acknowledged the small town was not an ideal place to complete such a challenge due to the few number of cafes there. However, it worked out great for us to get in a qualifying trip.
Inside we got some breakfast and drinks. Bagel with peanut butter and soy chai for me. There was a stack of old boardgames and obviously I zoomed in on the game called “Fact or Crap”. I spent the rest of our time there reading cards from the game.
Since the cafe was less than a mile away from our suites, we extended our trip after breakfast out to a local park and explored a trail that Kelli and Shane had checked out on Friday. Compared with the fast-paced, roller coaster ride of the Alligrippis trails, this little creekside trail was the perfect place for a laidback Sunday morning group ride in the woods.
TRIP THREE – 11/5/16
B52, Lawrenceville – approx 3.5 miles
A mid-day run on a beautiful sunny day. We rode down Main Street from Bloomfield down to Lawrenceville. I had to hit up a few establishments on Butler Street to pick up raffle prizes for an event I was doing, so we slowly made our way down until we reached B52.
The original plan was just drinks but then they had some incredibly decadent looking chocolate cake, so we had to get a slice. I got the Chica Roja – a beverage that I can’t remember exactly what it was. Rooibos, almond milk…a couple other flavors. It was weird, but good. The chocolate cake destroyed. We both were pretty wired and felt good. After leaving B52, we rolled up through the Allegheny Cemetery back home.
TRIP FOUR – 11/12/16
Big Dog Coffee, Southside, approx 10 miles
In the morning Emma got up early and went to do a hike with her dad. I ran to the library and ran some other errands, including a trip to Lili Cafe, which I could have counted as my Coffeeneuring trip for the day, but I knew Emma wanted to get another trip in later, so I didn’t bother documenting that one.
First we swung by our buds at Thick Bikes where I picked up more raffle prize goodies and then we swung back over to Big Dog, one of our favorite spots that we don’t hit up too often. I opted to get a green tea, something that I’ve largely been avoiding recently. The Emerald Spring was a pretty standard fair for green tea. Enjoyable but it reminded me that my interest in green tea has waned. Give me a black tea or a good oolong and i’m real happy. If i’m doing a green, i’m interested in something like a Hojicha or Gunpowder.
TRIP FIVE – 11/13/16
Biddle’s Escape, Wilkinsburg, approx 10 miles
There’s some backstory to Biddle’s Escape that always makes me not want to like this place, but it’s got a funky vibe and a good selection of tea that makes it hard not to like. Plus its name makes it sound like some ride in Old Kennywood.
I got a black tea called Golden Monkey that was quite good. Emma got some crazy swamp water looking Matcha tea. We both got some biscotti. The place was packed so we got a corner table between the pinball machines and next to a group of women deconstructing the election results. Not ideal, but we made the most of it.
TRIP SIX – 11/18/16
Zeke’s Coffee, East Liberty, approx 3 smiles
It was a beautiful day. November, less than a week before Thanksgiving and I could be outside in a t-shirt? I’ll take it. I had much to do to prepare for the Roboto 17th Anniversary events I had planned for the next day, but we needed to get this Coffeeneuring trip in and goddamn it was so nice
So a nice post-work trip over to Zeke’s to get drinks and meet up with some friends, new and old. We met up with Jerry and his two kids, Coffeeneuring rookies who got introduced to the concept by Emma and I posted about it on the local messageboard , and Martha and Ellery swung by as well, celebrating good report card results. We sat outside and watched Jerry’s kids run around and Ellery climbed all over Emma. I got a cup of Pinhead Gunpowder and a soft pretzel.
TRIP SEVEN – 11/20/16
Bookshelf Cafe, Morningside, approx 6 miles
This day could not have been much different from Friday. A high just above freezing, winds blowing at 20-25 miles/hour and SNOW! A seemingly fitting way to end the Coffeeneuring season.
I dug through the closet and found our winter biking gloves and my scarf. We layered up and rode the few miles over to Bookshelf Cafe. I got a cup of Assam and relaxed in the warmness of the cafe. A couple tables over there was several people speaking Spanish and Emma and I did our best to see if we could understand what they were saying.
Some other friends stopped in to get coffees on their way to an estate sale, so we talked with them a bit about what estate sales were like and how you found out about them. Then Emma got a text from another friend who was feeling down, so she went to hang out with her and I pedaled home to pack my drums up and prepare to play a matinee show that afternoon.
All around Coffeeneuring was a bit more of a challenge this year. The loosening of the Coffeeneuring rules (no longer limited to just the weekend) made it seem like we had so much more time, but the little bit of craziness in our lives (along with the general craziness of the world this year) meant that we actual had a bit less opportunities…but we got it done.