Coffeeneuring 2015: Rides 1 & 2 (and a bonus ride)

I finally had a free moment to recount the early rides of my second Coffeeneuring Challenge. Last year’s challenge included visits to coffee shops throughout the northwest side of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. This year has been a bit different as I have moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan since last fall’s rides but still make a few visits back to the Chicago area. Most of this year’s rides should start from these two areas but I’m still hoping to get at least one ride during a short vacation.

Coffeeneuring Ride 1: October 4, 2015

Destination: Dolcetti Pastry Park Ridge, IL
Drink: 3 Intelligentsia Coffees
Distance: 7.2 miles
Bike: Schwinn Racer

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge started just like the last: a short ride to Dolcetti Pastry in Park Ridge. It worked out that it was just a short ride because I forgot to bring my usual bike with me for the weekend. Most of my bikes moved with me to Michigan so all I could find to ride was my old Schwinn Racer I had rebuilt a few winters back and a fat bike for my friend (I hope the weather cooperates and I won’t need the fat bike to finish this challenge in the snow). My younger brother was home from school so he tagged along for the ride as well.

On a Sunday morning, the roads around town are pretty quiet and after a brisk ride on the city bike route system, we easily found a bike rack just down the block from Dolcetti. We found a nice place to sit on the front patio to enjoy our coffees and sat down to relax. Just like last year, it was a great start to our 2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge.

Intelligentsia Coffees @dolcetti

We started talking bikes and decided to take a short detour to our local bike shop, Amling’s Cycle, to say hi and continued on home. Unfortunately, they were closed for the day to exhibit at a bike expo south of Chicago.

Bikes @Amling’s

Bonus Ride: October 18, 2015

Destination: Starbucks Coffee, East Grand Rapids, MI
Drink: 1 Pike Place Roast & 1 Green Tea
Distance: 5 miles
Bike: Schwinn World Sport

Just as a wrong turn on a brevet earns a rider some bonus miles, a lack of research while coffeeneuring earns a bonus ride. My friend and I had hoped to grab a coffee and pastry at Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe in East Grand Rapids but only realized once we arrived that it was closed on Sundays. Our goal in each Coffeeneuring Challenge is to visit local coffee shops rather than the larger chains. So, while our stop at the Starbucks just down the street from Sweetie-licious could count as a ride, I’m hoping I can use it simply as a bonus ride and take another ride to replace it.

Starbucks, Gaslight Village

I’ve been getting used to riding around the Grand Rapids area for almost a year now. If you take the right routes at the right time of day, riding in and around the city can be quite relaxing. On our ride over, we detoured through Aquinas College on the east side of the city and headed south to the Gaslight Village business district in East Grand Rapids. After grabbing some coffees to go from Starbucks, we found a quiet table down the street to take a quick break before heading back into the city.

Coffees in Gaslight Village

Ride 2: October 25, 2015

Destination: Big Bend Lake Forest Preserve Des Plaines, IL
Drink: 2 Torke Colombian Supremo Coffees
Distance: 8.2 miles
Bike: Surly Pugsley

Somehow we never attempted to use the Coffee Shop Without Walls rule in last year’s challenge. This was also my first #coffeeneuring ride with my riding partner from the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge, my dad. With the leaves falling, it was a great day to ride through the forest preserve to a popular lake in nearby Des Plaines. We brewed the coffees, poured them into a couple of bike friendly mugs and headed out.

Riding the Des Plaines River Trail
Riding the Des Plaines River Trail

The Des Plaines River Trail has improved quite a bit over the last decade and, as a result, is becoming a popular destination and is now quite well-maintained. A few years ago, bike lanes were added and a paved trail was installed to better link trail segments through the downtown Des Plaines area.

Improved path near Des Plaines
Just off the improved path near Des Plaines

We circled around the preserve for a while until we found a picnic bench to enjoy the coffees. Aside from a couple of dogs out for walks, it was a pretty quiet morning.

Coffees at Big Bend Lake

At least, it was quiet at until a few flocks of Canadian geese made a pit stop in the lake and came ashore towards us. The early arrivals can be seen in the picture below just before about a hundred more landed.

bigbend 4
Bikes, Coffee & Geese

We might have stayed and enjoyed the lake a bit longer but the geese clearly wanted to search for food around the bench so we headed back home.