Sunday, November 10, 2013

Coffeeneuring – Oh where, oh where, has my little blog gone?

I’m tempted to sing that pathetic Willie Nelson excuse-for-an-apology to my blog: “you were always on my mind.” I’ve been traveling a lot the past two months and, ideally – the more I travel, the more I blog. But while my blog may have been on my mind, my fingers failed to hit the keyboard and, like Willie and his neglected lover, “I just didn’t take the time.” So I’m using the coffeeneuring challenge to catch up on my travels…even though some of them don’t include a hot beverage and others don’t include a bike.

September 19-20: It all began in Boston. No, not the American Revolution…my autumn travels. A business trip took me to Brookline. On my cab ride from Logan airport I was delighted to see a sign warning riders to LOOK FOR BIKES before getting out of the taxi. But the highlight of the trip was my first – yes, unbelievably my first – bike share experience as I took a joyride using the Hubway. Also, I want to give a shout out to Rani Bistro – which served up one of the most delicious meals of my life at a very reasonable price. If you’re in the Boston area – head to Coolidge Corner with a hearty appetite for modern Mumbai food.

Great to see this warning sign in the taxi

Hubway bike share

 October 3-4: Next stop Charleston, West Virginia. Again mixing business with pleasure, I tacked some time onto my trip to see cousin-in-law Ethan Murrow’s art exhibit at the Clay Center for the Arts. Seeing his work in photos or on the web is impressive, but nothing compared to experiencing it in person! My disappointment about Charleston was being unable to find a rental bike. The small downtown was walkable everywhere and I visited the farmer’s market in an old train station, used the public library (which had all the books I needed for a school project), and found a really nice independent book store – Taylor Books. 

Beautiful produce at the farmers market

 October 5: Back home, I biked to Saturday morning Pilates and treated myself to a post-workout soy chai latte and stress reduction foot soak at Arlington’s House of Steep. Delicious chai, aromatic but pricey foot soak, 5 miles round trip. (Coffeeneur #1)

House of Steep - delicious soy chai latte

 October 10-14: Birthday weekend took me to Philly – first with book group for an outing to the Barnes museum (yes, worth a visit), then with Ruth to the Magic Gardens (also worth a visit) in hip south Philly which had a cool vintage clothing shop, anarchist bookstore, and her friend’s son’s brand new (we were there on day 10) OX Coffee, already bustling with patrons and soon to add a performance space for music. I had coffee, but didn’t get there by bike.

Magic Gardens - lots of bike wheels

As members of the book group left for their respective homes, I met up with the Cycling Yogi to celebrate my birthday. On Saturday, we rode from his Mount Airy home to InFusion, a funky, indie shop on Germantown Avenue, where the atmosphere was great, but they totally messed up my request for a soy chai latte (about 2.5 miles round trip – coffeeneur #2). I got a truly wretched concoction of weak tea and had to go back to ask for the soy part, with disappointing results. But they get points for being a vegan/vegetarian cafĂ© and art space. More important, the Cycling Yogi didn’t disappoint, fulfilling all my birthday wishes on Sunday.

October 19-23: Off to Santa Fe – again mixing in a hearty dose of pleasure with another business trip. I had no problem finding a rental bike; it was finding my breath at the 9,000 foot elevation that was the problem. I arrived on a Saturday, dropped my bags at my hotel and walked to Mellow Velo (do you love it?) for a sturdy and comfortable mountain bike hybrid. Riding back to the hotel on level ground I was panting a bit. After a good night’s sleep, I got up to a freezing morning. I layered up and biked to Downtown Subscription for an hour with the New York Times and an unremarkable cup of coffee. By then I was ready to hit the Canyon Road trail where I was glad to have those big tires for my white knuckled descent on a dirt road. Total miles – about 8 (coffeeneur #3); felt more like 12 with my labored breathing. The next day I was more acclimated and took a longer ride on the Rail Trail toward the desert, then turning off on the Arroyo de los Chamisos trail so that I could stay on a paved route.

The mellow fellow at Mellow Velo

mediocre coffee at Dwontown Subscription
The Santa Fe desert

October 25-26: Back to Philly for a short-but-sweet visit to the Cycling Yogi and my next coffeeneur (#4) – this time biking to The Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. (round trip 6 miles) and an overly sweet hot chocolate. The highlight of the trip was learning from another patron that the tiny hole in my tights had split wide open (nope, no underwear) necessitating a quick wrap of my jacket around my waist. Fortunately the day had warmed up sufficiently that I didn’t need to wear the jacket in the traditional manner and thus the world was spared the embarrassing (yes – in this case it’s the perfect word) look at my bare ass.

Smiling - before I realized I had a big hole in my tights

November 2: This is when I realized that I had misread the coffeeneuring rules. I had thought I couldn’t record more than one trip in a weekend and was baffled by people crowing about having finished the challenge. It was a perfect bike day so again, after Pilates, I rode for a treat – this time to Java Shack in Clarendon (8 miles round trip – coffeeneur #5) – which not only has its own bike corral, but knows how to make a delicious soy chai latte (obviously my drink of choice). Sitting at an outdoor table, even with the previous week’s City Paper for reading material, was mighty fine for November.

Outstanding soy chai latte

Convenient bike corral at Java Shack

November 9-10: I knew it would be a challenge to finish up my last two coffeeneuring stops this weekend, as I had a full schedule. The Cycling Yogi was here and we lingered overlong in bed on Saturday, solving the world’s problems. Too late for early Pilates, we cycled to Northside Social where I had a redeye and he had hot chocolate (coffeeneur #6 – 7 miles round trip). We had to drink fast, so we could cycle back to late Pilates. I was able to resist the amazing looking baked goods only because I was headed to 75 minutes of strenuous stomach crunching – not a good combination with a giant muffin, I decided.

so-so redeye

The Cycling Yoga

Sunday, however, was the challenge. I teach yoga from 9-12 Sunday mornings and had theater plans immediately afterwards. I knew I would get home too late to want to bike anywhere in the dark. I had placed the requirement on myself that I visit only independent coffee shops – no Starbucks, Caribou, Cosi, etc. – so the nearby options were either out of bounds or didn’t open until 9 a.m. As luck would have it, Rappahannock in south Arlington – an 11 mile round trip ride – opens at 7 a.m. – even on Sunday. I got there by 7:30, had a chai, burned my lip, and biked back home by 8:30 – in time for a quick shower and off to yoga.

Thank you to Rappahannock for opening early on Sunday

So, I’ve neglected my blog, but succeeded at the coffeeneuring challenge – enjoying the perfect crisp autumn biking weather, comparing the hot beverages (top marks for chai latte go to House of Steep and Java Shack), and – when I decide I need a treat – Northside Social will definitely be the place…so long as it’s after Pilates.