Sunday, November 15, 2015

Coffeeneuring 2015 official entry

Here it is, the last weekend of coffeeneuring, on the last day of the challenge, and I'm submitting my paper work to the Chief Coffeeneur.  Being the Northeast Regional Office of Coffeeneuring, you'd think that I was a seasoned and successful coffeeenur, but you'd be wrong.  This year is the first year that I actually finished the challenge.  Here is the documentation.

Trip 1 - highlights: many off road miles including bike paths and dirt trails on a visit to Tamper in Medford, MA.  Short review: yes, I'll be back.

Trip 2 - highlights: this was a multi modal trip to Ogunquit, ME to join my family for an overnight stay.  This was my favorite ride of the year and had a sense of adventure as well as luck with timing trains and rides between train departures.  The coffee shop was Caffe Kilim in Portsmouth, NH.  Short review: yes, I'll be back if I'm in the area.

Trip 3 -  highlights: a quick 30 mile ride with the coldest conditions since early spring and a quick trip to Starbucks in Arlington Heights, MA.  You can see a full review of the shop here.  This post is from 2013 but it doesn't seem to have changed much at all.

Trip 4 - highlights: It was a dark, cold ride, leaving at 5 AM and hitting a low temperature of about 25 degrees, my coldest ride of the year.  Nashoba Bakery in West Acton, MA was a great place for comfort food and hot coffee.  I'll be back for pastries but not necessarily for coffee.  I also tested the Chief Coffeeneur's helmet kickstand on this ride.

Trip 5 - highlights: Another dark, cold early morning trip with a 1.5 mile diversion in the woods on my road bike.  Coffee at Ride Studio Cafe, one of my favorite bike shops, I mean coffee shops.  OK, it is one of my favorite bike shops as well.

Trip 6 - Another ride with an even longer diversion in the woods.  This one followed the same track as last week with an exploration of an off road route between Sandy Brook Road and Route 126 near Walden Pond.  That route wasn't all that easy on a road bike although I would do it on my Surly.  Coffee was had at Main Street Grill, which has good pastries and, in my opinion, decent but no where near great lattes.

Trip 7 - My last coffeeneuring excursion, and it was great fun.  I did my usual Lincoln ride that takes me south of Lincoln to Conant then Old Conant Road and back to Trapelo.  I found my way to Barismo, which is a keeper.  Not much besides coffee but they have a sort of group table, which is a nice touch for someone who gets out on bike alone, for the most part.

Thoughts?  Well, there was no theme within a theme except: go ride your bike!  It was a nice incentive for me, and for my wife to not mind me getting out early on weekends now that it seems like it is too cold to ride.  As I thought in past years, this would be a lot more fun to do with company but it's better to do it alone than not do it.  It did take some patience on my wife's part and I did get some ribbing from family.  But my niece did ask me to explain what I'm doing in an interested way.  I've gone on bike rides with her but I think it's going to be a few years before I suggest she try coffee and coffeeneuring.

The mapping project with Mary is fun and doesn't take a lot of work.  I copied the tables from last year and emptied them and Mary is filling them up.  I link to them from my blog and that's about it.  For the coffeeneuring map, I answer emails and get people signed up for adding their coffee shops.  It's fun to watch this grow and hopefully it will be added to in future years.

My shops this year (current year are red, others are purple):

How to make a map like this.

The coffeeneuring finishers map for 2015.

And how to get permission to add your stops to the coffeeneuring coffee shops map.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Coffeeneuring 7, 2015 - Barismo, East Arlington, MA

This is my last official coffeeneuring ride of the season and this year is the first time that I actually finished the challenge.  That my wife encouraged me to finish certainly helped.  And having warm enough weather and, sometimes, warm enough clothes also helped.  Today I did a quick 25 mile ride out to Lincoln with less than 1,000 feet of climbing.  It was only moderately cool, just above 40 degrees, but windy, especially for my last 2 or 3 miles after my coffee stop.

Barismo is a great shop conveniently located in East Arlington.  I'd be stopping here daily if I didn't bring my coffee to work.  It's a funky shop with a lot of coffee for sale and some seating.  I sat at a communal table with Brad, a recent transplant to East Arlington from North Carolina.  That people would sit together and expect to talk is a great thing and kudos to Barismo for encouraging it.  My cappuchino was great.  I only wish that I had the tolerance for a second cup, which I considered.

Perhaps the only interesting part of the day is how I found Barismo.  After school drop off Wednesday, I found myself talking with the owner of Sip and Dave, a parent from East Arlington and the subject was, predictably, coffee.  Jared has been part of Boston coffee world for a while now and Dave is just an interested consumer like me.  He mentioned Barismo, which he liked.  Jared also had a great opinion of Barismo.  And so I decided my last coffeeneuring trip of 2015 should be to Barismo.  And it was well worth it.

As you all know today (11/14/2015) is the day after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.  I feel pretty awful about the future right now, much like I did in the days after 9/11.  I don't know what the next days or years will bring but it is certain that more war is possible.  I thought an early morning ride, a strong habit for me, would be calming and it was.  So was my conversation at the coffee shop.  But history is happening outside my little bubble and I have little control over it and it looks uncertain.

My ride for the day, a 2007 Indy Fab Club Racer, well lit for an early, but not too early, departure.

There isn't much color right now but the sun lighting up some bare crowns was pretty .

A cappuccino from Barismo.

The newly constructed Mass Ave with sparse bike parking and the new bike lane.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Coffeeneuring #6, 2015 - more off road exploration

After my Coffeeneuring excursion last week, with some off road exploration between Bedford Road and Sandy Pond Road in Lincoln, my colleague mentioned that he was interested in that off road route to get to Walden without going into Concord on 2A and having to cross Route 2.  There was a gap in my knowledge between Sandy Pond Road and Route 126 so I decided to complete the exploration and see if the trails were passable on a road bike (or the CX tandem that he and his wife ride).

I had a somewhat early start, about 5:30 or so and started out under moon (and planet) light with lights and reflectors.  I took the most direct way to Bedford Road except for avoiding most of Route 2A between 128 and Hanscom.  It was light, although the sun wasn't quite up, when I made it to the Oxtail Trail.  The sun came up some time when I was riding around Flint Pond.

Morning sun.
 Once past Flint Pond and onto the unexplored section of the trails, I found rougher terrain, both hillier, steeper, and rockier.  I really enjoyed the Bedford to Sandy Pond section, which was largely gravel with a stretch of relatively open rock gardens, always with an easy line to follow.  This section was harder and I found myself stopping and walking in several places, both for ascents and descents (but level ground was almost always passable on my 700x25mm Clement Strada LGG tires.  There were also a lot more houses not far off of the trail.  It's be a fine place to walk, or take your CX bike but I won't be taking this trail in the future, at least on my road bike.  It's east enough to bypass using Sandy Pond Road to Baker Bridge Road.  I'll be curious to hear if my colleague tries this section of trail.

Coffeeneuring - yes, I did make a stop in Concord, at Main Street Market and Cafe.  I used to stop here somewhat frequently, if you can call several times a year frequent.  But with kids at home, most of my rides include very little no non-riding time, except in coffeeneuring season, so it's been a while since I was here.  The shop is more of sit down restaurant with pastries and OK coffee, including espresso drinks.  I had a latte and a coffee cake and enjoyed both.  It wasn't all that cold out today (relative to recent weekend bike rides) but I did appreciate sitting down inside and enjoying my coffee.

Heading home, I took 62 to Bedford, thinking I would take the Minuteman Path back into Lexington.  But I have new shoes - real biking shoes for the first time.  After my coffee stop, I was eager to see if the shoes helped me go faster, and they did.  So I took a more convoluted route that let me sprint here and there.  And it was fun.  In retrospect, I wish I had tried real shoes a long time ago.  That said, these shoes are pretty stiff and awkward to walk in.  I may yet buy replacement commuting shoes since these new shoes are way overkill for that purpose but I'll enjoy these super stiff soled shoes on any other kind of riding.

My ride for the day.  Yes, there is a trail on the other side of the tree.  With most of the leaves off the trees, the forest floor is covered completely.  This could have been the perfect coffee shop without walls, if I had a thermos of coffee.

The route.  Miles for the ride: 30, miles for the month: 100, miles for the year: over 3,600.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Coffeeneuring #5 2015 and an unplanned ride in the woods

I had a great ride this morning, not all that far or fast but it was a great, mild morning (after the mid 20s ride last Saturday).  Despite this morning's time change, I managed to get out before the boys were up (but apparently it was a close call).  I had originally intended to ride out to Lincoln, south to Weston then into Boston with several options for coffee.

As it turned out I made a turn into the woods in Lincoln and thought I'd see where it went.  It didn't go far but I saw a guy walking his dog and he suggested that I take the Oxtail Trail just north of the trail we were on.  He said that he and his family regularly ride it on mountain bikes but it was a decent surface for my narrow tires (25 mm Clement Strada LGG) so I tried it.  I didn't look at any online maps but remembered that the guy said I should follow the main route and then take a left, which would take me around Flint Pond.  The route was pretty nice.  It turns out that it is an official bike route and I started to notice the signs (if you happen to try this they are small, blue signs).  The path was as wide as it was described to me and was in great shape.  And it was lovely ride in the late fall woods.  There were a number of rocks on the trail after the left turn but there was always a clear path through them.  The off trail section was about 1.5 miles.  It was well worth the detour, although it threw my plans of riding into Boston out the window.

After I got to the road (Sandy Road), I followed my usual route south of Lincoln center to Conant then Old Conant Road and eventually into Lexington center where made my coffeeneuring stop at Ride Studio Cafe.  I enjoyed a pastry and latte along with a conversation with Zach, who was scheduled to sweep a ride, and Patria, one of the co-owners.  As always, Ride Studio Cafe didn't disappoint, both in the coffee they serve and the atmosphere.  And they had this great fat tire Seven (with 4.7 inch tires) for me to check out.  I'm not sure I could actually buy a fat bike but they sure look like fun and this one had great lines, if you ask me.

I never fail to think of Rob Vandermark (of Seven, Honey, and Ride Studio Cafe) when I get on trails like the Oxtail Trail.  I've been going off road and on trails on my road bikes here and there for a few decades but I'm pretty inspired by his ideas and rides like Diverged and Honey Hundred (and probably a few others).  I'd probably do better with a bike with wider tires on a frame like Rob's Seven Evergreen but I seem to be able to do a decent amount of off road miles on my IF with its narrow tires so I'm happy to see where it will take me.  I do have my Surly when I know I will be riding off road but it's nice to have the option on my IF.

My route (with off road portions in green).

The off road section of my ride:

A photo posted by NEBicyclist (@svillecyclist) on

Obligatory photo demonstrating that I actually did some coffeeneuring.

A photo posted by NEBicyclist (@svillecyclist) on

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Three signs

I updated an earlier post to include a third sign that I mentioned but did not have a photograph of, this one also in Cambridge.

Three signs, maybe more than one message. 

The first sign is in Cambridge at the intersection of Main Street and Galileo Galilei Way and and routes you around a construction site, with the sidewalk taking up the bike lane and bikes moving into the right turn lane.  This small sign, propped up on a traffic cone, might be hard to see from a car driver's perspective.  And this sign might subject travelers to some confusion.  Does it say "bicyclists, share the road with cars, because you act like you own it" (which we certainly do in part because we pay for it with our taxes) or "cars, bikes are on the road, share the road"?  I know the law so the I understand the second interpretation to be correct, although not all drivers may see that.

Not the most obvious sign.
To give Cambridge some credit, there is a much clearer sign on the corner of Ames and Main Street, right by Legal Seafood.  I don't go by there much but I went back today to get a picture. I much prefer this sign over the first sign.  It could be clearer but you have only so much space on a sign.  I do recognize that Cambridge is paying attention to cycling and this sign shows it.  In fact, there is a bike lane with a separation from the parked cars on both sides of this street.  I've seen photographic evidence of cars parking in the bike lane.  Hopefully police respond when/if people call it in although it isn't clear to me that parking in a bike lane is illegal in Massachusetts at this time.

This one seems easier to interpret, at least for me: "Bikes, cars - share the road."

The next sign, in Somerville, is much clearer than the first two.  Granted, it has three screens to get its message across but it does educate drivers and cyclists in about five seconds.  This is at the east end of the recently repaved Beacon Street and is part of a much larger project to improve the street for all users, including cyclists.  That Somerville and the state spent money on the temporary pavement is recognition of how bad the street was, in particular for cyclists  Somerville had already advised cyclists to take a signed detour, which I used a number of times and will likely use frequently during the full depth reconstructions.  This is a video and you need to click on the image to start the video.

In short, It looks like Somerville's political leadership recognize that there are a large number of people, residents and neighbors like myself, who cycle on its roads and is doing a lot to make it easier and safer to ride bikes through the city.

A video posted by NEBicyclist (@svillecyclist) on
Thanks, Somerville.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Coffeeneuring finishers, 2015

The coffeeneuring challenge is past its fourth weekend so it's time to publish the digital version of the maps - here there are.  Mary from Chasing Mailboxes will be updating the base tables that will fill in the map for the next few weeks.  The communal coffee shop map is being updated and you can find out how to add to it here.  Feel free to contact me to get permission to edit the map.

Number of coffeeneurs by state:

DC is the epicenter for coffeeneuring  and it is small relative to the rest of the country so here is a detailed look at it:

Cities with coffeeneurs and links to the blogs, if they have one (a blog is not required to finish but they are fun to read):

And here are the coffeeneuring stops (big red points are 2015 and purple are from 2014):

How these maps are made.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coffeeneuring #4 2015, an exercise is checking how I dress for cold weather cycling

It is fall and it is getting colder, if only in fits and starts.  I had a pretty cold weekend coffeeneuring ride last weekend and it was even colder today.  According to, the low in Concord this morning, about the time I passed through, was around 25 degrees.  That turns out to be pretty cold when you are riding a bike.  I was prepared for it, as much as I could given what I had on hand.  I ended up riding 43 miles, starting at about 5:15 AM, and rode through Lexington, Bedford, Concord, Acton, and Lincoln.  It was a beautiful morning, including about an hour or so of riding in the dark.  I was well lit and had a lot of reflective material on me and felt pretty safe.  And I wasn't alone out there.  I saw 5 or 6 cyclists about to get started at the Concord rotary (the one near the Colonial Inn in Concord center) and not long after saw a couple of women riding into Concord center on Lowell Road.  But that's all of the cyclists I saw before sunrise.  I also saw a few people running. And I saw a cat near Arlington Great Meadows on the bike path looking feral, two bunnies and one coyote.  The coyote was about to cross the bike path then it saw me and changed its mind and headed back into someone's yard in Lexington.

I was pretty well dressed for the weather but I had two weak points - my arms above my elbows and my feet.  I think I could deal with my arms getting cold and they really only got cold on fast descents, which isn't all that much when riding in the dark.  My feet were another matter.  By the time I was in Acton center, heading south to Taylor Road and a Route 2 crossing, I was actively working my toes around to get them warmed up.  It was probably 25 degrees about then.  I was wearing a heavy pair of wool socks, my cycling shoes, and neoprene overshoes, the kind with the bottom mostly cut out to accommodate walking and hardware for clipping into pedals.  In retrospect, I could probably do fine with this set up if I got some insulated insoles and, maybe, chemical heaters.  With both, I'd bet that I could ride into the teens for a decent distance.  I'm in the market for a warmer glove and that would be necessary at that temperature.  I'm also in the market for fleece lined tights, thanks to Matt Roy's advice.  My light tights did well enough today but I would appreciated something warmer at cooler temperatures than today.

Anyway, to get back to coffeeneuring, my feet were getting cold and I thought that getting off my bike sooner than later was a good idea.  My route was planned to stay closer to town and on familiar roads.  This was because I had a deadline for getting back home and also for safety, considering the cooler temperature and the lack of light at the started of the ride.  I also included three possible stops for coffee: Nashoba Bakery in West Concord, Haute Coffee in Concord, and Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington.  Given my cold feet, I opted for Nashoba, which was the first one I would pass, and rolled in not long after then opened, though I wasn't the first person there.  Comfort food was pretty desirable and they had what I needed.  I also order a latte.  The food was great, the coffee was hot, and the room was warm enough.  I was very happy to be inside long enough (and it was a quick breakfast) to warm up and for the sun to warm the atmosphere a few degrees.  And that was enough to make me comfortable for the rest of the ride home.

So do I recommend Nashoba?  The food is fine.  If I had more time and was hungrier, I would have tried a pastry, which I enjoyed in the past.  The coffee was OK, but not great.  The room is comfortable and bike parking is ample in back (there is no parking in front of the shop.  I parked my bike within sight of the window and didn't bother locking it.

Comfort food is sometimes necessary, especially when you have cold feet and the rest of you isn't exactly overheating when you are wearing everything you have with you.

I made a quick stop at the Gropius House. My wife tells me that a tour is worth your while but it was closed when I went past.  Note the clever use of my helmet as a kickstand, copyright @coffeeneur.

It's looking like late October on Flint Pond in Lincoln, MA.  Peak leaf peeping season has passed, which is expected about now.