Destination: Wealthy Street Bakery, Grand Rapids, MI Drink: Chai Latte & Earl Grey Tea Distance: 11.6 miles Bikes: Scott Contessa & Soma Grand Randonneur
Keeping up the pace on our catch-up week for the challenge, we found a cool but dry night for a second ride in week 2. The destination coffee shop, Wealthy Street Bakery, was just down the street so we decided to make it the warm-up destination after a longer evening ride.
Riding around Reed’s Lake in East Grand Rapids is one of the best quick loops out of the city. Heading east, we zig-zagged through Grand Rapids until we reached the lake. Naturally, my photos of the lake aren’t as good as my brother’s photos from last year.
As the sun set, it became quite cold for the ride to the bakery. The most direct route from the lake to Wealthy Bakery is on Wealthy Street. It is lightly traveled in the evenings so it is usually an easy ride but it has some very rough sections of cobbles. After bouncing down the street, we were more than ready for a warm drink and a snack.
Looking back at my pictures so far, I’ve realized they are light on bike and the coffee shop themselves. I’ll have to start taking more photos on future rides.
Destination: Common Ground Coffee House, Grand Rapids, MI Drink: Chai Cider with Cinnamon Distance: 2.3 miles Bikes: Peugeot UO-8 & Schwinn World Sport
The opening ride for our 2017 Coffeeneuring Challenge was indeed a wet one. However, given that we already missed the first week of the challenge, we couldn’t afford to miss a ride opportunity.
With pouring rain and fender-less bikes, we headed east to my favorite shop in the area, Common Ground Coffee House. While avoiding the major streets on account of the rain, we cut through the Grand Rapids neighborhoods of Heritage Hill, Midtown, and Fulton Heights. Common Ground is next door to the bike shop I used to work at, so returning to these streets reminded me of many, less rainy summer test rides.
After parking the bikes out front, we were welcomed by a quiet, warm shop and an impressive fall drink on special. We both went with the chai apple cider topped with a cinnamon sprinkle. It was a perfect way to warm up.
We stayed quite a while in an attempt to warm up and see if the rain slowed. We did finally dry off a bit but the rain was steady. and it was time to ride home. The ride back had a few sketchy downhill moments and both of our brakes struggled in the rain. We made it back safely and are hoping future rides are a bit drier.
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.
Bikes with city in the background
Since this was are first time at the park, we spent some time exploring and taking pictures
View 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.
Enjoying 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.
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.
We dug out the cold weather gear and fired up the lights and off we went to the Lyon Street Cafe.
With racks just in front of the building, this is one of the easiest cafes to get to.
Usually, it is quite busy so we actually had a chance to sit down on this quiet Sunday morning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the sun falling and the temperature dropping, we headed out. Another great fall ride!
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!
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.
We grabbed some small decaf coffees and sat down to relax and figure out what to do for dinner.
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.
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.
For the mid-morning, the bakery was quite busy and we barely found a seat.
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.
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.
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.