Monday, November 28, 2016

Coffeeneuring ride 7: #coffeeoutside on the Glacial Drumlin Trail

For what could have been the final ride to complete this year's coffeeneuring challenge, I decided to get in an instance of #coffeeoutside, that is make my own coffee somewhere in the outdoors. As my wrist continued to feel better, a longer ride seemed in order, and I headed toward Lake Mills, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Madison.
Patching my spare tube, after the flat on the previous ride
 A large proportion of the ride is on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, but first you have to ride some nice-ish country roads to the trailhead in Cottage Grove. Eventually the trail will be extended all the way into Madison, but that will still be a few years.

Mini horses near Cottage Grove

On the trail
It had been raining a lot over the past week. I had read reports of other bike trails around Madison being very soggy or even flooded. But the Glacial Drumlin turned out to be in fine condition.
Koshkonong Creek had high waters
 Shortly before reaching Lake Mills, I passed two cyclists with camping gear, maybe headed to the Sand Hill Station campground, where the SO and had done an S24O earlier in the season.
Rock Lake
The plan was to first ride to the Tyranena Brewing tasting room, have a beer, and then make my coffee on the way back to Madison.
Warm enough to sit outside at Tyranena...
On the way to Lake Mills I had kept my eyes open for good coffee spots and decided on a bench with a pretty view of wetlands. Thousands of birds provided a wonderful soundtrack to complement the gurgling of my Bialetti Moka Express. Even the coffee itself was bike themed: Just Coffee Co-op had given out sampler packs of their Revolution Roast at a cyclocross race. The coffee is named for Revolution Cycles, a great local coffee shop. And while the coffee itself is a little too dark for my liking, it made a good fit for this #coffeeoutside adventure. As a side note, The Bialetti works great as an outdoor coffee maker. It happens to fit perfectly into the pot stand I made ages ago out of a illy coffee can, and with a capillary hoop alcohol stove it will make coffee pretty quickly. The coffeemaker is certainly not the lightest, but for coffee-centered trips where weight is not the highest priority, I really like this combination.

The days have gotten shorter

Almost back home
This was a wonderful ride to complete the coffeeneuring challenge, and I'm really glad I participated in the challenge this year. We had an uncharacteristically warm fall this year, but still there were days where maybe I wouldn't have gone out hadn't it been for the challenge. And it also encouraged me to seek out some new coffee destinations in an around Madison. I did a few more coffeeneuring rides in the meantime and may blog about them. But the submission deadline for the challenge is just around the corner, and so I had to write up my official entries first! See you again next year, and always be coffeeneuring!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Coffeeneuring ride 6: Coffee & 'Cross, Sun Prairie edition

Minimalist cue sheet
After my incidental coffeeneuring ride to the 'cross race in Verona, this time around the combination of cyclocross and coffee was more deliberate. The Sun Prairie Cup was on the calendar, and my friend Jacob was going to race again. The weather was forecast to be amazing again, and so I headed out to Sun Prairie. I'd never been out there before and wasn't quite sure what kind of riding to expect. Well, first I caught a flat while still in Madison–note to self: buy rebuild kit for Topeak Road Morph pump...–followed by some mediocre riding through the 'burbs. 

Flat :-(
Once I was past the interstate, though, traffic volumes went down and enjoyment went up. Having a strong tailwind probably didn't hurt either. Once in Sun Prairie I rode past Sheehan Park (the venue for the race) and headed downtown. Whereas Sun Prairie had a very suburban feel, they do have a little downtown core with dense-ish multifamily housing and newer mixed-use buildings. One of those buildings is home to "Beans'n Cream Coffeehouse," my coffeeneuring destination. 

Downtown Sun Prairie fall colors
While the whole shop was decorated with various kinds of fancy coffee-making implements (Haros, Chemexes, ....), the brewed coffee that they served was nothing to write home about. The atmosphere is nice, though, and the food looked good.

Just in time for my friend Jacob's start in the singlespeed category, I made it over to the race. The course was quite cool and the barely rideable "party hill" made for a great spot for spectators. If you care about the actual race results, here's a write-up.

"Party Hill"

For the way home I took a different route (now riding straight into the wind...). Shortly before reaching the bike path along US-151, I spotted a promising sign:

Of course, I had to go explore! The road started out as double-track, which gradually disappeared and turned into an overgrown goat path. It was passable enough, though, and eventually led back to the bike path. Cool little adventure detour!

Adventure detour