New Year’s Day Ride

January 1, 2017

Destination: Look-Out Park
Distance: 4 miles
Bikes: Surly Pugsley & Surly ICT

With the start of a new year, we decided that a bike ride was in order.  Luckily the weather forecast was promising with warmer temperatures and plenty of sun.  This change in weather was a welcomed change since the previous days have been fairly gray and chilly.  Since being in Grand Rapids, we had learned about an interesting vantage point near downtown which was rumored to offer great views of the city and surrounding landscape.  With a destination in mind we pedaled our fat bikes through the local neighborhoods and quickly arrived at Look-Out Park.

dsc01649Bikes with city in the background

Since this was are first time at the park, we spent some time exploring and taking pictures

dsc01634View of the city from Look-Out Park

Warmer temperatures had melted a considerable amount of the snow in Grand Rapids, which allowed what little vegetation there was to be visible.  The skyline from this direction was refreshing and offered a new perspective on a city which I’m learning more about every day.

dsc01688Enjoying the views from the park

After hanging out at the Look-Out for awhile, we headed back to our neighborhood, enjoying the architecture of the homes around the park.  We were able to get one last photo near the highway which passes through town.

finalQuiet roads in Grand Rapids

 

Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 7

Coffeeneuring Ride 7: November 20, 2016

Destination: Lyon Street Cafe, Grand Rapids, MI
Drink: Earl Grey Tea & English Breakfast Tea
Distance: 2 miles
Bikes: All City Big Block & Schwinn World Sport

Here we are on the last day of the challenge without a 7th ride. Unfortunately, an early morning this time of year means low light and bitter cold. In fact, we saw our first snow of the year this weekend. Luckily, none stuck to the streets so we can leave the winter bikes hanging for the moment.

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A bit of snow in the front yard

We dug out the cold weather gear and fired up the lights and off we went to the Lyon Street Cafe.

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Lyon Street Cafe

With racks just in front of the building, this is one of the easiest cafes to get to.

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Bikes in front of the cafe

Usually, it is quite busy so we actually had a chance to sit down on this quiet Sunday morning.

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A quiet morning in the cafe

The cafe popular for pour-over coffees but for the first time this challenge, we made tea the hot drink of choice. They do a great job with teas here. Each cup gets its own timer so each tea steeps appropriately.

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Really unique handle design

So that’s a wrap on our Coffeeneuring 2016 Challenge. As usual, there’s a long list of places we had hoped to visit but didn’t quite make it. There’s always next year.

Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 6

Coffeeneuring Ride 6: November 13, 2016

Destination: Lawrence Village Park, Lawrence, MI
Drink: Magnum Coffee Rainforest Blend
Distance: 15 miles
Bikes: Surly Long Haul Truckers

Our sixth Coffeeneuring ride brought us a bit further south to Lawrence, MI. After closing up the family cottage for the season, we brewed up some Rainforest Blend and loaded up the mugs for a ride.

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The first part of the ride took us around some local lakes. We took the gravel roads to the lake public access areas to see Lake Cora and Reynolds Lake up close. It looks like we missed the best fall colors by about a week.

We continued on to our coffee without walls stop in downtown Lawrence. As we rode the the quiet farm roads, we still couldn’t believe we had weather like this in mid-November.

We soon arrived at the Village Park in Lawrence and saw we weren’t the only one enjoying the sun. The park has a great wooden playground area and an impressive red house just across the street. We grabbed a quiet picnic bench to park the bikes and pour the coffee.

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Here’s our first attempt at a Coffeeneuring video:

This fall, we discovered  Steenstra’s Almond Windmill Cookies at a local store. They go really well with coffee. So well in fact, that I already took a bite out of one before I remembered to snap a picture.

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With the sun falling and the temperature dropping, we headed out. Another great fall ride!

Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 5

Coffeeneuring Ride 5: November 11, 2016

Destination: Common Ground Coffee House, Grand Rapids, MI
Drink: House Decaf Coffees
Distance: 2.5 miles
Bikes: All City Big Block & Schwinn World Sport

Our first Coffeeneuring ride at night!

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After a day at work, we stopped in for a coffee at our favorite coffee shop in Grand Rapids, Common Ground Coffee House, on the east side. We usually find ourselves here much earlier in the day grabbing a caffeinated drink. We locked the bikes on the rack just outside the door and headed in.

It was pretty quiet tonight but we figured there aren’t too many college students studying on a Friday night.

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We grabbed some small decaf coffees and sat down to relax and figure out what to do for dinner.

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Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 4

Coffeeneuring Ride 4: November 9, 2016

Destination: Wealthy Street Bakery, Grand Rapids, MI
Drink: House Medium and Dark Roast Coffees
Distance: 2.2 miles
Bikes: Surly Ice Cream Truck & Surly Pugsley

We’ve really put this challenge off to the final weeks this year. Luckily there’s no snow and the sun is still shining this November!

Today’s ride is to a bakery that is so close, that we usually walk. To get the necessary distance we added a short loop through the historic Heritage Hill residential area here in Grand Rapids. Additionally, we grabbed the fat bikes to get a bit more of a workout from the ride.

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The Wealthy Street Bakery is our favorite place for bread in Grand Rapids. Depending on our hunger level, we usually grab the 1 or 2 pound bread loaves and they are gone before the coffee. It just happens that it is located just down the eponymous street from last year’s final coffeeneuring ride at the The Sparrows.

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Wealthy Street Bakery from the bike racks.

For the mid-morning, the bakery was quite busy and we barely found a seat.

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We planned to take a walk with the coffees, so we skipped our usual bread loaf and went with a liquid-only stop. We grabbed a table for a short while just for this action coffee shot.

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House Medium and Dark Roast

With the coffees finished, we continued on our bike tour of the Heritage Hill area. Despite numerous walks and rides through the Frank Lloyd Wright areas in Oak Park, Illinois growing up, we had yet to locate Grand Rapids’ own Wright designed home. After a bit of aimless riding through the neighborhood south of Wealthy Street, we saw the distinctive Prairie School lines of a Frank Lloyd Wright home.

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Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, MI

According to the historic sign out front, the home is now owned and maintained by the Grand Rapids furniture giant, Steelcase. Sadly, we will have to stop by for a tour on a day the home is open.

Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 3

Coffeeneuring Ride 3: November 4, 2016

Destination: Reeds Lake, East Grand Rapids, MI
Drink: Magnum Coffee Fogcutter Dark Roast
Distance: 5 miles
Bikes: Surly Ice Cream Truck & Surly Pugsley

As the warmer days of fall come to a close, we thought we should take advantage of the nice weather and complete a coffee shop without walls ride.  Throughout the summer my brother and I have been riding our bikes to a nearby lake to take in the scenery and enjoy a number of “picnics” by Reeds Lake.  We enjoy spending time by one of the boardwalks, which offers great views.  We awoke early in the morning, brewed a fresh pot of coffee, filled our mugs and pedaled over to the lake.  We approached our favorite lake side spot just as the sun rose over the eastern edge of the lake.

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After parking the bikes we sat down with our coffees and took in the sunrise.

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Sunrise over Reeds Lake
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Morning sun lighting up the fog over the lake
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Spider web back lit by sun

Reeds Lake offers a great place to take in the natural environment while living in an urban area.

Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 2

Coffeeneuring Ride 2: October 23, 2016

Destination: Herman’s Boy, Rockford, MI
Drink: Herman’s Boy House Blend
Distance: 30.5 miles
Bikes: Soma Grand Randonneur & Soma Stanyan

It’s hard to let a sunny fall day pass without a bike ride, so why not make it a Coffeeneuring ride? Getting the bikes ready to go took a bit longer because this was the first time they’ve been out since the rainy Detroit Randonneur’s AAA 200k last month. As usual, we hung them up muddy and wet so they needed a bit of attention to get rolling again.

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Post-Maintenance Bike Pic

With the chains clean, we headed for the White Pine Trail to Rockford. Typically we ride down the hills to Downtown Grand Rapids the head north along the river. Today, however, we mixed it up a bit and headed north into the Belknap and Creston areas before turning towards the river and trail. With bike lanes and a lot less traffic, the new route is definitely preferred. Before long, we were crossing the Grand River north of the city!

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Grand River

Not surprisingly, the trail was full of people enjoying the sunny weather and changing fall colors. We kept looking for a good place for a colorful trail picture but didn’t quite find a good one. As we arrived in Rockford, we crossed the Rogue River as it makes its way to the Grand River.

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White Pine Trail Bridge over the Rogue River

In downtown Rockford, we pulled off the trail and climbed away from the river to our coffeeneuring destination for the day, Herman’s Boy in Rockford, MI.

The inside is still a fun mix of bakery/deli, coffee/tea shop, kitchen and assorted other prepared foods. We both went with the House Blend coffee, which is roasted on site at the Herman’s Boy Coffee Ranch, and some bagels. The inside was pretty full but we found this great setup beneath the trees just outside the front door.

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Outdoor Seating at Herman’s Boy

We hung out for a bit to warm up and plan what to do the rest of the day and set off for the return to Grand Rapids.

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Lookout over the Grand River