Coffee and Contrabands

I haven’t ridden in four days. I was away on a business trip Wednesday through Friday. I brought my Bike Friday and intended to ride it after work on Fridat but, alas, twas raining so I just drove home. Yesterday was rainy and cold. Not very inviting biking weather. By evening I was getting irritable, which is a sure thing when I don’t get enough exercise.

So despite feeling really not into it, I jumped on Little Nellie and headed out for a short ride. I took the Mount Vernon Trail to Old Town. The trail was covered in wet leaves so I was extra careful to avoid sudden moves. On Union Street in Old Town I stopped at a stop sign so that a huge SUV coming from my left could (a) not yield to me and (b) roll through its stop sign. Bikes are obviously the problem.

A few blocks further north, I saw a dad and his toddler son get out of an SUV on the opposite side of the street. The little boy had on a plastic green army helmet under a hoodie. As dad turned to close his car door, little boy bolted across the street directly in front of me. I said, “Whoa, dude!” Dad turned around and said, “Sorry.” You might want to keep you “sorries” for mom when you get your kid killed through your negligence, dad.

I rode up King Street in search of coffee. There are about a dozen coffee places to choose from. I made it all the way to the Metro station and turned around. I settled for Dunkin’ Donuts or Dunks as friend of the blog @lkono calls it.  (We used to call it Drunkin’ Donuts because most of its late night customers in Providence were piss drunk.)  If you ever lived in Massacusetts or Rhode Island you’d know that there are more Dunkin Donuts than traffic lights. In my 11 years in Boston and Providence I must have gone to Dunks 200 of 300 times. I really liked the coffee and minchies. Not anymore. It just tastes funky to me now. The coffee cake muffin I had wasn’t bad though.

On the way home, I stopped at the Freeman’s Cemetery. This cemetery is actually a memorial to a cemetery that was established in 1864 for the runaway slaves who found their way to Union-occupied Alexandria during the Civil War. The Contrabands (as the were originally called on a account of their legal status as property) lived in squalor. Many succumbed to smallpox. Over 1,700 were laid to rest in this cemetery. Over the years the cemetery was repeatedly disturbed by road building and other ventures. The last venture was a Mobil gas station. When the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was replaced, the gas station was removed and a cemetery was restored as a memorial.

Some pix of the cemetery can be found on my Flickr page

Cofffeeneuring Scorecard

Date: October 12

Location: Dunks on King Street near the Metro station in Old Town, Alexandria

Drink: House brew with coffee cake muffin. The muffin was way better than the coffee.

Observation: Dunkin Donuts used to be my default coffee shop when I was in school. What the hell do students know about coffee, anyway?

Miles: 18.5

IMG_0277

Coffeeneuring in Car Hell

The fourth annual coffeeneuring challenge is upon us. This challenge entails riding your bike to coffee shops on the weekends and meeting rules that only a randonneur would love. I wasn’t going to do it this year but I had a Sunday to burn and a gift certificate to a new coffee shop burning a whole in my saddle bag.

To me rolling out to get a cup of coffee seems kind of silly since I have a perfectly good coffee maker in my kitchen. So I combined today’s coffee trek with some errands. I started with a ride to the hardware store for some bird seed. Little Nellie, my New Wrold Tourist with little wheels, does a terrifc job of carrying the unbalanced load without making me feel like I’m going to tip over.

Once the seeds were off loaded at home, I turned around and rode the Mount Vernon Trail to Old Town to use an ATM. I could have done this at the Safeway near home but I needed some therapy miles. Call it bikescendental meditation. My brain shuts off, I sing songs badly, I look at the egrets and herons. All is calm.

After ATMing, I headed off to the coffee shop on Telegraph Road south of the beltway. I rode over to the Eisenhower Valley (why does this invoke tanks in my mind) and used the nifty newish trail over the beltway at Telegraph. It drops you right smack dab in the middle of a spaghetti bowl of ramps and traffic lanes going every which way. This being Sunday traffic was light. Riding this on a weekday would take nerves of steel. This sort of road pattern is what I call Car Hell. Car Hell is why Fairfax County is a bike hostile community.

After waiting three minutes for a traffic light, I headed south on Telegraph. The shoulder comes and goes so taking the lane is the only option. People were driving their cars responsible though so it was not an entirely unpleasant experience. Telegraph wends through a hilly area. There was one hill I had to climb (right after Climbhill Rd., I kid you not) and I made it without breathing hard.

A fun downhill led to a left hand turn (always fun) into a strip mall (planned American retail blight). There I found the Grounded Coffee Shop.

I locked Little Nellie to a street sign because, this being Car Hell, there was no bike parking to be found.

Inside I found a very pleasant, kid friendly place (toys and games were placed on shelves and a Lego pit was off to one side). A young man was playing guitar and singing songs for tips.The customers ranged in age from 1 to 70. A student did homework on a laptop.

I ordered tomato soup with chicken and orzo, a banana, and a 16-ounce house coffee (dark roast from the Congo). This being the first crisp fall weekend day in these parts, the warmth of the soup and coffee alone would have made me happy, but they were both top notch. (The banana lacked a certain je ne said quoi, but it is an essential bike food.)

Grounded Coffee Shop

The ride home involved South Kings Highway which included one whopper of a hill. The road has a paved shoulder that comes and goes. And when it goes it just drops off in an way that would mean a trip to the ER. Way to go VDOT!

I managed the hill with the forebearance of some drivers.  When confronted with the next, steeper hill bailed out and took side streets until I popped out at US 1 and the entrance to the Hybla Valley strip mall farm. That this monstrosity was actually planned by someone is simply astounding. Fearlessly, Little Nellie took on the mass of cars and we made it through somehow. In fact, in about 5 minutes I was turning onto Parkers Lane using the turn lane and ironically not 30 yards from the spot where my wife was mowed down (actually thrown in the air) by an ex-con driving an SUV, when a driver honked at me. I wasn’t in her way. I wasn’t doing anything illegal. My offense was I was not in a car. Some people need remedial driver’s ed.

So I arrived home unscathed from my first coffeeneuring adventure. Here are some stats:

Date: October 5.

Place: Grounded Coffee Shop, 6919 Telegraph Avenue, Alexandria VA. http://www.groundedcoffeeshop.com

Drink: Congo dark roast, most delicious. Also, pretty darn good tomato chicken and orzo soup.

Observation: Grounded Coffee is a real find. I have $6+ left on my gift certificate and look forward to going back. I’l probably drive though because it’s located in Car Hell.

Miles:19.5

Grounded Coffee Shop

October by the Numbers

Thanks to the government shutdown, I did much less bike commuting than usual in October. I rode to work only 11 times for a total of 338 miles. I rode The Mule on one commute and Little and Big Nellie on five commutes each. I did 581 miles of non-commute riding, mostly meanders that involved a stop for coffee. In the process, I finished the Coffeeneuring Challenge. (I am  looking forward to this winter’s Eggnoggneuring event.) My longest ride was a 64 mile ride on Big Nellie. So for those of you who are additively challenged, I rode 919 miles during the month.

The biggest difference this month was that I rode Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, 266 miles, more than I have in several months. She came out of the bullpen when The Mule came down with an acute case of broken seat post binder bolt blues. Big Nellie carried me 443 miles. Before its seat post bolt snapped under the weight of its engine, The Mule took me 210 miles. And  I finally replaced the saddle on The Mule. It had a broken adjuster bolt and was sagging  like an ass hammock. I am sending it out for repair, which means that sometime in December I should have four Brooks leather saddles (three Flyers and a B67) for two bikes.  One can never have too many leather saddles.

I have ridden 6,296 miles so far this year, including 148 bike commutes.

I took today off. My bikes are tired.

Coffee and Pumpkins and Bikes, Oh My

It was cold. It was Friday. Warming up would require a bike ride and hot coffee. Fortunately, Friday Coffee Club was on the agenda. I rode Big Nellie to Swings and found that the cold had not stopped the fearless bike commuters of DC from attending. They, however, did move the proceedings inside for the first time since late winter. It was good to see Adam (a.k.a. Froggie) back on dry land after spending months at sea in his job as Tweeter First Class aboard the USS iPad. Kate, who had just completed the graveyard shift as an underpaid public servant, was also in attendance. She had ridden Kermit, the bike I would be most likely to steal but for its pink handlebar tape. Welcome back, you two.

Friday’s workday came and went. During the ride home I was going over a checklist of things to do in preparation for Saturday’s Great Pumpkin Ride in Warrenton VA. Thing number one was raise the seat on The Mule. This went really well until I tried to tightened the seat post bolt that would keep the seat where I done raised it to. The bolt wouldn’t tighten. I jumped in the car and drove to Spokes Etc. to get a replacement. It turns out the bicycle industry no longer uses this seat post retention system. Spokes didn’t have a bolt. I drove home and decided to ride Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist instead.

Saturday morning was so cold that I didn’t bother to look at the thermometer. The drive to Warrenton involved a 15 mile detour caused by VDOT’s brilliant decision to close one of the exits on I-66. I lucked out and found a parking space only a couple of blocks from the start.

As I was getting ready to leave the car, the guy in the car next to me says, “Are you Rootchopper?” It turns out he is known online as Consularrider and he works in the building next to me in Rosslyn. Small world. After a brief chat, I took off to pick up my t-shirt and cue sheet. I decided to ride the 43 mile ride instead of the 71 miler. After doing the check in, I headed out for a brief tour of Warrenton. Old Town Warrenton is quaint and small, but I managed to get lost anyway. After about 3 miles or riding I pulled into Red Truck Bakery. I had a coffee and an orange cranberry walnut muffin. The coffee was okay but the muffin was mouthwatering. Readers of the blog may find this familiar since I had the very same thing last year. It is still the best damned muffin in the universe.

Little Nellie at Red Truck Bakery
Little Nellie at Red Truck Bakery

After muffinpaloosa, I headed back to the start of the ride where I was hoping to find John Roche, creator of the Hoppy 100 bike rides. I learned from the check-in desk that John was long gone. Bob Cannon and his son Jeremy soon appeared and in short order the three of us were underway. Bob and Jeremy set a very brisk pace. After about five miles I slowed to my normal slog and took in the scenery. Last year the foliage was post peak; this year most of the trees were green. It didn’t much matter because this is the Virginia Piedmont, the kind of countryside you see in coffee table books: split rail fences, rolls of hay drying in the fields, Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

I reached the first rest stop. It was Cannon-less. It was also foodless so I topped off my water bottle. Before leaving, I raised my seat a couple of millimeters to get more extension out of my legs. The bolt didn’t break. Yay. Back on the road I was alone with swirling winds and rolling hills. The hills are just the right size to hill hop, zoom down one hill then use the momentum to ride all the way up the next.

The next stop was at the Elk Run Anglican Church. Oh. My. God. Cookies, brownies, hot pretzel sticks, nuts, M&Ms, and more. To wash it down they were serving hot apple cider. I hate cold apple cider, but this sweet, hot drink totally hit the spot. The Cannons were here. So was Consularrider. And John Roche. Chat ensued. I split off to talk to a guy with a faired Gold Rush, a lighter weight aluminum version of Big Nellie. I did my best not to drool on it.

By the time I rejoined the posse, Consularrider (who was doing the 71 mile ride) and the Cannons were gone. John Roche and I headed out as a duo. Before leaving the rest stop, I nearly flipped my bike over backwards when I caught the rear wheel in a roadside drainage ditch. A cop sitting in his nearby car had a good laugh. He said I wasn’t the only one.

John and I gave the ride an honest effort. We had a steady tailwind for what seemed like two or three miles (yay!)  then it was in our face again (boo!). John’s better at hills so he would speed ahead on the rises and I would catch up a mile or two later. On one of the downhills, the Gold Rush went by us in a blur. Dang, that bike can fly.

Our next stop came at Poplar Springs, a vineyard up a windy hill from the main road. On the climb up, we caught and passed Gold Rush.  Recumbents can’t climb for beans. As the famous cyclists Milton Friedman once said, “There ain’t no such thing as a free downhill.”

This rest stop had tables of food, hot cider, and pumpkin soup. It looked like many of the riders were preparing for an overnight stay. Nom. Nom.

As we were preparing to leave, my grad school roommate Paul and Amy, his significant other, appeared. They were doing the 23 mile ride. Given the food at this rest stop, I think they might have gained a pound for their efforts. They were last seen falling into a food coma near the pumpkin soup.

The Cannons blasted down the road and John and I made rather pathetic chase. We found out that Jeremy, a high school hockey player dressed in street clothes, was chasing down lycra-clad triathletes on their fancy carbon fiber bikes. I’d have loved to have seen the look on their faces when this kid in jeans got on their back wheels.

The Cannons were out of sight  in no time. No worries. This stretch of the route had some honest to god foliage. Pedal, pedal. Pretty, pretty.

After passing a couple of women wearing capes, we rolled into the finish. There was more food! And massages. And antique bikes. We hung out in the hopes that the sun would warm us. No dice. We went our separate ways. Back at the car, Consullarrider was preparing to go out for another ride – to get his 100 miles in for the day. I would have joined him but I am sane and there was heat in the car!

On the way home, I visited several bike shops to find a new seat bolt. No luck. The Mule now sits at home looking sad, off in the corner of the shed, its seat pushed all the way down to the top of the frame.  No worries. One of the shops is getting some bolts in this week. The Mule will ride again.

For pix of the ride (beware: Food porn ahead) check out my set on Flickr.

On Groucho Marx and Coffeeneuring

I’m tired. Just run down. I don’t feel good. This may be because I’ve been riding constantly thanks to Furloughmas and bike commuting and other adventures. So the irony of all my riding is that today is a perfect day to ride and I don’t much feel up to it. The Washington Post ran an article today about a guy who lives near my house and rides his bike to Rockville Maryland everyday for work. His commute is 70 miles round trip. As Groucho Marx once said to the husband of a woman who was averaging giving birth to more than one child a year: “I like my cigar but I take it out once in a while.”

For the record my commute is about 30 miles round trip. I am nowhere near as fit as the guy in the article. Then again, I actually have time to sleep.

So you’d think I’d take the day off the bicycle. Think again. I decided to go for a short ride to get some coffee and add to my coffeeneuring madness.  So I hopped on Big Nellie and made my way ever so slowly to Old Town Alexandria. My left quadricep felt like lead. The was no elasticity to it for most of the trip. Twas a struggle (Twas?), nut I made it to Firehook Bakery on Union Street in the heart of OldTownLand. I didn’t have high expectations for the coffee but I was pleasantly surprised by the French roast that I had. I also consumed an Italiano sammich. Not half bad. I’ll have to remember this place for future refuelings.

Firehook Bakery
Firehook Bakery

My quad came back to life for the ride home, but I wasn’t setting any speed records. I called it a day after 14 miles.

Coffeeneuring No. 9 (number 9, number 9, number 9):

Location: Firehook Bakery on Union Street in Old Town Alexandria (part of the Mount Vernon Trail)

Drink: French Roast

Miles: 14

Observation: For a town on the Mount Vernon Trail, the East Coast Greenway, the Adventure Cycling Association Atlantic Coast and Tidewater Potomac routes, Old Town Alexandria has crappy bike parking. Which is to say, it has next to no bike parking.

Coffeeneuring No. 8: Charity, Chinatown, and the Future

A friend of ours is out of town. She was donating her car, parked at her place on Capitol Hill, to charity. The charity failed to pick the car up yesterday. I decided to check out the situation today, a perfect excuse for a bike ride in to the city.

Before I left home, I once again tweaked the new saddle on The Mule. I measured the fore/aft position of the saddle on Little Nellie. Little Nellie was custom made to replicate the configuration of The Mule. What I discovered was that the saddle on The Mule was one inch farther forward than the saddle on Little Nellie. So I slid The Mule’s saddle back and headed out for DC.

I could tell right away that this little tweak was just what the doctor ordered. Just that one inch was all I needed to get my groove back on this bike.  With a steady tailwind, I rode straight up the Mount Vernon Trail to DC. It felt great to be buzzing along feeling as if the bike and I were in sync.

I rode down the National Mall hoping to spot some people I knew to no avail. I made my way to Capitol Hill and verified that our friend’s car had indeed been picked up.  Since I had already used up two coffee shops at Eastern Market for earlier coffeeneuring adventures, I decided to head downtown for a cup of coffee at Chinatown Coffee Company. I learned of Chinatown Coffee from the Queen of Caffeine and her husband, the King of Espresso who stop there during the 50 States Ride.

Chinatown Coffee and the Post
Chinatown Coffee and the Post

I had some Honduran coffee. It was as good as any coffee I’ve had so far. Right up there with Swings and St. Elmo’s. I was disappointed that they didn’t have much in the way of food. So I sipped the coffee and read the newspaper. I really like the ambiance of this place. I will definitely add it to my future coffee sorties.

Properly caffeinated, I rode across downtown to White House Plaza. None of my peeps were going gaga over the prez, so I headed for home. On the way, I stopped at Belle View Shopping Center to check out a new bakery/restaurant that Nancy “Two Sheds” Duley tweeted about earlier in the day.  The place isn’t open yet, but I had a long talk with the owners and admired the loaves of bread they had lined up on the window sill. The owner gave me a loaf of French bread which he called 50 percent. It looked and smelled great but he was still fine tuning  his baking products. He was confident that they all will be 100 percent. I am looking forward to that.

Bread and Water is a work in progress
Bread and Water is a work in progress
Proud owner of Bread and Water
Proud owner of Bread and Water

With le pain in le pannier, I headed for home. I tried out the new bike trail along side Fort Hunt Road. It’s a lovely trail but pretty much useless for getting anywhere. To get on it, you take a windy sidewalk that twists and turns. The path itself is wide and smooth but it winds left and right, up and down parallel to Fort Hunt Road which is a smooth steady climb. At one point I had to duck under a large tree limb, the remnant of an even bigger limb that had fallen over the trail. Add trail maintenance to the list of many things lacking in Fairfax County bicycle infrastructure.  How sad it is that the bike trails and bike routes in Fairfax County, which is mostly suburban, is inferior to the trails, routes and cycle tracks in DC and Arlington.

The 16th Day of Furloughmas: Coffeeneur No. 7

I am starting to get the hang of this furlough thing. Stay in bed until 8:45, read the paper, eat breakfast, surf the net, then go riding. And so I did.

My legs are pretty tired, not so much from high mileage but from not being used to my new saddle. After yesterday’s ride, I lowered the saddle a touch for today’s escapade.

Running out of places to go, I decided to do yesterday’s ride in reverse, a loop into Maryland on the Woodrow Wilson bridge, then up to Oxon Hill Road (aptly named). I worked my way west to the very edge of DC and turn onto Livingston Road SE. Then it was up a big hill to Malcolm X Boulevard and eventually to Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, the main drag of Anacostia. That’s what I intended, but I made a wrong turn. It didn’t matter because the hill and MLK are inevitable.  MLK led directly to the new 11th Street bridge trail over the Anacostia River. On the west side of the river, I picked up the Riverwalk Trail.  I understand that cycling is banned on this trail but I didn’t see the sign so I went with plausible deniability and rode.

I rode around Nationals Park and spotted the bicycle valet sign for future use. Working across near southeast and southwest on I Street which was being repaved. Not a lot of fun but it got the job done. After riding past the fish market, I made my way to the 14th Street bridge into Virginia. Then it was down the Mount Vernon Trail to Old Town where I stopped at Perks for a cuppa joe.  I had the house medium roast with a blueberry muffin. Both were satisfactory. The leather sofa was much appreciated.

Up to this point, my ass was hurting. I checked my saddle and saw that it was developing a depression where my right sit bone was but not a corresponding one on the left. The reason for the asymmetry was the fact that the tip of the saddle was pointing between 12 and 1 o’clock, the result of my adjustment. I re-adjusted the saddle and was more comfortable right away. This could have been the result of sitting on a big sofa in Perks for a half an hour.Image

The ride home was my usual 12 mile per hour autopilot affair. The leaves on the MVT were still very wet and this made for some tense riding for about a mile.

When I got home, I checked the news. It appears that the government shutdown is all but over. Since this is my last day of sloth, I decided to mow the lawn.

Cofffeeneuring Stats:

Ride: Number 7

Place: Perks on North Fairfax Street near Old Town Alexandria

Drink: House medium roast (with a blueberry muffin)

Observation: Saddles should always point to 12 o’clock. Leather sofas are already broken in.

The 15th Day of Furloughmas: Coffeeneuring No. 6 – a Bait and Switch

Woke up. No work. Stumble and bumble about the house. Get me outta here.

I pulled The Mule out of the shed and headed for the site of the Wednesday Coffee Club: Best Buns in Shirlington. My route was a meander that included neighborhood streets, the Mount Vernon Trail, Old Town, Del Ray, and Arlandria. It was a lovely day out so there was no point in rushing. One reason for my slow pace was that I am getting used to my new saddle. Before starting out, I adjusted the saddle a bit by tilting the nose up just a tad. This will keep me from sliding forward on the slippery new leather.

After ten miles it was clear that this new saddle was going to take some getting used to. Having a firm, flat saddle under my butt was messing with my pedaling mechanics. Only one way to find out: pedal some more.

I stopped at Best Buns and was disappointed to see that their coffee was Starbucks. I’m not a fan, but I have to say that whatever roast they were serving was fine. I had a bacon cheddar scone with the coffee and it was pretty darn tasty.

The scone was better than the coffee
The scone was better than the coffee

After my coffeeneuring duties were done, I jumped on my bike and headed uphill into Fairlington, a planned community of row houses from decades ago. Not wanting to ride on busy Route 7, I turned and headed back downhill to Walter Reed Drive which took me to the W and OD trail. I’m getting sick of the W&OD so I decided to assault Mount Walter Reed. From the W&OD Walter Reed goes straight up. It goes so high that St Peter greets you at the top. Thanks to my granny gear I made it all the way without dying so St Peter gave me a pass for later use. I rode across Arlington and down to the Custis Trail which I took to the Key Bridge. It was so pretty along the river that a television cameraman was set up taking some footage of the twinking waters of the Potomac River below.

I rode with the cars and the buses and dodge a few pedestrians along M Street in Georgetown. Then more of the same on Pennsylvania Avenue. The plaza in front of the White House was open. I know the people who drive in DC hat that this stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue is closed but it sure makes for a great place for people to hang out.

The scone was wearing off so I headed for home. Down the 15th Street cycletrack to the 14th Street bridge. I did a bit of meandering along the Four Mile Run trail before heading across Del Ray to Old Town.  Having survived Walter Reed, I decided to take Fort Hunt Road which has a respectable hill. This one was no problem thanks, in part, to a tailwind. I was going to go 40 today, but my hunger got the best of me and I headed for home and some left over beef stroganoff.

After eating, I went into my basement and fetched a box for the trash. It contained all the award placards from my government career. After my parents dies, we were left with all kinds of memorabilia that meant something to them but were just stuff to us. So as a gift to my kids, I tossed my box of awards. They’ll get plenty of their own.

Box of Awards - Heave Ho!
Box of Awards – Heave Ho!

Coffeeneuring No. 6:

Place: Best Buns in Shirlington

Drink: Unspecified Starbucks with a splendid bacon and cheddar scone

Miles: 37

Observation: After the ride I lowered my saddle a touch which I hope will restore my mechanics.

Neither Rain, Nor Saddle Will Stay This Coffeeneur from the Swift Completion of His Caffeine Addiction

I check the weather. It was 58 degrees, a bit breezy, with a touch of mist in the air. Basically, it’s impossible to dress for this kind of crap. So I put on my shorts, a wicking shirt, and some wool socks, and topped it off with my Marmot Precip rain jacket and headed out to get The Mule.

At the last coffee club, Ed, founder of the coffee club and King of Espresso, took a hold of the top of my saddle and wiggled it. It sounded like it was about to fall apart.  What a shame. It’s a Brooks Flyer, a leather saddle with suspension springs. The leather is broken in like a well worn baseball glove. Unfortunately, the saddle is sagging in the middle, and the tensioning bolt is stripped. It’s kaput.

So the mission was to ride to Bicycle Space, a bike shop in DC that carries Brooks saddles.  No sooner had I put my feet on the pedals than the rain started. No longer mist, this was a steady soaking rain, great for lawns, lousy for fall bike rides.

I stopped, put my hood up underneath my helmet and pedaled away. The Mount Vernon Trail was slick with wet leaves so the going was slow and methodical. The rain let up, but the leaves still meant no quick stops or turns or there would be a quick fall. On the Dyke Marsh bridge, a 50-something cyclists on a road bike was peeling himself off the decking. He was okay; he just felt stupid for riding too fast on the slick boards. In Belle Haven Park, crocuses were in bloom. All this cold rain fooled them into thinking it was spring.

Along the trail just north of Old Town, a middle aged couple was walking, he on the right, she on the left. The came to an intersection and crossed. A bollard was situated in the middle of the trail in front of them. She steps to the left of the bollard directly into my path. I had my finger on my bell but he tugged her to the right side of the trail. I rolled past and heard him say, “Say something” to me. So I said, “Walk on the right” a decent enough retort as I didn’t use more colorful language or confront him.

The planes were taking off to the north meaning I had a head wind. So I ground away at 10 miles per hour, just right for rolling over the wet leaves and keeping the rubber side down. In the city I rode up 7th Street hitting red light after red light. Um, DC, it’s Sunday and the mall area is deserted. Set the lights to blinking, please.

I rode through Chinatown looking for Chinatown Coffee for my coffeeneuring fix. I couldn’t find it and did not have my smartphone to help me (it’s government issue and I am forbidden from using it). I continued on to Bicycle Space and bought the saddle. With a new saddle and its recently installed, The Mule has a completely different feel.

After my shopping stop, I rode over to Eastern Market and sat down for a cup of coffee and a scone. The coffee at Peregrine Espresso  was as good as I’ve had so far and the scone was delish. Back on the bike, I rode back to the MVT and headed for home. I ran into Ed, a friend from work, who is also furloughed. After the chat is was on to home with a ten mile ride around the perimeter of the Fort Hunt neighborhood and a stop at Sherwood Hall Gourmet for a Garry’s Lunchbox sammich.

At the end of the ride, I was left with one question: why does Peregrine spell it’s name with a schwa?

Coffee, Scone, and Schwa
Coffee, Scone, and Schwa

Coffeeneur No. 4:

Place: Peregrine Espresso at Eastern Market

Drink: House blend (Mexican) and a scone

Miles: 43

The 11th Day of Furloughmas: Friday Coffeeneuring Club

Last Friday, I slept in and missed the most heavily attended Friday Coffee Club. This Friday I would not be denied, even if it meant riding in the rain. So I was up and out of the house by 6:30 and headed to DC. It was DARK. Middle of the night DARK. I pedaled The Mule toward the circle of light cast by my Stella headlight. The mist made me regret wearing my rain pants but when it gave way to steady rain, my choice was vindicated.

It was good to see plenty of runners out on the Mount Vernon Trail. The marathon season is here and those last long training runs must be done. As every runner knows, there are not bad days for running. They sure looked soggy though.

The ride north was into an occasionally stiff headwind which really got my attention as I crossed the Potomac River on the 14 Street bridge. The rain was so steady that there was little need to reach down for my water bottle. From the bladder of the gods.

I took 17 Street to Friday Coffee Club because I did not know if White House Plaza which connects the 15th Street cycletrack to 17th was open. When I arrived at Swings a handful of folks were sitting at the outside tables which are protected from the rain.

It took a while but a decent number of people, ten or fifteen, gathered to chat. Jacques showed up with Hugo, the cutest one-year old boy on the planet. We (excepting Hugo who was busy eating Jacques’ muffin and some Cheerios) solved all the world’s problems in short order and lingered because most of us had no job to go to thanks to the government shutdown. Mary, Queen of Coffeeneuring, was anxious to get back to her government job. I tried to get her to be one with the furlough, to accept her nonessential fate, to embrace unpaid sloth. I am not sure I convinced her.

Hugo is my favorite coffeeneur
Hugo is my favorite coffeeneur

After a long linger, we went our separate ways. I actually participated in my first roll out, the tradition of riding east across White House Plaza. Ed, normally the roll out photographer declined to snap my picture, protecting his camera from the steady rain. I bid adieu to Ed and Mary at the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track and headed for home. Once back on the MVT I enjoyed a steady tailwind and a trail of my own all the way to Old Town. With each passing mile the rains increased in intensity until I was riding through a deluge.  Belle Haven Park had a decent number of runners slogging about. Runners are tough.

I rolled into home to find my house invaded by our cleaning service. I snuck in the back door and went down to the basement to take off all my wet things.  Once the crew left, I showered and sat down to another hard day of furloughing.

Coffeeneuring No. 4

Location: Swings House of Caffeine at 17th and G Streets NW, Washington DC

Drink: Colombian house brew. The best of the four coffeeneuring brews so far.

Miles: 28.5 (I think my new front tire short changed me by about a mile.)

Highlight: Hugo, the world youngest coffeeneur