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A ride that is more difficult than anticipated is like paint remover.

That realization came to me yesterday while out on a 102k RUSA Permanent. Several months ago–4 to be exact– I set for myself the goal of completing the RUSA P-12. The P-12 is basically a competition with one’s self, a work of personal achievement. A rider completes a RUSA Permanent of at least 100 kilometers every month for 12 consecutive months.

A Permanent is nothing more than a fixed route “owned” by a RUSA member. You tell the owner when you want to ride, complete some paperwork and ride. During the ride, you have to prove that you completed the route as planned and within certain time parameters. To do that, you collect information or receipts with time stamps at control points along the route. At the completion of the ride, you send your proof to the owner and he or she credits your results page on the RUSA site.

I’ve been doing these rides since August. At first they were meant to prepare me for a 200k brevet before the end of 2015, but that plan fell through due to work and family obligations and the fact that no one runs brevets much after September in the NY area. Then I realized that riding a 100+k per month was a good way to stay in shape over the winter. Most of the rides have been relatively flat as I worked on building my endurance for longer days and, ultimately, rides of 200k and longer.

To many this may seem like “what’s the big deal about getting to 200, that’s not so hard.” But I am a product of circumstances, like many of you out there. I work all day, 5 days a week. On the weekends I may have one of the two days to ride, and the second is for domestic affairs. My ride options on that one day consist of:

  1. Go solo. I’m usually not inclined to ride around my own environs for 4+ hours alone. Boring!
  2. Go out with the club. That brings its own baggage, not the least of which is that most of the rides end around 45-50 miles and traverse the same damn roads year after year.
  3. Pack up and go somewhere completely different; for example, a RUSA permanent in another region

Hitting 200 requires some planning and adjustment of schedules. I know enough not to just go for 200 without easing into it, hence the RUSA Permanent rides.

Yesterday’s route was the closest to my home yet, a mere 30 minute drive to Yonkers which, for those not familiar with NY, is just across the border from the Bronx. It also showed the most elevation gain compared to the other routes I’ve ridden although I never quite trust the elevation declarations on the RUSA site or RidewithGPS. My plan was to ride light and fast on my Seven, leaving the heavier fender-equipped bike at home. One look out the window, however, convinced me that the heavy bike would be making the trip. It was dreary, chilly and drizzling; therefore, having fenders and a place to carry a rain jacket and spare gloves would be valuable.

Approximately 45% of the route followed county multi-use trails (MUT) through lower Westchester. Some may scoff at riding on a MUT, but when it’s foggy and the roads are slippery I’d rather be out of the way of the automobiles. I made good progress up to Kitchawan, then crossed this picturesque MUT bridge.

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Immediately after the bridge, I began a dastardly (to me) climb up to the first control in Yorktown Heights. When you haven’t been doing a lot of climbing, a 2.2 mile climb at a noticeable grade really gets your heart and lungs going. I have no idea, by the way, how to assess grade percentage either with my eyes or a GPS route. Maybe I’m better off!

Most of the 3350 ft of climbing were in the back half of the route. A fair amount of climbing out of low points, like the Croton Aqueduct building pictured above. And the route finished with two steep climbs up streets in Dobbs Ferry and Yonkers. It was definitely more climbing than I was prepared for in terms of fitness and preparation.

At some point I stopped to take a breather and munch some candy and realized that I had completely shut out the outside world. I wasn’t thinking about work, family, bills, the next bike I want, the new stove we need……nothing. I was completely focused on riding, turning the pedals, paying attention to the road and traffic. Focused on the next turn, how many miles back to the start, will I need to put on the rain jacket for the last 6 miles.

It occurred to me then that a ride that is more difficult than anticipated is like paint remover. It strips away everything. All you can do is focus on turning the pedals and the road in front of you. Nothing else matters for that time.

It’s a good feeling.

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Personal Risk Assessment

Do you perform a personal risk assessment before engaging in your favorite sporting activity?

I watch the video above on a regular basis. Partly because I like the setting and story, and partly because my work involves helping healthcare teams identify and manage risk. I think there are a lot of parallels between managing risk in the outdoors and managing risk in a hospital during emergencies. When I watch the video, I also reflect on how I manage my own risk when cycling.

For me, risk on a bike boils down to three things. I can get hurt by the actions of others. I can get hurt because of my own actions (or inactions). I can get hurt by unforeseeable things such as a tree branch falling on me or sinkhole opening in the roadway. I can only control a couple of these potential failure points and I do so by performing a risk assessment before each ride and making good choices during the ride that are consistent with my risk management plan. Here are my assessment points:

  1. Me: I’m the only person I have complete control over out on the road. So I have to be “ready” for the ride. Ready means rested, healthy and in the right state of mind. A fair amount of risk management (making good decisions in critical situations) relies on having a clear head that allows focus and critical decision-making. You cannot do this if you’re exhausted, sick or distracted by other life issues. If you are sick and on a load of cold medicines, for example, you should consider yourself impaired and ask how that will impact your riding and decision-making. I make it a rule to never ride sick because sickness itself is a distraction. As a general rule, if I roll out of bed saying, “I really don’t feel like riding today,” I don’t rush out to ride. I allow myself to wake up and if the mood changes, then I ride. The “Me” category also includes nutrition and hydration; therefore, I assess what I expect to need during the ride and pack accordingly. For a longer ride, I’ll try to anticipate where along the route I can find real food.
  2. The Environment: I assess the weather conditions the day before and morning of a routine ride. I start assessing further out for a major ride that involves a long drive to the start. I look at conditions such as temperature, predicted rainfall, potential for lightning, icing conditions, sunrise & sunset. My first decision point is, “Do I want to ride in this weather?” followed by “What clothing will I need to complete the ride?”  Some of this is about personal comfort. I’m not likely to start a ride in a downpour because I don’t like starting a ride feeling miserable. Ice on the road is almost always a “no go” because of the skidding hazard it adds for automobiles. Remember, I can control my bike, but not the car sliding toward me! Snow on the road, at least in New York, means the shoulders of the road will be missing after the roads are plowed, which means riding in the main traffic lane. If it’s a low traffic weekend, I might still ride but probably not on a commuter weekday. The sunrise/sunset times inform my decision whether to bring lights, reflective vest and ankle straps.
  3. Equipment: I keep my bikes in proper working order, much like the alpinists in the video maintain their ropes and racks of gear. The bikes get a once over each week to make sure the brakes are working, chain lubed, tires at correct pressure, etc. If I’m commuting to work, I lay out all my gear the night before and load what I can onto the bike, double checking tire pressures and making sure any electronics are charged. In all the years I’ve commuted by bike, I’ve had maybe 3 flats and one mechanical (a crank arm snapping off), which is pretty good. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you. In addition to making sure the equipment works, I  assess whether it’s the appropriate equipment for the task. If it’s raining or snowing, I’m likely to be on the bike with fenders. Equipment also includes my clothing; wearing the correct outfit for the conditions and anticipating what might be needed during the ride. Better to have it and not need it than to be miserable because you left something–like a wind vest–at home.
  4. The Route: Here’s the point I ask, “Where am I going?” I rarely roll without having some idea where I’m going, even if it’s for a one-hour ride around my own neighborhood. For club rides, rando rides or big mass events, I’ll make sure I have the route cue sheet and a GPS file loaded into my Garmin. I’ll inspect the route at home to get an understanding of the course and see if there is anything notable; for example, the route requires a ferry ride and the ferry only runs hourly. If I have a cue sheet and GPS route, I’ll compare the two to make sure they are consistent. I put all my route papers, registration forms, brevet card etc in the same place in my duffle bag so I know where to find them. I recently switched to Open Street Maps (OSM) on my Garmin, which means having to download map segments into the Garmin. This is a failure point for me because I sometimes forget that I don’t have the entire United States on the Garmin anymore. I leave information as to where I’ll be with my family before I leave, in case of emergency. Part of my Route assessment involves thinking about who I’ll be riding with.  Am I riding with a partner, and are we matched in terms of ability? Am I riding with 6,000 strangers trying to kill me?
  5. The Rest of the World: I am mindful that I cannot control other’s behavior. I cannot control the soccer mom texting while driving, or the guy running late for a meeting who is trying to save time by driving on the right shoulder. I try to be aware of and anticipate human behavior and adjust my behavior accordingly. If I’ve done my job with items #1-5, this happens naturally for me because I’m rested, prepared and attentive. Rock drummer Neal Peart has written a lot about traveling by motorcycle across the US and Europe. His mantra is “It mustn’t be my fault,” meaning a mishap caused by another person’s actions is bad enough, but one caused by your own failure is unacceptable.
  6. Contingencies: At this point in my assessment, I’m asking “What If” questions. For example, “What if I have to abandon a ride, how will I get back to the start?” “Where will I eat a big meal after the ride?” “Is there a hospital in the area in case I have to help myself or someone else?”

Although it looks like a complicated process written out long form, this assessment only takes a few minutes. The more you do it, the quicker you become. The more you do it, the more aware you become about potential failure points and how to mitigate them. What I strive for is seamlessness of thought, that this happens automatically and naturally. I want my mind open and free during the ride, knowing that I did a proper risk assessment before starting the ride. During the ride, I’ll maintain situational awareness about what is happening, constantly checking my assessment against my intuition in an attempt to make good choices for myself and those riding with me. The funny thing about a risk assessment is that you don’t know whether you made the correct choices until after the activity is over.

Allow me to illustrate the interaction between risk assessment and on-bike situational awareness and intuition. Two weeks ago, I attempted a RUSA Permanent Populaire, a sub-200k brevet course. This particular course was in the Hudson Valley, about 2 hours north of my home. I obtained and reviewed the route, noting that it crossed the Hudson twice on bridges, one of which is a dedicated pedestrian walkway that I’ve cycled across in the past. I completed my risk assessment and, on the day of the ride, I was feeling in tip-top shape.  In retrospect, there was one element of the assessment that I might not have assigned enough weight to: I was doing the course on a weekday, starting out at 08:30am.

I was riding strong and making good progress toward finishing ahead of schedule until I came to the first bridge. A tall, tall bridge with cars speeding across it because it was rush hour. The bike route utilized the right shoulder as the bike path. Within a few pedal strokes of passing the toll booth, my brain revolted against forward progress. The combination of high, arching roadway, speeding cars and low side railing triggered a panic attack and vertigo. I tried focusing on the ground in front of me, but my mind kept sending the message “You’re going to fall over the side!”

I dismounted and composed myself. I asked myself why I was feeling that way. I tried to remember that I’d pedaled over this river before without issue (on the pedestrian bridge). I tried to develop a strategy to not look up or down or sideways. But my intuition kept telling me not to continue, that continuing might mean a real problem in the middle of the span far from help.

So I retreated. And I abandoned the route and made my own 55 mile route back to the start. At the start, I rode across the pedestrian bridge, just to prove I could do it.

I was both disappointed and proud. Disappointed because I did not anticipate a problem that perhaps I should have (traffic on a high bridge may have removed a perceived safety margin). Disappointed that my primitive man brain prevented me from achieving a goal. Proud that I listened to my intuition, like the statement by the climbing guide in the video, and backed off thereby preventing a bigger problem from happening. At the end of the ride I knew two things: first, that I made good decisions because I prepared myself to make  good decisions; and second, that I have some work to do on bridge crossings.

Go back and watch the video again. Do you see the parallel between mountain craft and cycling, or mountain craft and other parts of your life?

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It Took Me Long Enough


I’ve been a member of Randonneurs USA a couple of times in my cycling life.  Many years ago I joined out of sheer curiosity with no real intent to do anything about it. I let my membership expire. I joined again at the beginning of last season with the intent (hope) of doing a 200k brevet. I’m not particularly speedy and I think the longest ride I’ve ever done is about 110 miles- a century with some wrong turns-so this was a bit of a stretch goal. I even had the brevets picked out. But I didn’t really train and as each event approached I would promise myself to get in shape for the next. Procrastination: the story of my non-work life. I did exactly zero rides related to RUSA last year.

To be honest with myself, my interest was primarily generated by reading about other people completing brevets. Living vicariously via magazines and the internet. This spring came and went and I didn’t register for any rides; once again, it was because I hadn’t been training by doing longer rides.

Last week I was reading about people getting ready for Paris-Brest-Paris and I decided to get off my ass and find a Permanent to ride and actually ride it. A Permanent is a route maintained by a RUSA member that can be ridden at any time. Sort of a personal Brevet. A Permanent has all the sport of a traditional RUSA event (time deadline, controls, route to follow) but can be done anytime the route owner and rider agree on. I found a number of routes within reasonable driving distance on the RUSA website, and settled on the Otisville Populaire (108k) route pictured above. It’s an out and back route from New Paltz to Otisville, NY.

A couple of email exchanges later and I was set to ride the route, which I did earlier today. I’m really fond of the New Paltz region so the whole event was a treat. The views weren’t bad either.


It was hot but luckily a lot of the route was shaded. I had to remind myself to keep pushing forward because the route has opening and closing times and I had to reach certain controls within certain time limits. This was a bit difficult because I’d broken my Garmin trying to do a battery replacement two nights earlier. As such, I had no idea how fast I was going. I haven’t ridden with just a cue sheet in quite a long time. Luckily my Garmin mount serves well as a cue sheet holder.


I arrived at the second control with time to spare, which made me feel good about the experience. The patrons of the mini mart control looked at me as if I had dropped out of the sky from Mars. The cash register clock was off by nearly 15 minutes ( the receipt from making a purchase is proof you reached the control on time), but the clerk didn’t understand what I wanted when I asked her to sign my brevet card. I was much quicker on the return trip, which was a good thing because I was getting a case of “hot foot” from pedaling non stop out of fear of arriving late at the controls.

It took me long enough, but I finally completed my first RUSA event. It was a lot of fun. I don’t know if I’m ready for 200k; probably but not in the baking sun of August.

Some lessons learned on this first outing:

  1. Prevent hot foot by unclipping and walking around occasionally. My route had almost no reason to unclip unit the last 15 miles when I had to stop at a traffic light. It felt so good! I should have pulled over earlier.
  2. I really dislike having stuff in my jersey pockets. I carry a lot of food and drink mix powder for any ride longer than about 40 miles. Having all that plus a wallet and phone in the pockets is not comfortable for me. The food items in my pockets turned to mush from my body heat. I was on my “fast” bike which is not equipped with rack or bag. I was glad to have a lighter (than 39 lb) bike but would have liked some more carrying capacity.
  3. Thicker tires rule. Especially when heading out on roads you don’t know. I appreciated having 32c tires and not having to worry about potholes and seams in the road.
  4. As soon as you’re finished riding, start eating and drinking to replace what you lost during the ride.
  5. Those industrial farm sprinklers you see watering giant fields…..they put out a lot of water. I had to ride through one in the last mile because it was aimed improperly and spraying the road. It was like riding through a hurricane.
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Snowy Winter


It has been a snowy winter here in New York, with a couple of moderate sized storms dumping the white stuff on us within a couple of weeks. Not as bad as Boston, for sure, but it has put a damper on cycling. I haven’t commuted in several weeks and I’ve been feeling my fitness slipping away lately. The roads are a mess. Between the snow banks occupying the right lane and the endless potholes and craters, it just hasn’t made sense to venture out on the bike for more than a few miles.

I hate sitting around, though I do a lot of it. My kids are old enough now that I feel comfortable letting them run around in the woods, so a few weeks ago I bought them snow shoes and we’ve been getting out for hikes in the afternoon. I’ve had snow shoes for many years and enjoy winter hiking more than summer hiking. Fewer bugs to contend with. It’s been fun watching the kids find their “snow shoe legs,” learning how to not trip over themselves and navigates slopes.

About a month ago, I got it in my head that I could be out running instead of cycling. As a life-long non-runner, this is probably a stupid idea. I took a run last week in 0 degree night air and quickly realized that running is a lot tougher on the knees, hips and cardiovascular system than cycling. I ran about a mile (0.9 loop around my neighborhood), and did not die or break anything. I’ve subsequently learned that I’m doing it wrong by just opening the door and jogging; that I should be speed walking or doing some other activity to ease into running. Anyhow, after that first night run I realized I’d rather not run on the road. It’s boring and there are cars trying to run you over, just like cycling!

So my interest turned back to hiking with my eye on trying some trail running. Last weekend I tried jogging a bit in my snow shoes and found it a bit cumbersome. I tripped a few times and snow shoes are overkill when the path is already trampled down. Then I learned about Microspikes.

The Kahtoola Microspikes pictured above are like crampons for running or trail hiking when full-on crampons or snow shoes are not necessary. They consist of a rubber-ish (it might be silicone) band that wraps around the base of the shoe, with a set of chains and spikes underneath to provide traction. The spikes are pretty aggressive. I don’t think you’d want to use these on paved surfaces.

I hiked with them yesterday and they are terrific. Went on in twenty seconds and I didn’t know they were there except for the extra traction they provided. On a packed-down trail, they were much nicer than hiking in snow shoes because they allowed me to wear light trail shoes, and did not require the slightly wider stance needed when walking in snow shoes. And I didn’t get tripped by my kids when they inevitably step on the backs of my snow shoes!

I ran a few yards in them and can see their appeal to trail runners: good traction in a lightweight package. And the best part, when it was time to get in the car and go home, they came off in two seconds.

If you hike or run in the snow and ice, these are highly recommended particularly if your trip takes you onto a trail. For road running there are other solutions with less aggressive spikes.

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Not A Good Way to End the Year

Damaged rim

You are looking at a macro shot of the rear wheel from my Co-Motion Americano. It’s hard to believe that a little flat spot like that can make the bike shake like a withdrawing alcoholic.

The damage occurred yesterday, as I attempted to log some miles on the Rapha #Festive500. I was running errands and had just dropped a roll of film off at the camera store and decided to add a few miles to my journey. No more than two minutes into my “bonus miles” I hit a crevasse in the roadway. It was very well disguised. I didn’t see it until it was too late. I had just enough time to unweight the saddle and pop the front wheel up. Unfortunately, the rear wheel took the brunt of the impact.

I guess I should write “fortunately” because if I had hit it with the front wheel, I may have wrecked on a busy street.

Within two pedal strokes, I realized something was amiss. The rear end was pulsating at a regular frequency with each wheel rotation. I pulled over and checked the tire. No sign of the tube bulging out or anything like that, so I decided to wrap up the ride and head home.

This morning I took the bike apart to inspect it, expecting to find a crack in the frame or something else really expensive but, alas, it was just a flat spot on the rim. The picture doesn’t really do it justice. Luckily I have a spare rear wheel but the wheel in the picture was half of my “”light” wheels that I built up a couple of years ago. I’m sad. The wheel was not inexpensive but, more importantly, I haven’t broken a wheel in decades. Literally decades! I hope this isn’t a harbinger of things to come in 2015.

I’ll end with a rant. Long Island has some of the highest property taxes in the US, yet our roads are remarkably crappy. This happened two blocks from the “capitol” of Nassau County and the roads are terrible with pot holes, large seams and all sorts of debris along the shoulders. And it hasn’t even snowed here yet! If you’re wondering how that can be, it’s because they never repaired the roads from last winter. I really wonder where my taxes go to when I look at the roads and parks and see how dilapidated they are. End of rant.

If only it were the front wheel. The I’d have an excuse for a dynamo hub.

Happy New Year.

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Coffeeneuring 2014: It’s a Wrap

In my last post, I summarized my first two Coffeeneuring rides for 2014. My life, since the second ride, has been uncharacteristically busy due to a certain virus that causes hemorrhagic fever. You’ve probably read about it in the paper. I’ve been working long hours helping to train and prepare people in case it ever finds its way out to suburbia. As a result, my cycling time has been very limited; almost no commuting and most weekends have been spent doing chores.

Nevertheless, I completed the Challenge this afternoon with my last ride, son in tow, to a local book shop. It required a lot of effort to get out the door because the weather here is absolutely dreary and cold. In fact, most weekends in the last month have been less than ideal for long rides. What follows is a summary of my final five rides. You’ll notice that I’ve taken to practicing #coffeeoutside and I brought a kid with me on most rides. Having a riding companion is delightful.

Ride 3, on October 18, was my standard Piccolo Route that I take with my kids. We roll out of the house, make a loop up a quiet road and head to their schoolyard* so they can play. If you’re going to cycle with kids, you have to make it fun for them too. While my son was playing, I brewed up some tea.


As luck would have it, the schoolyard has the perfect work surface for a mobile kitchen. If you are going to make coffee or tea outside, you need a smooth surface to cook on. This park has this unique concrete bench and table arrangement that made it very suitable for #coffeeoutside, or tea outside as the case may be. 5.9 miles of riding.

* I’m not including the name of the location here because it is a school and I doubt they want people making it a regular coffeeneuring stop!

Ride 4, on October 25, was a solo ride to one of the local public beaches. Harbor Links / Town of North Hempstead Beach overlooks Roslyn Harbor on the North Shore of Nassau County. You wouldn’t know it’s here unless you live in the area. It’s secluded and, depending on what direction you approach it from, involves one of the steepest climbs in the county. I did the steep climbing part in both directions in an attempt to maintain some semblance of fitness.


The beach was absolutely deserted, which is the way I like it. I’m sure there’s some regulation prohibiting the use of a canister stove, so I didn’t want any witnesses. Tea again, as it is easier to travel with than coffee because I like milk with my coffee but take my tea straight with a spot of honey. So British of me.

I brought a small tripod and camera to take a selfie next to the kitchen but the camera was too heavy for the tiny tripod. Lesson learned: test out your rig before heading out. 2.4 miles total, but remember there was a big hill both ways (insert Bill Cosby joke).

Ride 5, on October 28, was a mountain bike ride in Stillwell Woods. Located in Syosset, Stillwell is a favorite spot for hikers, bikers and equestrians. I go there when I’ve had enough of competing with cars or I realize my Moots isn’t getting enough attention.

The air was very crisp but somehow being in the woods doesn’t seem so bad when it’s cold out. It would’ve been a rough day out on the road bike, that’s for sure. I rode 5.5 miles, stopping often to get fall foliage pictures. It seems wherever I ride my mountain bike, I’m bound to come across an abandoned automobile. This one is nowhere near the trail head, which makes me wonder how it got here.


After the trail ride, I rode another 1.4 miles to the local Starbucks for a latte. Sitting with my drink, I wondered why there aren’t more non-Starbucks coffee shops in my part of Long Island.


Yes, I know October 28 was a Tuesday, not a weekend. I’m going to claim a homeland security/emergency preparedness exemption. I worked over the preceding weekend preparing an emergency response team for the aforementioned virus. Tuesday was my day off that week. It also explains why I went into the woods.

Ride 6 was yesterday, November 15. I barely did any riding since the trip on the Moots because of work. I’ve been heading out the door at 5:30 am and coming home at 7:30pm. Eat dinner. Go to sleep. Repeat the next day.

Yesterday was windy, chilly but sunny. My daughter asked first, so she got the coveted spot on the Piccolo for a short 3 mile spin around town. We rode to the local ball field, fired up the camp stove and had tea and hot cocoa. Although the field has countless “no bicycles” and “no picnicking” signs, the caretaker greeted us with a giant smile on his face; he loves it when I roll through with a kid on the Piccolo.


In completing this year’s Challenge, I’ve found that I much prefer making my own coffee on the little stove pictured above. It’s an MSR Isobutane canister stove. Sitting atop the stove is a small kettle of water. The stove can boil water in about 3 minutes. The entire rig is relatively light, though it does take up space in a pannier, and the whole thing can probably be put together for $50. I’ve had it for several years, so I don’t know current pricing. I can tell you, however, that it’s a lot of fun making your own beverages, using your own beans rather than paying a premium at a shop.

Ride 7 was today and, quite frankly, I was just going through the motions to finish the Challenge. It’s grey and cold and dreary here. No reason to be outside other than to complete something started seven weeks ago.

My son and I took a quick 2.4 mile spin down the main street to the Dolphin Bookstore Cafe overlooking Manhasset Bay. The bookstore is famous in these parts because it caters to children and has been family owned for decades. They added a cafe about a year or so ago, and they serve Stumptown Coffee. It has seating for about 10 people, so I don’t know if it’s a place I’d stop on a club ride but it is certainly suitable if you are by yourself or with one other person.


My son and I shared a hot cocoa watching a half-dozen kids complete arts & crafts projects at the table. Then we hammered home to get out of the wind, Coffeeneuring Challenge 2014 complete.

Here are my general observations from this year’s Challenge:

  1. It’s nice to be part of something global. I’ve been watching the “coffeeneuring” and “coffeeoutside” hashtags on Instagram and it’s phenomenal how many people are participating. I wish I lived in LA (or at least could visit) because Area45 has quite the gathering every week
  2. I wish it wasn’t limited to weekends. I’m a Monday through Friday work kinda guy and many times the weekends are occupied by the honey-do list.
  3. There are no coffee shops in my area! I don’t count SB or DD. I’m talking about nice places like everyone on Instagram is visiting!
  4. Making your coffee or tea on a small stove RULES!!! It sounds burdensome but it definitely is not. The only logistical challenge is carrying the gear, and that can be overcome with a single pannier, small knapsack or large handlebar/rando bag
  5. Riding with a partner makes the Challenge more enjoyable, especially when it’s your kid

That’s a wrap for 2014. Thank you, MG, for inspiring and motivating us.

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Coffeeneuring 2014

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Time to get out on the bike in search of coffee. If you haven’t heard of Coffeeneuring, you may be living under a rock. Here are the rules for 2014.

I began the challenge last weekend, with a ride on October 5th with my daughter aboard the Burley Piccolo. We rode a mellow 5 miles around town, stopping at one of the local Dunkin Donuts for a cup of tea.

Coffee cup


My daughter whoops and hollers as if she is on an amusement park ride. And she asks a lot of questions, such as “Do you ride this fast with my brother?” Yes, I do!

The riding is typical suburban, with semi-busy roads and a mix of commercial and residential neighborhoods. I use the Piccolo as a means to acclimate them to riding in the street among cars. The beverage was actually the low point of the ride, a wholly mediocre cup of dishwater with a tea bag in it. Oh well, it’s the company that matters.

My second outing was this morning, October 12. I don’t have a lot of choices within an easy ride of my home. There are about 16 Starbucks and DD within 5 miles; however, there is only so much of their product I can consume in one week, let alone during a bike ride. There are some really good coffee shops in Brooklyn, but that’s a 50 mile round trip and a bit out of  range for a quick trip. As such, I drew some inspiration from Instagram.

The hashtag #coffeeoutside links to hundreds of pictures of people taking their home brewing equipment outside to the beach, park and mountains. Coffee tastes better when you make it yourself outdoors. So I loaded up my camp stove, kettle, Aeropress and a few grams of Stumptown coffee and headed off for a quick ride.

Ride to the local beach to make coffee outside.

Ride to the local beach to make coffee outside.

Ride to the local beach to make coffee outside.

In three miles, I was at the local beach park, found a scenic view and unpacked my kit. I had to be discrete because I’m not sure the park allows cooking with a gas stove. Within three minutes, I had scalding hot water and I was ready to brew.

The coffee really did taste better having been made outside, and I saved myself some money and a trip the the same-old coffee shop. I think I’ll try to complete the rest of the challenge this way.

I have a couple of things to work through with my kit:

1. It makes a lot of noise, clanging around in my pannier

2. I have to figure out a way to carry milk without it either spilling or getting too warm.

Three miles later and I was back home and showered up for the afternoon. If you haven’t tried making coffee outside, do so. It’s easy and inexpensive if you have a camp stove or other portable heating device.

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