Saturday, October 25, 2014

A communal coffeeneuring map

Updates for 2015:

The Communal Coffeeneuring map is back.  If you added your stops in 2014 then you still have permission to edit the map this year.  If you didn't edit the map in the past then please send your gmail address to me at newenglandbicyclist@gmail.com and I'll give you permission.  Expect and email from somervillecyclist@gmail.com (the account where I own the map).  You will need to login with a Gmail account to edit the map. The map is intended to track coffee stops on the current year's Coffeeneuring challenge so please include only coffee shops that you visiting in the current Coffeeneuring season.  Also, please add the year you visited.  We didn't do this last year so I'll figure out a way to add the year in for those entries.  Years will be nice to have, if this map continues to be a part of coffeeneuring.

One more change - 2015 visits are large red points, the rest are small purple dots.

Please check this page for how to deal with duplicate entries - sometimes we visit the same shop that another coffeeneur already stopped at.  It also tells you how to show only your coffee shop visits on the map and add that map to your blog.

Last year I helped the Chief Coffeeneur supplement her classic colored pencil map of coffeeneuring with a digital version of the map.   One person commented, suggesting that we should map all of the coffeeshops that people visit on the coffeeneuring challenge.  That would have been a lot of work last year and even more coffeeneurs are riding this year so having me or Mary add everyone's destinations would be more work than we are capable of doing.  But the idea is a good one and I made a map of my destinations and then I thought that I could share editing privileges for this map and anyone who is coffeeneuring could contribute.  This still could get unwieldly, with me having to send an email to anyone who expresses interest but I think it's worth a try and Mary thinks it could be worthwhile.  So here is the map, with the three coffee shops that I visited on it (and maybe more by the time you read this) and ready for more coffee shops:



If you are adding your coffee shop(s) and they don't appear on the map, go back to the table and open the Map of Location view.  This will geocode your address(es) and they will then appear in this map.

So this is how it will work ...

Anyone interested in adding their stops to the map should email me directly.  Find my email address in the About Me section of the right column of this blog.  Please send me your Gmail account, which seems to be the easiest to work with.  I will give you editing privileges via email.

Notice that you will have editing privileges, which means you can add rows of data but also accidentally delete or otherwise edit another person's data.  So you you will have to be careful.  This is what the table looks like so far:


If you want to add a coffeeneuring stop, you go to the Rows view (note the tab for Row, Cards, and Map of Location) and then in the Edit menu, select Add Row.  You might select Delete Row by accident, which will delete all of the rows and end this experiment.  The Add Row interface looks like this:


You need to fill in the coffee shop name (Shop), which is a simple text field.

Next, add the address (Address).  The address could be something like "1720 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420" (the Ride Studio Cafe address), or it could be "Concord, MA", which would be less precise.  It's best to check the address in Google Maps.  For instance, something like "Starbucks in Lexington, MA" yields the less helpful (in this instance) map of all of the nearby Starbucks.  "Ride Studio Cafe Lexington, MA" works since there is only one Ride Studio Cafe in or near Lexington, MA.  An address could be a latitude, longitude pair, like "33.023513, -113.049178", works.  Try this one in Google Maps.  I've had lunch at this place, but didn't get there by bike.  If you think you don't have access to where you visited in spherical coordinates, simply open Google Earth and zoom to where you had coffee and look at the bottom of the Google Earth window.  Google Maps likes Decimal Degrees and not Degrees Minutes Seconds, which is the Google Earth default.  Change this in the Tools menu under Options.  In the Options window, look for Show Lat/Long then click on the Decimal Degrees radio box.

Now add a link to the coffee shops website (Link).  This is a hyperlink, if that term is still used, which take the map reader to the website and will hopefully help other coffeeneurs figure out if they want to visit the shop as well.

You can add notes about the coffee shop, or your visit in the Notes field.

The last field, Coffeeneur, is meant to identify you, the person entering the data.  And by identifying you, I mean your online presence, if you have one.  For instance, I put in a link to my Twitter page or a blog post about my coffeeneuring trip.  You could have put in a link to your blog, or Instagram account, or a link to your blog post about my visit there.  Anything works but it should be a legitimate web address or leave it blank and leave your first name in the Notes field.  Once you added a row and saved it (see the above image) then you need to click on the Map of Locations tab.  This geocodes the address, making it possible to put a pushpin on the map representing the shop and the data about it that you added.  Doing this may change the map extent.  While it is presently centered around Lexington, MA, adding a point in Finland, where there is an active coffeeneur, will center the map over the Atlantic and scale it so that both the eastern United States and Europe are in the map.

So be brave and contact me and I'll give you permission to edit the map and soon you will be adding to the map on this page.  A word of warning: I work a full time job during regular-ish business hours and have two children.  That means it might take a day or two after you send me an email to invite you as an editor.  If I seemed to forget, don't worry about pinging me.

I'll stop accepting requests to edit this page not long after Mary's final posts about this season's coffeeneuring exploits.


Coffeeneuring #3 2014, or a car nap, without the car

I probably never would have got out of the house today except that it was the day of the spooky walk (a Halloween walk around a pond in a wooded park in town) and the little guy needed a nap before we went, since we would be up past his usual bedtime.  He is too old for naps in his bed and car naps work great.  But we weren't going anywhere before the walk so I decided I'd run a couple of errands and then see if I could get my son to sleep in his bike seat.  We rode to the library in town then the post office then I said we'd take the long way home, a very long way home.  As it turned out, we took the bike path to route 128.  He didn't fall asleep until somewhere in Lexington and remained asleep until I pulled off the bike path to Ride Studio Cafe.  The studio wasn't hopping like it would be before or after a ride so I found a place inside to lean my bike so I didn't have to lock it for a second time on this trip.

Questions to be answered:

3) What bike are you using for as your coffeeneuring bike?


My Surly Cross Check commuter, equipped with a Co-Pilot child seat.  We are outgrowing this seat.  The big guy no longer fits in it while the little guy will be out of it next year.

BTW Rob Vandermark, president of Seven and Honey and co-owner of Ride Studio Cafe needed to grab something out of those drawers behind where my bike turned out to be inconveniently located and graciously moved it to get what he needed and put it back into place.  It's always nice to see Rob here.

4) Where did you choose to coffeeneur on this trip?

Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington.  If you don't know it already, it's a great shop with very nice people both on the coffee side and bike side.  The make great espresso and pour overs and sell very beautiful bikes.  It's my favorite coffee shop and I'd be there a lot more if it were closer to home.

It's obviously bike friendly, being part bike shop.  They have indoor bike parking and have worked with the town the have a two parking stall mini parklet and bike parking outside their shop.

The communal table:



7) Anything else to share?

I did get in trouble for getting home too late.  Fortunately we all survived.

Some things I saw on the bike trail ...

A high school boy insisting on passing an older couple on a bridge, forcing me to the side so he didn't hit us head on.  But he is immortal so no problem.

A man with a young girl on a child seat, pushing his son on his own bike, with training wheels.  I saw him on the way out of town and back in and either he was in a hurry or this was how he was training his son to ride.  I still remember a crash I witnessed a decade ago, a couple of hundred feet from where I last saw this family.  In that case, dad pushed his daughter to the ground while pushing her on her own bike with training wheels.  He went down as well.  This can never end well so don't try it at home.

An older child getting pushed by her mom, with mom screaming, "PEDAL, PEDAL!"

Overall, there were a lot of sane cyclists on the path today.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coffeeneuring # 2 for 2014 or riding your bike in the dark


Coffeeneuring #2 for 2014 coincided with my second road ride since the beginning of September.  I tried to plan an early morning ride with another coffeeneur that combined road riding with his desire to ride trails but that coffeeneur's family life leaves him even more time constrained than me.  For that route I had planned on riding my Surly, which is well equipped for dirt roads.  Instead, I choose a similar route that kept me on paved roads so I could ride my IF, which is well equipped with lights: a Busch and Muller IQ CYO 60 lux headlight and Specula Plus taillight, both powered by a Schmidt Son Deluxe dynamo hub.  I have a back up 600 lumen Nite Rider headlight and used a Portland Design Works Radbot tailight in steady mode (in the dark; I switched to flashing mode in daylight).  The wheels have reflectors and I have reflective material on my shoes, supplemented by reflective ankle bands and also wear a reflective vest.  I was safe as I could be riding at night.  I left at 5:30 AM, which meant I had an hour and a half of riding before sunrise.  It was clear when I left my house but clouds moved in, making it a dark morning.

I really like riding my Surly, which is a bit of a tank but useful for a lot of the riding that I do (read: mostly commuting) but I enjoyed riding my IF for the coffeeneuring ride.  It's a great ride for me - very crisp response and quick handling, as designed.  It also weighs almost ten pounds less than the Surly.

The route

I followed well known roads out to Great Brook Farm Park then south to Concord, coming back into town on 2A and then used the Mill Street cutoff.  I would have taken Old Bedford Road and Virginia Road but I was somewhat pressed for time and didn't want to be late so I took 2A.  On the way out I avoided the bike path since it was leaf covered and wet and I didn't want to slip alone in the dark (or any other time).  4/225 wasn't very crowded so I didn't regret my decision.  The full route is here.

Coffee stop

Since this is a coffeeneuring post. I have to mention where I stopped: Haute Coffee in Concord, MA.  I had been there twice before, once on a partially dirt road ride I did in the early morning last fall in advance of coffeeneuring season.  I came by before they opened but they saw my lights and let me in and served me a pour over.  The make a great cup of coffee and I later enjoyed another cup after my boys and I explored the Concord heron rookery this spring.



They continue to make great pour overs and have nice treats.  I had a granola bar, which was great, especially since I had just a couple of bars for sustenance, because I was out too early to eat breakfast at home.  There is a nice place to sit indoors but the weather was fine and they don't have great places to lock bikes (you might see a mini u-lock attached to my seat bag) so I sat outside in what became a communal table.  Just as I got my coffee, I small group of riders from the Blue Ginger (yes, that nice restaurant in Wellesley) cycling club arrived and eventually joined me.  They were great company and I ended up staying a bit longer than I intended but probably was more in line with the spirit of coffeeneuring.  The coffee was served in a small carafe making it all a bit fancy but I got over that.



Riding in the dark

I have to say that I enjoy riding in the dark, although it takes a lot of equipment and care to be nearly as safe as you are riding during the day.  My wife doesn't quite get it but it is an interesting experience and not at all thrilling in a death defying way.  In fact, I wouldn't be riding in the dark if I thought it was unsafe.  I do prefer riding in the early morning when drivers are less likely to have been drinking and there are few people on  the roads rather than in the late evenings.

I have come to like the Busch and Mueller lights that I now have one on both of my bikes.  It gives me a great light on the road when I am traveling up to 20 miles per hour and has a decent spread of lower intensity light so that I can see to the side, something that I couldn't do with my battery powered headlight.  In that case, I feel like I am riding through a cone of light, although the light is better for rougher terrain.  I have a Spannigo Pixeo rear light on my commuter (which someone actually told me it was quite visible on a later afternoon commute a couple of weeks ago).  I thought the Specula Plus would be better, more than a point source of light, which some people say is not as easy to gauge distance by.  The Specula, which is the light mounted just below my seat post on the picture at the beginning of the post, seems to do better.  I still like to have a second light whether commuting or riding out of town.  I think the prettiest light is just around sunrise and sunset and in  the summer and I prefer to not ride in the heat of the day so I occasionally end up riding before sunrise and after sunset.  I end up traveling a lot slower at night, but the effect seems similar to riding on trails in the woods - it seems like you are riding a lot faster than you are.

Be careful out there if you do ride at night!

At the Maple Street bridge in Carlisle.  Lights on for safety



West Street before it turns into North Street and goes into Great Brook Farm Park.



The foliage show is fading fast but there are still some nice color out there.



Despite all of the rain that we have had in the last couple of weeks, the area is still very dry.  This is the inlet of one of Cambridge's reservoirs.



Not quite retro, not quite modern.


A map of my coffeeneuring destinations (this will change as I hope to ride more):





Miles for the ride: 43, miles for the month: 200, miles for the year: 2428.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Coffeeneuring 2014 - #1

Now that it's coffeeneuring season, I realized, again, that getting out of the house on some kind of schedule is hard, especially when it comes to cycling.  First, you need to understand that I managed to get on my bike 27 times (including today) since the beginning of September and 23 of those times have been commuting and another of those times was a family trip by bicycle.  So riding for fun seems to have largely faded from view.  Having said that, I already have family approval for a coffeeneuring trip to Western Massachusetts next week and that includes 40 miles, 4000 feet of climbing, and somewhere close to 15 miles of dirt roads.  But generally it is hard to get out of the house and this coffeeneuring season is getting a slow start.  To be honest, a lot of it has been my fault.  I instigated a trip to Cape Elizabeth in Maine, accepting friends' invitation to spend what turned out to be a rainy Saturday and sunny Sunday in a beautiful corner of the world with great friends.  I could have squeezed a coffeeneuring trip in early Saturday before we drove up there but it would have been stressful so I didn't.  Yesterday, the Saturday of the second coffeeneuring weekend, found us driving again, this time to the Ashfield Fall Festival and visiting some of my oldest friends, from college back in the 1970s.  We all had a great time, except my wife was pretty tired after driving back late with the boys (late for boys, not adults, except adults with children).  Riding before the trip was impossible, especially with me trying to get the the boys hair cut, which was successful.  So today was my first chance.  And here is what it looked like:




My wife is now aware of this challenge and while she undoubtedly scoffs at it (and is reading this post), she did encourage me to get some paint after I got some coffee (unfortunately the paint store was already closed for the day before I left the house) and even mentioned the challenge.  So I got out for some coffee and a nice ride, even if it was on busy streets.  On to the questions.

1) Where do you live?

Arlington, MA

2) How did you decide to coffeeneur?

I like coffee and I like to ride my bike.  And I ran the Northeast Regional Office for Coffeeneuring last year, making the digital map and I'm making the digital map again this year.

3) What bike are you using as you coffeeneuring bike?  Tell us a little about it and why it makes a good coffeeneuring bike.

Well, it's a Suly Cross Check frame built up with Shimano 105 shifters/brakes and derailleurs along with a Shimano 3N80 front hub and a White Industries MTB rear hub.  It has fenders and racks, lights powered by the generator and others powered by batteries and it even has a bell.  It serves as my commuter and carries the boys and one day I'l go for a short tour on it.  The racks make it a good coffeeneuring bike since I can carry panniers and fill one of those panniers with locks so I can confidently lock my bike.  (The locks include two Kryptonite locks and two cables, one locking and one used with one of the u locks, so I can park it for all of 20 minutes without worrying too much.)  I guess being able to carry locks is what makes it a coffeeneuring bike.  That said, I intend to do a coffeeneuring without walls sort of trip this coffeeneuring season and I'm thinking that I won't be locking my bike on that trip.

4) Where did you choose to coffeeneur for your first trip?

Diesel Cafe, Somerville, MA.  That's where my wife and I met, 12 years ago.  It's a great place but my wife always complains when I go there by myself.  Maybe she worries that I'll meet someone else but it's more likely that she wants to feel like she has a life outside of work besides kids.  Believe me, no one was interested in me and I just wanted to enjoy a cup of espresso.  Expecting to meet someone wasn't on my radar, nor was talking with anyone - I seriously needed alone time.

5) Would you recommend the Diesel Cafe?

Heck yea!  I met my wife there and you might meet your future spouse there too.  And the coffee is good and the space is expansive and cool, although at my age I can't even be considered a hipster.  You can play pool while you drink coffee, if you happen to time it right.

6) Is there bike parking?

Yes.  The city of Somerville re-purposed a parking stall or two in front of the cafe and put in a decent bike rack.  I even found a spot there today although bike parking in the Davis Square hipster district is tight, given all of the people who ride bikes and like to hang out there.

7) Did I forget to ask you anything that you want to share?

Well, no.  I think you have it covered.

My coffeeneuring bike:


You may notice that I was carrying a tire on the bike.  I made a stop at a bike shop to get a new tire for my son's new-to-us bike.  So this could have also qualified as an errandoneuring trip, if you happen to know what that is.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Visiting Firefly

My trip to Firefly Bicycles started with my friend Carl taking pictures of people after they finished the D2R2 (and several people helping out at the start/finish).  I suggested that Tyler and and Josie, who I had just said hello to, might be great subjects.  And they came over, perhaps in part to check out the camera, a 8x10 inch format camera.  It's hard to not be interested in Carl's camera.  It's one of those that require the photographer to get under a hood to see the viewfinder, if you can call it that, and you focus from outside the hood and you use a separate light meter.  The process is quite long - I know because I posed for a picture that day.  In any case, Carl took a picture of them, which you can see here.  Tyler suggested a shop visit for Carl, who invited me along.  Carl was interested in photographing their shop.  I was interested in looking at the process and checking out the bikes they were working on.

Carl and I arranged with Kevin Wolfson to take a tour of the Firefly factory a couple of weeks ago and it was well worth the effort.  Their shop is clean and somewhat sparse.  They seem to have more room than what seems like is needed but that made moving about, while holding a frame, more comfortable.  And they had time for us, at least Kevin had time to greet us and show us around, and Jamie gave us a more detailed tour, including a great explanation on welding, and showed us a number of frames and bikes in process.  Then Tyler came back from lunch and talked with us as well and checked out Carl's more portable camera (more portable than his 8x10 but still much more substantial than my DSLR).

I think I got one clear message about Firefly and how they operate.  They seem to want the space and time to make each bike perfect for the owner, which, by all accounts, they do.  It was fun to see several bikes in process.  The frame for Jamie's new super commuter was in the tacking jig and nearly ready for tacking.  It was alarming for me to see him pull a piece out to show me and have to get it back in place but it was also great fun to see the details that aren't visible once the frame is welded.  I had the opportunity to check out how all of the complicated tube cuts fit together, and how tight the tolerances were.  We also got to see the new disk road dropouts before they were well known (there are beautiful and now well publicized).  We saw a bike in the welding stand, waiting for Tyler, who finished the dress welds for the big tubes and was about to work on the small parts.  Except for the discoloration from the welding and finish work, it looked ready to ride.  We looked at  a couple of mountain frames looking nearly ready to build into bikes.  We also saw a light touring bike with S and S couplers, waiting on parts but very nearly finished.  We also saw Josh Zisson's frame from Saila Bikes, ready for a bead blasting finish.  There was the shop Bones project bike leaning against the wall, and the shop Adventure team bike waiting for its next adventure.  We also saw a small collection of seat posts and stems and parts ready to make more of them.  We also saw  the waiting list on a white board.  I was tempted to take a picture of it but this wouldn't be something to share if I did.  It was a long list with lots of names, each holding a dream of a perfect bike, waiting its turn to come alive.  Their process seems very deliberate and their results are spectacular.

It was an inspiring visit, even if I'm a few years away from buying a new bicycle.  Having a custom made frame makes me want another and Firefly is certainly high on my list of local custom builders.  I already have a bike that Tyler and Jamie had a part in building so I would certainly trust them, and Kevin, to make another great bike for me.

Overall, I felt like a kid in a candy shop, with very expensive candy that was well worth the cost.  Just after we left Carl asked me if I wanted a Firefly.  The answer was obvious.