Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride 5: Blue Bottle Coffee

Ride 5: October 26 / Blue Bottle Coffee / 16.5 miles / Cappuccino & Iced Coffee

Two coffeeneuring rides in one weekend?  I'm getting after it. 

I did tone it back, though.  A 20+ mile ride was a little too ambitious, and I was still shell-shocked from the last Brooklyn ride that resulted in multiple hours without a sandwich. 

I set my sights on Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, ate a sandwich BEFORE I left this time, and departed around Noon.  It was partly cloudy in the high 50s, and kind of windy.
7.8 miles to Blue Bottle Coffee
The route to Blue Bottle Coffee is very similar to the route I took to get to Cafe Grumpy.  The only thing worth noting on the ride out was that it was WINDY on the Queensboro Bridge.  The weather was great, the traffic was reasonable (by NYC standards) and it was a very easy ride there.
Blue Bottle Coffee.  All kinds of bikes.
This coffee shop is the coolest coffee shop I've ever been to.  I was not cool enough to be in there.  I am very surprised that they didn't check to see that everyone had an iPhone 6 before they walked in there.  I also did not meet the dress code. You'd figure that with a bike lane out front, I would have known the level of cool before I walked in, but I didn't.

The shop itself looks like it was a converted garage, so the front windows are nice and open so it's great for people-watching.  The menu was simple and I decided on a cappuccino.  Apparently the Coffee Gods are looking out for me, because when I was paying, I was offered an extra iced coffee for free. Winning.
Cappuccino and Iced Coffee a la gratis
The cappuccino and iced coffee were delicious.  I swear that there might have been some chocolate in that iced coffee.  Also, I did get a little warm riding to the shop, so the iced coffee was a welcome refreshment before my ride home. 
Also, by ride home, I mean with a quick stop at Standings to watch the 1pm NFL games.   
Blue Bottle to Standings to Home - 8.7 miles 
I rode across town this time over to the Hudson River, because I am NOT falling into the Midtown trap again.  The ride up the river today wasn't nearly as nice as yesterday.  It was cloudy and windy, so much so that I couldn't really keep a good cadence against the headwind.
Sorry I didn't include as many bridge pictures today.  (I'm not sorry...i just forgot.)
Ride 5: check.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride 4: Sit & Wonder

Ride 4: October 25 / Sit & Wonder / 22.3 miles / Red Eye (large coffee w/ two shots espresso)

So, I got around to reading some other Coffeeneuring reports.  I am such a wuss.  Seriously.  Go on, read them. I'll wait.

I don't know about all of them, but there are people doing 68 mile bike rides for coffee.  68 MILES!  Did you know that Frisco, CO to my friend's house in Denver, CO is about 68 miles?  Even going downhill the whole way, I cannot fathom that distance on a bike.  That is probably why I am not a very good bike rider. 

Anyhow, I wanted to start making my rides tougher.  I'm a healthy-ish guy in my 30s, I used to play the sports, I ski patrolled for double digit rides each way seem reasonable...right?

Of course they do.  Just shut-up, Dan, and Brooklyn (again), to Sit & Wonder.

10.9 miles from Home to Sit & Wonder
I am doing this ride on Saturday, because this weekend in NYC is gorgeous.  Temps in the 60F range and sunny.  Bike riding weather in late October rocks.

As per my usual, I was part of the "crack of Noon" club getting started on this ride.  I, of course, did not eat breakfast, because I can always get a quality sandwich once I get to Brooklyn.  They must have a deli there.  (remember this paragraph)

All two of you that regularly read and love my blog will be wondering "when does he go to Midtown and ruin his ride?"  HA!  I'm not as dumb as I look.  Hudson River, baby.  I even stopped along the way and took a picture from one of the piers because it was such a beautiful day.

Beautiful day.

Took the Hudson River path all the way until it was time to work across Manhattan towards the Manhattan Bridge.  I ignored every sign that was placed to help me with directions, and figured I could work it out on my own.  Then I got lost.  I'm not proud, but I had succumbed to the "Midtown Route" so many times, I had never ridden this route the clever way.  Long story short, I made some bad decisions, rode some cobblestone streets, and was WAY too close to the entrance to the Holland Tunnel before I found the beautiful green bike lane on Grand St. 

Getting Lost. Laugh it up.

So, Grand St. East towards the Manhattan Bridge.  Car traffic lanes approaching the bridge in ChinaTown were closed, so that part of the ride was pretty miserable, but eventually I made it to the bridge entrance and powered over into Brooklyn.

See that bridge in the distance?  Spoiler: I'll be there later.
Brooklyn has tons of bike lanes in very sensible spots, and I was able to be in some kind of bike lane all the way through Brooklyn until I arrived at Sit & Wonder.

Nice little coffee shop, good menu, but there was something called a Red Eye on there that I hadn't seen at a coffee shop before.  I asked about it and found out that it consisted of a large coffee with two shots of espresso in it.  Yup.  I also wanted a scone, since I was hungry.

I didn't have my wallet.

(let that sink in)
So, I was double digit miles away from my house, with no money and no coffee or scone.  My dreams of a sandwich (remember, I'm hungry) were crushed.  There is no pain worse than realizing you're not getting a sandwich when you think you'll have a sandwich.

Then, the guy behind the counter did something that reminds you that people are good deep down on the inside: he gave me the Red Eye anyway.  And then he wished me luck finding my wallet, and hoped I hadn't dropped it along the way.  If you ever get a chance, read the 'Where is Baer' blog posted on the right.  That guy is nuts, but he has also been to some amazing places and people treated him, and his traveling companions, with such compassion and warmth.  While my "coffee mission" is the smallest of small-potatoes compared to every other problem out there, it was still amazing. 

Thank You, Sit & Wonder.

I brought my coffee to their patio in the back and settled into finishing a book on my Kindle.  Yeah, I hauled my Kindle to Brooklyn, but not my wallet.  Winner.
The lazy cows belie how much caffeine is in this cup.
Coffee, check.  Faith in humanity restored, check.  Sandwich..............I need to get home.

I think riding back the same way you came is generally lame, so I chose slightly different route home.
Route to Sandwich-town: 11.4 miles
I did get to ride by the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and I am a huge WWII nut.  Even though it is now used to store your vehicle that got towed when you made the mistake of driving into, and parking in, Manhattan, it used to churn out battleships and aircraft carriers, and I am always in awe thinking about the history of such places.

I like bridge pictures.
Across the Williamsburg Bridge, and then across Manhattan to the Hudson River.  SOHO was crowded, but no one yelled at me for being in the bike lane, just angry looks.  I still call that a win.

Back up the Hudson bike path to home. 

I know what you're all thinking:  "What about that sandwich?"

Sandwich: Tuna fish with sprouts on wheat bread x2  Beer: Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin'

Ride 4: Check.

The wallet was on my pants, on my bed, right next to where my keys were before I left.

Coffeeneuring Ride 3: Cafe Grumpy

Ride 3: October 19 / Cafe Grumpy / 16.2 miles / Coffee Black x2

Saturday was taken up by the Far Hills Hunt in New Jersey, so, obviously, I was betting on ponies (and winning) as opposed to doing a ride. 

Good thing that Sunday comes right after Saturday.  It was nice and cold out (just over 50F), but it was sunny and knowing my lazy, lazy ways, if I fell behind in the challenge I would never catch up. 

Where to today?  Brooklyn.  (Gasp.)

You see, I may have mentioned my laziness.  I am perfectly content to ride somewhere on Manhattan, and make it home again.  For that reason, and others, I rarely make it to Brooklyn.  What Others? The first time I tried to go, we were going to the Brooklyn Brewery, the L train wasn't running, so it took about 2 hours to get there and involved complicated and out of the way bus transfers.  For the record, I don't need to waste two hours of my time trying to get to Brooklyn.  Not that I have anything better to do, but that was just annoying.  The second time I went to Brooklyn my bocce team, "House Party," got HOUSED at the end of season tournament and were eliminated in the 1st round.  Also, did you know you have to go over bridges to get there?  Or through tunnels?  Or use a BOAT???  It's just a daunting prospect. 

Reluctantly, I decided to broaden my horizons, picked out a spot based on it's awesome name, and fired it up:  Cafe Grumpy.
It was colder than the last two weekends.  I was initially regretting my layering choices.  Fortunately, I'm not in very good shape, so by the time I got out of Central Park I was working hard enough to keep myself warm.  The park was full of people (Sunday) so my average speed through there would not be impressive on the Strava boards.  Do I care?  I do not.

Across on 59th St, which was better than the last time I did it when I actually got forced off the road by a car right in front of a Traffic Cop and she told me that I had to be more that.  Then, onto the Queensboro Bridge.  The Queensboro Bridge is a pretty cool bridge, all-in-all.  There is a picture of my bike on it below, but if you don't know it, watch The Dark Knight Rises and it's the bridge that Robin and all those orphans on the bus are on when they think the bomb is going off near the end.  Anyhow, it's a sweet bridge, with a good bike lane.  The last time I went over it I was also scared silly because it was in a deluge/lightning storm and the Flash/Bang time was <1s; I was soaked to the bone, and amped up. This time over the bridge was much more pleasant.  I even took a picture for you.  I would NOT have stopped for ANYTHING last time.

Yeah, I know.  She's facing the wrong way.  Sorry about that.

So, over the bridge, over Roosevelt Island, and into Queens.  I have never been to Queens, except for Laguardia and Mets Games.  That's all I have to say about that.  I used Queens for her access to Brooklyn.  It won't be the last time, either.  I got confused right before the Pulaski Bridge (Queens/Brooklyn connector), and it turns out you actually ride on the sidewalk.  Huh.  They are planning improvements, don't you worry.

Obligatory Pulaski Bridge shot.

After that, Brooklyn.  Seemed nice.  Too nice.  Anyhow, just a few minutes later I arrived at Cafe Grumpy.

I love this place.  It's on a quiet corner and you'd walk right by it if you didn't know it was there.  Also, look at the shingle!  They also have a shockingly simple menu.  There aren't Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or anything ridiculous like that.  So, I had some Coffee Black.
A well-balanced Coffee Black.
The coffee was delicious.  It also came in this sweet Bodum glass cup, and someday, I will have a set of these things.  The coffee was so good, the sun warm, and the corner this shop was on so beautiful and quiet, that I had two cups.  This place is definitely a winner.

After this...I got a bit distracted.  There is a place nearby called Peter Pan Donuts.  I don't remember who told me about them, but I love me a good donut.  So, I rode the 4 blocks from Cafe Grumpy to Peter Pan, and had two bowties and a powdered jelly-filled donut.  I didn't take any pictures, because NO ONE needs to see me scarfing down donuts.  After that, the Fat Kid was happy.

Broncos had a Sunday Night game, but fantasy tracking and heckling is a must, so I set my sights on heading to Standings.  Bonus round for me: from where I was it only took me one bridge to get back even though I took two bridges to get there.  That doesn't make sense, mathematically, but I couldn't argue.  So, obligatory Williamsburg Bridge shot!
I got the direction of travel right this time. 
It's also, possibly, the only Drive-Side shot you'll ever get out of me.
To Standings!!!  The early games were interesting, Fantasy Football worked out well.  Around 4 I hopped back on 'er and headed home.  The map below has the whole ride, but you get the idea.

 Up Third Avenue, and I did so well this time avoiding Midtown, right up until I didn't.  This route (mistake) also took me right by Rockefeller Plaza...I'm an idiot.  Avoid Midtown. 

Ride 3: Check...and best ride yet

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride 2: Ninth Street Espresso

Ride 2: October 12 / Ninth Street Espresso / 11.2 miles / Espresso & Coffee Black

Once again it was raining on Saturday, so I had to wait until Sunday to fit in a ride.  Again, it was in the high 50s to start the day and very sunny, so I dressed up*, stashed a jacket on the bike just in case, and picked out where to go next. 

*A quick note about my riding outfit:  there are people who ride bikes out there that dress up in spandex and team kits to make themselves aerodynamically "fast."  I am not that guy.  When I say "dressed up," I usually mean a pair of well worn Carhartts, a t-shirt, a Melanzana hoodie, some high-top Chuck Taylors, and a trusty Colorado Rockies hat.  No, I don't wear a helmet.  Yes, I am aware of whatever thought that just provoked. 

Ninth Street Espresso is in Alphabet City, and, again, was on an Internet list that said I should go there.  Can't argue with the Internet.

The shop is a little under 6 miles away and I had several choices of how to go.  Remember last week when I said to avoid Midtown?  Well, for whatever reason, I ignored my own advice and decided to rely on the Broadway bike lane below Times Square to get me to 20th St.  So, I rode down Columbus Ave, which also has a bike lane that is pretty good until Hell's Kitchen, took a left on 40th, which kinda has a bike lane, and then to Broadway.  This is when I began to hate myself.  Sure, there is a bike lane on Broadway, but between the diagonal avenue crossings, pedestrian malls, and weekend crowds, it was really a miserable time trying to ride down 20 streets.  I definitely should have done a river ride.  Once I got to 20th St, the ride over and down to Alphabet City was easy.  Pluses for this ride: I didn't get hit by a car, and the weather was FANTASTIC for riding. 

It did take me 40 minutes to get there, and this place is only a few blocks away from MUD Coffee (25 min ride, way better route).  The shop itself <Point B> is much wider than MUD coffee, has some outdoor seating, and is nice and open inside.  Only drawback: because of the sun angles it was in the shade.

I met a friend that lives on the Lower East Side there, so we ordered some coffee and talked about pretty much nothing.  The menu there is very simple, so I decided to go with a plain espresso.

The espresso was great and the caffeine definitely got the motor going, but it's so small.  I don't usually do too well with small quantities of food or drink, so I quickly followed that up with a regular cup of Coffee Black (Black Coffee, for those of you who didn't ski patrol at Copper Mountain before).  Even drinking inside they were using paper cups for coffee, which seemed odd to me.  Is it too much to ask for a regular mug in my hand?  We're all adults here. (Maybe?)

After that, I headed to a bar on 7th and 2nd called Standings <Point C> to watch the Broncos beat the Jets, keep track of my fantasy team, and heckle my friends. 

I rode home about 4pm up Third Avenue, which doesn't have a bike lane, but moves at a good clip, so I just ride in the right lane.  West on 60th St, and I cut through Central Park to get home. 

The coffee shop was OK, the riding was fantastic (except for Midtown...) because of the great weather.   Also, Go America, Go Broncos.
Ride 2: check. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride 1: MUD Coffee

Ride 1: October 5 / MUD Coffee / 11.1 miles / Caramel Macchiato

I live on the Upper West Side.  I have plenty of coffee shops nearby, but also have the advantage of having plenty of coffee shops that are not nearby.  This is also a disadvantage, because with so many coffee shops in NYC, I find it difficult to figure out where to go because I'm not very familiar with any coffee shop outside of my neighborhood.  So, where did I turn?  Thrillist, and their "The best coffee shop in 30 NYC neighborhoods" article.

I haven't been to the East Side of town very much, and though I fear change more than I fear most other things, I decided on MUD Coffee 5.5 miles away on the Lower East Side.  Here is a non-Strava map of my ride.

Since I live on the UWS most of my rides start with me riding down the Hudson Bike Path, or through Central Park.  I decided a nice Hudson River ride would be great. 

It had rained Saturday and was still 55F when I got going, but it was sunny and the ride along the river was beautiful. Once I got down to 16th St, I chose to work my way across Manhattan towards the East side.  16th St has a great bike lane, but the lights are poorly timed, so the same car will fly by you, yell at you for riding too slow, stop a the next red light, watch you pass alongside and pull in front of him, wait for the light to turn green, and then speed by again, yelling or honking.  Great plus for this particular ride: I was NOT almost hit by a cab.  The 5.5 mile ride took me 25 min to get down there <PointB>.  I didn't set any speed records, but, again, didn't get hit by a cab.  Not too shabby.

MUD Coffee is a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop.  It was also crazy hipster line-out-the-door busy. However, the lines moved quickly, and it looks like a great place to get your brunch on.

I decided on a Caramel Macchiato...I had heard good things, what can I say?

It was very good.

So, with coffee on board, proof of my ride in hand, and a Broncos game starting soon, I started my ride home.  I started with the 1st Ave bike lane going north.  Pedestrians in the bike lane, delivery guys salmoning, cars merging to turn left poorly...all pretty par for the course, but it's a buffered bike lane and a lot more pleasant than just riding on most of the avenues in Manhattan.  Then I did something ridiculous...I turned towards Midtown.

I don't know why I ever think that riding through Midtown is a good idea.  It never is, and yet, like a moth to a flame, I somehow think that 6th Ave still has a bike lane running up it, and I always work my way that way.  Anyhow, check out the map: Park Ave for a little bit, over to 6th Ave, and then up to 57th where I headed over to 8th Ave.  Remember that lovely Hudson River ride and coffee that put me in a good mood?  Well, I can only get honked at while riding with the flow of traffic so many times. 

Through Columbus Circle, up Central Park West, and finally over to Amsterdam to head home. 

The ride was fantastic, except, again, for Midtown.  Coffee: ridiculously good.  They also sell beans, and have brunch.  Week 1: check.

Blog Post #1: Coffeeneuring 2014

I live and ride a bike in NYC. Let's just get that out of the way and have everybody agree that I might be a little crazy.

My bike is a Surly Cross Check, with Schwalbe Big Apple tires, and one gear. It's not a fixie because I like coasting too much, and I have breaks on it.  Apparently, if you have a fixie, you can't be cool AND have I choose breaks over being cool.

I heard about coffeeneuring one day in November of 2013 after clicking on too many links on too many different bike blogs. I eventually ended up here:, read about coffeeneuring, and instantly loved the idea. You see, I can be a bit lazy, so having a challege to get me out the door and on my bike is exactly what I need...otherwise, there's a Broncos game on that I can happily watch.

The drawback of finding out last November, is that it was only one week from being over, and there is no way that I could still participate. So, I had to wait until Fall 2014. Skip over a lot of stuff... and Coffeeneuring season 2014 is now here!