Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The 2017 coffeeneuring season

It's over, apparently.  I saw the Daily Randonneur's post for his last coffeeneuring trip of the season and thought, "uh oh, maybe time's up, I should have paid more attention to the schedule."  He should know as he is married to Mary, the Chief Coffeeneur.  So I went back to the announcement and, sure enough, it ended on November 19, the evening I saw the post.  So I narrowly missed it but here is my report for the history (of coffeeneuring) books.

My first coffeeneuring trip was an early morning ride, starting in the fog, with remarkably little traffic.  You say there shouldn't be much traffic at 5:30 AM but there is some and there wasn't any that day.  Full report is here.  In case you don't follow the link, here is what sunrise looked like:



My second coffeeneuring trip was a weekday trip, taking advantage of new rules as of 2016:


My third coffeeneuring trip was a ride from Concord to Harvard with my friend Carl.  Concord is approximately the midpoint between our homes and starting there made for a pretty short ride to Harvard.  We had very cold weather to start but the day warmed up so we could enjoy coffee outside.

On the way up the hill - time to remove some layers.

Bike parking at the Harvard General Store.

Coffee, outside.  But not a coffees shop without walls. We even sat on one.
Coffeenneuring #4 was also a weekday coffeeneuring with a shop relatively new to me:


Coffeeneuring #5 was a nice dirt and paved road ride, including the Reformatory Branch Trail and Battle Road along with a great latte at Ride Studio Cafe.

Side trail in Concord.  It was a bit rooty but I made it on 28 mm tires.

At Ride Studio Cafe.
Next, I used the "friend's house as a coffee shop" rule and rode to East Cambridge for a coffee and a great long conversation with Paul, who has joined me on a least one coffeeneuring trip, although he doesn't join in the challenge.  I left just in time and made it home in the dark and as the rain was about to get me really wet.


And, finally, I missed the ending date but still made time for an espresso at NOCA (North Cambridge) Provisions, which was worth the stop:



Coffeeneuring maps

Mary asked me to make the maps again and I happily worked with her on the maps.  Mary adds the data and I've been hosting the maps here.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Coffeeneuring Finishers

When Mary of chasingmailboxes.com asked me to make the maps for the Coffeeneuring Challenge again this year, I jumped at the chance.  Who, after all, wouldn't be interested in helping this fun challenge?  I am actively working on finishing the challenge this year, taking advantage of the mid week rule (new last year).  Mary contacted me this weekend after she received a number of people sent her their submissions and wanted to see them on a map.  So I made the maps and gave Mary editing rights.  As of this writing, the maps are filling in quickly  So with that said, here are the maps.  Mary updates the maps and I am hosting them, although you may see the maps on her blog as well.

Finishers by state:



And the same map, zoomed into the DC/Northern Virginia area, where it all started:



And the cities where people are coffeeneuring.  Click on a city to see if someone from the city shared a link to their blog/instagram/twitter sites where they documented their travels:


Here is a link to show how I made the maps using Google Fusion Tables.

I will be adding the coffeeneuring destination map in this evening.

The long awaited coffeeneuring destination map:



Please read this post if you want to add to the destinations map.  Your stops will be in green, old stops are in blue (depending on your screen).

If you want to see how to deal with duplicates and how to make this map your own (all of the stops or just your stops) see read this post.

Lit up like a Christmas tree


Just bright enough or needlessly bright?
Yesterday I had a conversation with Emily O'Brien of Dill Pickle Gear about bike lighting, as we were standing next to my lit up bike.  She is of the opinion that one ought to ride with the required lighting, which ensures that anyone paying attention, and even those not paying complete attention, would notice.  Here is the text from the online Massachusetts General Laws:

(8) During the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, the operator shall display to the front of his bicycle a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet, and to the rear of said bicycle either a lamp emitting a red light, or a red reflector visible for not less than six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A generator powered lamp which emits light only when the bicycle is moving shall meet the requirements of this clause.
(9) During the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, the operator shall display on each pedal of his bicycle a reflector, or around each of his ankles reflective material visible from the front and rear for a distance of six hundred feet, and reflectors or reflective material, either on said bicycle or on the person of the operator, visible on each side for a distance of six hundred feet, when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps of a motor vehicle. This clause shall not prohibit a bicycle or its operator to be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by clauses (8) and (9).
I feel pretty safe with the above standards when out of town on unlit streets and on the Minuteman Path.  I don't feel it's enough when riding down busy streets with a lot of lights competing for drivers' attention.  So I up the lighting for my bikes a bit:

  • Small helmet light, high enough to get a driver's attention when they can't see the lights on my bike.
  • A second taillight, in slow (non siezure inducing) flashing mode.
  • A second headlight, aimed down and centered 10 feet in front of my wheel.
  • Spoke reflectors with integrated lights.  They are bright but not overpowering.

I also wear one of Emily's reflective sashes and have reflective bands on my arms and around my gloves.

Emily makes a great point that all of the extras that I use may cause a new cyclist to wonder about whether it is actually safe to be riding at all.  There is no small expense if getting all of the extras I use and I spend a decent amount of time and effort ensuring that I have the reflectors with me and put them on and take them off, along with all of the less permanently mounted lights.  I also have to admit that I use a lot less gear when I simply ride down the Minuteman and feel pretty safe even when I get on streets as I wind my way home.  And she also correctly pointed out that all of the lights and reflectors won't make an impaired driver see me.

She is right about all of this but I still feel exposed on a bike at night in the city so I will continue doing what I do.  What is your strategy?


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Commuting stories: "Yes, I am entitled" edition

#1: I was riding home on Friday and was a bit in a hurry but not riding fast, being in traffic and all.  I was on the Somerville Avenue bike lane, passing by Ibbetson Street, heading west.  I saw a couple of cars waiting to turn left, towards the car wash.  I was in the bike lane and had the right of way but you never know when someone might use the bike lane to pass stopped traffic.  I proceeded with caution and no one got in my lane.  At least no one in front of me.  As I passed by stopped traffic I sensed something behind me.  Cautious looking back, I saw a woman driving her SUV on my rear wheel.  She was moving slowly but she was right on my wheel.  I guess she felt entitled to take the bike lane to pass some cars on the right and save a few second and risk injury to me in the process.  She stayed right behind me as I headed into Wilson Square.  I felt like she was too close to move out of the way so I just stopped at the stop sign and got on Elm Street heading toward Davis Square.  The SUV followed me and passed me, a pretty too quickly for my tastes.  But, hey, she owned an SUV and was entitled to do what she wanted to do.  I wish I had a rear facing video camera to show Somerville Police.

#2:


On the other side of  Davis, I saw another great human specimen.  I was waiting on the bike light at the bike path Mass Ave crossing at Cedar Street, next to an older guy on a Specialized mountain bike.  A cyclist ran the red on Mass Ave and the guy on the Specialized said, "all those liberals on entitled."  Huh?  I responded with, "like those cabinet secretaries who take private jets, cause they are entitled?"  Boy, this guy had hate and lies ready to burst forth.  "I bet you like President Clinton." (I wish we had President Clinton.)  "What do you think of President Clinton selling uranium to the Russians, I bet you just ignore it."  All spewed out with venom and a pretty loud voice and many other words that I can't recount completely.  He sped off and I followed, only to keep an eye on where he was.  With such hate foaming at the surface, I wanted to know where he was going and make sure it wasn't near me.  After Alewife he went north on the Alewife path and that was it.  I was suspicious of this hateful guy and stopped at the Lake Street Crossing and looked back to make sure he wasn't following me.  I worry that there are people who consume lies that fill them with hate and I can cross paths with their insanity, again.  Even if I don't meet them in person, they seem adept (along with the Russian bots) at poisoning the public sphere with their racism and misogyny. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Magic hour: coffeeneuring #1, 2017

Magic hour or golden hour is a great time to be out riding or doing just about anything outdoors.  It's commonly defined as just before sunset or just after sunrise.  I experienced a pretty different kind of magic hour on my first coffeeneuring ride of the season last Sunday.  The ride was like a lot of my coffeeneuring season rides over the years - me going for a ride and getting some coffee on the way.  That also describes many of my off season rides, too.  I have my best chance to get in rides in the early morning - I get home before anyone really notices or cares that I am gone.  During a decent part of the year that means that it's dark out when I start my rides and that was true on Sunday - I left over and hour and a half before sunrise.

I'm always a little ambivalent and very cautious when riding in the dark, especially early morning rides.  While I prefer early morning to late night rides because there are a lot fewer people out who may have a measurable BAC, those under the influence in the early morning hours may be really tired and with a higher BAC so I keep my eyes open.  I can't have eyes in the back of my head but Sunday was a case where I really didn't need to.  For whatever quirk in everyone's schedule, no one passed me from behind before sunrise.  That's right, I rode 16 or 17 miles and was out for over an hour and not a single car was in my lane.  And to top it off, not many cars, maybe 15, passed me in the other direction.  That was incredibly calming for a road ride.  But that didn't make it a magic hour. 

What made it magic was the quiet whenever I stopped.  It was just a calm, quiet night, late enough in the year and early enough in the day that birds and bugs were also quiet.  I stopped at one point and looked up in the sky and saw that the moon broke through the low clouds.  Every road was a calm, quiet place and some of the narrower roads seemed more like paved trails through a forest.  As the light increased closer to sunrise, I would turn off my lights for a second or two to experience the quiet, smooth roads in a very soft light.  It really was magical for me.

The sun rose eventually, although I didn't see it right away.  I made my way through Great Brook Farm Park and then south into Concord where I made my coffeeneuring stop.  I made it to Haute Coffee not long after it opened but there was already a longish wait for coffee.  I had a granola bar and an espresso.  I was at Haute Coffee the previous week and was there later and ended up enjoying coffee and conversation with 5 other guys out for rides.  This time I was the only cyclist and the only person eating outside.  It made for quiet coffeeneuring but also a very calm stop after a very calming ride.

Some pictures from the morning:

The moon breaks through the clouds.

Lights were required.  The brighter light is dynamo powered.  I've also been using a small, battery operated one on steady for rides like this.  I also have a second battery powered light in reserve.  The reserve light and the dynamo powered light also have integrated reflectors.  You can see the white light of the dynamo powered headlamp. I also have a 350 lumen rechargeable headlight in reserve.  I was wearing reflective ankle straps and a reflective vest and have reflectors on my wheels.  So I was legal by randonneuring standards and Massachusetts laws.

That's what I saw of sunrise at Great Brook Farm Park.  Not much to see that day.

Roads like these, at least at this hour (maybe 7:45) on a quiet Sunday.

Coffeeneuring proof 1.

Coffeeneuring proof 2.  I originally intended to ride the previous morning and had rain gear packed.  So when I warmed up, my sweater had to be tied onto the saddlebag.  I also intended only a short ride on Saturday so I had only a single water bottle, which was just enough to get to Concord.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The New England Builders Ball

The New England Builders Ball, a showcase for the best framebuilders (and other manufacturers) in New England came to town and I managed to get there  It was a very fun afternoon, including a multimodal commute, some beautiful bikes, and meeting some cool people.  I had planned on going with my friend Carl, who I had rode the D2R2 with last month.  I lost him to family demands but I wanted to go anyway.  I had a hall pass so I made my plans.  I also touched base with TenMetersFromTheHut and FlakyTartDough, who I follow on Instagram and happened to be ending a tour in Boston.  It was fun meeting them.  They happen to know the chief Coffeeneur and Felkerino in real life.  I collaborate on the maps for the challenge but I've yet to meet Mary in person.  Now I'm only one degree of separation from them in real life.

I thought about riding into the seaport with Carl but I was loath to do so alone - I really am not a city rider.  I do fine in Cambridge but Boston seems a bit too crowded for me.  Not that I never cross the river but I don't do it often and it always seems a big deal.  So I decided that I would make it a multi-modal commute, taking my Swobo 3 speed to Alewife and then taking the Red Line to South Station to the Silver Line, not very far from the venue.  When I rode to Alewife, I changed my mind, thinking that I would rather have my bike for the last bit on the Silver Line, and took my bike on the train.  Fortunately the train was rather empty and there was no issue.  I took elevators to the surface and got on my bike.  It was significantly cooler by the harbor, which added to the novelty of biking there.  I made it to District Hall, which I incorrectly conflated with the Innovation and Design Building, which turned out to be a mile away (and close to a different Silver Line stop than the one I planned on).  No big deal.  I made it there and found that Massbike had an unannounced valet service.  That saved a couple of minutes locking up my bike (here locked at work):

My ride, the Swobo 3 speed.
Inside the show I saw some fabulous bikes, which didn't convince me that I needed a new bikes (I certainly don't need one and my wife thinks I can't possibly need one now).  I stopped at five booths, Firefly, J.P. Weigle, Royal H, Chapman Cycles, and Dill Pickle Gear.  Jerry (TenMetersFromTheHut) managed to find me and I had a chance to talk with him and Carolyn before they left (they managed to get there by the start of the show - I was two hours late). 

Let's see, what did I learn and see?  At the Firefly booth I saw Jamie Meideros beaming about his new gravel bike experiment.  It has a left front suspension fork and noticeably narrow seat stays.  The latter should make take the harshness out of the ride.  I've heard that Jamie likes to experiment and I hope he loves this bike.  I first met Jamie in 2007 before my IF was built and I've run into him several times since.  It's always fun to see him.

J.P. Weigle - I got to see the bike he built for Jan Heine and the Concours de Machines and it was fabulous.  It didn't look especially light excepty for the many cut outs (see the cranks and the brake mounts) but it was elegant.  I've see several Weigles over the years and they are all pretty spectacular, if you like steel bikes.  I got to her Peter talk about working with Jan and his chance, at this point in his career, to only take the projects that interest him, and those revolve around 650b randonneuring bikes.  He was a great person to talk with about the process and I wish I could get one of his bikes but that won't be happening anytime soon.

Royal H - I met Brian in the past, most notably at the first of the Ride Studio Cafe Diverged rides and also at the Firefly opening party (at the new shop).  I had a great conversation with him about how he takes an idea from a customer and works with them to see if he can make it a reality.  I also checked out his new Ti Carbon bike, which is part of a collaboration with Seven.

Chapman Cycles - I've known about Brian from his work at Circle A and watched his work at Chapman Cycles since them.  He has my aesthetic.  In fact, once when visiting Firefly, I had to admit that the bike that I wanted above the others was Josie Morway's Chapman.  I met Brian at the D2R2 - Carl was looking for him to start a conversation about a build and I happened to find the yellow Circle A that Brian told Carl he would be riding.  Brian is as interested in bikes as anyone building them and it was fun to talk with him then.  I got to see the Chapman that was just reviewed in Bicycle Quarterly and it was spectacular.  I also saw a recently built mixte which is a great model for what I wanted to have built for my wife (we ended up with the much more affordable Soma Buena Vista frame).  I hope that Carl talks more of his ideas with Brian Chapman and maybe also with Brian from Royal H.  At least I would want one of them to build a bike for me one day.

I also stopped at the Dill Pickle Gear booth to get new reflective ankle bands and a reflective sash.  I also wanted to see her front bags.  I worry that I can't fit the front bag on my Surly but she said I could stop by her shop with the bike to see.  She does make amazing, light bags and I look forward to getting one.  And, I hear, she can put one of my Coffeeneur badges on the bag.

Between those five booths, and meeting up with Jerry and Carolyn, I had a very busy, if short visit to the ball.  I recall noticing it was 3:15 when I was getting on the train at Alewife to head there and I was home by 6:15 for dinner.  But it was a fun afternoon.  Commuting on the Swobo certainly added to the adventure.  I've been trying to do what I can to get out of my car (I think I've driven 1,500 miles this year, including a couple of trips to the Cape) so finding my way on multi-modal commute seemed like something I should have done.

And my two favorite bikes in the show:

The bike I would have built for my wife if she was want to get a custom frame/

Brian Chapman's light tour, recently review in Bicycle Quarterly


A day time ride?

As they say, I think, when you have kids, you spend a lot of your free time with kids.  That's certainly true in my family and when I ride, it is usually starts between 5 and 6 and ends by 9 AM.  That's fine but I'm never quite awake at that early hour to have a great ride.  But sometimes I get lucky, like being able to ride the D2R2 with a friend.  And a week ago I was told that maybe I didn't want to head over to my sister-in-laws.  I got a hall pass and took it.  I didn't have time for more than 40 miles but that was good enough. I managed a 16 mph ride before I had to stop for a snack (at #ponyhenge).  I slowed down from there but it was a great ride and easily my fastest ride recently.

The ride on Strava.   For comparison, here is yesterday's early morning ride on Strava - it's only a bit slower.

Snacks at Ponyhenge.  It's an odd place but in a beautiful setting.

MY ride, the 2007 IF Club Race.  It remains a fabulous bike and I smile whenever I get on it.