All My Favorite Things

•November 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 7

IMG_0640WHERE: Sugar Shack [804 N Henry Street, Alexandria VA 22314]

www.sugarshackdmv.com

WHEN: Saturday, 18 November 2017

WHAT I DRANK: Zeke’s latte, with a Lucky Charms donut

WHY GO: You like a good sugar coma?

HOW FAR: 18.7 mile loop (Strava link)

For the record, donuts were not my idea.

I had hoped to visit a place in north Arlington that specializes in beignets, because fried dough and powdered sugar are the appropriate way to bribe my sweetie Peter into coming with me. However, his daughter Sophie wanted to join us (they ride the tandem together) and we agreed on a shorter route closer to their neighborhood. We met up in Del Ray, and I let them choose the destination.

So, a donut covered in glaze and Lucky Charms just counts as cereal for breakfast, right?!? [Ahem.] The latte made with good strong Zeke’s espresso was just the antidote I needed.

We averted the oncoming sugar coma with a ride through Old Town Alexandria to the Jones Point Lighthouse.  My favorite spot, with my favorite people, doing one of my favorite activities.  Fitting for my last installment of Coffeeneuring 2017.

IMG_0648

Red velvet donut and Ridge Supply socks FTW

Lingering at the lighthouse, I declared it was once again Great Socks Day, garnering particular admiration from Sophie who likes anything pink.  (I actually detest wearing pink, but those socks are just too good to resist.)  We chatted with another couple about bike touring on tandems.

From there, headwinds be damned, we rode over Wilson Bridge and down to National Harbor where we strolled around town and took in the sights. Christmas decorations were already up, people were watching movies on the green while huddled in blankets, someone dressed like a Disney princess walked around on stilts, and The Awakening guy was still trying to claw his way out of the sand. We poached an elevator to the 16th floor of the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center for great views of DC and Alexandria.

Sophie got hungry again, so Peter treated us to lunch at Nando’s Peri Perimuch healthier. After which it was starting to get cold and dark was already descending, so we flew back across the bridge and parted for home. It wouldn’t feel right to finish the Coffeeneuring season without at least one ride with Peter (even though he hates coffee), this was a day I enjoyed more than most.

Advertisements

Wafle Shop

•November 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 6

IMG_0621WHERE: Wafle Shop [3864 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305]

WHEN: Friday, 17 November 2017

WHAT I DRANK: Regular coffee, with a waffle, eggs and bacon

WHY GO: All charm, open all day, counter seating

HOW FAR: 2.9 mile loop (Strava link)

Curiosity finally won.

After living in Arlandria (unofficial name of the corner between south Arlington and the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria) over a year, I’d passed this little diner dozens of times without stopping.  Coffeeneuring is the perfect excuse to explore places like this  and who wouldn’t be curious about a shop with a misspelled sign on its front awning?!?

Needing to chalk up two more rides near the end of the 2017 season, I hastily made a plan to visit Wafle Shop pre-dawn so I could squeeze it into a day full of dependencies.  I half expected to be alone, but I posted on my local bike forum with no more than half a day’s notice, and three people actually showed up!  Bike commuter friends are the best.

Wafle Shop only has counter seating indoors, with capacity for maybe a dozen (?) people. I suspect locals like it that way.  Seats were about half full with blue-collar types, and one woman who looked old enough to be retired but said she comes every day for breakfast before work.  (She later wondered out loud why I was taking pictures of my food. Busted!)

I ordered regular coffee, which wasn’t half bad, and a waffle (it seemed like a must-do) with two eggs and bacon.  The food was excellent.  Our counter seats directly faced the grill, and there’s just something homey about watching your food happen while talking sideways to your friends.

We wondered about the misspelled sign, of course, but nobody dared to ask.  The place has been there a forever, long enough that someone would’ve pointed out the mistake.  I Googled it when I got home, and learned that a decision was made back in 2012; “The Waffle Shop in Arlandria will keep its quirky and iconic misspelled awnings.”  Why?  Because “Ownership had a change of heart after learning of the support and appreciation for the awnings from customers and neighbors. One man even asked to purchase one of the awnings after learning of ownership’s decision to replace them.”

Instead, money secured through AEDP’s Facade Improvement Grant Program was used to rehabilitate the restaurant’s properly spelled neon sign, which now hangs on the brick beside the quirky awning.  Wafle Shop is what it is because the people of Del Ray like it that way.

 

Dolcezza

•November 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 5

IMG_0597WHERE: Dolcezza [1418 14th Street NW (Logan Circle), Washington DC 20005]

www.dolcezzagelato.com

WHEN: Thursday, 9 November 2017

WHAT I DRANK: Stumptown drip coffee, with an almond croissant

WHY GO: Hang out with a laptop, apparently. Go back for gelato.

HOW FAR: 8.9 miles one way (Strava link)

Some days are hard, and this was one of those days.

I needed to stop at the clinic for a prescription, and I needed to get to work, but what I really wanted were stall tactics.  Riding a bike to coffee seemed like a great excuse to kill some time (doesn’t it always).

Cold, dreary day.  When I got to Pentagon City and started locking up to a metal barrier, a construction guy politely asked that I not because they were supposed to be picked up later in the day.  I politely responded that there were no visible bike racks on the street, and I would only be there 15 minutes or so.  We called a truce, and I completed my errand.

The ride into the city was nothing unusual, except for trees showing off their fall colors in contrast to the gray skies.  I got to 14th Street and found Dolcezza.  Again, no bike racks close by, so I locked up to their iron patio fence since it was too cold for anyone to be sitting outside anyway.

The place has a nice DC vibe, cozy and welcoming.  But as I stood in line waiting for my order, I noticed every table and counter stool in the place was occupied by people hovering over their laptops.  One guy had somehow taken over two tables, working on one and stashing his briefcase and stuff around the one next to it.  This kind of territorial behavior drives me crazy, especially in a coffeeshop with limited occupancy.  On the metro I would have no problem calling out these microaggressions by asking for a seat; at Dolcezza, I just wasn’t in the mood.  Someone got up just in time for me to grab a table, and I stayed only long enough to eat.  The almond croissant was one of the best I’ve had, and regular drip Stumptown coffee never disappoints.

I rolled on to my office, only a few blocks away.  Nice to know it’s within walking distance, because Dolcezza has an impressive menu of gelato, which I can’t wait to go back and try sometime.

Cozy Home Coffee Shop

•November 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 4

IMG_0584WHERE: Robyne and Elaine’s house, Falls Church VA

WHEN: Sunday, 5 November 2017

WHAT I DRANK: Ethiopian drip coffee with a feast of scones, fruit, and other treats.

WHY GO: What could be better than cozying up with friends?

HOW FAR: 18.6 miles round trip (Strava link)

It’s wet out there. Am I really gonna do this?

Of course I am.  Friends Robyne and Elaine had invited a crew to their Home Coffee Shop (see Rule #3 of Coffeeneuring 2017), and none of my excuses to miss it would stick.  I looked out the window and saw wet roads, but it didn’t appear to be actively raining.  The weather forecast didn’t call for rain.  I’d gotten an extra hour of sleep due to the “fall back” time change, I’d craved a nice ride during my exceedingly busy week, and I was behind on my Coffeeneuring visits.

When I left my house, a thick wet mist was hanging in the air, the kind of not-quite-rain that manages to splatter your eyeglasses and soak through any non-waterproof clothing within minutes.  My Goretex rainjacket kept my upper body dry, and the rest of me was warm enough not to care.  The wetness seemed to make autumn colors of the trees along the W&OD extra bright.  Other than runners participating in some kind of event, almost nobody was on the trail.  I enjoyed the peaceful, ever so gradual climb to Falls Church.

Navigating to the address, I arrived to find bikes already piled up on the front stoop.  Robyne had plenty of towels ready for drippy cyclists, and places to dry out wet shoes and jackets (specifically, we hung our clothes on bikes stored against one wall).  I peeled off a few layers and settled into the coziness of their great little house filled with friends, multiple types of coffee and tea, and an impressive offering of food.  At some point I grabbed a handful of what I thought might be chocolate covered raisins, only to find espresso beans inside; I ate them all and exceeded my caffeine quota.  We chatted and laughed away a couple of hours, until we’d nearly worn out our welcome.  I saddled up with a group heading my direction, and coasted back home, pausing to take in the show of fall colors.

Home Coffee Shop is a wonderful idea, starting with the generosity of those who open their doors and brew the pot, and completed by everyone who braves the conditions and arrives from all directions.  It elevated the spirit of Coffeeneuring to a whole new level.

Finding “hygge” on a gray day

•October 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 3

IMG_0575WHERE: Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters [520 12th St S Suite 150, Arlington VA 22202]

www.commonwealthjoe.com

WHEN: Sunday, 29 October 2017

WHAT I DRANK: Harvest Latte made with sweet potato puree (decidedly NOT “pumpkin spice”), with a ham and cheese croissant.

WHY GO: Warm, bright and inviting environment. Great coffee and seasonal treats. Bike rack on the corner.

HOW FAR: 5.3 miles round trip (Strava link)

Forecast was for 100% crappy, but when I poked my head outside at dawn it was warmish, wet but not raining, and calm.  I bolted out the door and rode up into Crystal City.

Commonwealth Joe opened their flagship store in Pentagon City in 2016. I’d ridden by a million times, and enjoyed drinks from their bike-driven cart, but figured the store deserved a visit in person.  I used the redesigned and freshly painted protected bike lane on Army Navy Drive, a gift of new infrastructure right here in my neighborhood. The coffee shop has a bike rack right outside their front door, and their well-lit shop welcomes customers indoors from the gray skies and wet sidewalks.

Harvest Latte is a seasonal drink made with sweet potato puree, frothed cream, and cinnamon. Having overdosed on pumpkin-themed treats at the Great Pumpkin Ride yesterday, this was decidedly different.  It went well with a warmed ham and cheese croissant.  I devoured both at a cozy table for one by the window.

Riding home I took Eads St south, which terminates at Glebe Road but cyclists can take a connector to the Four Mile Run trail.  I discovered that this connector was also freshly paved, smooth and free of gravel and potholes.  Improvements all around!

Vaya got a quick bath and chain lube when we got home, and just as I was putting everything away it started to drizzle outside. A well-timed coffeeneuring run.

 

Sleeveless in October

•October 24, 2017 • 1 Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 2

IMG_0387WHERE: Uptowner Cafe [1609 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314]

WHEN: Sunday, 22 October 2017

 

WHAT I DRANK: Whole milk latte, with an egg sandwich on a bagel.

WHY GO: Unpretentious shop with mixed crowd and outdoor seating. Bike rack on the corner.

HOW FAR: 12.6 miles round trip (Strava link)

Crazy is getting sunshine and weather so warm in October, that I left wearing a sleeveless Ruu-Muu dress and didn’t regret it.

I started by heading through Del Ray, with a stop at Autozone.  One of my cars managed to burn a headlight bulb just days before they’re both due for VA state inspection.  So I locked up the bike for 5 minutes while I located and paid $7 for a replacement.  (And yes, I was able to swap the bulb later when I got home.)

Moving on to the “top” end of Old Town (really the west end, toward the Masonic Temple) I found the little coffeeshop I’d only passed before, locked up Vaya and went in.  Uptowner Cafe is a subdued, unpretentious place in comparison to some of the more popular Old Town spots, but I immediately liked its vibe.  A mixed crowd of locals occupied some of the mismatched chairs and tables.  I admired artwork hanging on the walls while my breakfast sandwich was made, then took it and my latte to one of the street-side tables outdoors.  Two ladies with two dogs chatted at the table next to me while I ate and drank.

Not to cut a lovely day short, I rode down King Street then turned off toward my favorite urban pedestrian tunnel on Wilkes Street, leading to Shipyard Park and the waterfront.  From there it’s a short ride to Jones Point Lighthouse, a favorite spot to loiter with views of National Harbor.  In both directions through the same tunnel, I had to stop while a group of millennials took pictures of a guy doing yoga poses.  Watching him hold a handstand for at least a minute and a half was impressive, but if you ask me, they were stereotypically self-absorbed to be blocking the trail for that long.  I know I know…. Get off my lawn!

I wish there were more days like this one, and more time to spend them riding bikes and drinking coffee.

Dawn. In more ways than one.

•October 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2017 Coffeeneuring Ride 1

 

IMG_0382

WHERE: Buzz Bakeshop [901 Slaters Lane, Alexandria VA 22314]

www.buzzbakeshop.com

WHEN: Friday, 20 October 2017

WHAT I DRANK: Whole milk latte, with a croissant.

WHY GO: Because I can.  FINALLY.

HOW FAR: 7.9 miles round trip (Strava link)

Beginnings.  Restarting.  Dawn.

I haven’t gone for a “real” bike ride since August 28th, when I had arthroscopic knee surgery.  It’s been driving. me. batshit.

The surgery went fine, I felt great, I was on my feet that afternoon and navigating stairs within 3 days post-op.  But at the 1-week checkup I was told that I had unexpectedly lost more cartilage than anticipated; as a result, I should “take it easy” and let things heal for six more weeks.  The meniscus tear was no big deal, tiny and easily remediated.  But the articular cartilage (the stuff covering the ends of the bones) was shredded like crabmeat, and had to be mostly shaved away.  Old damage, or so the theory goes, but I’d been in pain for months.  Doc showed me the before and after pictures, and the difference was significant.  They label my new condition as “osteoarthritis.”  I’m under 50 and technically arthritic…. OH GREAT.  I didn’t like the advice so, like the kid who got the wrong answer from Dad I went and asked Mom, pleading with my physical therapist Molly.  Can I ride a bike, please?!?  Nope, she said, you’ve suffered some trauma and are better off giving your knee a break for awhile.

I bucked the system in ways that “didn’t count,” of course.  I rode CaBi around my neighborhood, and I pounced on the dockless bikeshare pilot program in DC to test-ride goofy, multicolored bikes for short distances.  I reacquainted with kayaks and canoes.  I hung in, a little lopsided, through yoga classes.  Doggedly I did my PT exercises every day, like it would make or break being ambulatory.  I felt sorry for myself and whined about it.  Six weeks did NOT go by quickly.

But finally, yesterday, I had another checkup with my knee surgeon.  Things were looking better.  He wrote me orders to go back and see Molly for four weeks, which I scheduled immediately.  And…… he said I can resume low-impact exercise like cycling, swimming, rowing, elliptical, and yoga.  I walked out of his office physically feeling much better than when I’d entered.  Totally psychosomatic.

Coffeeneuring 2017 started last Friday.  Ample blessings on the person who took two of my favorite pastimes, best done in combination, and legitimized it into an annual Thing.  A little behind, I could hardly wait for my first official coffee ride.  Today I bounced awake early, found all the clothes and gadgets needed to ride and fulfill the social media requirements, and got out the door before sunrise.

Clipping into Vaya’s pedals for the first time in weeks, I exhaled relief.  Now maybe the hallucinations will stop.  Riding a bus to commute to work, I’d “seen” bikes on the roof racks of cars in the next lane.  I had tried to recognize familiar faces of bike commuters as we drove by.  Bikes were in my fitful dreams.  Oh and I’d done a shameful amount of shopping; I mean, what else can you do while laid up?  Two new pairs of bike shoes (one for touring, one for daily commutes) with new cleats, new kit-matched socks, and a whole new audio setup (Bluetooth transmitter for my old iPod Classic and a tiny acorn-shaped speaker made of bamboo).

Buzz Bakeshop had a warm hum of activity.  Several moms and young couples with small children came in to grab a snack, and I watched the kids play with the toys on a low table by the window.  The older gentleman who was clearly recognized as a regular (small coffee and a newspaper, sir?) took up his table in the back.  I occupied a window seat to enjoy my latte and croissant.  And both coming and going, I totally savored the ride, not in a hurry to get anywhere.