Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Officially a Coffeeneur

The Coffeeneuring challenge turned seven this year!

Coffeeneuring is a take-off on randonneuring, with a whole host of arcane rules, but it is fundamentally about riding bikes and drinking coffee and taking photos. This is precisely what we do. All the time. NeverNotCoffeeneuring! Yet somehow, despite the fact that we #alwaysbecoffeeneuring, we have never officially taken part in the challenge.

But then last spring, after John and I both found ourselves convalescing from busted collarbones, Mary, aka @coffeeneur, sent us a couple of AlwaysBeCoffeeneuring patches. While we were injured, we were not to be deterred from our constant quest for coffee, photos and activity. So we simply walked to coffee shops, because ya know, #alwaysBeCoffeeneuring.

So this year, when the challenge rolled around, we decided we really should make an effort to do it officially and properly earn those patches.

For those of you out of the loop in the coffeenuering world, the challenge is to ride to seven different coffee shops - No problem.
The rides must be at least 2 miles - No problem.
Only one coffee shop per day counts - Bummer, we can't complete the challenge in a day.
Maximum 2 per week - Bummer, we can't complete the challenge in a week.
The challenge ran for approximately 6 weeks from October 13 to November 19.

The tricky part for us was to pick just two rides from each week to be official, and to keep track of which coffee shops we counted as official, so as not to repeat. We pride ourselves on not doing the same rides over and over day after day - we explore a lot and cover a lot of ground. And we go to a lot of different coffee shops. But in a 6 week period of time, we may visit the same place more than once.

So now I have to pick 7 from fifty!


October 13
Share Coffee
17 Kellogg Ave
Amherst, MA 01002

59 miles

John and I headed down to Amherst to meet local legend, @HighMileageSteve. HMSteve logs something like 35,000 miles a year, so his handle is legitimate. He's out riding everyday, no matter what the weather. He does most of his riding on trails and dirt roads, and posts photos from his rides to instagram every day. We met Steve earlier this year, and have joined him for coffee and some riding on a few occasions. 

The owner of Share Coffee is also a busy guy. He has a roasting company and multiple cafe's including this one in Amherst, another cafe in Northampton and the Lady Killigrew at the Bookmill in Montague. The coffee here is excellent, as is the food.  Highly recommended. John and I consumed multiple cortados and espressos, along with a couple of sandwiches. However despite being Day 1 of coffeeneuring,  I forgot to take an actual coffee photo. At least I got a ride photo...

HighMileageSteve on the left. FearRother on the right


October 15

Shelburne Coffee Roasters 
100 Federal Street 
Greenfield, MA 01301-2524

42 miles

We made a couple of coffee stops on this ride, but chose Shelburne Coffee Roasters as the official one because I actually remembered to take a photo of John with a coffee drink! We started the day by riding the tandem out to Shelburne Falls where we had lunch at Baked, an awesome bakery/cafe in the lovely village of Shelburne Falls. Baked is located between the glacial potholes and the Bridge of Flowers, two places that draw tourists from near and far. It is well worth a visit here for all the sights, as well as the great cafes and coffee shop in town. After a scrumptious lunch, we rolled up hill a while and then decided to explore a new road in Ashfield. However we had no luck finding a coffee shop out in the middle of the woods where the road sort of just ended at a stream! Luckily it was warm enough that we weren't bothered by a little water crossing. In fact it was so warm that day that we opted for frozen coffee drinks when we got back to town!

Keeping with the Seven theme for this year's challenge

Now since we are always coffeenering, and we already had two for the week, we couldn't count our meetup with fellow coffeeneur Joe Platzner at Greenfield Coffee on Monday. We'd crossed paths earlier in the year, when Joe spotted us riding our tandem (and supposedly looking like randonneurs), while we spotted a RUSA sticker on his car. It's a small world and we soon found each other on facebook. We had been planning to meet for real for quite some time, but injuries and travel delayed things. Coffeeneuring was a great excuse to finally meet.

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Continuing with our daily rides to coffee, we headed the Bookmill on Tuesday. Suffice it to say, we could plow through the coffeeneuring challenge in a week,  if it weren't for that pesky 2 a week limit! But I'll stop now with the daily ride reports and just stick with the 7 that meet the rules.

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Speaking of rules, WE can't count Café Blayleys. But YOU can  - so come visit us next year!


October 20

Red Hen Bakery & Café
961 US Route #2 - Suite B
Middlesex, VT 05602

58 miles

In what is destined to become an annual event, we hopped on Amtrak with our bikes and headed north into Vermont for a few days of touring dirt roads with friends. I promise to get a post up about this ride soon! The first day we got off to a great relaxed but very coffeeneuring start. We had three coffee shop stops for the day, starting with breakfast at Maglianero Cafe,  followed by a visit to Old Spokes Home, a bike shop and museum, and then more coffee at Bario Bakery, all within the first 5 miles. After this gentle start to the tour,  we logged about 40 miles before our final coffee of the day at Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex.

If you are in Burlington, VT,  I definitely recommend checking out all these places. Bario has great coffee AND indoor bike parking. The museum upstairs at Old Spokes Home is not to be missed and they have an awesome collection of bike-packing gear. We chose Red Hen as our official coffeeneuring stop for the day because of a randonneuring connection. Owner, Randy George, is a longtime randonneur, and we have actually done a brevet from there. We had a few miles on a busier road to get to the bakery, but it is well worth it. BTW, if in Vermont, look for Red Hen breads in small grocery stores. We often head 10 miles up to the first town across the border in Vermont just to get their bread.

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Our cafe visits are not just coffee. Sometimes there is food


October 23

Shelburne Coffee Roasters
Shelburne, MA

41 miles

Over the 4 days of our Vermonster tour, there was lots of coffee, but we since can only count 1 per day and two per week... we'll just skip to the end of the tour for #4.

This year's Vermonster trip was much warmer than last year, and many of our coffees were enjoyed outside, including the final stop at Shelburne Coffee Roasters, up the hill on Route 2  (not the same location as #2). We enjoyed a fabulous lunch and hot coffee out on the porch. 

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October 28

Elmer's Store
396 Main Street
Ashfield, MA

72 miles

Elmer's is one of our favorite destinations. It's about 2000 feet from home, and by that I mean 2000 feet vertically, not horizontally. When we first moved out to the valley, we quickly learned that no matter what the season, always bring a spare base layer when riding to Elmer's. It is seriously uphill to get there, and without a dry baselayer, one can get seriously cold on the way back. When discussing cold weather clothing, we always talk about the Elmer's effect. If you are riding flat or rolling terrain, you can simply dress for the temperature. But if you have big climbs and big descents, layering and spare/dry clothes are essential - light for the climb, then dry and warm for the descent.

The food at Elmer's is worth it though. I don't need to tell you to bring an appetite, because by the time you get up there, you will be hungry and you will have earned it. Being gluttons for punishment, we left Elmer's and continued climbing. 

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October 31

Leverett Coop
180 Rattlesnake Gutter Road
Leverett, MA

42 miles

The Leverett Coop is well known by cyclists in the area. It is not uncommon to find loads of bikes under the arrow and target on the side of the building. The coffee is drip. The pastries and soup are fabulous. And the location is perfect, at the junction of Rattlesnake Gutter Road and Dudleyville Road, two magical dirt roads.How could you not want to ride down Rattlesnake Gutter?

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November 9

Tandem Bagel Works
9 Railroad Street
Easthampton, MA

60 miles (to and from)

For our final official coffeeneuring ride, we headed down to Easthampton on the tandem to look at progress on John's N+1 from Pioneer Valley Frameworks. Before the geeking-out session at the bike workshop, we stopped in at Tandem Bagel Works for lunch and coffee. Sadly we forgot to ask if there was an arrived-by-tandem discount!

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So there we have it. 7 rides, 7 coffee drinks. Finally I can wear my patch with pride.

1 comment:

  1. Pure awesomeness! Thank you for sharing and for the beautiful pics. The food, in addition to the coffees, looks delicious. Isn't it nice that when you ride lots you get to eat lots too?!