Coffeeneuring 2017: Ride 2

Coffeeneuring Ride 2: October 26, 2017

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.

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Getting ready for an evening cruise

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.

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Shaky photo of Reed’s Lake

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.

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Chai Latte, Earl Grey Tea and a baguette

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.

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Coffeeneuring 2017: Ride 1

Coffeeneuring Ride 1: October 23, 2017

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.

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A wet bike even before the ride.

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.

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Wet, very wet bikes

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.

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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.

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The textured brake track wasn’t much help today

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 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