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.

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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

Coffeeneuring 2016: Ride 1

Coffeeneuring Ride 1: October 21, 2016

Destination: Bagel Beanery-Breton, Grand Rapids, MI
Drink: Magnum Roastery Breton Rd. Blend
Distance: 10.9 miles
Bikes: Surly Ice Cream Truck & Surly Pugsley

We’ve had a slow start to our Coffeeneuring season and our first ride comes late in the second week. It’s definitely starting to feel like fall in Michigan with cloudy skies and the changing colors. With fat bike season around the corner, it was about time for a shakedown ride.

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The first destination is a repeat from last year to the Bagel Beanery on the southeast side of the city. We took a wide loop into neighboring East Grand Rapids on our route south. On the side streets, we had quite a few more hills than we see on the established cycling routes in the area. Luckily, the fat bikes have really great climbing gears.

We arrived at the Bagel Beanery just before the lunch rush and snagged a quiet table overlooking the bikes.

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Coffee at Bagel Beanery is self-serve and we are always overwhelmed with the choices. Luckily, we know the options well and quickly decided on our first drinks of the Coffeeneuring 2016.

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We both went with the Breton Road Blend or as they describe it, “the lighter side of dark” roast. With our coffees and bagels (Everything and Tomato Basil) neatly arranged, here’s our pre-meal pic:

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The ride home was pretty uneventful but the sun did peek through the clouds a few times to keep us warm. Not a bad start to our 2016 challenge.

AAA 200k Brevet

September 17, 2016

Route: Adrian, MI to Albion, MI and back
Distance: 125  miles
Bikes: Soma Stanyan & Soma Grand Randonneur

After watching the weather all week hoping the forecast would change, we drove down to the Jackson, Michigan area to attempt our first 200k of the year. We knew one thing: it was going to rain. The day started early with hot coffee and bagels as we headed to the start point in Adrian, MI. I don’t think the organizer expected it, but a half marathon was starting from the same location that morning so finding the other riders proved to be a challenge.

Eventually we found the ride organizer and acquired our brevet cards and cue sheets. We had expected over 25 riders but only 5 riders started the brevet. It was already raining as we rolled out at 8AM towards the first control at around the 20 mile mark. The small group of riders quickly broke apart with each rider at a different pace. Despite years of solid performance, one of our taillights died in the first stretch. Luckily we carried some spares we were product testing for our business.

The group of riders came back together after that first control and the rain really picked up. We were so focused on riding that we almost missed a few turns. Luckily, the ride organizer was in our group and knew the route well. The route was generally flat but this section certainly had the most climbing. It was tough but at least we knew it would be downhill when we returned.

After about 4 hours and just after the second control at Mile 45, we stopped for lunch at Subway with 2 other riders. We still felt good and stayed on top of our energy bars so we split a sandwich and continued on. After a rough stretch on a busy road , we turned onto the most pleasant part of the route, the Falling Waters Trail. The rain reached its peak just we pulled up to an information control. In randonneuring, an information control is typically a question that can only be answered if a rider is in the right spot. In our case ,we had to note the numbers on a tractor crossing sign.

Before we knew it, we were off the trail and struggling through bumpy roads and a bit of fatigue as we headed to the turnaround at a park in Albion, MI. Here’s a short narrated video just before we started moving again.

After the turnaround, I remembered to use the camera a bit more. Here we are on the Falling Waters Trail heading back to Adrian. The rain had finally stopped for the day but the clouds were still looming.

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Falling Waters Trail at about Mile 75

As we left the trail, we began to realize that we had not consumed enough water or food since the turnaround and our energy levels dipped. We stopped at a gas station to reload on water but forgot to eat once again. Finally, we found a quiet place to pull off and we calculated what speed we needed to maintain to finish in time. We quickly realized that we were well ahead of schedule and slowed down our pace to relax a bit. The second to last control and the 100 mile mark arrived before we knew it.

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Control #5: The Panther Pit in Addison, MI

We stocked up with more water in Addison, MI and felt energized to attempt to finish by 7PM.

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Devil’s Lake in Manitou Beach, MI. A brevet highlight.

The sun finally came out and we sped along through our favorite part of the course between Round Lake and Devil’s Lake in Manitou Beach, MI. We even made a short video while riding:

To make our 11 hour finish goal, we had to pick up the pace a bit at the end. Somehow, after 10 hours on the bike, we finally found a rhythm and it almost was effortless for the final 15 miles. We got back to the start point and ran inside to have our finishing time logged. It was exactly 7PM. Our total time from start to finish was 11 hours. The car was stocked with food and drink for the finish and we quickly made a major dent in our supplies. As the sun set, we began the long drive home to Grand Rapids and are already looking forward to the ride again next year.

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The completed brevet card with our new tail light still burning strong

Thank you Tom and the Detroit Randonneurs for a great fall ride.