We Love Coffeeneuring: A Talk with Four-Time Coffeeneur John R. in #BikeDC

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portajohn:

Hey look – I was interviewed about coffee and beer!

Originally posted on chasing mailboxes :

The final weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge approaches, and as part of the final week festivities I took the opportunity to chat with four-time challenge finisher John of #BikeDC.

You may know John from Twitter (@dirteng) or through his blog, Portajohn. John used concepts from the Coffeeneuring Challenge and created a beer and bikes challenge known as the Brewvet. (The Brewvet is a springtime challenge so you have plenty of time to practice up for it.)

A cyclist, coffeeneur, and explorer, John loves to combine bikes and coffee whenever he can (unless he’s opting for a craft beer instead). We recently talked about the appeal and expansion of the Coffeeneuring Challenge as well as other bikes ‘n coffee-related topics.

Coffeeneuring John 1

1. You were 1 of only 12 people who completed the Coffeeneuring Challenge in its first year. What attracted you to it, and why do you think coffeeneuring…

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Biking and Beer – A Problem?

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CityLab (of The Atlantic) recently posted a summary of a Governors Highway Safety Association study indicating an increase in cycling fatalities by 16 percent, and linking this with an increased amount of “BUI” (biking under the influence).

While statistics are often easily manipulated or misinterpreted – the article does point out a real problem with real consequences. The next steps are to identify the true cause and potential solutions to the increase in both cycling fatalities and BUI – causes that likely extend beyond superficial observations. On the BUI side, I’ll admit that there are times when I have stopped myself after a night out and realized that it isn’t safe to bike home. It is never good to even get to that point of decision making, instead plan ahead and take Metro or a cab.

More to the point, though: People aren’t just cyclists or motorists. They’re rarely one or the other exclusively. Especially in cities today, car-sharing options turn people who don’t own cars into occasional drivers. It’s in cities that the majority of fatal crashes involving cyclists occur (69 percent, according to the study). And it’s in cities that people—not cyclists or drivers, but people—continue to regularly make bad decisions regarding alcohol and transportation.

There is no easy answer to these complicated issues. The above point from the article explains perfectly one of the ways that things get complex – transportation mode is fluid, and rarely is there a person who commits to one, and only one, mode.  We switch between modes for a variety of reasons. Which begs the question – why are there times when the idea of getting on a bike and riding home sometimes doesn’t raise an alarm flag – when at the same time the idea of getting behind a wheel is abhorrent.

Thoughts? Make a comment and let’s start a conversation. Whether or not you agree with the GHSA study or the CityLab article, it is worthwhile to make sure we all think about the dangers of being on the streets while drunk, and hopefully the next time you get behind the wheel or on the saddle after a night out you take a moment to assess if you are making an unsafe decision.

Safe travels and keep the rubber side down.

6

The 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge

It’s hard to believe that the annual coffeeneuring challenge has been around for four years now. Over times the rides, the cups, the baked goods – they all blend into one big blur.  Fortunately, chief coffeeneur Mary has kept everything organized and the “sport” has grown tremendously.

I’ll be explaining my personal thoughts about what has driven the success of the challenge, and why I am drawn to the event in a post coming out soon – but it should be no surprise that coffeeneuring is synonymous with exploring. In that spirit, I purposely sought out never before explored shops in the DC area to complete my seven stops this year. Let’s explore them below:

Control #1: Caboose Cafe

When: October 4, 2014

Where: 2419 Mt Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA

What: Espresso

Miles: 15.9

Factoid: We stopped into Del Ray (a new favorite neighborhood) to check out Art on the Avenue. Mount Vernon Avenue was jam-packed with folks checking out the many vendors in attendance. If you haven’t been to Del Ray yet, I highly recommend.

Bike Parking: :star: Bike rack s nearby, but not super convenient.

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Control #2: Bullfrog Bagels

When: October 5, 2014

Where: 1341 H St NE, Washington, D.C. ‎

What: Small black coffee (Zekes of DC)

Miles: 2.8

Factoid: I broke my promise never to come back to “Star & Shamrock” on H Street NE when Bullfrog Bagels opened up as a side-project in their space earlier this fall. The bagels, while much better than most in the DC area, are still not quite “New York” level. While waiting for an eternity to get our bagels, I was able to bide my time with a delicious hot cup of Zekes coffee. Yum.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: :star: Bike rack right out front.

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Control #3: Pret a Manger (Union Station)

When: October 18, 2014

Where: Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. ‎

What: Double Espresso.

Miles: 3.1

Factoid: To some degree, this was my “phone it in” coffeeneuring adventure of the season. In reality, it was a test ride to see how my hand would hold up to bike rides. The previous night I burned it in pretty amazing fashion while cooking dinner. Tender, blistered, but able to make it work. This is my favorite coffee in Union Station, but go elsewhere for baked goods.

Bike Parking: :star: Ample bike parking at Union Station – thought parts of your bike may be missing when you return.

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Control #4: District Doughnut

When: October 19, 2014

Where: 749 8th St SE, Washington, D.C.

What: Small black coffee and a sweet potato donut.

Miles: We’ll say 2.2 – which is the distance from my apartment and back. But this location kickstarted a 100+ mile ride that is a kinda-sorta organized but not century.

Factoid: I prefer donuts to doughnuts. I also prefer my donuts to be reasonably sweet, not stomach turning excessively sweet. Lastly, I prefer to pay less than $3 for a donut. Alas, doughnuts are apparently sweeter and more expensive. The coffee – from Compass Coffee – is really good.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: :star: Bike racks and signposts on sidewalk. Generally available.

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Control #5: Compass Coffee

When: October 26, 2014

Where: 1535 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.

What: Double Espresso

Miles: 26.0

Factoid: Compass is a new roastery in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Inside is light and casual, though seating is limited. The coffee however, is rapidly becoming a favorite.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: Two stars for apparent safety, but severe lack of places to sling a lock on.

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Control #6: Culture Coffee

When: November 1, 2014

Where: 709 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC

What: Espresso. Lemon Pound Cake.

Miles: 18.8

Factoid: I discovered this place while confirming a route to 3 Stars Brewery. Located on a commercial strip that needs some real help, this is a pleasant neighborhoodly place. The folks inside lived nearby and were so friendly and talkative. Our friends just moved nearby – I’ve already recommended they stop in and make friends with the proprietor.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: Two stars for having a rack right outside, but nothing more because it is the fattest diameter tubing I’ve ever seen. Bring a BIG u-lock.

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Control #7: Killer E.S.P.

When: November 2, 2014

Where: 1012 King St, Alexandria, VA

What: Double Espresso. Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche.

Miles: 37.7

Factoid: Wow. E = espresso. S = sorbet. P = pie.  The espresso is pretty good (Stumptown), but the real winner here is the food. Pie from Dangerously Delicious, and empanadas  – wow. Add in baked sweet treats. It’s no wonder this place was packed the entire time I was there.  Hint, we got some super spicy salsa verde with the empanada we ordered. I put it on the spinach and goat cheese quiche. It was awesome.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: :star: Three stars for having an empty rack only a few steps from the door (and it was quite easy to lock to) but honestly – a few more wouldn’t hurt.

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2014 100 Mile of Nowhere Recap: Burned Hands and Change of Plans

The Fatcyclist.com 100 Miles of Nowhere is a “must do” event for me every year. I’m convinced that I love the reaction of people when they realize I am riding a really long distance in ridiculously short laps. Yes friends, normally predictable John is slightly unhinged.

The premise of the 100MoN is something akin to a combination of those “choose your adventure” video games we played on Apple IIe computers as kids, blended with a Groundhog Day repetitiveness and finished with a dash of cycling.  Pay the man some cash as a donation to Camp Kesem, pick a course – preferably one that is challenging and includes some elements of suffering – then ride it for 100 miles.

I eagerly awaited the opening of registration, fearful that this year will be the year the secret gets out and the event sells out faster than a Beyoncé concert. But alas, Fatty is no Beyoncé (yet), I was #86 of 500 registered.

Planning

One would assume that with over three months to plan my ride I would have all sorts of elaborate route maps and cues. In reality I used last Thursday to daydream up a route that I was sure would be vaguely shaped like a slice of pie (it wasn’t). The route would be interspersed with stops to purchase and eat pie or pie-like products.

Mile 4.2: Breakfast quiche at Baked & Wired,

Mile 20: Tart at Le Vie France,

Mile 47.5: Pie at Mom’s Apple Pie Bakery,

Mile 71: Pie at Pie Gourmet

Mile 92: Pie at Dangerously Delicious Pies

original route

It seemed so perfect! Sure I was a few miles short – but I would make that up somehow. On Friday evening I prepped my bike and decided to make a nice healthy dinner to fuel up. Bad Idea. Eating healthy almost derailed my entire 100MoN.

Looking forward to my pie filled day, I absentmindedly grabbed a pan that only a minute earlier I had pulled from a 450 degree oven. It took a few milliseconds for the pain to set in, but it lasted for hours. I actually fell asleep for the night with my hand in a bowl of ice water, dejected, knowing that I would not be riding the next day.

Change of Plans

By Saturday evening things looked and felt mostly back to normal, though braking and shifting were difficult with my tender fingers. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the 20 miles of dirt paths I had planned for my decidedly non-pie shaped route – but I knew I could easily return to Hains Point, where I rode my first 100MoN. If the pain was too much I could find a way home, tail between legs. Thirty laps would be just about right. We ride on Sunday.

The morning came, I slept through my alarm clock, but eventually I awoke to a cold gray day. I could hear the wind rustling leaves off the nearby trees, but thought nothing of it. I was instead focused on a stop for coffee and donuts on my ride to Hains Point. Should I have one, or two donuts. Fancy style, or plain style. Heck – why not both!

Pumpkin Pie donut, with candied maple topping. Who needs energy bars!?

Pumpkin Pie donut, with candied maple topping. Who needs energy bars!?

Now, there isn’t much exciting about riding 30 (ok, I caved and only rode 29) laps around Hains Point. In fact, I saw many of the same thing things oh… approximately 29 times. Instead, I recorded my thoughts on my phone every few laps to see my progression from mostly sane, to completely broken.  Here’s my lap by lap summary:

1: Oh yeah those donuts were good. I should get more.
2: Hey that Hyperlapse thing sounds neat, they should make Hypolapse too. Hmm, it’s windy.
3: I think I can learn which spots are windiest, and soft pedal there to conserve energy for later.
4: Nope, bad strategy. But hey there fellow riding near my pace, I’m going to nestle in behind your wheel, m’kay?
5: What’s going on, you’re slowing and talking to me? Why yes, it is windy – hence my wheel suckage. Oh, you’ve gotten in 3 laps and you’re leaving?! I no longer like you.
6: I can do this on my own. I’ve ridden harder than this. Yeah. Mmmm, these Gu Roctanes are tasty.
7 to 10: Acquired and then successfully exorcised a weird earbug (The Mountain Goats: The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton)
11: Ok this wind is getting really really annoying. And I’m sort of cold.  Should I quit?
12: No. No quitting. That’s quitter talk fool. If I’m still cold at lap 15 I’ll ride home and get warmer clothes, but then I’ll come back. (Coincidentally, I had just read the following tweet):

13: This wind blows.
14: You know what – lunch is a great meal. I like lunch so much I would have it every meal of the day. I should get lunch.
15: This lunch is going to be amazing. And a the energy I get. Time will fly. I’m 15 laps in on 30. I must be 75% done.
16: They call that a grilled ham and cheese? For 8 bucks?! It looked and tasted like you wiped the bread on your freshly sealed parking lot. Blech
17: mmm that was a good grilled cheese.
18: Hey that lady is waving at me. Hey. That’s my wife. Everyone, my wife came to visit. This is great!
19: Heck yes let’s ride another lap together. Yeah. The wind is horrible. But I’m on lap 19, so I’m like 85% of the way right? Or… 58%. Uh. Yeah. That wind sucks.
20: I miss my wife. Maybe she’ll come back for more laps?
21: Single digits remaining! I can do it.
22: I hate this wind
23: I mean really really hate the wind. I hate all the air.
24: This wind is my worst enemy. Hey dude on the carbon fiber track bike with aero bars, your bike is making awful noises.
25: 5 more laps. Or is that 6. Or 4. I hate you wind.
26: Hey broken grinding track bike dude. You’re getting on my nerves. List of enemies: a) wind b) you c) wind.
27: Three! Or four? Definitely less than 5 laps to go! I would give away many things for the wind to stop
28: Is the wind stopping? No. It’s me. I’m riding at 8 mph. I might puke.
29: Ok. If I ride a long way home I’ll just barely get 100 miles. I think. 94.5 plus 2.5. That’s over 100 right? Oh come on wind. Just give up. I’m taking my things and going home. You’re not invited to my birthday this year.

Torture

Torture

I made it. More mentally anguished than physically, but I made it. The helpful folks at National Airport, across the Potomac River from my route recorded average sustained wind speeds of 15 mph during my ride, occasionally up to 28 mph. Gusts were even friendlier – up to 36 mph.

Of course I’ll ride again next year. I should recover from my newly developed aversions to hot metal and wind by February 2015.  Oh, and I won’t feel so bad about cutting out a lap. I mean, look at this GPS record – it’s totally cutting corners on me!

Stolen Miles

Stolen Miles

Thanks Fatty.

48 Hours in Minneapolis

Minneapolis – you surprised me. I suppose now in hindsight the statistics and evidence is there to show that there is a very high bike mode share – but that is only one part of the picture. Amazing bike accommodations, from bike boulevards with auto-traffic calming measures to numerous greenways that serve both recreational and utilitarian needs. The city is flush with park space, much of it abutting the Mississippi River of one of the many lakes – and waterfront access is preserved for the public, not rich land owners. The light rail system is efficient and helps for when you need a break from pedaling. The craft beer and food scene is unexpectedly vibrant. There is great architecture and museums as well.

Here are some photos from my recent weekend trip to the City of Lakes.

Our disjointed bike journeys.

Our disjointed bike journeys.

Nice Ride bikeshare system made getting around very easy.

Nice Ride bikeshare system made getting around very easy.

The large markings don't do much by themselves, but the tactical improvements (curb bulb outs, restricting through auto traffic, etc.) made for pleasant biking on many cross town bike arterials.

The large markings don’t do much by themselves, but the tactical improvements (curb bulb outs, restricting through auto traffic, etc.) made for pleasant biking on many cross town bike boulevards.

Failed Nice Ride Panda

Failed Nice Ride Panda

A stop for espresso is a must when the skies threaten rain. And rain it did!

A stop for espresso is a must when the skies threaten rain. And rain it did!

A lap along Lake Harriet after the rain.

A lap along Lake Harriet after the rain.

Lake Harriet

Lake Harriet

Of course we snuck in a few brewvet stops. There were many very good breweries in town.

Of course we snuck in a few brewvet stops. There were many very good breweries in town.

All the multi-use paths were wide, with well defines spaces for all users. Compared to the Mount Vernon Trail here in metro-DC, this was pure luxury.

All the multi-use paths were wide, with well defines spaces for all users. Compared to the Mount Vernon Trail here in metro-DC, this was pure luxury.

Howdy.

Howdy.

The Mighty Mississippi, as seen from the Stone Arch Bridge.

The Mighty Mississippi, as seen from the Stone Arch Bridge.

The Stone Arch Bridge, converted for bike and pedestrian use is a real gem. Good use of materials to define "who should be where" make things very walk and bike friendly

The Stone Arch Bridge, converted for bike and pedestrian use is a real gem. Good use of materials to define “who should be where” make things very walk and bike friendly

Another brewvet stop.

Another brewvet stop.

Minnehaha Falls, easy access by bike or LRT. Amazing public restaurant serving great beers, local ice cream, and some spectacular seafood. The line was out the door.  Picnics, walking trails - the park was spectacular.

Minnehaha Falls, easy access by bike or LRT. Amazing public restaurant serving great beers, local ice cream, and some spectacular seafood. The line was out the door. Picnics, walking trails – the park was spectacular.

Sometimes we walked.

Sometimes we walked.

Another view of the Mississippi

Another view of the Mississippi

 

Tour de Cure Thank You

On Sept 27th we held the inaugural DC Tour de Cure to support the American Diabetes Association. We closed roads, we signed up over 850 riders, and we raised nearly $350,000. It took about 18 months of hard planning to get this event off the ground, but I feel so thrilled that we did it.  Next year can only get better!

Much thanks to Team Imagine, my family, and Kate for supporting the efforts and planning process. Our team raised $5,030 – over $500 per person! Amazing. What a day. Thanks to everyone who donated to our cause.

The family, aka "Team Imagine"

The family, aka “Team Imagine”

Oregon Adventure Part 6

Welcome to the final installation of our Oregon Adventure Previous entries can be found at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

The big adventures were over (well, mostly) after Bend.  The remainder of our trip consisted of a day in Hood River, and three days in Portland. But you know what, all that I am going to tell you about Portland is that we spent most of our time effortlessly navigating the city on bikes, exploring neighborhoods, breweries and other fun shops. Since it is a rather large city, with five distrinct quadrants – I recommend that you explore at your own pace to really get a feel for it.

Hood River, on the other hand, was pretty neat.  First of all, coming from the south we encountered some amazing terrain, high prairie, canyons, old pine forests, and finally Mt. Hood itself. The car ride was great fun!

Deer and Antelope playgrounds.

Deer and Antelope playgrounds.

Upon arriving we found the place innundated with kite boarders and wind surfers. A sight I never expected, but apparantly the Columbia River Valley is like a wind tunnel. We stopped at Pfriem Family Brewers for a beer and snack before planning our day and settling in for the night.

Drinking a beer only feet from its fermentation tank. Now that's fresh!

Drinking a beer only feet from its fermentation tank. Now that’s fresh!

The next morning we made a mandatory stop at 10 Speed Coffee, for some delicious beans and breakfast, then in planning our day we realized we were at their “small” location, so we packed up and drove to the “big” location to continue the planning.  Yes, we are weird.  The plan ended up like this, Kate would do some shopping while I made an excursion into Washington state to climb a mountain (and check off that state on my “I’ve bike here” list), then we would meet up and ride the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail – an old highway converted to an amazing bike trail, with views of the Gorge. The plan worked perfectly, and it was a great way to cap off our biking adventures for the trip.

10 Speed Coffee. Hood River, OR

10 Speed Coffee. Hood River, OR

The views about 2/3 from the top of my WA climb. Mt Hood is hiding in the background.

The views about 2/3 from the top of my WA climb. Mt Hood is hiding in the background.

A view from the top of my climb in WA.

A view from the top of my climb in WA.

Setting out on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Setting out on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Hootin and hollerin through the twin tunnels!

Hootin and hollerin through the twin tunnels!

Amazing views from the side of the trail.

Amazing views from the side of the trail.

Hood River, OR and White Salmon, WA

Hood River, OR and White Salmon, WA

Oh, and last but not least. On our way into Portland we stopped at Multnomah Falls and hiked to the top.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

And that about wraps it up.  More adventures await, and I look forward to sharing them with you.