Sunday, November 18, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018: Antisocial Coffee Outside

My 2018 Coffeeneuring season hasn't been going so well. Travel, lots of paid and bike advocacy work, and unseasonably cold temperatures have kept me from getting in my rides. It's the last week of the challenge, and I had only gotten three rides done.

Today, I had intended to again participate in the Madison Cranksgiving alley cat/food drive. But after several days of back-to-back social events, introvert-me needed a break from people. A fat bike ride on the Badger State Trail and #coffeeoutside seemed like the perfect no-people activity. It below freezing but sunny.

The trail was a mix of snow, ice, and dry patches so that I was happy to have chosen my Pugsley. Coffee spot was a nondescript location just off the trail near Belleville. On the menu was Lion Gold Roast that a colleague had brought back from a Hawaiian vacation, prepared in the Moka Express over my alcohol stove.

Distance: 43 km
State of mind: Reinvigorated
Notes: I don't like drinking fresh coffee out of my thermos; should bring regular mug next time.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018: Hood Canal

This coffeeneuring season has seen me traveling much more than usual. First Boston, and then last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Seattle for the first time. Even though November is he rainiest time of the year there, I was determined to get a long bike ride in. Bike rental options in Seattle were much more reasonable than what I had found in Boston. Instead of paying over $100 for a fancy road bike, I was able to find a budget gravel bike delivered to my hotel for less than $60. My plan was to retrace part of the route of the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting.

My bike was delivered by bike trailer at 9am. From Seattle, I took the ferry to Bremerton. The sky stood in stark division. South, there was sun and clear skies; north there were dark clouds and heavy rain. The ferry cut right through the middle, at times pounded on by the rain, at time sailing under the beautiful sun. By the time I disembarked in Bremerton, the weather was beautiful. It was clear enough to even catch a glimpse of the tall peaks of the Olympic mountains in the distance.

I navigated by cue sheet, missing a turn a mere 10 minutes into the ride, but once I was out of the city, navigation was easy After a good hour, I reached Belfair, at the far end of the Hood Canal. Suddenly there was a lot of traffic. On a two-lane road with narrow or no shoulders at all that was irritating. Since I was out of water anyway, I used the opportunity for a brief stop at Belfair State Park. A strong wind blew over the water from the west. What was bothersome for me as a westbound cyclist was great for the kite surfers at the park.
It planes!

Soon after I had left the park, traffic disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, for no apparent reason. The road now hugged the northern shoreline of the Hood Canal. This made for a stunning ride experience.  
My only complaints now were the continuing stiff headwind and the equally stiff sidewalls of my tires. My rental bike had 28-millimeter-tires of the stiffest variety. And so the vibrations from the rough road surface were transmitted straight into my body. In Wisconsin we have roads with potholes and buckles from winter's freeze-and-thaw cycles. But we do not have these long stretches of coarse chip seal surface that made me yearn for wide, supple tires.

After reaching the Tahuya River, my route took me inland. From looking at the elevation profile, I knew that I was up for a tough climb. And indeed, Belfair–Tahuya Road delivered. The climb has an average grade over 10%, and I was happy that at least it was short. Once on top, the reward was a view of the Olympic mountains through tall trees. The road turned into a fun roller coaster, albeit a roller coaster with very rough tracks. 
"To the wall, keep left"
Reward for the climb
Tired body, happy mind
Shortly before I would rejoin the shore, I decided to turn right on Elfendahl Pass Road. On the topo map the road had looked promising: dense contour lines on both sides, and the road following a stream. The map hadn't lied, and this stretch of road was amazing.
Lined by tall trees and lush undergrowth, a gurgling creek accompanying me on the windy, leaf-covered road.
Effendahl Pass Road

To get back to Bremerton, I retraced the route I had come in on. I made it to the ferry terminal just in time to catch the 4:30pm ferry. To make it a proper coffeeneuring trip, I bought coffee and a beer in the ferry's galley. “That's the best combo,” the person at the check-out remarked, and I couldn't have agreed more!

Every bike ride should end with a ferry passage!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018: To the Limits of Bike Share

My wife is spending the year in Cambridge, MA. I'm visiting for a week, and so there was a great opportunity for some easy wins for my "coffee shops I haven't been to before" theme. The only problem: I don't have a bike here. I do, however, have a membership to the Bluebikes bike share sytem. For my Sunday coffeeneuring excursion, I looked at the bike share system map and picked the station that was as away as possible:

It looked like the station at the terminus of the Red Line in Mattapan would qualify. Next I had to find a coffee shop in the vicinity. A quick search didn't look too promising, but after zooming out a bit I found a place called Flat Black Coffee. Unfortunately, it was 1.7 miles from the Bluebikes station. But there seemed to be a trail along the Neponset River connecting the two, and so I decided to make it a multimodal coffeeneuring experience.

Best road section: South Road on the outer perimeter of the Harvard Arboretum
My intermediate destination: Bluebikes station in Mattapan
Neponset River trail
Fall colors are still in their early stages

Dorchester-Milton Lower Mills Industrial District
Daily Brew at Flat Black -- I somehow wasn't in the mood for anything more fancy
Lots of beans waiting to be roasted at Flat Black

Neponset River trail near its estuary
Instead of walking back to Mattapan, I continued along the river and picked up a bike another 1.5 miles east. From there, I biked toward the ocean and then roughly headed north back home, with a bunch of intermediate stops: Flipping bikes several times; bathroom stop at Pope John Paul II park; guac burger at By Chloe; buy new tube for Nicole's Brommie at Broadway Bicycle School; beer at Lamplighter Brewing. At the end of the ride, I was pretty pooped. 30-ish miles on a bike share bike is hard work!

JFK Presidential Library

Crust Lightning Bolt sighting in front of Broadway Bicycle School. First time I've seen it in real-life, and man, is it nice!

Stats: 11 separate Bluebikes rentals, for a total of about 30 miles
Coffee: Flat Black daily brew
Weather: Excellent fall weather!