I participated in the 6th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge!
The very simple rules are that:
- I ride a bike to somewhere to drink coffee, or a coffee-like substance.
- The ride must be minimum of 2 miles roundtrip.
- I need to complete 7 rides in 7 weeks (2 rides maximum per week).
Ride #1: Saturday October 8th (5.3 miles/8.48 km)
I rode my Forever bike (the same brand used by artist Ai WeiWei!), starting the ride by changing out the overly padded and vaguely uncomfortable Chinese seat for my Brooks B72. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right size wrench, so didn’t get the saddle on properly.
Rode to the hospital to see my dad. (1.8 miles) Then on to The Bikery (1.7 miles) to borrow the proper size wrenches to adjust the seat, then I sat down and drank a “nitro” cold brew coffee (cold brew that then has nitrogen gas pumped through it — a very unusual experience for me!) and a gigantic chocolate on chocolate cupcake masquerading as a muffin. Subsequently I rode back to my temporary home (1.8 miles), stopping at a discount store to buy 2 packs of playing cards for tomorrow’s Open Streets.
This ride was punctuated by clouds of dragonflies rising up from the cobblestoned (OK, they’re actually ballast bricks, but cobblestones sounds fancier) streets around the hospital; some chatter about the very fancy cable housing at The Bikery (why not have tiger-striped cable housing, i ask you?), and the sort of “two-fer” experience of drinking cold coffee in a miniature beer mug!
A haiku to mark the occasion).
Later by the chocolate chips
Paved on my muffin.
Ride #2: Saturday October 15th (9.7 miles/15.5 km)
First to the hospital to see my dad (1.8 miles), going by way of the north end of Mirror Lake, and being able to incorporate one my favorite moves: a loooong left turn from the bike lane on a northbound 2-lane one way street to the bike lane on a westbound 2-lane one way street (you have to time it right because of cutting across so many car lanes, fun!).
After that visit, I traveled up from 7th avenue North to 13th Avenue north, which seems like it should have been straightforward, but it actually involved a crisscross back and forth from 11th to 14th as i steadily moved westwards through a neighborhood so superstitious, it eliminated most of spooky 13th Ave! This is one of the nicer St Pete ‘hoods of lovely old stucco houses and trees, much of which were pimped out in Hallowe’en lawn décor. Crossing 16th street, I traveled on to 28th Ave north and up to Mazzaro’s (2.8 miles). Mazzaro’s on Saturday morning is absolutely the WORSE time to brave the crush of shoppers. As i entered the store 45 minutes before closing, the checkout line reached halfway back through the store. Here i had a double macchiato & traditional style cannoli for my troubles in the coffee bar area.
From Mazzaro’s, i went north to 30th Ave north to travel eastward. 30th Ave n was the site of a massive cyclist-MVA crash in 2003, as a distracted (or over-medicated?) motorist lost control of his vehicle and plowed into dozens of cyclists out for a group ride. Many were seriously injured, non-witnesses offered their opinions that the cyclists were at fault and eventually the driver actually lost his license (which sadly is such a rare occurrence that it needs pointing out!). There is a bike lane on 30th Ave N, but it seems MUCH smaller than it should be! On this route, I stopped for some shopping at a hardware store, and then at Trader Joe’s. From TJ’s I crossed 4th St N (legally i can ride on this street, but every year it’s been a proven killing grounds for cyclists and pedestrians) to 1st st N and back to my dad’s home (5.1 miles).
Overall, this ride focused on taking as many bike-friendly streets, and bike lanes as possible, which i think packs more joy into a ride as i compete less with drivers, even see less drivers but instead feast my eyes on home’y houses, big trees and seasonal décor — the delights of 360° vision! This ride began and ended with tiny sprinkles: parentheses of rain.
A riddle from my friend Ashok of Bike So Good: when you take a turn, which pedal should be in the ‘up’ position? Neither! Because you should be pedaling the entire time!
Ride #3: Saturday October 29th (12.7 miles/20.3 km)
From my Dad’s home down to the Southside Coffee Brew Bar. This ride takes me down through the Old Southeast area, which is nicely stuffed with trees and old houses. A lot of the way is on a bike lane, and over a small bump that masquerades as a hill. Riding from 3rd St S and it’s demarcated bike lane to 4th/6th St S which just has a wide shoulder made me apprehensive — but I found that the cars driving past me just gave me a wide berth. It’s sure not like the flattening I would expect if i were on 4th St NORTH! As i pulled into the parking lot where the cafe is located, I signaled a right turn, and the young lady driving out of the lot who was waiting on me made a point of rolling down her window to say “How ya doin’?” in appreciation. The brew bar is a wee little shop, very friendly people, and quite good coffee. I ordered a long double shot and a chocolate pizzelle (a tiny bit of sweetness). It was nice to sit outside in the sun, watching folks & their dogs coming and going. A perfect morning for doing nothing else but… (2.9 miles)
From there I backtracked north a bit to Kindred Hospital to visit my dad. (0.6 miles)
After a few hours, I left the hospital & went to Boyd Hill Nature Reserve in a roundabout way. After trekking east through some neighbourhood streets, I traveled south on 9th St S by a rocking picnic party in the public Lake Maggiore park. Once i got to the reserve, I walked for several more hours along most of the trails, enjoying the sights of flora (epiphytes, magnolias, live oaks, orange flowers, purple berries) and fauna (dragonflies, frogs, birds, butterflies, raccoons, an alligator! and the raptors in the Aviary). Dragonflies are always such a puzzle: bodies so fat and wings so thin, how do they stay aloft?
As i meandered the trails I was thinking about the differences the travel TO nature makes to the experience. When you drive (or are driven) to Nature, it’s as though you were delivered via shipping container into an experience that has finite beginnings and endings, a sort of backdrop to your life, especially perhaps if you’re in a group, talking amongst yourselves. I witnessed such a group of folks walk by me, one of them actually putting his hand on a railing RIGHT NEXT to a little vivid green frog — and actually not see it! When you ride your bike to Nature, even on roads dominated by velo-cidal cars, you’re not encased, boxed up — you’re already there. Just sayin’. (2.0 miles)
From Boyd Hill, I went West-North-NE-East. I took the long way around Country Club Way, north on 31st St S, east on 26th Ave S, and then north on 22nd St S, where I encountered a REAL hill in flat St Pete! I turned east on 1st Ave S, stopping at Pinellas Ale Works (P.A.W.) for a nice cold “off the leash” IPA. (A dog-theme & dog-friendly brew-pub). After that pleasant & much-needed refreshment, I continued east to Dad’s home. (7.2 miles)
Ride #4: Tuesday Nov 1st (7 miles/11.2 km)
A short ride that did NOT include a stop at a hospital!
From Dad’s house, I rode down Central Ave to (swah-rey), a cute little café that offers “minis”, which are mini-cupcakes, suspended over long tall glasses of various beverages (coffees, wine, etc.). This was actually for a business meeting with a quite interesting local web-designing person, and I really appreciate her introducing me to the place! I enjoyed a mini-cocconut cake suspended over a glass of espresso — color that DELICIOUS! (1.9 miles)
I didn’t return directly, but instead followed a route of passing by each of the newly installed Coast public bike hubs! (5.1 miles)
Ride #5: Tuesday Nov 8th (9.2 miles/14.7 km)
I recently had a flat on my rear tire, which takes a bit more effort to fix when you have a totally enclosed chain case like mine. But then after fixing the flat, the chain started making horrendous noises, and because it was rubbing against one part of the chain case, the quick-release chain link popped off and the chain fell apart. Another evening at the St Pete Bike Co-Op to repair it and off i went! However…. (catch the sinister foreshadowing there?)
First I rode down from Dad’s house to the hospital, and my chain still made ominous crunk-crunk-crunch! noises. (1.8 miles)
So then when i left, and rolled the bike backwards, the chain noise got even WORSE. (Uh-oh) This was problematic because i don’t carry proper road tools with me (lesson learned); eventually my emergency road repair was finally achieved with my chain-lock key which i used to pull off part of the chain-case. I rode a little while, but still had noise and further investigation found that another small part of the case had gotten bent inwards to rub against the chain. Eventually i got that bent back in the correct direction with a 12mm wrench. Now noiseless (OK, less-noisy), I rode into the Driftwood neighbourhood (recommended by a friend from the Co-Op), which is a mess of rolling roads, trees, palms and quiet funky homes. It’s the kind of place that lends itself more to a feeling than to a photo (it just won’t fit in one). From there, I headed north to Central Ave and west to Bandit Coffee Co. Hurray for the new “sharrows” on Central! Bandit is a lovely new minimalist design (Apple store-esque) coffee store. I enjoyed an iced espresso mocha, which was tasty, rich and refreshingly not too sweet. (5.1 miles)
From Bandit, i rolled back down Central, stopping at Zaytoon Grill because i was hungry, then passed by the downtown polling spot and back to Dad’s place. (2.3 miles)
Ride #6: Tuesday Nov 15th (7.1 miles/11.36 km)
From Dad’s house i rode up north along Coffeepot Bayou to Coffeepot Park in the northeast on my way to somewhere to drink actual coffee. (3.0 miles)
Then I rode south down 1st St N, and then west along 2nd Ave N/Arlington & Central. I had considered stopping at an actual café on the 1100 block of Central, but when i arrived i saw that it was another of those Apple-store-influenced style places, so instead i went to Bodega on Central of the same block, where i ordered a cortadito (Cuban coffee with a little milk) and a flakey guava pastry. I enjoyed both, sitting in the patio at the back of the place, watching the clouds gather over to the east like green-white-pink pleats across the sky. I like this patio, which is especially nice & LOUD when it’s raining, thanks to its corrugated tin roof. (3.0 miles)
And then back to Dad’s place. (1.1 miles)
Ride #7: Thursday Nov 17th (8.1 miles/12.96 km)
For my final ride, i went to possibly my favorite coffee shop, which is quite close so this required padding some extra miles into the ride. I traveled from Dad’s place to 16th St N (one of the many streets in St Pete that sports a suddenly disappearing bike lane as you travel north from Central Ave!), then I turned east on 13th Ave N to eventually circumnavigate Crescent Lake, and then south to Brew D Delicious. There i had my usual, 2 shots pulled long and served into a tiny cup. The place’s style is more thrift-store-funky — nothing matches, not the cups, nor the furniture, and it’s extremely dog-friendly, and i’ve long just felt comfortable here. (6.3 miles)
From here, I rode down to the hospital (3.0 miles), and then later back to Dad’s place (1.8 miles).
I really enjoyed riding my little part of this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge. I’m not sure where i’ll be for next year’s, but VERY DEFINITELY don’t want hospital visits to play any part of it!